Emily Beihold, a first year at UC San Diego, received her first piano in 2006… and the rest was musical history. She started off learning classical music, but soon realized that playing classical pieces didn’t call out to her as much as her own melodies did. She immediately began to learn how to chart chords and explore melodies, and felt victorious “having authority over the euphonious sounds that rang from the keys,” because it “felt like a musical dialogue between close friends.” Soon enough, writing songs on her piano became her emotional outlet.
Eleven years later, Beihold has added playing guitar and ukulele to her list of musical talents. While her guitar and ukulele skills are not as refined as her piano skills, she has often taken her ukulele to the farmer’s market to do some busking, improving her proficiency while bringing joy to others.
Beihold describes her own music as a mash of “indie/alternative/pop/singer-songwriter and a little hint of rock in some cases,” which captures the complex vibe she evokes. As a teenager, Beihold was exposed to a multitude of new and unfamiliar ideas, and she used music as an avenue to make sense of the rioting and conflicting emotions she felt. She hoped to reach out to others through her music, so others would be able to relate and take comfort in it as she did. Beihold’s music is primarily written in minor keys, making her music eerie and unique as she explores themes of chaotic adolescence.
Her hard work and passion finally culminated in the debut of her first song “Thrown to the Wolves” in 2015. This song tells Beihold’s story of transferring from private to public school during her freshman year of high school. Beihold was horrified to receive an anonymous email that she equated to virtual rape, and further discovered that her best friend sent it. The private school had cared more about legal protection rather than addressing the pressing issue at hand with students. With her sense of safety shattered, Beihold switched schools in hopes of starting anew, but quickly realized it wasn’t so easy adjusting to a school with a couple thousand students. Trying to make new friends felt like being “thrown to the wolves,” Beihold shared.
Her second song “Infrared” debuted May 11, 2017, and was about her first heartbreak. “Heartbreak was the worst emotion I have ever felt in my entire life.” Beihold confides. “There was no cure other than time, and time wasn’t immediate.” Beihold expresses her confusion in the line “when you saw black and white, I saw infrared.” Beihold shares that they have now made amends and he was mortified to discover that the song was about him.
Beihold usually draws on her own experiences to formulate her lyrics, but shares it is an unconscious process as well. “I think about a feeling that I want to emote through the lyrics and chords.” Beihold explains. “After that, the words just flow.” She first starts with chords or little bits of a melody and works from there. Occasionally, she will be inspired out of the blue, come up with snippets of songs, and record them to review later. “Infrared” and “Calculated” only took Beihold about ten minutes to compose because “the process just felt so natural.”
Beihold has surpassed her initial humble goal to simply produce music and hope that a few identify with it; her music has now reached a broader audience than she has imagined. The Revue, a music blog, has praised Beihold’s music as part of a growing wave of female artists with powerful and innovative songs.
Beihold had just performed her first solo show at the Republic of Pie in Los Angeles in 2016 when actress Michelle Schumacher approached her and offered that she write a song for her movie. Schumacher was familiar with Beihold’s work, as she had hosted Beihold numerous times to play music in a band with Schumacher’s daughter, Olivia. The script was “haunting, yet beautiful,” and Beihold had no trouble writing “Not Who We Were.” The independent movie, titled “I’m Not Here”, includes a scene that mentions “drops of water” in the sink, as the suicidal main character sees his reflection in the mirror. This particular detail inspired Beihold, and the melody took off from there. Two of her songs, “Not Who We Were” and “Child of the Moon,” are featured in the film, which stars Oscar-winning actor J.K. Simmons.
Just this past summer, Beihold released a music video for her song “Calculated” with the help of Canyon Schmerse. Beihold portrays the “inauthenticity in society and how it can be so contagious when we are constantly surrounded by it.” In the video, Beihold portrays a girl that goes to a party underdressed and discovers that the party members are frozen in time. She ends up getting kidnapped by the hosts, and they transform her, causing the party to resume motion. In the end, her two kidnappers escort her out, as she is no longer in control of this new fake version of herself. She finally fits in with the guests, but loses herself in the process.
Beihold is currently working on making music videos for the rest of her songs on her EP. She would love to get more of her music placed in film and television, and shares that she would like to create a new album. She also hopes to collaborate with other artists in due time.
Beihold’s album Infrared is currently available on iTunes, Spotify, Apple Music, and Soundcloud.
Mandy Huang is a contributing writer of the Arts and Entertainment section at The Triton.