Emile Hirsch Details His ‘Weird and Sci-Fi’ Debut Album ‘MNEMONIC’
Emile Hirsch has been acting since his adolescent years, landing his first movie role (Francis Doyle in The Dangerous Life of Altar Boys) in 2002, but that's never been his only passion.
The actor wrote songs throughout junior high and high school, and lent his musical talents to some of his film projects. He sang in Into The Wild, wrote originals for Imaginary Heroes, and even put out an album with a bluegrass band called Hysterical Kindness that was inspired by the fictitious band of the same name his character, Martin, played in for the movie All Nighter.
Now, the 34-year-old is taking his love for music another step further by releasing his first solo album under the moniker HIRSCH.
MNEMONIC is a 15-song collection swathed in '80s synth vibes that sees Hirsch pulling from influences like The Cars, David Bowie and Billy Idol. In August, he released the album's lead single "Love Is Real," along with a music video starring his Force of Nature co-star and good friend Kate Bosworth.
Ahead of MNEMONIC's October 25 release, Hirsch discusses his musical journey thus far, his surprising influences and why this album is so important to him.
This isn’t the first time you’ve released music, but it’s the first time you’re dropping a full solo album. What made you decide now was the right time to make that leap?
For me, it wasn’t about it anything more than an overwhelming desire to make music—I had been writing songs and wanted [people] to hear them. It was really that simple. I think about the way the record got made—me writing every musician or producer I personally knew and making songs here or there until I felt I had the perfect match with the sounds I was hearing in my head, and going from there. It almost made itself in a way—it was a drive that I can’t necessarily explain. I just felt like the album was almost already made and I had to do these certain things in order to fulfill its existence.
“Mnemonic” by definition is a memory assistant. Are these songs products of stirring up personal memories?
Songs are so connected to memory—I remember where I was the first time I heard great songs. I remember being four years old and listening to Tracy Chapman and Bruce Springsteen in my mom’s kitchen, dancing with her. A great song is unforgettable, which in itself becomes a device for preserving memories. In a way it’s a bit of a humblebrag calling the record Mnemonic, because we’re hoping this is something you won’t be able to forget. Plus, to me it sounds weird and sci-fi cool, and I always did like that Keanu Reeves movie Johnny Mnemonic.
What do you hope listeners gain from this album?
Some albums you hear and you’re glad they are in your life, because you know you’ll be listening to them in the future. When I hear a song I love, I’m grateful it exists, because of the pleasure and catharsis it can give me. I still puzzle over what songs and melodies and music even is—on a scientific level I understand it’s patterns of sound waves created by fluctuating vibrations, but it’s still invisible. There’s a magic to it, and my hope would be that people feel a little bit of that magic and wonder, and for them, the album is mnemonic.
In what ways would you say the life of a musician and the life of an actor are similar?
I'm not exactly sure how being a musician and an actor are similar—I have only recorded stuff, I’ve never played live. That to me is a whole other beast. Part of what we loved about making the record was how we could hide away in this little room and create sounds we like—it’s almost the antithesis of performing in front of a crowd. I’m naturally a pretty insecure person in a lot of ways, so I’ll probably have to go to some horse whisperer therapist before I decide to stand in front of a crowd of people holding their cell phones and actually play a show.
Where do you hope to see your musical career go in the future?
I’ve already been writing songs for another record and working on it constantly. To me, I’ll keep making music because I love the process. I just love doing it. Simple as that. If I can just keep making records, I’ve won.