Welcome to a new series on Belles and Gals where Nick Cantwell (twitter.com/nickbelles_gals) will be highlighting some of the very best acts on the UK country music scene, casting an eye over their music and chatting to the artists too. The series starts today with the wonderful Emma Jade.
Emma Jade first hit the public eye when she appeared on ‘The Voice’ back in 2013, impressing enough with her ‘countrified’ version of ‘Sweet Child of Mine’ saw Tom Jones hit his buzzer and swivel his chair to face her. Fast forward five years and Emma saw the release of her ‘Older Now’ EP in August 2018, a record that showed a real maturity in her talent, propelling her to be one of the most talked about artists on the scene.
‘Older Now’ is a stunningly good four track E.P, which shows off Emma’s ‘made for country’ voice with aplomb, while the songwriting has a rare depth and intensity about it. Stream the E.P below to listen for yourself.
With it being the start of a new year, I caught up with Emma and chatted about 2018, her record release and what she is looking forward to in 2019.
Hi Emma, with the release of your E.P. ‘Older Now’ 2018 was quite a year for you? How do you look back on last year?
Hi!, Yes, 2018 really was an incredible year for me. Looking back, I think I really grew as an artist throughout the year. I started off in quite a difficult headspace through January and February, I had been struggling with direction and had become sad and cynical about the state of the country music industry as a whole, I saw the struggles women in the industry were facing and that can be really daunting for a young artist. I think the turning point for me was making the decision to attend C2C last year. I saw so many amazing female artists being really appreciated by the fans over here and it lit a fire in me. Pretty much as soon as I arrived home I contacted Tim who produced the EP with me and the rest was as they say ‘history’. I think 2018 gave me some amazing music and through that music I gained a wonderful producer in Tim Prottey Jones, an amazing new band who I hope will stay with me for years to come and obviously the great new team I have over at MHMG Music Group.
‘Older Now’ was one of the standout releases in the UK last year. Tell us about the title of the E.P – do you now feel like you’re at a very different stage of your career?
Thank you! The title actually came very naturally to the EP, I guess you could say it almost named itself. I have been in this industry for ten whole years, I have done things that I could have never dreamed yet I still have so many goals left to achieve. Until this EP I have never recorded or released my own music, my reason being, I always felt I didn’t have anything worthwhile to write about or to say. The title is exactly as it reads, I released the EP because those songs, those experiences, helped me to grow and gave me a story to tell, they helped me to become the strong woman I am today.
Emma Jade performing ‘Can’t Stop Falling in Love’ from ‘Older Now’ at FSA Fest in July 2018
In listening to ‘Older Now’ I found myself comparing it to some of the best sounds coming out of the US /Canada from artists such as Margo Price and Lindi Ortega. How do comparisons like this make you feel?
It’s funny you should say that, this is something I’ve heard numerous times since the release and believe me I am not complaining. Anybody who knows me personally or follows me will know how much I idolise Margo Price, I think her attitude towards how increasingly difficult it is for women in this industry to survive is inspirational, I think her music serves a purpose and her musicianship is undeniable so to be compared to her is just phenomenal and I only hope that I can give inspiration to other young musicians in the future. Lindi is another of my favourite musicians, her voice blows me away like every time I hear her is the first and I love the darkness of her music in an industry where women are expected to be prim and proper.
The E.P. has a great ‘edge’ to it and that same darkness and feels like a ‘whole’ as opposed to four separate songs. Is this something you set out to achieve?
Yes absolutely, I’ve been very open about the fact that this EP was written completely about one situation that I found myself in. The songs were all written at different points and when listened to in the correct order tell a story as a whole, I didn’t put them in order on the EP so I guess people have to figure it out for themselves, I’ve had people question me about the EP and ask me to tell the story but, you’d have to come to a show to hear it.
I wouldn’t say the darkness is something I set out to achieve, I wrote the songs during a tough time for myself and when me and Tim discussed the stories behind the songs this is what we ended up with, much like the title, it just happened naturally.
You were recently named as one of five UK artists to watch by Lyric magazine. Nods like this must give you a great confidence going forward?
I was, It’s such a fantastic honour, I’m honestly so humbled to be recognised for the work I put in over not just the last year but the last 10 years. It does give me confidence going forward but this industry is ever changing and becoming ever more difficult and I’ve learned that I have to keep working. I’m so lucky to finally have the most amazing team behind me who really believe in me, Ian and Stephen at MHMG Music Group are really pushing me to be the best version of myself and I hope that they will continue to do so in the coming year.
Tell us about your hopes and plans for 2019, and we hear a US adventure is on the horizon?
We are currently planning the next EP, I have a rough title for it and most songs are ready. I was lucky enough in 2018 to spend a lot of time over in the US which gave me a lot to reflect on and gave me a lot of inspiration going forward.
I know I will be spending a lot of time out in the US during 2019 and I hope to travel as much as possible other than that. Anybody who knows me knows I’m a bit of a free spirit, I like to see where the wind takes me, luckily, I have Ian and Stephen to keep me on track!