26 October 2011

Scots Way-Hay #73 - Emily Scott

Okay so Emily Scott may well be from Northern Island, but seeing as she's based in Edinburgh I can technically classify her as a Scot, or at least I am going to try to (she might not quite agree). The multi-instrumentalist has just released her third album 'I write letters I never send', a cracking wee album that's charmed the pants off me over this past month. Having been somewhat disappointed by the new St. Vincent album, her new album filled that void and then some. Her soulful vocals, blend in with off-kilter folk-pop to produce an album which is either destined to either make her a new star on the Scottish music scene, either that or this is destined to become one of those classic lost albums. Please don't let it be the latter. Anyway, that's enough of my ramblings, here's Emily with some more sensible words of wisdom...

Would you care to introduce yourself?

Helloooo. I'm Emily Scott.

How would you describe the music you make?

I sing and play ukulele, and write music for a string trio, then the string trio play really well and people listen and fall in love, or eat their lunch by mistake, or cry, or get run over, or fall asleep. One of those.

How did you start out making music?

Like anyone I think; I pushed the buttons on the piano and noise came out, and it was the best fun ever.

What process goes into the way you write songs?

Pretty much nothing has changed since then… I play around a bit, it's usually a musical phrase first that naturally lends itself to some key words, then the thing builds outward in all directions from that.

What artists would you say have had the biggest influence on you?

Musically pretty much everything I've ever heard, I don't seem to have a filter, which makes me a bit uncool, because what you listen to helps people decide what you are. The music that inspires me is never what we end up sounding like, so I'd consider it a major influence but not a direct one: I listened to Smog's "A River Ain't Too Much to Love" for about a year while I made these songs, and I don't think any of it has rubbed off, for shame, I just feed off the sound of his voice. Same with Elvis Costello's "The Juliet Letters" which is all string quartet, but I don't think we sound like it at all, despite it being a main inspiration in getting the strings involved.

What kind of influence do you feel that where you come from has had on the music you create?

I'm from Belfast; there's an obvious folk element based there, but I'm definitely not traditional 'folk', we get offered these gigs, and play to bemused faces. I grew up mostly in the country though, so my lyrics are definitely influenced by the land itself, and I'm quite nostalgic about my childhood in Ireland, but that's more to do with the childhood than the place.

What would you like someone who’s listening to you for the first time to take away from your music?

I suppose what I'm working on is to evoke some kind of feeling, or to capture a feeling for myself, but I'm not about to dictate what other people should take away from it, that's something different. I like to be treated like a grown-up as a listener, where meaning develops with listening, so I don't spoon-feed people as such. I'm not out to create hooks that make people feel a certain way; I present the material, and see. Maybe I'm an idiot, it's not exactly the path to writing a hit, is it?

What has been your most memorable gig to date, (be it good or bad)?

We just had our first tour, which could've been a disaster, because I booked it myself and half expected no-one to come to see us anywhere, but it was amazing, and we pulled off a string of small but intimate and really warm gigs in village halls, bookshops, and tearooms around the UK, all memorable in their own eclectic way. There are certainly things I'd do differently next time, but I feel like that's a do-able thing now.

What are your plans for the rest of the year and beyond?

We're up in Aberdeen at the end of the October for the Sound festival, then it's back to the drawing board, I'm dying to get back to writing because the release and tour have meant months of admin, so I'm looking forward to winter in my cupboard with the piano.

Emily Scott - If I Am A Thing

Emily's new album 'I Write Letters I Never Send' is available now via her Bandcamp, I'd thoroughly recommend you check it out as it's one of the finest things I have heard all year.


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