I met Emily and her music when I moved to London some years ago. I listened to her songs and I immediately fell in love with her amazing creations. The intensity of her music has affected me very much, and I think she also deserves to be known outside the musical circuits.
We interviewed her for you, and at this point, I would say good reading and good listening.
When did you start playing? Could you tell me more about your education, your first experiences, and your background?
I grew up in a family of professional musicians and was surrounded by instruments and music from the moment I was born. It seemed inevitable that I would play an instrument or two in my life and that I would be influenced by my family history which is so heavily based around music. I started playing the violin at the age of 6 or 7 and at 10 decided to take up the trumpet! It wasn’t until I was 12 or 13 that I started to write songs on the piano and for some reason, I didn’t touch a guitar until I was 19!
I know you play with a band, a family band, can you tell me more about the story of this project?
As a child I would write songs on the lovely old grand piano that we had in our family for many years. When I was 18, I began to record my tunes on a simple sound card from our local music shop. I would always involve my family who played various string instruments – cello and violin and then I would play the drums myself! (I was also fortunate to grow up with a beautiful 1960’s Premier kit that belongs to my father – he used to play in bands in the 70’s.) These days, my father and sister write string quartet arrangements for many of my songs and in my latest album “Left Right”, the quartet is formed of my mother, sister and two cousins!
Do you think London is a good place to develop a musician career? Is it hard or easy to be part of the music scene in London? Could you tell me more about your experience there?
I have spent 30 years in London and the majority of my musical career has been based here. Despite all of this, I have found the music scene to be both exciting and at the same time depressing. I don’t think that I truly knew how a musician should be treated until I went on tour to New York last September. I was thrilled to be able to play some gigs over there and not only was the reception incredibly welcoming and warm, but I was treated with a respect that I hadn’t really experienced in London apart from one or two bars which I continue to play in. Not only was I paid for a number of gigs there (and paid well!) but whenever there wasn’t a pay packet at the end of the night, there was always a few dollars from the hat that went around the bar. One bar, in particular, An Beal Bocht in the Bronx, I was offered a gig and was not allowed to pay for a pint because I was a performer. Here in London, I’ve played gigs where I’ve arrived a few minutes early for sound check and not been allowed to wait in the venue – myself and my drummer forced to stand outside in the pouring rain while the staff prepares the venue. The distinction between the two cities and the way they treat their artists is astonishing and I sincerely believe that London has a lot to learn.
I listen to your CDs and I adore them, I think music and voice create a great mix. Are there autobiographical elements in your project? Are you inspired by something or someone in particular?
Thank you very much for your kind words! I think that like anyone who has a passion for their Art, there is an autobiographical element. It is important to me to be able to translate this into my songs, even if it doesn’t always make sense to the listener (and sometimes my lyrics are a bit obscure!) I am inspired by people, love, strange things (a song I wrote!) and animals! There are huge musical influences of course too, being raised on The Beatles and Beach Boys, Joni Mitchel and Neil Young, Patti Smith, and Bob Dylan. There are countless modern day bands that I love too like PJ Harvey, Beach House and Martha Wainwright.
What are your plans for the future? Are you planning some new?
I am about to perform my Irish debut in Cork City this February 20th and I can’t wait for that! Apart from this gig, I’m not performing very much because I am writing and preparing to record an EP. It will be the first time that I’ve recorded an EP because until now, I’ve never seen the point! Even now, I’m not sure what the point is but I just want to do it anyway! So watch this space!