Emmy Wildwood is a fan of strange combinations. She has played in both punk and country bands and her current style is a mash-up of ’50s and ’80s iconically rebellious looks that she describes as “Lolita Hip-Hop Cheerleader.” Wildwood’s most important unusual combination is the business she has run on her own since last fall–Tiger Blanket Records and Vintage Boutique. With a home on Graham Avenue in Greenpoint, the thrift shop also serves as the base for the label that helps her put out her solo material and music from her bands and other local artists. “I just wanted to make a change in my life that made everything work correctly, and keep things moving in the music department,” she says. In the process of seeking change, the Arizona native created a spot on the verge of becoming its own institution and music scene at a time when music is becoming less and less tied to physical space.
Tiger Blanket as a store is an intimate space with a unique collection of colorful and sparkly items all collected by Wildwood. Inspired by Liz Phair, Courtney Love’s slips during the early Hole-era, and Cyndi Lauper’s general closet, teenage Wildwood sought out thrift shops and often made even more original outfits out of her already rare finds. As an adult, she began styling photo shoots and has become so well-known locally for her fashion sense that Time Out named her one of the Most Stylish New Yorkers this year. Simultaneously, she pursued fronting Velta–a punky-grungy indie rock band –and has even more recently taken on the alter ego of Lizzy Straddlin’ in the all-female Guns N’ Roses tribute band Guns N’ Hoses.
“My dad is a musician, and he brought me up on country [and] the Beatles, too. My mom is a little more edgy. She loved Cyndi Lauper and all those gals. So I actually had a mix as a kid of all those things I like,” says Wildwood on her multi-genre music career. Named after Emmylou Harris, many of Wildwood’s projects have an underlying sweetness to them despite the edgier punk pursuits that helped kickstart her career. “My sister was into punk rock. Then in college, the only people playing music were boys, and the only music they were playing where I lived was punk.” Three months after moving to New York, more specifically her beloved Greenpoint, Emmy’s first solo gig occurred at the now closed Luna Lounge, where she played the punk sound she had become familiar with. “My tastes change and the way I wanna look changes,” she states. “I’m inspired by new things all the time.”
Having recently released her first solo single on Tiger Blanket, Wildwood has showcased a brand new migration of her sound as its developed in the newest phase of her life. “Chick Chick Boom (Tired of Love)” is a quintessentially pop record complete with a minimalist beat and airy vocal that builds up to a spunky belt from the punk background she can’t seem to shake. Due this fall, Wildwood’s debut album, produced by friend and fellow local musician Tomek Miernowski, promises to be guitar-driven and dancey. “My boyfriend calls it ghost pop because it’s just kind of creepy,” she says. The haunting nature of her ghost pop is delivered quite perfectly in “Chick Chick Boom”‘s music video as well. A combination of self-shot iPhone footage and director Chris Carlone’s own clips from the ’90s, the video rounds out Wildwood’s perfectly vintage vibe.
With two solo shows, finalizing decisions on what songs will make the album, and the promise of trying to make something special happen with Velta this September, Wildwood still finds time to work on the most important goal of establishing Tiger Blanket–helping local musicians. Having recently signed the wildly glam Mother Feather to her label, Emmy has been prepping their debut show as an official Tiger Blanket artist showcase at Glasslands on July 26th, the day after their record comes out. “It’s hard to do music alone, in this climate especially,” says Wildwood. “When we band together and help each other, basically more music is made and more opportunities happen.”
Sitting on the couch in the back of her store, Wildwood’s eyes are bright as she muses on all the possibilities of the very immediate future. Between her own music, Mother Feather and running the store/label, there are plenty to keep track of. “I’d like to syndicate locally, like another store in Brooklyn, but that’s a few years down the line.” Coyly she adds, “maybe a year.”
Emmy Wildwood’s debut show is July 20th at Bowery Electric. She’ll also be playing at Cameo Gallery on August 23rd.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on July 8, 2013