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Getting To Know: Emma Gatsby

Emma possesses a rare talent for enchantment and captivation. Her deep connection to life is beautifully expressed through her music, crafting tracks that evoke tears of joy with lyrics steeped in fearless sensuality. Enriching her compositions with instruments from around the globe, Emma treats listeners to a cultural feast that includes the native American flute, tabla, didgeridoo, and banjo.

As a versatile and multi-genre writer rooted in progressive folk, Emma initiates her musical journey on the guitar. Collaborating with various producers, she transforms her formidable songs into a diverse spectrum, ranging from progressive folk to ambient pop, liquid drum and bass, and even house. Already gracing stages across Europe, Australasia, and the USA, Emma's music is a direct reflection of her powerful life experiences.

A true wordsmith, performing artist, and recording artist, Emma is a songstress of sheer delight—an artist not just to be heard but experienced. Her devotion to her craft is evident, making her a compelling presence in the world of music.

1)Your music is often described as enchanting and captivating, blending various cultural influences. Can you share the inspiration behind your unique sound and the diverse range of instruments you incorporate into your compositions?

So at the age of 21 I left my hometown of Bristol, it was an abrupt change following a dramatic time at home and I ran to the mountains Armutalan, Southern Turkey for some space.  I was enchanted by the sounds of the Darbuka drums and Ney flutes that I had heard playing in the markets, thus began my early moves around the planet soaking up native sounds. One of the first things I did when I travelled in Australia was to make a Didgeridoo ( which my mum's dog later ate!) I played my very first guitar in Australia and immediately found myself jamming with a Didge player and then by the time I got to India, where I first went to study Yogic traditions, I was very much into Kirtan. A Kirtan is a musically enhanced narration of stories.  The richness of sound there, especially enhanced in Temple spaces, got me totally hooked, but it was the Tabla that impressed me the most.  I bought a set of Tabla back with me from India as an exchange gift for the producer of Reflections, my very first studio production. Reflections had lots of the instrumentation I had fallen in love with in its final sound.  This desire to include native sounds has always stuck with me. I believe it probably always will.  I'd say it contributes massively to my  Progressive Folk sound. 

2. The Wilderness Project, co-created with Mikey Cooper of Buttersoft, is described as a stunning string-filled track with notes of a Disney number. Can you take us through the creative process?

Ooohhhh the creative process of The Wilderness Project....that's a big one! I honestly have struggled with (as do many creatives) self doubt sometimes to a debilitating degree. To step on stage and bare one's inner world takes so much courage.  I feel such a big responsibility of bringing songs to life because 90% of my melodies and lyrics get written in about 5 minutes. It's like an unstoppable force. I often get awoken around 4 am, and wearily have to find a pen to write the stream of song that's coursing its way through me, and The Wilderness Project was really no different. The major theme here however was that I had been seriously contemplating stopping writing altogether, I'd sorta got sick of the sound of my own was covid times too and I'd been sleeping in my tent in the woods connected to the house I was renting, purging, strumming and meditating, and working on myself. 

I'd literally dug a place in the earth to get naked, sit in, and cry body was hurting and I was trying to accept a diagnosis of M.E. I felt pretty spent but incredibly intune with life and then The Wilderness Project arrived  as a sort of, screw you Emma, there is no way you are giving up music! So the melody and chord structure arrived pretty much together along with lyrics that embraced the idea that creativity is a force of nature that cannot be prevented. It took 2 years however from that point to finish the track.  I met Mikey when he was teaching music online and living in a motorhome up near Manchester. He offered numerous of his multiple skills because he was super inspired by the track, we recorded the vocals and guitar in his home "container" studio on a farm. He's a perfectionist like me so I had to be super patient whilst he crafted multiple string parts around the core. I knew it would be worth the wait though.  We did the final assembly in early 2023 back in Bristol. I think the track embracesses the feelings of creativity in an upsurge of energy... you know when the heart has been broken multiple times,,,but then it's stitched back together again with the thread of optimism and then it starts exhale...then relief.  The strings seem to convey a lot of this feeling.  I love what Mikey did with them. 

3. Collaborating with Star Seed Soul Sounds resulted in the formation of a captivating female duo and the release of the Un<Muted EP. How did this collaboration come about, and what was the driving force behind merging your past works and creating entirely new compositions inspired by each other? 

I moved back to my hometown of Bristol in 2022...after 31 years away...I knew that coming home would create opportunities for me, my instincts were pretty alive at this time and I knew a partnership was on the horizon. Elena - aka StarSeed Soul initially  reached out through instagram... i think the conversation  went something like...hey...i like your voice...followed my hey...i like your sound.  I'd spent 3 days in an online workshop with CDBabys DIY Musician }}. and got super inspired by the integrated discussions on collaboration and how how best to do so,  so by the time i met with elena i had so many of the right questions....and she had all the right answers...well the ones i needed to really did feel as though it was a perfect match professionally and musically...but it wasn't until we started sharing works and ideas with each other that we realised how strong our writing connection would be. We had no choice but to merge past works. Elena had tracks that were ripe for melody and lyric and I had structured songs ready for beats.  We were both so inspired by each other's work so we threw some of these back and forth to begin with and our collective ideas fell into place...a bit like pairing the right cheese with the right chutney, or maybe i'm just saying this because it's christmas and I've been eating lots of cheese!! We had already decided on a 5 track E.P. plan. Elena would send me beats, I would send guitar pieces and was all pretty organic from there on in. Un<Muted was entirely crafted from scratch. We both make earworms of music.  Elenas meditative beat patterns forged a groove in my headphones, and the words "My reply is a resounding No"  came the lyrical magic really...Un<Muted felt like making music is meant to feel...unstoppable once again!!

4. Your musical journey has seen you explore different genres, from cover bands to dance music and now progressive folk. How has this diverse musical background influenced your current approach to creating music, and what do you enjoy most about experimenting with different styles?

Having such a diverse writing style has meant I havent had to feel stuck in one genre, I've always considered myself a multipotentialite ( it's a thing - take a google) in all walks of my life, music has been no different.  When I started out in Elliots Sleeping I was covering artists like Skunk Anansie, Alanis Morrissete and Radiohead, my main desire I guess had been to establish vocal skills, these soft rock artists helped me grow vocally. I've always enjoyed experimenting with the capacity for my voice, I've even done my time in a Gospel Choir where I had the pleasure of being coached by Karen Gibson who now heads up The Kingdom Choir.  I've chosen to stay open to the opportunities presented to me...I suppose I haven't liked the idea of boxing myself in musically creatively.  I've instead chosen to stay open to the opportunities presented to me. I feel confident I could write and perform in numerous genres.  Equally I know there are many that I couldn't but at least this way there are options.  I don't know if this is a good or bad thing. I hear people developing their sound....I have been more interested in developing my abilities. 

5. Having performed on stages in Europe, Australasia, and the USA, do you notice any regional influences shaping your music or performance style? How have these diverse audiences contributed to your artistic growth?

  I can honestly say that having performed on stages in Europe, Australasia, and the USA hasn't  massively influenced or shaped my musical styles, other than to assist me in continuing to remain open.  What I can say however is that US audiences are often really engaged and excited at shows,  their willingness to engage feeds back sweetly and encourages me in return to give more of myself, that is the main difference i've noticed.  I love Americans though to be fair, I have some special American friends. i'd love more American fans! I'm planning to go back there sooner rather than later. A US Tour would be something I would really enjoy. 

6. Your background includes working with bands like Elliots Sleeping and forming Gaia. How has your musical evolution from covers to original music, and now to electronic and progressive folk, shaped your identity as an artist? Additionally, what's next on the horizon for Emma Gatsby?

I started crafting my identity mainly as a vocalist and lyricist really early on in my musical journey. I grew up creating melodies with my dad on the rhythm strings from a really early age ( he was in a cool 70's band from Bristol called the Pentworth People) but it wasn't until I was 24 that my step-dad handed me my first guitar. I learnt one cover song and immediately spat out a dozen or so songs of my own on that guitar.  Spending time in Elliots Sleeping in the late 90's was super great for getting out there performing. We were a busy working band and we toured Holland the year I joined.  We were of course a covers band but I was desperate to get my own songs out there. Elliots Sleeping did engage with me on this level. I was able to integrate a few originals into the set but I was desperate for 'Gaia' and so bravely and haphazardly formed this first originals band in Brighton made up of mates and an ex!  I still sing songs from the time of Gaia in my set today. From Gaia onwards I've simply kept surrendering to the creativity of writing.  I am a creative first and foremost. I believe that working with younger people keeps my style fresh, I am 52 you know! But yeah, my style is timeless I suppose and my material is always drawn from powerful life experiences, which makes me highly relatable (so I've always been told) . My kids' "youth" mates love my music so I must have the ability to remain relevant.  It's hard to see oneself without a mirror! Fans are mirrors and I really need to grow my fan base this year and that means getting back out gigging. Choosing where though is one of my challenges right now.  It's been a busy year of production. It used to be written in my bio that I saw myself more of a performance artist than a production artist and I really wanted to change that narrative.  So following the last few years focussed on production it's really time to hit the stage again.  I've put together my "FEEL MORE WHOLE" show.  I'm excited about this show as it courageously links together all my music and writing styles...and I have visuals too I'm doing this show without a band, which also feels pretty brave as I have to trust that my performance will be enough! 

I've still so much Progressive Folk music to put into production, and sync-licencing deals to find!! Intention number 1 : Keep working hard and keep the self-destructive voices out!! 


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