Inspiration can strike at any time, and for one Carmel Valley musician, that elusive moment was brought to her by a Vermont-based folk artist named Anais Mitchell.
“A friend of mine showed me a project Anais had done named ‘Hadestown,’” explained Emily Ann Laliotis, a graduate of of Canyon Crest Academy.
“That’s when I fell in love with her work. It’s a masterpiece to me. She’s a huge inspiration to my songwriting ... probably the biggest.”
That 2010 album by Mitchell led Laliotis to strike up a career of her own, the result of which is the recent release of her debut album “Single Step,” a 13-track collection of folk songs she wrote and produced herself.
“People have been saying very sweet things about the album,” Laliotis noted of the reception so far. “One of the things people always bring up that struck me the most was, ’I just feel so rejuvenated when I listened to that.’ People tend to see the album as a relaxing way to start the day.”
The name of the album is from a famed quote by Chinese philosopher Lao-Tzu which reads, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” That quote also happens to relate to Laliotis’ songwriting path.
“I had been writing music for several years, but at one point was at a standstill,” she said. “I had written so many songs I didn’t know what to do with them. I wanted to do something instead of just moving on. ‘Single Step’ is the cumulative effort of that first phase in my songwriting life. This is the first step in my hopefully very long journey.”
That journey has led Laliotis to double major in music and religion at the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Wash. “I considered attending a school for songwriting,” she said of her decision to enroll in the university. “I decided it was better to develop my musicianship and writing brain separately.”
Laliotis’ creative process consists of freewheeling ideas until she comes across one that sticks. “Often I sit down with guitar and just play around,” she said. “I often free-write, which is writing for a long time without stopping. Then I’ll home in from there.”
Throughout her musical odyssey, Laliotis has been supported by her family, most recently through an album release show thrown last month at her Carmel Valley home. “That was awesome,” she said of the event, which drew about 100 friends and family. “That was my mom’s way of getting involved. They made a little stage for me and I was struck by how many people showed up and were willing to support me. I’m a very community-based person, so having people behind me is one of the biggest things I can have.”
For more about “Single Step” and Laliotis, check out her home on the web: http://emilyannlaliotis.com.