Interview | Introducing…Emma Garrett

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How would you describe your music?

It’s a really tough one as I’m not sure it fits in with a particular genre specifically and yet it’s not crazily alternative either. I think it’s avant-garde pop/folk with operatic flourishes. It has an epic nature to it, a really big sound that’s almost like film music. It has some really odd touches in there, structurally and lyrically. There are experimental urges, it’s pretty dramatic but I’d like to think honest too.

When did you first realise this music malarkey was for you? What does music mean to you?

Well, the cold harsh reality of the day job and all the sensibilities that brings has always inspired me to keep writing! I loved music at a very young age, watching gigs and singing. However, I don’t know if I realised I wanted to write songs until, basically, I was about 15 and I met a boy I fancied and he played the guitar. I wanted to impress him by learning the chords to a Staind song on the guitar. We’d practice ‘It’s Been A While’ together, the teen angst was through the roof! But I fell in love with the guitar and I started to write songs.

What’s the worst thing about being a musician?

Saying you’re a musician and then convincing people you don’t want to be on The Voice or X Factor. Also, being a musician is not enough, especially now – you have to be so much more than that.

What do you write about and what inspires you?

I tend to find strength from things that I shouldn’t – and by that I mean that I like to write songs that often present a feeling of loss and anger, but that makes me strong and allows me to grow and be independent. Through that there’ll often be a moment in the song that communicates growing strength. I do like to grapple with the ides of addiction, obsession and loneliness and I try to write about people or issues I have met or experienced without it being too specific. Women are a massive inspiration in my music also, from all parts of my life.

If you could invite three music artists round for dinner, alive or dead, who would they be and why?

I’d love to meet Edith Piaf – the auto-biographical element to her music was incredible, what a life lived and yet still surrounded by mystery as well. Secondly it would have to be Anna Calvi as her music is a real inspiration to me. It’s so powerful, her voice is incredible and she plays the guitar like Hendrix! And I think Nile Rodgers could give us a pretty amazing soundtrack for the evening.

What are you most proud of in your musical career, to date?

Recording my E.P at Eastcote Studios when I had a wisdom tooth determined to kill me! It was three very crazy days but it was amazing recording in a studio with that atmosphere. Fruit and a little whisky got me through.

If you could have written one song, which would it be and why?

It sounds a bit soft but I love ‘First Time Ever I Saw Your Face’. Although over-used now, I think it’s a really simple and beautiful song. It’s strangely uplifting and reminds me of my parents dancing drunkenly. I also think it’s a song where you can really hear the personality of the singer’s voice and it does not need to be sung perfectly, just with a bit of oomph!

What are your ambitions for your music?

My main ambition is to play live as much as possible in amazing venues with a great history. I’d love to tour. But specifically, more close to home I’ve always wanted to play at The Union Chapel and at Somerset House. Hopefully my writing will just get better and I can be brave enough to keep developing the sound and not worry about the risks. Whenever I listen to music, I equate it to a train journey; I love staring out the window and listening to an album from start to finish. If someone has the desire to do that with my album then I’d be pretty chuffed.

Finally, we’re always looking to expand our musical horizons. Do you have any recommendations of bands or artists we should be looking out for?

Anna Meredith is incredible, wonderful multi-instrumentalist. As I said before, Anna Calvi. Also HockeySmith.

The single ‘This Is It’ is out now with a debut EP to follow in spring.