Every Monday we will be bringing you an unsigned singer or band as part of our Independent Music Monday feature. This week, we caught up with Emma Miller find out more about her...
Where are you from and how did you first get into music?
I am from a small town called Elgin in the north east of Scotland, but I’ve been based in London for the past 3 and a bit years. I first got into music after a secondary school teacher got the class to do an improv of some basic piano chords in one of our music lessons (something to do with music theory…). It seems so obvious, but realising that you could write and compose your own music was some kind of epiphany for me in that moment. I pretty much started writing my own songs from then (age 12) and entering various school talent shows with my own material.
Who were your musical influences when you were growing up and who are your influences now?
I definitely remember my Mum and I being massive Norah Jones fans. Seeing someone who wasn’t a perfectly packaged pop star and who was creating real songs and all whilst sitting at her piano certainly had an impact on me. I can’t say that I listen to her currently. I’m a huge fan of bands like The Staves, Bon Iver and artists such as Agnes Obel. The main influence I take into my own music from these artists is their use of harmony and melody. I’d say that’s what I find most enjoyable when writing.
How would you describe your sound?
I really struggle to describe my sound and I wish the reason was because it’s so alternative and abstract, but that isn’t the case. I feel it is somewhere in between elements of folk, pop and perhaps influences of more classic singer-songwriters such as Joni Mitchell. I want to create an atmosphere in my music that really draws you in and I am still striving to strike the perfect balance between live instrumentation and elements of more electronic production as that’s the kind of music I love to listen to.
What is your latest single called and what was the influence behind it?
The new single is called 'Wasteland'. I had been watching the Syrian refugee crisis unfold on almost every news channel for most of summer 2016 and I had also just finished reading “The New Odyssey: A Story of Europe’s Refugee Crisis” by Patrick Kingsley. This book was eye opening and gave a gripping and graphic insight into the journey of refugees across Syria and onto Turkey, Egypt and Greece. I wrote the song when I was home that Christmas in Scotland. I think the combination of reflecting on all of this and the somewhat melancholy feeling we can get at that time of year lead me to sit down and write this song pretty quickly at my piano. There are various metaphors within the song, but I think without knowing why or when I wrote it, it should be taken as a simple love song.
What’s your local music scene like?
My local scene is NW London and it’s great. I am lucky enough to live with 3 other very talented musician friends and I am definitely in a bubble of incredible up and coming music makers. Seeing friends such as Sasha, Greta Isaac, Odina, Foxgluvv and producers such as Scott Colcombe and Whyetc absolutely smash 2018 is pretty inspiring. You should keep and eye out for Heidi North and Jimmy Gaughan who are two new artists I can’t wait to hear later in the year.
What do you have planned for the next 12 months? Any albums or festivals?
I am planning on releasing an EP later in the year which I’m pretty excited about. Finally sharing a more varied body of work is something I am looking forward to. I’m not planning on hitting the festival scene this year, but I might be doing a few shows in Scotland in the summer which would be amazing. There will be one or two shows to keep a look out for.
Is there anyone you’d love to collaborate with?
The Staves! I am slightly obsessed… Anyone who can deliver flawless harmonies and incredible arrangements has a fan for life in me. Again, Bon Iver is another insanely talented artist (who The Staves supported) so there’s no chance I’d be turning him down if he wanted to produce my album!
Any funny stories surrounding your live performances?
The most recent one was at my headline show back home. I had to apologise before I’d even started playing as I felt the need to explain that the reason my Granny had proceeded to sit at the front and put her hands over her ears during the support act wasn’t because she was protesting, but because she suffers with tinnitus… This was after my Dad had already spilled an entire pint over one of my friends. The price you pay for having family at a gig. It was mortifying!
What is the one thing that you want readers to know about you?
I have so much more to come! I’ve only scratched the surface with the releases so far and even though I’ve just put out another single, the song was actually written in 2016 - so I feel the music I’ll be releasing next is finally catching up to where I am as a writer and I’m just really looking forward to sharing it with as many people as possible.