Emily Frembgen released her first proper studio album with producer Hugh Pool (Taj Mahal, Debbie Harry, Michael Pitt) at Excello Studio in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, in 2021. Irreverently titled It’s Me or the Dog, it was received warmly by critics and radio alike, with New York Music Daily naming it “one of the best records of 2021” and Glide Magazine calling it “a strong study in writing both melodies and powerful lyrics.” In many ways, it looked like her career was just beginning, but it took a long time to get to the beginning.
“Frembgen” comes from the Old German for “little stranger,” and Emily is used to being one. Born in Denver to a single mother, Emily spent her childhood bouncing from Colorado to Baltimore to New York City. During that time, she saw countless musicals, plays, operas, and symphonies at the theaters where her mother worked and developed an affinity for the performing arts. At first, she wanted to be an actress. (At age 12, she played a fairy in A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the Baltimore Center Stage, the state theater of Maryland.) But then she heard Lou Reed, Kathleen Edwards, and Lucinda Williams, and she knew that all she wanted to do was write and sing songs. She returned to Denver and formed a band called Language of Termites, and after two albums (In a Different Time and Place and Preterito Perfeito) and successful tours with Ian Cooke and Doo Crowder, she returned to the Big Apple. It took some time, but Emily eventually found her footing in the music scene largely by way of the comedy scene, producing comedy & music shows at the doughnut shop where she worked. This led to co-writing and performing the theme song to Kate Willett’s popular podcast “Reply Guys,” touring with Ben Kronberg (Last Comic Standing), and having Clare O’Kane (Saturday Night Live, Shrill) direct her upcoming music video for “Fentanyl.” She also became part of the Antifolk community that originated at the Sidewalk Cafe on the Lower East Side. There, she starred alongside Jason Trachtenburg (Trachtenburg Family Slideshow) in his musical Me & Lee. She opened for Jeffrey Lewis multiple times and was featured on “Songs By Turner Cody: A Tribute Album” alongside Adam Green, Diane Cluck, and Toby Goodshank. She also became a mainstay at Knitting Factory where she ran a weekly Americana series for several years and opened for Wayne Hancock, John Craigie, Daniel Rodriguez, and Paisley Fields.