Chance Emerson is an American singer-songwriter born in Taiwan, raised in Hong Kong, and now a college student in Providence, RI; however, this past year, he moved back to his birthplace to spend time studying archaeology at a university in Tainan City, Taiwan, while playing festivals around the island and recording music. His latest release is a single titled, “Gloria Gracie,” a song that explores new rhythms with the energy of unfettered youth. A mature vocal performance over the impassioned interplay between stomps and overdriven guitar furthers the song’s message of longing for unrealized childhood dreams.
Today, DittyTV is sharing 5 Questions with Emerson along with the “Gloria Gracie” official video World Premiere, a video centered around a grocery store cashier toasting to her twenty-eighth birthday in solitude. Chance’s absurdist lyrics present a sardonic view of the modern world with a signature healthy sense of sarcasm. By the close of the bridge, “Gloria Gracie” has become an undeniable statement, distilling universal pains into a three-minute package. Emerson describes his new lyrical style, first highlighted on this single, as “sad songs packaged in happy wrapping paper.”
5 Questions with Chance Emerson by Sam Shansky
1) You’ve described the past year as a “year of self-discovery.” What have you been up to and what has made it so enlightening for you?
This past year, I moved back to my birthplace of Taiwan and spent my time studying archaeology at a university in Tainan City while playing music festivals around the island and recording music. Before this year, I’d say I had a tenuous relationship with my heritage, but I went back because Taiwan’s COVID measures meant that life was going on as normal. In-person schooling was just too good to pass up. Strangely enough, I grew to love it there. I now speak Mandarin fluently again. I hold my chopsticks correctly. I don’t get ripped off in the fruit markets. I went from feeling afloat in a sea of cultural confusion that came from being born in Taiwan, growing up in Hong Kong and living in Providence, RI to anchoring my identity to the noodle shop down the road from my university dorm room. Electrifying.
2) Tell us about your new song “Gloria Gracie” and the music video premiering today. What inspired the song, how did you decide the direction of the music video, and how do you feel about how it turned out?
“Gloria Gracie” is a whole lot of existentialist angst but also simultaneously dance-y and joyous. I’ve always been inspired by the concept of suburbia. As a kid growing up in a city, I romanticized the cul de sac, but now that I’m older, I’m more afraid of suburbia than attracted to it. The sticky parts of the suburbs that bind you to the same place scare me and I think there’s something so romantic in the idea of breaking free of those shackles to chase big city dreams… so, I wrote “Gloria Gracie.” It’s a tale of a grocery store cashier celebrating her birthday alone and reflecting on her goals and what she hasn’t yet achieved.
I wrote “Gloria Gracie” in Taiwan during my quarantine there upon my arrival in the summer of 2020. Then, I recorded it in a studio there. Then, I co-produced it there, and mastered it there, and assembled a film crew and director, cast a phenomenal local dancer and pretty soon every single piece of the puzzle was quintessentially… Taiwanese? I’m so very proud of the piece. It’s everything I hoped it would be.
3) What are you working on now and when can fans expect to see you out on the road?
While I was in Taiwan, I recorded around fifteen songs. I’m still sifting through and producing those recordings now, but I’m hoping to release many of those pieces in the fall in some form.
As far as touring, I’m probably holding off until the fall when all the kinks with post-pandemic touring have been ironed out. I’ll be playing sets in Providence, RI by the late summer and I’m hoping to play a show in NYC in October/November. I would love to make it further down along the East Coast around Thanksgiving but those plans haven’t yet been locked in.
4) Do you have any favorite guitars or gear that you’re using right now, and what qualities do you look for in your gear?
I’ve never really gone down the gearhead route, to be honest. I’ve been playing the same two electric guitars since I got my first Ibanez as an 11-year-old. I have one amp that does the job great. And my acoustic guitar is the only one I’ve ever had. It’s a Taylor with strings I try to never change because I like the sound of old strings. So I guess I look for durability.
5) Let’s play the namedrop game. Who are some musical friends of yours that you’re proud of and that you think we need to know?
There are tons! On the production end, I’m loving what my buddy Jack Riley is doing. He’s my friend and is also co-producer on all my upcoming tracks and has been pumping out some phenomenal work with other artists as well.
As far as performers go, I’m loving what my friends in Forester, The Q-Tip Bandits, and Hand Made House are doing. They’re all making very different types of tunes but are all thriving and I couldn’t be happier for them. Hand Made House and I actually played my last pre-pandemic show together – an album release show at The Middle East in Boston.
Bonus: As someone who studies archaeology, could you tell us something unusual we might not know about in that field?
Here’s a fun one – there’s a large body of evidence supporting the theory that around 4500 years ago, a group of particularly seaworthy folks in what is now Taiwan embarked on a seafaring expansion that took them from Southeast Asia all the way across the Pacific to places as far off as Easter Island, Chile. These settlers brought their culture and agricultural techniques along with them. At my school in Tainan City, I wrote a paper about tracing this expansion through genetic information in a plant they brought with them.