Seeing the finish line with Emily Hurd

On this week’s Thinker What Works podcast:

  • How pursuing a passion makes songwriting easier.
  • Learning how to accept help from others.
  • How to work through every issue.


Jason Todd: Well, today we’re here with Emily Hurd. Emily is a singer, songwriter for a number of years. She’s got her songs on NCIS, 90210, The Good Wife, Melrose Place and others. She’s also, in addition to being a successful singer-songwriter, starting a brunch pub at Auburn and Maine in Rockford. It’s called The Norwegian.

Emily Hurd: Yes.

Jason Todd: Yeah. How fascinating is that? So, Emily, we’re really excited to have you on our podcast today.

Emily Hurd: I’m happy to be here.

Jason Todd: So, singer-songwriter?

Emily Hurd: Yes.

Jason Todd: How did we get started into this.

Emily Hurd: Oh gosh, well if my dad were here he’d say it was a fall from grace. I started out at Northwestern and I was gonna be a psychologist I think and then I just was not happy and so I moved to Massachusetts and went to culinary school before the Food Network and it was cool, you know, there was like Julia Child and that was it. And all this while from the first college to the second college I’ve been writing tunes because it was just something to do. I liked it. And then I cooked out there on Cape for a while and then I moved back and got a music business degree at Columbia College because I just had been writing so many songs and I thought I should do something with these and then I did.
I just started making records and then started trying to get music placed and then started playing a lot of gigs and then teaching for extra money and still cooking, you know, food and music food and music all the time and then I was full-time music but I was still running supper clubs out of my apartment in Chicago. I lived in Chicago for 12 years. I stayed there. And raising money, like every time, people would kick in 10 bucks and we’d raise money for some, I think we did different hurricane reliefs and whatever, that was the theme and then I just stuck with it.
And then my father passed in 2013 and I moved back to Rockford and I thought “Okay, I can either stick with music or I could throw in something different,” and I didn’t wanna amass new students here and so I found a decaying building that I thought the city might tear down and I’m really mushy about that kind of thing and without any inspection or anything we just bought it with a caved in roof and everything and just said “All right, let’s leap.” And so that’s … this is somehow what I’ve chosen to do and so I’m a woman of my word and so that’s been my path.

Jason Todd: And that was two and a half years ago correct?

Emily Hurd: So, let’s see. The path was, 2013 was my father … if you’ve lost somebody that’s kind of a moment, right. Everything was either before dad or after dad. So after dad, and we were really close family. I didn’t want my mom to be alone. She was living in Rockford. I moved home. My high school boyfriend was living in Manhattan working for Salesforce. We just started talking right away and when you’re in your 30’s and you’re talking, you’re pretty self-actualized, and you know you’re gonna get married. Just sort of happens.
So all of a sudden, I moved back in with my mother in Chicago. He moves back from Manhattan. We’re living in Rockford in the house that we made out in high school and decide to get married, and we’re all living together with my mother. This is how the start of it. Then, I decide I’m gonna buy the building in 2014, the first building. That first building was the old North End Café and that building had too many liens on it and my lawyer told me to stop. So then I looked at the building next door with the caved in roof, bought it in 2015.

Alex Gary: That’s the one on the end.

Emily Hurd: That’s the one on the end. It used to be … its story was it used to be a Logli’s grocery store I think and soda shop with doctors offices and then it went through all of the different permutations. The last thing it was, was a pennies-in-your-pocket thrift store and it was just really leaking and a mess. But I loved it. I thought it was beautiful and perfect.
And when I was in school, I think it was Holtburg’s when I was in Rockford, this old gift shop on the corner and I went to Auburn High School and it was right up the street from me and we used to drive by it all the time and I hated seeing it sitting there and so I thought I’d never done anything like this. I’d always wanted to have a place, you know I’ve done so much cooking and this would be a way to integrate the two things, music, and food. So, that’s what I did.

Alex Gary: So, you buy the building and it’s got the problems. I first became aware of you because I saw this Kickstarter video. At what point in the process did you start a Kickstarter?

Emily Hurd: Okay, so I’m a musician and people use Kickstarter all the time, so that’s how I knew about social, you know, crowdfunding. When I first got the quote about asbestos, the asbestos removal itself was only $10,000. Only $10,000.

Alex Gary: So, let’s go back. So you found out your building had an asbestos problem.

Emily Hurd: Well, when you buy the building … I bought the building and then I was pregnant, and my husband says “You probably should get it checked for contaminants. You’re pregnant.” So, I did, and the mold was clear, but they checked all the nine by nine tiles, and they said “This is gonna be asbestos,” and it was. And I’m a really up-and-up person and pretty transparent so I, of course, outed myself right away. Previous building owner’s like “Why would you out yourself? You should have just hidden it.” But I just don’t operate that way, so I put it out there and somebody said “We’re gonna have to, once the asbestos is removed, we’re gonna have to tear out your maple floor underneath and either put something else down,” or whatever because the old buildings didn’t have subfloors. They just had one layer that I would take out, anyway long story.
They said, “So count on it being about a hundred thousand dollars.” So, I thought “Well, there goes that dream,” and then I thought “Well, I’ll just Hail Mary Kickstarter this.” And I made a little video of some me talking over … I used iMovie … me talking over a bunch of still shots I had taken and put one of the songs I had written in the background. Wrote up the thing on Kickstarter and then made a bunch of rewards. I think 20 bucks got you a CD that I had recorded for my son … I was pregnant at the time … and then 50 bucks got you a card that you get when you come in you get a meal for you and somebody else, whatever. A hundred dollars, which was my most popular level, got you a name on a brick on my wall of support, and 300 and up you started getting house concerts in your home.
And so after the Kickstarter made it, which was just crazy, I think, which is not a testament to me being awesome at all but because the community really needed it. That’s why those things work out. I had to play 45 house concerts in the continental United States, half of them with food and then so that’s what I did. I had a baby, and I started getting right on the road on the weekends. [crosstalk 00:06:36]

Alex Gary: What was the farthest you had to go?

Emily Hurd: The Cape.

Alex Gary: Wow.

Emily Hurd: The Cape.

Jason Todd: [crosstalk 00:06:41] [inaudible 00:06:41] energy drive.

Emily Hurd: I drove in a camper because I was … at that point, so then, just worth mentioning in 2016 while I was actually on the floor scraping … so backtrack that before we even go there … I decided to save money by trying to save the original floors by taking six months and just scraping tar. There’s no gadget for getting an inch of tar underneath the asbestos tiles after they’ve been invaded.
So I scraped tar for six months and in that tar scrape period found out that I was pregnant again. I’m one of those people that got the back-to-back pregnancies. So, the Cape one, I’ll never forget this, I had just finished scraping the last of my tar. I was pregnant with my now daughter who’s eight months old and got in a camper because I needed to take my son with my because there was no money for child care and like made all the desserts ahead and time and shoved them in a freezer in the thing in the camper and we all drove across country and … I mean, I’ve lost a lot of the money that I made on Kickstarter as you might imagine because I mean you really need to think this through, like if this is, I mean I just really didn’t think it’d be successful.
But, you have to plan that perhaps you will be successful and you’ll have to do all those things. Putting CDs in the mail was cake. It was done in a week. I had mailed out 900 CDs and I have to make 400 plaques for the wall and that’s all fine, that takes time but it’s not that tremendous, arduous and costly enterprise of driving all over the country either pregnant or nursing and taking away your weekends from your family and everything. So, anyway I’m grateful. I shouldn’t be complaining. It’s been a really wild ride. I will never do it again but it’s something that I can say that I did and it’s been interesting.

Alex Gary: What is the status of The Norwegian right now?

Emily Hurd: So, The Norwegian is 12,000 square feet. The upstairs … the reason I did it in the order I did it … the upstairs was the most damaged. The roof had collapsed. The asbestos tile was up there. All of the windows needed to be replaced. Plaster had come down so many places. I spent the first year just up there getting it so that could be rented out and then that money funneled into the restaurant. So, as of now, the whole upstairs is completely rented, which is beautiful.
I have nine businesses in that building right now. They’re all artists and if you can just allow me … one is a horse flowers gallery and they support so many local artists. He’s a curator, it looks like an art museum. There’s Fine Designs, are doing photography. There’s Epic Horse Photography. There is Three Ravens. He just put in a kiln and he’s doing pottery up there. There are two musicians. There’s one mixed media artist. It’s really become an incredible space and the rent is really really reasonable because I felt like okay, one, I don’t think I can ask a lot but two, it kind of is a way to give back to the community for giving to me and the more businesses we can have in that strip of businesses, which is the longest continuous stretch of old buildings in the city of Rockford.

Jason Todd: Really?

Emily Hurd: Yes. We are a scrappy bunch of just people that bought the old buildings and we’re a very unique strip. Anyway, that’s all rented. Then downstairs is a barber shop called Haircuts and Styles and The Norwegian right now is just waiting for the stamp from the city that has my plans to say “Yes, you may go,” and then it goes very fast. Then it’s not just one woman and 12,000 square feet but a team of electricians and HVAC and plumber and everything and in the meantime, I’m just learning how to frame walls and my bar and that kind of thing. I’ve learned so much about wiring. I’ve taken all of the classes. I’m a certified renovator. I went to, you know because I didn’t know anything, so you have to be on the up-and-up and do everything right so I’m now as equipped as anybody else can be to do the job. I don’t have experience but I have a willingness and some training.
So, that’s where it’s at and I keep on saying I’m gonna try to be open in May but now that I know how it works, we’ve been hiding all of our bad news from people because I just don’t think it’s a good idea to put out your bad news. I just don’t. That’s the way I am. The one time I put out anything, we got broken in to and I just asked if anybody look out for a very specific item. That’s when the TV came out and started, you know “Oh, we want to interview you about your break in.” I’m thinking I post so much positive stuff and you only care about the one negative thing so I kind of shut down even sharing anything because I was so frustrated at that.
But, that said, as I’m about to air to you, we turned on the water in September of last year and that was the one thing that was supposed to be fine with the building. It just rained into the restaurant so then we had to assess leaks there and get that all fixed and repair all the ceiling. And so anyway, I say May. I’m ready for it to be later if something like that happens again.

Alex Gary: You know, I used to cover construction for the [inaudible 00:12:04] and I would talk to developers and stuff and they always wanted to build new buildings. They never wanted to go in the old buildings- [crosstalk 00:12:12]

Jason Todd: Yeah, it’s too difficult.

Alex Gary: … because you just don’t know until you get in there what’s going to happen.

Jason Todd: Right.

Emily Hurd: I still wouldn’t do it any other way. I’m, oh God, and I think you have to be a crazy hippie like me to do it because there’s so much character in an old space that you just don’t feel walking into a new building and I have to put my money where my mouth is. I don’t want Rockford to turn into a place where we’re just a bunch of chain places. I mean, the character isn’t in something that’s original and I feel like what we build today, unfortunately, doesn’t feel very original to me. It feels pretty produced when it comes to driving out to state street to 90 doesn’t … I mean, just-

Jason Todd: Well it also seems like it stays consistent with your lifestyle or desire to be singer-songwriter right? Speaking out of who you are and performing it in sort of a raw kind of way, speaking your truth right? So now you have a building, which can become an extension of you and who you are rather than framing out something new or becoming a chain, not having that character and the longevity and the history.

Emily Hurd: Right, and it really is what shapes a city, what makes us different than every other city. I’m a touring musician and even in my … I’m 37 … and in my amount of time being here I can say that driving through small towns has changed so much. You know that everything looks the same. It’s nice to think that I’m gonna be a part of something that makes it different here so I like that. I really like that.

Jason Todd: So what’s your vision? Talk to us about the vision for The Norwegian, what’s-

Emily Hurd: It’s gonna be so wonderful. Oh, oh you’re just gonna love it. You’re gonna love it.

Jason Todd: I look forward to it. I can the see the … you know our listeners can’t see the smile on your face and the joy that kinda radiates out. [crosstalk 00:13:52]

Emily Hurd: Which is amazing that it’s still so joyful but I mean if you could’ve seen how long it took me to even get to working on the restaurant. So, the restaurant is huge now that I’ve knocked down all the walls that used to be 20/20 Optical and some other things. It’s all open, the way that it was when it was built. So, I asked the community what they needed because I feel like you can’t just serve a community something it doesn’t really need. You can do something that you need but you also have to keep your lights on. So everybody said “We just want a place we can sit and have coffee.” It’s not my vision, but that’s what the first part of the building is, so you walk in and it’s two level.
The first one … you walk in and it’s a fireplace and a bunch of, huge wall of bookshelves, leather back chairs, places for you to plug in your computer, Wi-Fi, sit down. I just wanna have a cup of coffee and there’s what we call the Coffee Parlor. Then you go down two stairs and it becomes brunch pub. The whole center of that next section is this really big beautiful bar. We’re using all wood from the railroad freight house, the old one that used to be on cedar street that’s now been knocked down, and we’re using Bill Howard’s guys, that Rockford brand project that he does, so he basically takes convicts that are out, teaches them a trade and helps them come back into society in a way that makes them feel valued and that they’re contributing in a way that’s healthy. They made beautiful stuff.
So my bar tops … oh, this is amazing … the bar tops are made with a tree that [inaudible 00:15:24] cut down in about 1902 when the building was built, but they counted 200 rings. That means the tree that’s my bar is from 1702, it’s older than the country. It’s in my bar. I think that’s so much more interesting than just going to Home Depot and buying new lumber. It just feels really cool to be supporting that process and anyway, they’re making my … they made already … my tables, anyway, digressing. Big center bar, off to one side there is a grand piano already there, which has been really nice for my song-writing when I- [crosstalk 00:15:55]

Jason Todd: I bet. Yeah, there you go.

Emily Hurd: … get my lunch breaks. And then curtain and I’m gonna have a house drum kit. So it should be something that as a musician if you’re on your way from Minnesota, New Orleans, what ever, this is an easy place to stop. You can come in, you don’t have to load in all of your gear, upright bass players something might but it feels like it’s a really good live performance corner. Then, front of the spot, and this was my aha moment. So, I was trying to think what is gonna differentiate me from the Ratskeller and Olympic and Mulligan’s and people that I love and I don’t wanna compete with. My husband and I live at the Olympic and my parents first date was at the Ratskeller when they worked at Ingersoll and I love them and I don’t wanna compete.
So, and I also feel like why has it that the universe has made this take such a long time and I’ve had these babies in this process and we didn’t even know if we wanted to have kids and now we’ve got them and I love them but wow. We didn’t really know it was going to happen. Anyway, this whole front area, I’m calling it Baby Bergen. Bergen’s a city in Norway with these very specific looking buildings and I’m building a small section of front for kids. I’m putting a split rail fence in for the children. You can come in. I can tell you as a mom, you go in, you go out. There’s no place to go. I can’t go anywhere with my children.

Alex Gary: That’s true. That’s why McDonald’s over the years made so much money.

Emily Hurd: That’s exactly right. [crosstalk 00:17:22]

Alex Gary: You just let the kids free.

Emily Hurd: Go into your play place. But better than that, you can go in and it’s totally still … it’s thousands of feet away from Coffee Parlor where you can just sit and have a drink and that’s it. You can put your baby in Baby Bergen, let them toddle around while you have a mimosa or bloody Mary at the bar, it’s right feet away and you can watch it all go down. It’s brilliant and then it won’t compete with the Olympic because the same person that’s going to go there is not gonna go to my restaurant. Yeah, so I’ve been doing all of this research into Scandinavian design because I don’t wanna be a poser and have a place called The Norwegian and have it not look right. And by the by, I’m not Norwegian. I am Swedish but my husband is Norwegian-

Alex Gary: Yeah, well, you know. Same part of the world.

Emily Hurd: They would disagree with you but I agree. Different pancakes, different specialties, whatever. I’m taking cooking classes at Ingebretsen’s in Minnesota to learn how to make lefse which is not my native thing but like I said I can’t be a poser. So, everything is wooden in there. I’m decking my ceiling with old tongue and groove and then big beams, it’s very wooden, and then I’ve been harvesting limestone from an old decaying barn at Kilburn and Meridian that they told me I could take that. I’ve been inserting that in with the design. It’s been really fun to make this space and it feels really good to me. It feels really honest. It feels like I’m recycling a lot of things and I’m going to get my doors open and I’m going to fulfill all my Kickstarter stuff. And then if it fails, I’ve only failed myself. Right now if I fail I feel like I’m failing a thousand people. But, right now it’s just me. So, I’m sorry this is a long story but you’re hearing about- [crosstalk 00:19:02]

Alex Gary: But it’s a fascinating story.

Emily Hurd: Yeah, so that’s the dream for The Norwegian when it finally gets open.

Jason Todd: So how is your singer-songwriter experience gonna fit in with Norwegian then?

Emily Hurd: I think it’s gonna be okay. I’m starting out as a seven to two place until I open the nighttime because I need to get my manager in place. Writing has not been a problem. I really believe that when I first started writing I did it because it was fun but what I was writing was like “I love you and birds are pretty.” Struggle is so good for my soul. I don’t know if it’s good for everybody else’s but for me, I really flourish when I have something not just to fight for but to fight against as well. And this has been really hard and I’ve had to get fiery in ways that I didn’t know I had in me and my art has been really getting stronger because of it so I feel that the whole thing kind of goes together pretty well. I can write songs so quickly now. I used to labor over them for weeks. There’s no time now so I mean I have to get married to the words a little bit more quickly than I used to but yeah, I think it’s gonna fit together all right. I think it will be okay. Plus, I got the piano at work so if it’s dead I’ve got a place I can go write. Yeah, I’m gonna keep it up.

Alex Gary: That’s awesome. Have you imagined like what that first week when you actually have entertainment? Are there people you want to come in?

Emily Hurd: Oh yeah. I’ve already thought about opening day. There’s a group that I love in Chicago that is made up of all my friends called Come Sunday. It’s this jazz blues beautiful rock it’s wonderful, seven-part harmony. I just want it to be big, loud opening day. Or, maybe not. I don’t know. I’m so scared to get actually open because there’s been so much pressure leading up and I’m wondering if I should just silently open, just put a little open neon sign-[crosstalk 00:20:51]

Alex Gary: [inaudible 00:20:51]The dreaded soft open.

Emily Hurd: Oh yeah. Well, you know something where I just invite family and friends and everything’s 50% off and I don’t know how to run a point of sale. I don’t know, you know I have to learn all of that as well. Isn’t that … but you guys know that you’re sitting here.

Speaker 3: Well we had [inaudible 00:21:05]

Alex Gary: Well we had Josh Benning in here from Lucha Cantina with 12 years of experience running a restaurant and he said his first week was a zoo because he didn’t have the process down.

Emily Hurd: Yeah, it takes a long time. It takes a long time. Anything … I’ve watched that founder movie about the founding of McDonald’s. Did you see that? It was so interesting. But I mean, you watch them graph it out with chalk on a parking lot and practice their … I was so inspired by that because I mean that’s the kind of forethought that you have to put into that process and I’m pretty tight bay but I don’t know how well I will have prepared. I don’t know what we’re gonna be, slow or slammed, you have to think about how much food you have and we’ll just see about how that’s all gonna play out. I’m fully prepared to have the first week be insane, but-

Alex Gary: Well you said you talked to Josh, what are some of the restaurant people that you’ve talked to get advice from?

Emily Hurd: I talked to Zach Rutel at the Olympic. I talked to Josh. I talked to Mike at the Ratskeller, just briefly, and about things that he didn’t even know I was asking about but basically just “Hey, don’t let me make mistakes.”

Jason Todd: And what did they tell you?

Emily Hurd: They’re great. This community wants … there’s nobody that’s really gonna take a whole bunch of people away from anybody else, right? We all just need doors open. No more boarded … like 3,000 boarded up buildings in the city right now … we just need more people, more businesses bringing more business to this side of town and everybody’s been saying “Yes, go. You can do it.” Oh, Paul Sutton, he’s another big one. He catered our wedding and he’s a big supporter. I owe him a house concert. I do.
But, yeah, everybody here has been, you know … and helpful advice like they always said “Get the health department in right away. Don’t wait for the health department. They’ll find something that’s wrong and you’ll have to take something out.” That was good advice. I’ve had … I don’t know, I’ve heard the inspectors have now switched over in town but I had Vattius who’s the main inspector now in the building before to say “Could you just come in and look around.” And, I mean, I think this is … When I tell people I’ve done that they’re like “You’re supposed to hide,” and I was like “What could I hide? I don’t even know what I’m doing.”
I want everyone to know so they can give me information in a way that’s … I wanna be truthful about it so … somebody wrote me, I won’t mention, somebody very big in Rockford wrote me an email, or had his secretary write me an email saying “You can make asbestos go away in this way.” And I said “I can’t. It’s too late. I’ve talked to the EPA. I’ve done everything,” and besides, I wouldn’t even know how to … I’m so transparent … I wouldn’t even know how to cover it up. At this point, everything, it’s too late, everybody knows everything about me except for the really bad stuff that’s happened in the buildings. I don’t want anybody to get down.
So, yeah, everyone knows everything. I think every restaurant owner in town I’ve probably … Oh, and I wanna mention Randy at Five Forks and Garrets. He was the first person. He said “I’ve gotta tell you things that you wouldn’t believe. Like, I’ve gotta paint my bathrooms beige or white. That’s the new rule.” You have to do … he was great. That was the first couple weeks after I finished and he was essential. Everyone’s got little tips like “Don’t fail here. This is what I did.” And believe me, if anyone came to me, I’d be able to tell them the same thing. When you buy a building, here are things you’ve gotta check. Here’s what I would do first and it’s all about helping each other out. I mean, we’re a scrappy town that needs to be that way. So, yeah. I’m there to help and people are there to help me.

Jason Todd: And it sounds to me like one of the threads throughout your life is that you’re teaching yourself these things. So you need a skill, you teach it to yourself. You buy a building and you wanna get rid of asbestos, you start teaching it to yourself. You have a flooring thing issue that needs to be taken care of, you’re teaching it to yourself. You’re gonna have a café, you’re teaching it to yourself. Even the kids’ area, you’re teaching yourself something that is completely foreign, quite literally.

Emily Hurd: But, but, you don’t have to teach yourself everything. You can surround yourself with really good people. I don’t wanna make this sound like it was a one woman show. I’ve surrounded myself with some really great people. And even, God, the kids there … we were members of the discovery center. They’re great. They’ll talk you through things. Everybody has been so helpful and I am only as good as the people I’ve surrounded myself with. I’ve got a great lawyer. Helmet Redschlag is our architect and he is absolutely invaluable for every kind of advice. Really good plumbers, HVAC guys, Joe Dare who did Paul Sutton’s electricity, he did ours. We’ve got really good people that have been directing me in a way that is honest and really really just professional and kind and I really like the people. So, they’ve taught me too. I haven’t had to YouTube video everything, although I’ve done my share of that. I’ve been up there like “How do you,” you know. I don’t know, I’ve done a lot of … how to ground an outlet, how to ground an outlet. But you kind find things out pretty quickly now so you just go on YouTube and that’s what you do.

Alex Gary: What was life like before YouTube? I know I lived in it but I don’t remember.

Jason Todd: I actually do remember. In fact, I have a book called “The way things work.” And you’d open it up and it had these diagrams and texts, like things you had to read and it would very statically tell you “Here’s how these things move.”

Emily Hurd: I think I have that book. I have that book. I used to use that book. That was how I was raised.

Jason Todd: It fascinated me. I loved it.

Alex Gary: Let’s take a step back. So, because we call this the thinker what works podcast so if you could magically transform yourself back three years ago, what have you learned over the process you wish you knew then?

Emily Hurd: What do I wish I knew.
Okay, I wish I knew about buying a building with assistance, first and foremost. I bought the building without thinking and because I believed in that whole leap and the net will appear, all of that, all of those sayings work. I mean, “Be the change.” That works on me too. They all work on me. So I lept and then the net did not appear. Right? So, I should have had all of the inspections. I should have had all of those things. I think it would have made me buy the building differently. I would’ve budgeted differently. I would’ve mortgaged differently. And I wish I would have done more with leases for tenants and those kinds of things. I wish I could’ve gone back and done that differently.
I wish I would’ve told myself then, even in the midst of all, it’s a building. It’s not something that’s gonna ruin your life or make-or-break it. I let it get so big and it just stressed me out and stressed out my family and to top it off I’m either pregnant or nursing for the last two and a half years. So that just added a level of stress. I think I would’ve said the kids are more important than this building. I think I would’ve said that at one point too. I would’ve hired out a little bit more of the help.
I spent a lot of time doing things that would’ve been very cheap to have somebody else do but I was just so determined to do it myself. You can do too much yourself to the point where you’re spread thin enough. Still, to this day I’m cleaning my own … I have six public bathrooms … I’m cleaning them all every Tuesday. I am sweeping my own floors, everything that has to be done. I’m installing utilities, things for my artist renters upstairs, the clay doesn’t go down the drain. I mean, this is all me. Even now, as I’m telling myself I should probably be paying money for that but if it’s not there you’re kind of stuck with it. I think I would’ve done more of that. I would’ve asked for more help from my friends and family. I didn’t take it. I was too proud.
I think I would’ve worked a little less hard as well. I didn’t sleep many nights. I would just go in the building and go at it until the wee hours of the morning with the respirator on and just crazy, come home with like perma-marks on my face for a week. I think I would’ve done that differently too. But, ah it did work. I mean I should say that, a lot did work. Those maple floors that I spent like six months on are gorgeous. They’re the talking … they look like your maple floors … they’re the talking piece of everyone walking in. “Oh, these floors. I love these floors.” Same thing with the stairs and I got rid of all my rust and I kept the metal. I kept the radiators. I did the thing no one told me to do. Everyone said “Get rid of those radiators.” The radiators are beautiful. They cleaned up so nice. I kept the beautiful ceiling tiles. I kept my urinal. I re-enameled my urinal and that’s so beautiful. You know, the things that I was worried about, the money and the cost, they are now talking pieces that make that building attractive. I’m happy that I put in the time in some cases, so positives and negatives. I don’t know, I’m just spinning my wheels.

Jason Todd: Well and you said that the struggle, a lot of struggle, has given you things to sing about, things to write about. So, as we close out here, I’m curious. You’ve written many words and sung many words, what has been maybe the most influential lyrics of this recent past?

Emily Hurd: Okay. I’m gonna tell you. The next album I’m writing is called Backbone. It’s about having one and I’ll just tell you, I’ll just try to lyric it out.
Measure me, not by inches I am tall. It ain’t written on the wall, all the ways someone can grow. Can’t you see that the height of me depends on what I’ve been up against. That’s how far I’ve had to go. I was fallen down, struck me to the ground when you shot that line but now I’m crawling out, lucky that I found that I’m twice as fine. And it breaks my heart that you threw that stone, but you played your part, playing my backbone.
It always comes back to the chorus about how you should measure somebody not by, you know … a rockstar that gets on stage and takes the stage, that’s not very brave. That doesn’t take a lot of extra work. But, if you think about that rockstar starting maybe too scared to get on stage is a, you know, if you see how far a person has come you can really measure the distance that it’s taken for them to get there and I feel like I’ve come a really long way and in the process people have torn me down. I’ve kind of shrunk a little bit because once you become successful people find a way to say nasty things. I got trolled really badly and all of it while working so hard and it all plays a part, the hard work and how far you go and the people that say the terrible things, the bit, they all make you strong and you have a backbone. So that’s the take away from my experience [inaudible 00:31:32].

Jason Todd: That’s inspiring, for sure. Emily, it has been a pleasure speaking with you for this last bit of time.

Emily Hurd: Yeah it was nice to be here.

Jason Todd: I’m looking forward to going to The Norwegian when it opens, maybe in May or maybe later, so who knows.

Emily Hurd: Maybe later, but it will get open. It will get there.

Jason Todd: Well I think we can find more information about Emily at That’s H-U-R-D dot com. And then for those in Rockford that are traveling through look for The Norwegian opening in 2018.

Emily Hurd: Yep.