Photo Credit: Sequoia Ziff
The following interview is ‘in conversation with’ Emma Gatrill, a multi-instrumentalist based in Brighton, UK. With two records out, Chapter I (2012) and Cocoon (2017) and a huge amount of live shows under her belt, Emma is clearly an accomplished musician with a lot ahead to look forward to. We chat about Emma’s current projects, her songwriting technique, future plans and more.
Hi Emma, how are things going? What are you working on and doing at the moment?
Hello, I’m very well thanks. I just got back from supporting This Is The Kit on their UK and Ireland dates, and I’m currently on the road touring in Willy Mason’s band and trying to find the time to work on new material in between!
In your two albums you mostly play harp, is that correct? What other instruments do you play?
Yes, I usually write songs on the harp but I also play quite a few other instruments which you can hear on the recordings. I play piano and synthesisers as well as clarinets and saxophones. I also play a bit of guitar bass and vibraphone on the record.
Does your songwriting usually begin with you and your harp or do you experiment with drum machines and synths first? Could you explain this process to us?
Yes, I usually begin writing songs with the harp. I come up with ideas and then usually the vocal melodies come second, and then I start to experiment with words and other textures. For the next release I’m trying to invert the process by getting different drummers and electronic musicians to make me drum grooves/loops to write to and see where it takes me.
What music and artists are you listening to currently?
Recently I’ve been listening to the latest Destroyer and Juana Molina records as well as Lisa Hannigan, Andy Shauf and Jesca Hoop to name a few.
Would you say these artists influence your work? If so, how?
I love discovering new music, I think it’s a great way to explore different textural palettes.
You seem to be very busy on tour a lot! Do you enjoy this or prefer writing days at home?
Yes this year so far has been extremely busy! I really enjoy being on the road, getting to discover new places and meet new people – it’s a really inspiring adventure to be on. I’m also very much looking forward to being home and having a chance to do some writing. I don’t have my harp with me on this current tour and I’m missing it!
We are really enjoying your cover of This Is The Kit’s song ‘Two Wooden Spoons’, are there any more covers in the works?
Thank you! I don’t usually do covers – it’s actually the first I’ve ever recorded. I wanted to celebrate that I was going on the road supporting This is the Kit in January so thought it was a nice way to do so. Kate writes fantastic music!
Late last year I played a few shows in Holland and I was invited to perform for a video blog called Onder Invloed (Under The Influence) which asked artists to perform covers of songs that influence them. I won’t tell you which songs, but one is a cover of Bjork and the other Emiliana Torrini – the videos should hopefully be published online soon.
Finally, is there anything else we should look forward to in the near future?
I have a couple of shows in Brighton and London in April supporting Abi Wade at her album launches and then I’m off to Japan alongside Rachael Dadd to play some shows which has been a dream of mine for a while so I am extremely excited about that.