If 2018 Albums Were My MySpace Top 8

*click album title to open the spotify link*

Narrated for You – Alec Benjamin
The voice of an angel and songs that tell ethereal, and often, devastatingly beautiful stories. I’ve been lucky enough to — literally — bump into Alec on Hollywood Blvd. I had just interviewed him a few months prior and recognized him on on the street. I approached him and we walked a bit, chatting. He’s a grounded guy with an old soul. I’ve been waiting for him to drop a full-length album for years and it did not disappoint. It includes a good number of songs he’s released over the years and some newer ones that are equally as powerful. Like I mentioned before, each of his songs tells a different account, and as a good story should, they pull you in both lyrically and melodically.

Kids in the Night – Weathers
There’s nothing I’ve been so smitten with as songs that take me back to cities I’ve loved. This album does just that. It has me dreaming of sitting in the passenger’s seat of a newly refurbished 1960 Porsche convertible touring the Southern California coast. In my opinion, every single track is a work of alt-rock art; atmospheric 80s nostalgia at its finest (see the appropriately titled “1983”). It’s frustrating to me that it was slept on by both radios and critics.

Pray for the Wicked – Panic! at the Disco
These past few years have been the Panic renaissance. As much as I love the older stuff, ever since 2013’s Too Weird to Live, Too Rare to Die!, things have been, albeit a bit more mainstream, absolutely fantastic. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed every song on every album. Not only has Brendon’s voice improved immensely over the years, but I’d also go as far as to say he’s one of the best vocalists of our generation.

I fell in love with The Struts, what seems like, many moons ago. They had just released their debut single “Could Have Been Me” and were working on their first album. I pre-ordered the signed copy from their website and spun it on repeat for weeks. They dropped their sophomore album back in October, and it undeniably lives up to its predecessor. Clearly influenced by the likes of Queen and Def Leppard; vocalist Luke Spiller’s range allows for infinite possibilities song-wise. Unfortunately, the band remains vastly underrated despite being endorsed by rock big shots like Metallica, Foo Fighters, and Guns ‘n’ Roses.

Voicenotes – Charlie Puth
I’m an absolute sucker for Charlie Puth’s voice. I could listen to him for hours upon hours. His debut album, Nine Track Mind, was one of my top played albums of 2016, and dare I say it, this one is even better. Even though he’s considered to be incredibly mainstream and his lyrics can be generic, his songwriting skills are still undeniable. Plus, he absolutely knows his shit. He’s one of my favourite Top 40 artists and I’m really excited to see what he creates in the future.

Youngblood – 5 Seconds of Summer
By far the best album 5SOS has ever produced. The titular track may have been overplayed in shopping malls since its release, but it’s one of those songs that when you hear it again in a few months you’ll love it just the same as the first time. Not only has their sound evolved over the last few albums, but it’s evident they’ve grown as songwriters. Moving on from sappy and generic (and catchy!) love songs that could have pigeonholed them in the boy band category; they’ve created an edgier pop-rock sound with more mature lyrics. I love finding new wave infused gems on these kinds of albums, and “Talk Fast” is no exception; it could have just as easily been recorded by The Bangles or Pet Shop Boys.

Blue Madonna – Børns
Following up his last album was a major feat, but somehow he made the new one even better. Børns is one of my go-to artists for writing inspiration, especially if I’m working on something within the realms of horror and fantasy. His voice gives me chills, and a perfect example of that is “I Don’t Want U Back” which is equally as haunting as it is heartbreaking. I was lucky enough to catch him on tour promoting this album and it was almost like a religious experience; seeing this somewhat androgynous man up on stage swaying back and forth while serenading an audience full of admirers.

Make Your Bed – King Princess
There aren’t many albums — or in this case, EPs — where you can feel the artist’s confidence through their lyrics without it coming off as arrogant. Her song “Upper West Side” gives me visions of being dressed as Holly Golightly and decorating my very own brownstone in New York City. The dream. But that’s not even the best on the album. In fact, out of 5, it doesn’t even crack my top 3. My favourite song is “Holy”, which is the epitome of the confidence I referred to earlier. It’s both haunting and divine. Plus, she’s adored by Harry Styles, and I trust Harry Styles with my life.

By Emily, on December 13th, 2018, under Bands, Personal, Singers // Comments Off on If 2018 Albums Were My MySpace Top 8

The Age of Adrenaline

Photo by Chris Fallows at Apex Expeditions

Wow. It’s been a while. I bet you thought I’d abandoned this site completely. Fear not, if you were even remotely in fear… I am back. It’s been a rough few months, hence the lack of updates.

The good news is, I’ve started doing freelance photography and it’s been going pretty good. I even set up a website. You can check it out here: www.moramoraphotography.com. Please hire me. I’m very broke.

Anyway, I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately, and there are a number of adrenaline-inducing activities on my travel bucketlist. I thought that today, I would share some with you. So without further ado, here are the Top 5 Adrenaline Inducing Activities on Emily’s Bucketlist.

Shark Cage Diving in South Africa

Now, there is one company in particular I’m interested in going with: Apex Expeditions in Cape Town. Great Whites, thanks to Jaws, are my mom’s biggest fear. I’ll admit I wouldn’t like to be eaten alive, or even mistakenly attacked by one, but they’re not high on my list of phobias. That said, I don’t like swimming in the ocean. Period. Too many freaky things in there. Getting back on track, I’m very attracted to the idea of going cage diving. Apex Expeditions (this is in no way sponsored — I’ve never had a sponsorship in my life), checks all the boxes for the ideal experience. It’s owned by Chris and Monique Fallows, who have taken part in many a documentary and shark film. The company is trusted by NatGeo, Discovery, the BBC, and Animal Planet, alas, they’re 100% committed to being eco-friendly; which is of major importance to me.

Skydiving in New Zealand

One of my favourite TV shows to come out of the 2000s was a Canadian docu/reality series called “Departures”. The show followed two young men as they traveled the world, exploring beyond each country’s regular tourist attractions. One of the things that caught my attention was an adrenaline focused episode based in New Zealand. Now, before I watched it, I always associated New Zealand with sheep, the shire, Maori culture, and rugby. Apparently, I was missing a major factor: thrill sports. Bungee jumping, skydiving, rolling down hills in giant hamster balls (apparently called ‘Zorbing’)… you name it — this South Pacific island has it all — and in great supply. The moment I saw Scott and Justin step foot off the plane and into freefall, I knew this is where I wanted to go skydiving for the first time. I know myself well enough to admit I highly doubt I will ever go bungee jumping, but skydiving is something that most definitely intrigues me. One ticket to Queenstown, New Zealand please!

Volcano boarding in Nicaragua

Nicaragua has been on my list since high school. Volcanoes have fascinated me since childhood. I used to go tobogganing all the time. Is this the perfect extreme sport for Emily Koopman? It just might be. Lonely Planet has suggested a place called Bigfoot in León — and it looks to me that it could be the best place in the country to give it a go. The activity was invented by the owner, and when trying something potentially dangerous, you want your guides and company to know their shit.

Whitewater rafting in Zimbabwe

Thankfully, like most of the activities on my list, this one promises you need no experience. I just hope they’re right, because sinking to my death below Victoria Falls isn’t exactly how I pictured myself going… but what a story it would be for my funeral, huh? I don’t know anything about rafting… at all… but they say that the experiences on the Zambezi provide “some of the world’s most scenic grade five rapids”. Not sure how they grade these things, but grade five sounds good to me.

Paragliding in Rio

This last one was a toss up between this, or ziplining in Costa Rica. But ya girl has already been ziplining, so I figured I should have something that I haven’t even remotely touched yet. This is another thing I saw on “Departures”. I never had an interest in it before, but those guys just looked like they were having too much fun. There’s something so peaceful and serene about the idea of gliding above tropical rainforests and seeing a bustling metropolis like Rio from high in the air. I know it’s pretty pricey, but something tells me it would be worth it.

By Emily, on September 15th, 2018, under Personal, Travel // Comments Off on The Age of Adrenaline

Nobody Likes You When You’re 23: 5 Goals Before 24

Yours truly in Times Square, NYC, October 2017

Here’s the thing, I don’t like putting my goals or aspirations down on paper for others to see; the main reason being that if I don’t accomplish them, it’s always embarrassing to have failed. This is the age I aim to stop being embarrassed by the small defeats and just keep working at them until they’ve been accomplished. So, feel free to disregard the title of this post (aside from the Blink-182 reference, take that baby in), as I’m not pushing myself too hard to get it all done before my next birthday. BUT, as the great Michael Scott once said, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take. – Wayne Gretzky”.

1) Get better (or at least make a valiant effort) at preparing and cooking meals. I get to move back in with one of my best friends in March, and she’s going to be working 5 days a week. I’m still in the process of getting a job back in the city (I’ve been living at home for a bit because Vancouver is so dang expensive. So expensive in fact, that it recently beat out Manhattan and San Francisco as the most costly city in North America. Yikes.), but I’ve been interviewing for one that I think I would really enjoy. It’s shift work, and would require me to be away from home for days at a time, sometimes on weekends — but when I would have the chance to be home, I’d be able to prepare meals and try to better myself in general… which is a perfect segway to…

2) Get in shape. For real. No, actually. I have never been, and never will be, that person who finds joy in being active. Yes, I love hiking and I will hike to the ends of the earth, but there is no way — and no one — who will ever convince me to join a fitness class. (Been there, done that, cried a lot in the locker room). There are several contributing factors to my weight fluctuation. I’m not sure I feel comfortable getting into all of them right now, but one of the reasons is my constant battle with depression, anxiety, and an eating disorder. Yes, here’s the written confirmation. I eat a bunch, and then hardly eat anything. It’s a vicious cycle. Sometimes I eat one meal a day, sometimes I sleep all day and skip food entirely, and other days I eat anything and everything in sight; consequently feeling like out-and-out shit and full of self-loathing. I try and I try to get it under control, but it’s one of the most difficult things in my life to take charge of. I do 3 to 5 miles of aerobic walking a day, 7 days a week. I also fall in and out of doing HIIT circuits (basically when I don’t feel like walking) with weights, etc. In short, my life is a mess and I want to try my absolute darndest at being kinder to myself and my body.

3) Write more. When I’m on my medication, I find it more difficult to get the words out on paper. Like, I need to work really hard at it. I envy those who can just decide that they’re going to sit down and pump out 10 pages of a script on Monday evening. I’ve tried weaning off pills to increase creativity in the past, but it caused more problems than it solved. A lot more. It’s devastating to be mentally unable to do something when it’s what you really, really want to do. I figure that there must be a way to train myself to just sit and spew out whatever comes to mind on the page, even if it’s absolute garbage. Rewrites are the divine sanction of the writing world. Being able to complete another feature and a pilot would be a major accomplishment.

4) Change someone’s (or something’s) life. I mean, preferably for the better. Try to get that bad juju out of their hair. In all seriousness, if I can change someone’s life for the better, be it sponsoring a child in need, saving an animal’s life, or simply being the most supportive friend that I can. I would love to travel to developing countries and teach them about sustainable menstrual care, or entertain children in refugee camps, but the money to do will be slightly out of reach, living in the city. I’ll find a way, one of these days. Another downside of city life is that it’s impossible to adopt pets when you’re renting a place. One day I’ll own all of the animals in the whole wide world that need homes.

5) Learn more. I love to learn. Contrary to my opinions on high school, the learning aspect wasn’t so bad. It was the social aspect. One time, I made the mistake of taking French and Spanish in the same semester, which made for the respective teachers asking if I was currently taking the other class (the verbs are very similar, yet different). At the moment, I’m only fluent in French and English, but I would love to learn more. The two I’m most interested in are Arabic and Romanian, but I feel since Romanian is also a Romance language, I may have an easier time grasping it than something as unique as Arabic. I’m still working on memorizing all the world’s capitals too. I have all of them down except the African countries, which are harder than they look. Of course, the best way to learn is through experiences, so traveling is naturally included in this. This year I’ve done pretty well on the travel front. In January 2017, I went to Disneyland, then in May I ventured off to France and Madagascar, in October I was touring Central Park in New York City, and in December, I was dining with ghosts in New Orleans. On the 10th, I’m heading back to Southern California (I was just there for most of January), with 3 wonderful ladies, where we will spend a fabulous Galentine’s Day (and our birthdays!) dining at Goofy’s Kitchen and riding ALL the rides at Disneyland and DCA.

Anyway, here’s to 23.

By Emily, on February 1st, 2018, under Personal // Comments Off on Nobody Likes You When You’re 23: 5 Goals Before 24


Traditional Malagasy fisherman prepare for their daily excursion © Emily Koopman

The better part of the day was spent on the road, some of which was not in ideal condition. We ended our journey in the driest part of Madagascar, crossing sandy soil and mangrove trees, somewhat similar to what you might expect in Florida. When we reached the small fishing village of Ifaty, we only continued a tad further to the outskirts, where our beach bungalow awaited us. We bid Andry farewell, as he had the long journey back to Tana ahead of him. This time alone. The coast was the hottest location we had visited during the whole of our trip. Albeit beautiful, there wasn’t an awful lot to do except wander the beach. Since we were right on the ocean, I found it appropriate to have some seafood for lunch. We sat out on the restaurant deck, with picturesque views of the Mozambique Channel, and waited for our food to arrive. I had ordered “shrimp” (pretty sure they were actually prawns), and to my surprise, when placed on the table in front of me, their lifeless beady eyes stared straight into my soul. I had been warned they were fresh, but I didn’t realize just how fresh. It was almost as if the seafood saw me. I felt increasingly guilty with every bite.

When we returned to the restaurant for dinner, I didn’t have seafood. Just before the meals arrived, I all of a sudden began to feel nauseous. We were treated to traditional Malagasy entertainment, and even offered the opportunity to participate in a dance; I had to politely decline, in fear of accidentally covering the person in front of me with vomit. Eventually, I excused myself from the table and scurried off to the bathroom — where I proceeded to be sick for nearly 5 minutes straight. Let me tell you, I felt incredible after (even with occasional diarrhea run from my flu).

We spent the following day relaxing and exploring the beach. I found a praying mantis crossing the stone walkway which connected the bungalows, and decided an impromptu photoshoot was the way to go. It seemed like he was posing for the camera, and may have been on Project Runway in a past life. I should also mention that the sand surrounding the path was always covered (and I mean covered) in tracks left by the many hermit crabs that inhabit the area.

On the beach, we were followed by a woman (who had made her presence known from below as we ate earlier), continuingly insisting we check out the items she had for sale. Since I’m terrible at saying no, we wandered over to some spread out blankets in the sand where two of her friends were also set up. They were adamant that something be purchased from each of them, and although it was somewhat irritating, I could empathize with their situation and really did need more souvenirs for people anyway.

On the morning of the 29th, we were picked up by a driver and taken to the small airport in Tuléar where we caught a short flight back to Tana. Upon arrival in the capital city, we were greeted by a friendly and familiar face – Andry! He took us back to our original hotel where I tracked and followed geckos late into the evening. Since we hadn’t been able to do the hike a couple days prior, the tour company offered to buy us dinner at the restaurant hotel which was awfully thoughtful of them. One of the waiters and I had a grand ole time discussing geckos as we watched them clamber the terrace walls, hiding behind a light in preparation for moths and other insects going kamikaze in said direction.

The two of us spent nearly the entire consecutive day preparing ourselves for the flight home. Fortunately, I was feeling much better, but Grandma was beginning to show signs of sickness. She decided we best walk down the hill to the nearest pharmacy to get some flu medication, so that we did. It was a nice walk — not too hot, not too cold — and it only took about 10 minutes each way. The hotel staff had advised us not to take our wallets or cameras, as there was a local market nearby where pickpocketing was rampant. So we just grabbed a few ariary (the local currency) and went on our way.

That night was melancholic, as I watched my last Malagasy sunset from our balcony. I wound up taking a power nap, knowing that we were being picked up at 10:30 pm to catch our flight back to Paris.

Andry brought his wife along for the ride, and the 4 of us drove through the humming city of Antananarivo for the last time. Outside, we said our goodbyes and promised to keep in touch. When we finally made it through security and into the waiting area, it was almost like being back in the rainforest in terms of humidity. It felt like time had stopped in the airport, and it was bizarre seeing such a large number of white people again. The amount of security checkpoints (after the original) was also surprising. I watched a lot of movies on that plane ride.

The rest of the story isn’t quite as interesting; we arrived back in Paris and took a shuttle to our nearby hotel. I conked out upon arrival, only to be awakened by my grandma for a food break. We ate at the neat music-themed restaurant in the lobby, and then we both went back to bed, as we had an early flight back home the next morning.

When I originally decided I wanted to visit Madagascar, I figured it would be a once in a lifetime thing, but looking back on it now, I refuse to let that be the case. Nearly every part of me longs to visit again. Whenever I reminisce about the experience, I can’t help but feel excited and ready for adventure; my single lament being catching the flu (which actually returned full force in back in Canada, leading to having bloodwork done to test for malaria; even though I had been taking anti-malarials the entire trip). I’ll be honest when I say it wasn’t altogether what I was expecting, layout-wise anyway, but there was something magical about it. Like many countries, it’s a place you have to experience for yourself to fully understand what I mean.

By Emily, on October 9th, 2017, under Travel // Comments Off on A LOOK BACK AT MADAGASCAR – PART 5: FINALE


A curious Ring-Tailed Lemur © Emily Koopman

On May 24th, we made our way to Setam Lodge in the midst of the country’s most famous National Park. The hotel was nice, but not quite as nice as Vakona. There were also a lot more bugs — especially in the bathroom. Ants and moths galore! I was starting to get sick; sneezing, congested, and had very little energy. I still went on a hike that morning, determined to see more lemurs. Our guide was very sweet, though I didn’t catch her name. This trek included “a spotter”, whose job it was to go ahead of us and keep an eye out for wildlife. Grandma figured she would give the walk a go, and Andry said he would come with us in case she had had enough and wanted to turn around. They did eventually head back early, so it was just me, the guide, and the spotter.

This forest was even more remarkable than the one in Andasibe, but the trails were much steeper — meaning enormously more difficult when you feel like death warmed over.

We crossed bridges, jumped from stone to stone across rivers and creeks, and pushed past branches and bushes in search of wildlife. I tried not to think of how many spiders I had probably come into contact with. The spotter was just as great as the guide, and eventually, we came across some Greater Bamboo Lemurs, one of which came down from the tree, grabbed a stick of bamboo, and ate it about a foot in front of us. The guide said this was a very rare occurrence, as this particular species generally stay as far away as possible. They’re also one of the world’s most endangered primates, and were actually thought to be extinct until 1986… only around 500 exist today. It was an honor to see. Sadly, we cut the hike a little short due to my increasing sickness. I was so disappointed — there were still several lemur species I hadn’t seen that called the area home. My body just wasn’t having it though.

Later, after resting up for a while, I went on another night walk with the guide from earlier. We saw the cutest little mouse lemur, a frog (which it wasn’t yet the season for), and lots of chameleons.

The next day I wasn’t feeling any better. We headed to a much drier part of the country, which I prayed would be better for my flu. We made a few stops along the way, including a traditional silk factory. I didn’t think it would be as fascinating as it was. I didn’t end up purchasing anything, but it was clear that the women put a ton of effort into their work, as it’s all a very tedious process.

Once we finished up there, we drove to a paper factory, where two women were working even though it was a local holiday. Andry showed us around before we settled in for lunch at the little restaurant next door. I only had fruit, water, and some medicine that Andry had managed to track down for me. Bless his heart.

Next, we went to a small private park that the village had put together, to see the famed Ring-Tailed Lemur. I really wasn’t feeling good, and Grandma didn’t want to walk far, so we did a short 45-minute circuit. Our guide and spotter were two young men (probably around my age), with no shoes. Both were exceedingly knowledgeable and, in true Malagasy fashion, extraordinarily friendly. We saw tons of Ring-Tails and even the indigenous Flatid Leaf Bug, which I had been hoping to come across at some point. Once we returned to Andry and the vehicle, it was off to Isalo for the night.

I spent the subsequent day in bed, upset that I had to opt out of a hike through the desert canyon. The hotel could have almost been considered luxurious, and was truthfully the ideal place to take a day off. I was even brought all of my meals in bed, despite not having a large appetite. Most of the day was split between sleeping and wallowing in self-pity due to the fact that I was missing out on what had promised to be another once in a lifetime hike.

After a good night’s sleep, we continued to Tuléar; traveling through dry forests and the spiny desert. I was feeling a little bit better, but still not entirely up to snuff. We drove by plenty of striking tombs, which are hoped by the people to be built with great care and expense. It became clear as we passed each monument which families were better off than others.

By Emily, on October 8th, 2017, under Travel // Comments Off on A LOOK BACK AT MADAGASCAR – PART 4: I SAW KING JULIEN!