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Interview | Five minutes with emaé

Hello emaé, how are you doing?

I’m very well Georges, thank you. Are you well?

I’m good thanks! When I first listened to your single “Something Beautiful”, it immediately reminded me of Emeli Sande, I was wondering if you get a lot of people comparing you to her?

Ha! I do get it, but not a whole lot. I understand where it comes from though, musically, Emeli is known as a songwriter and her personality is very present in her sound. Similarly, I only know how to write songs about things that are real to me, things that resonate with me. Plus obviously I’m a black female Scottish singer so naturally people are going to associate me with who they already know. It’s a great way to start out though! She’s a phenomenal talent. Also, I’ve just gotten here so I think once I release a couple more songs, it will be much easier to differentiate me as an artist.

Sure. What inspired you to write “Something Beautiful”?

I’m very curious about real love and about how it can sustain over years and pull people through the hardest situations. I’m also a people-watcher and sometimes when I looked around at different couples, I would wonder what attracted them to each other. Everyone says, ‘my wife is the most this or my husband is the most that’ but clearly no one is perfect. So there’s this amazing reality that real love can love through imperfection. That was the basis of “Something Beautiful.” The object of the song doesn’t have special hair or eyes or anything really, but actually that doesn’t matter when someone is truly in love.

I couldn’t agree more! I can hear the folk, gospel and soul influences on the single, is this a style you decided to infuse on purpose or did it just come naturally?

I think every artist is a melting pot of their influences. It’s not something I’ve done on purpose. If I tried to sound a certain way on purpose it wouldn’t be authentic and people can see through that. I just came across, and loved, music from singers like Fred Hammond and Israel Houghton at the same time as I was developing as an artist. I also started going to a lot of acoustic gigs where great folk was quite prominent but I think my musical influences will ebb and flow as I grow further as an artist.I have no idea when a song is good, but for me the litmus test is if the sound is true to who I am. With “Something Beautiful”, I guess that meant folk, gospel and soul. For the next one it’ll be something different.

Who were the main artists you looked up to when growing up?

I didn’t actually grow up immersed in music the way other artists did. My clearest memories of music as a child were:

1. Listening to a CD on repeat that had a Whitney Houston track and a Celine Dion track on it, I don’t even remember which ones, I think I was 10 or 11.

2. Don Moen, a Christian singer. My dad had a tape of one of his concerts that played in the car all the time.

3. One time we bought breakfast cereal and the box came with a free cd of Disney soundtracks- Track 6 was ‘Under the Sea,’ you know, the Little Mermaid theme tune. Sebastian had some vocals you know, hats off.

So for the last few years I’ve been having a great time playing catch-up, now I absolutely love Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson, all the greats. I spend hours on YouTube. Jonathan Butler- he’s great.

It’s amazing how you’ve lived in countries such as Scotland, Botswana, Zambia, Zimbabwe, before settling in London, has that had any effect on your music?

It definitely has, even aside from their different musical cultures, every place had a different sound. From the accent, to how busy or quiet the roads were, to the way people interacted with each other and as a creative, these were the things I would pick up on. I still do that now- because London is so multi-cultural and there are so many different sounds, sometimes it’s fun to just listen to the inflections in people’s voices. Ultimately it all filters through to the type of music I make.

Can you speak any other languages?

To my everlasting shame, I can’t.

You have recently completed a degree in Pharmacy at King’s College, how difficult was it balancing your studies with music?

It was definitely hard, but I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything. Pharmacy and music are actually very similar and I use a lot of the principles I learned during my degree in my music career. Things like doing a bucket load of research, taking responsibility for your own choices, planning ahead. I wouldn’t feel as prepared to be a musician if I hadn’t done my pharmacy degree.

Who are you listening to at the moment?

I have been obsessed with Bon Iver’s “Holocene” album recently.

If you had the chance to collaborate with anyone within the music industry, who would it be and why?

Lady Smith Black Mambazo – the way they harmonise moves me to my core. That would be a genuine dream come true.

What can you bring to the music industry that you feel is missing right now?

I’m not sure that I’m the right person to answer that, I think time will answer that. I have no idea what makes me unique aside from the fact that by default, every human is unique. So like I said, I try my best to stay true to myself because then I can sort of guarantee that the music will have something different, even if I’m not sure what that is. I guess I’ve come into music with the hope that because there are around 7 billion people on the planet, there might be a few out there who will get me.

And finally can you tell us what we can expect from your EP please ?

Yep definitely! It won’t all be acoustic like “Something Beautiful”, there are tracks coming, like my next single, that have some really great full production on them. I’ve been working with a production duo out of Southampton, called Hi-Sonorous, who completely understand me, and that makes recording these songs super easy. Hopefully after listening to the EP from start to finish you’ll feel like we’ve sat together and had a good chat.

Download ”Something Beautiful” for free now 

Follow emaé on twitter @emaeMUSIC 

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