Emvee Harlan, the emerging artist from From Baldwin Park, California, released her cover of “I’m Set Free,” the liberating song from the 60s’ rock band Velvet Underground.
Since she was nine years old, Emvee Harlan had a close relationship with music, learning to play the cello and violin. She continued to learn when she performed as the first chair in the local orchestra and joined a choir. Now, she is immersed in her songwriting and learning by playing covers with her friends. You can tell she is having fun and feel it when listening to her.
Her cover of “I’m Set Free” is a great example of it. But it also has a personal and powerful message, the death of the version of her that she no longer recognizes. This cover is part of her process of overcoming emotional hard times, and her expression while singing reflects it, allowing you to relate to her passion and vulnerability.
Emvee Harlan’s version of “I’m Set Free” starts with an acoustic rhythm guitar and Emvee’s vocals, which are enough to create a touching ambiance. Drums show up just at the most climatic parts of the song, keeping it simple and allowing it to breathe. That’s an amazing design of instrumentals.
Thus, when an electric guitar does its melodic and chilling solo melodic, you can only close your eyes and wave your head with it. Emvee Harlan does an amazing job with the sound and visuals. She wants her craft to have audible and visual quality, so she produced the video. The colors and movements make listening to her cover such a pleasant experience.
Break the bounds to yesterday's clouds and sing along listening to “I’m Set Free.”
What motivated you to make your own version of “I’m Set Free?”
It randomly came up on my playlist one day while I was reading a book. I've listened to The Velvet Underground thousands of times, but this was the first time I heard this particular song. The words sort of melted me, and I just knew I had to do something with it.
What does making “I’m Set Free” mean to you?
It marks the start of rebuilding my life, honestly. I actually recorded it back in February but was focused on working closely with my therapist. I've experienced so much trauma in my past, but I've worked hard to maintain some sort of emotional balance. This song represents the moment I realized how simple and happy I can finally be. Freedom from my dark past and the ability to move forward with it. Carrying it with a smile on my face and controlling it whenever it decides to rear its beautifully ugly head around. It's a great feeling!
What was the most frequent emotion while recording the video of “I’m Set Free”?
The only way I can describe it is happy pain. I wanted the song to be as stripped down as possible. We stuck with the guitar, minor drum beat, and vocals throughout the entire song then added an electric for just the solo for that naked feel. We did very little pitch correction and no auto-tune just to make it sound raw. All that kind of drove the simple theme of freedom and vulnerability.
Who are the people that supported you the most while recording and making the video for “I’m Set Free?”
In production, Zach from Big Bad Sound LA, who I worked with, closely captured the best personal version of the song. Scarlett, my vocal coach, not just during rehearsals but for being a beautiful friend. Cody from Squyres Productions for the videography. Lastly, Alex, my best friend, my companion, my rock. No matter what the future holds for us, he will always be the Hero of my story.
What's next for you?
I've taken a step back in some of my solo projects and working with friends in another band. For now, my focus is to get better as a musician. As much as I love the big picture and production stuff, I'd like to get back to just playing. Just to play and have fun. Break out of my bubble and maybe finally do some shows. Fear sure is reducing, so it's more possible than not.