As Rockwiz host Julia Zemiro says at the start of the video, the 1966 hit The Sound of Silence was once regarded as the quintessential folk-rock release. As such, it is not surprising that it has been covered many times. Some covers distinguish themselves by increasing the intensity of the song – Disturbed’s version has over 890M YouTube views!
Other covers go to the opposite extreme and emphasise the meditative qualities of the melody by playing delicate instrumental versions on instruments from pan flutes to Chapman sticks. The take on The Sound of Silence by Emma Louise & Husky Gawenda on the Australian TV show RocKwiz in July 2012 sticks closely to the original. In this case, it works.
The success of the interpretation is largely due to the affinity between the two singers’ voices. Robgweston deftly expresses this in his comment on the video: “I have to say, a song sung by two artists has never moved me so much in my life. Her rich warm, velvet tone, and his not overplayed, higher octave…. This IS MUSIC!” What makes the duet especially serendipitous is the nature of the Rockwiz TV show. Each episode is a multi-round quiz between two teams. Each team is led by an invited singer.
One of the team leaders on Rockwiz is often more established than the other. In this case, Husky Gawenda’s Melbourne band Husky had recently signed for the Seattle-based Sub Pop label, but both artists were breaking through in Australia at the time of their appearance, making it a more equal match than was often the case. In the show, the two team leaders close each episode with a duet. Who would have guessed that their voices would gel so well? Ten years later, here is Flume feat. Emma Louise.
Emma Louise’s guest turn on Australian producer Flume’s beat-driven track Hollow echoes the remixed song that gave her a European hit in 2013. Her 2011 song Jungle was remixed as a dance track by German DJ Wankelmut and released as My Head Is a Jungle (40M YouTube Views). On the back of this success, Emma Louise’s original folky version of Jungle (11M views) went to #3 on the French charts. In 2022, the Wankelmut remix of the song went viral on TikTok.
As one would guess from her singing on The Sound of Silence, with the exception of the Jungle remix and her guest appearance on Flume’s Hollow, most of Emma Louise’s music tends to be folk. Her last album was Lilac Everything, released in September 2018. In January 2019, Emma Louise married the album’s producer, Canadian Tobias Jesso Jr. The couple has a child which, together with the pandemic and the mental health issues Emma Louise discusses in a March 2020 video, probably explains why she has only uploaded two music videos in the last two years, the latest being the collaboration with Flume.
Husky remains a popular Melbourne-based band, but they have yet to have a breakthrough success, as enjoyed by Emma Louise with Jungle and its remix. The band did, however, open for Neil Young & Crazy Horse on Young’s 2013 tour of Australia. On 16 September 2022, Husky Gawenda released his solo album The Rocket Ship is Haunted. According to the Facebook post announcing the album, Gawenda expects to continue to record and play with Husky.
To return to Emma Louise and Husky Gawenda’s cover of The Sound of Silence, Larry Beavens commented under the video: “I’m 75 and grew up with this song; I’ve listened to the original hundreds of times and many different covers. This is the best cover of the song I have ever heard. The vocals are beautiful, the background music is subdued as it should be, and the delivery is perfect. The song is performed here exactly in the spirit that it was written. Great stuff.”
Not bad for two Australian singers who only sang together due to the format of the TV show that they were invited on. The Rockwiz in-house band plays its part in the success of The Sound of Silence cover too. The support from the band is nuanced and empathetic, which is not always the case with TV show bands.
If you would like to see more from Husky Gawenda subscribe to his YouTube channel or follow him on Facebook. If you want to see more from Emma Louise, you can subscribe to her YouTube channel or follow her on Facebook or Instagram.