Emma Hoeflinger has something to say to those who think guitar music is dead: “Music evolves, just like anything else. It’s just different rock & roll, man.” The Nashville-based singer/guitarist has been creating music as Oginalii since 2013, and in the years that have passed her sound has evolved, just like anything else. The project’s first form was acoustic music—Hoeflinger and her guitar against the world—but a night of noodling around on an electric guitar changed it all. The young singer-songwriter was fascinated with the new color palette, so to speak, and shelled out $100 for a knock off Les Paul.
“Each new guitar and pedal gives you some new insight into a song, melody, story, or whatever the hell happens,” she explains. “I guess for me I need this ‘new’ feeling that keeps me interested and wanting to create more regardless of what’s under your feet.” In the coming years, Hoeflinger continued to progress as a musician, and her band grew along with her. Now, with two EPs (The Grey and self-titled) under her belt, she feels more confident than ever.
Backed by Ryan Quarles (guitar), Simon Knudtson (drums) and Emma Lambiase (bass), Oginalii oscillates between kick-your-teeth-in sludge rock and hazy psychedelia, anchored by Hoeflinger’s smooth yet fierce vocals. Set in Led Zeppelin roots, she channels strong contemporary females like Karen O, PJ Harvey, and St. Vincent’s Annie Clark.
“Annie Clark is the epitome of what it means to be a pioneer in females in music,” she declares. “I want to be an Annie Clark—someone who’s a fucking badass that you’re watching just melt face up there and take no prisoners.”
This is the sentiment she brings with her on the road, as well as in the studio. As Oginalii fleshes out its debut full-length album, Hoeflinger is looking within herself for inspiration. When she writes, she does a lot of subconscious singing—letting the words flow from her without thought. During a particular session, she meant to say “cause and effect” but “cause and affection” came out of her mouth. It was her “a-ha” moment, and the concept of the band’s new chapter was born.
“The album is about learning and growing as a person and loving yourself throughout it all,” she explains. “Figuring out how to be okay with your faults, realizing some of those things you fuck up on are the best parts about you, and learning how to let those things shine through.”
Oginalii is the Cherokee word for “my friend,” and like the upcoming album’s ethos came to Hoeflinger by pleasant surprise when she was conjuring up band names. Though simple, it means so much, especially in a genre thats prevalence is seemingly waning. Rock & roll is more than music—it’s a vibe, a culture, a community—and Hoeflinger is ready to continue to evolve along with it.