Interviews, Music, News
What so not: Interview & Listening party
In the speakeasy ambiance of the basement bar at Phonox, sits a man in an orange
hoodie, a smile stretching across his face. Chris Emerson, better known as What So Not,
watches the faces of the crowd as they take in the music he is playing publicly for the first time.
This intimate venue is the setting of the listening party for his first studio album Not All the
Beautiful Things, the crowd a reflection of the artist’s own excitement.
“I haven’t sent the album to anyone,” Emerson said. “Usually the only people who have
heard it are doing the press. I haven’t really had a chance to talk with many people about it.”
Though this is his first album, Emerson is no novice when it comes to making music. He
started What So Not in 2011 with fellow producer Harley Edward Streten (Flume). Though
Flume departed in 2015, Emerson has continued the What So Not project, releasing several
singles and EP’s and experimenting with sounds.
“This Project started off the blog culture.” Emerson said. “It was really just make an idea
and put It out for free and maybe someone listens to it.”
Emerson’s has built his following on this idea. He said, when he is touring, he likes to
talk to locals and get a sense for what are the big cultural, social and political movements at the
time. He then tries to incorporate those feelings into his music to craft his show specifically
around the people in the crowd.
The ability the take an emotion and turn it into music has followed him into the studio.
Emerson said that while crafting this album, he drew inspiration from so many different
experiences. These diverse emotions helped him create an album that is distinctly different to
the club bangers that he has become known for.
“Now it’s really this whole deep, layered, artistic narrative,” Emerson said. “I definitely
went a lot more cinematic in certain areas of this album whereas if I’m just doing a single I
don’t really get that opportunity.”
According to Emerson, the album allowed him to play around with different sounds,
styles and sonics to make each track unique. He said there is no formula that he uses to make
his songs, which allows him to try different things. Not having to stick to a template opens the door to allow his creativity to show through in the sounds and progressions.
2018 seems to be a defining year for the young Aussie. After the release of Not All the
Beautiful Things, he has shows booked until 2019. However, for now his focus remains on the
task at hand.
“That’s kind of my life mapped out,” Emerson said. “how the album is perceived by
everybody will determine what happens from here because it could be anything.
Sitting in the basement of the Phonox club, the listening party gets the first taste of the
albums cinematic journey. Each song is distinctly different yet they weave together seamlessly
as the pace and emotions change. According to Emerson, the album would have been one 45-
minute song if it wouldn’t have a technical nightmare to produce. While those in attendance
are the first to hear the album played in its entirety, we have yet to experience the album the
way that its creator intended.
“The one thing that I would ask is that people really take the time to listen to this from
start to finish,” Emerson said. “Please, just pick a moment that evening. Sit in your car, put it on, relax and listen. You probably deserve a bit of downtime and this might be a good way to
give yourself an excuse to do it.”
Not All the Beautiful Things, will be available for streaming and purchase on March 9.