Singer-Songwriter Emily lying in the grass at Finsbury Square Gardens

About Emily

 

The Distant Past

 

Coming from a rich Irish musical heritage, Emily grew up in a small town outside of Newbridge, Co. Kildare in an environment where music was a valuable constant. She took classical piano lessons from the age of seven and showed herself to be a naturally gifted singer and performer from an early age. Her abilities were first spotted by a primary school teacher who put her on stage as a child to play Snow White, and Cinderella, and gave her solo spots in the church choir and in Dublin's Feis Ceoil choral competition. She was presented with the option to further develop her abilities, and bring her talents to a wider audience, but her mother provided an impediment in refusing to acknowledge or support Emily's abilities and in not wanting her to receive special treatment separate from her siblings. Despite this, Emily continued to perform in annual music and drama summer courses from the age of ten to eighteen and began writing her first songs, which she performed at school and local venues. She was also a key member of her school and church choirs. She took titular and supporting roles in school musicals throughout her secondary school education, where she also began formal classical and theoretical music study. She won a prize for being the most creative entry in a school talent competition where she performed one of her original songs along with two of her friends to whom she taught backing vocals. She studied piano and singing through the Royal Irish Academy of Music earning honours in piano and later during her classical music studies at UCC, she earned a distinction in singing. This culminated in her winning first prize and representing County Cork for achieving the highest grade in singing. She also won first prize in classical singing at Cork's Feis Maitiu solo competition. While studying at UCC - in her capacity as a solo, chamber and choral classical singer, singer-songwriter and jazz singer - Emily performed in campus and off-campus venues such as The Triskel Arts Centre, The Aula Maxima, UCC and UCC College Bar. While living in Cork, she also taught classical piano and singing to undergraduates, and in a private capacity. 

 

Emily loved the freedom, discovery and friendships her college experience afforded, in direct contrast to the intensely controlling and insular conditions she grew up in. She did not, however, relish the classical music environment which she felt - in direct contrast to her own natural inclination - to be very restrictive, confined and elitist. Much to the dismay of her wonderful singing teacher at the time who wanted her to pursue a career as a classical singer, she was simply not comfortable in this arena and sometime after attaining her BMus. degree, Emily left her further studies to pursue what she found to be a more wholely natural, creative and progressive option for her. She first worked in a recording studio in Cork playing keyboards for a local band and went on to record her first Demo in a small studio in the city. 

The Streets of London

Emily moved to London with the expectation of immersing herself in popular music. She studied a short course in popular music - which though enjoyable - did not deliver as expected. She was not deterred and continued to write and record. She formed bands and performed covers and her own material at local festivals and venues in London and other UK cities. She also performed as a singer-songwriter in intimate live-music venues in London, notably The Troubadour, and The Half Moon Clubs. With the help of friends, she produced her own showcase at Union Chapel which was a great success. She was constantly writing - being informed by her new experiences, her continuing self-development and the plethora of alternative music she was exposed to since her college days. One of her favourite music shows she watched in Ireland was  "No Disco" where she discovered the band Portishead. A fond memory she holds from those days was when she performed the song "Roads" with her band in The John Bull Pub in West London, which was very positively received. 

She contracted in various capacities at independent and major record labels in the city in order to become familiar with the business of music but was not impressed by what she witnessed there. As someone who approaches music from a very organic place, it was difficult to see music and those legitimate artists reduced to profit rather than artistry in an overtly male-dominated industry. She engaged with industry execs in the UK and US, which proved mostly fruitless as she realised they could not immediately see where she fit in the pop-music landscape and did not want to risk time, money or reputations in working with her to figure it out. She also had no interest in being moulded into something she was not. Emily finds the entirely artificial aspect and the expected "hustle" of the industry to be completely incongruent with who she is at her core. While she thrives in collaborative endeavours, she is not willing to compromise her integrity or values to get ahead in an industry that almost always demands this of an artist. For Emily, the ability to self-create and release music is necessary to progress, as are emerging label deals where artists can license their music to a label rather than sign away their rights and ultimate creative control.

Emily self-released her five-track EP "Nature's Flow" which has been described by Damien Hughes of Queep Organic Music as: "artistically beautiful and highly original." She recorded three of the tracks in a friend's home studio while "Spoken" and the titular track was recorded in a commercial studio in Soho, London. A life-long learner, she returned to formal studies in music and completed an MFA in Popular Music and Performance Writing in the UK. As part of these studies, she welcomed yet another recording environment to record her newest songs including "See Me Now" ,  and performed Jazz Classics with a trio as part of The Concourse Annual Music Festival.

 

The Israel Hiatus

 

Having spent a few years in London, Emily travelled to Israel to visit a friend she had met in Ireland years before. As she had not embarked on a gap year like most of her college friends, she decided to extend her trip and spent the best part of a year in Israel - a few months in Tel Aviv and the bulk of her time working and living on Kibbutz Yotvata and Eilat in Southern Israel. This experience completely changed her perspective and her life both positively and negatively, as she travelled to Israel and courted a love affair with the country and its inhabitants over the subsequent six years. She bought a guitar in Tel Aviv and wrote one of her favourite songs - "Talk About It" - on a balcony overlooking the city. She met interesting, beautiful people from all over the world, made salads for them, did a lot of outdoor swimming, and played the piano in the Kibbutz for fellow volunteers and Kibbutznik. One such Kibbutznik contacted her years later - as a child she remembered Emily singing her song "Silence" and wanted to hear it again. Emily recorded this video for her. 

 

The Quest For Truth

 

Emily has always been a questioner with an insatiable appetite for truth and learning. Growing up in a dysfunctional home, and within a larger oppressive social/cultural and religious context, she has long sought to unveil and understand the dynamic of her upbringing and the resulting impact on her adult brain. She studied Applied Psychology during the first year of her four-year music degree at UCC, which led to her lifelong self-instruction in developmental psychology. She reads extensively, and works that have made an impact on her are those by Alice Miller, John Bradshaw, Susan Forward, Robin Norwood, M. Scott Peck, Carl Jung, Nadine Burke Harris, Daniel Goleman, Pete Walker, Marc Lewis, Jay Reid and Gabor Mate. While being a critical thinker, and one who understands the necessity to ultimately follow one's own internal directive, she has garnered a wider emotional and conscious intelligence from certain content in the works of Eckhart Tolle, Alan Watts, Miguel Ruiz, and Sam Harris.

 

One of Emily's greatest personal achievements is that she has been able to dissolve her Irish Catholic religious indoctrination. It has been an integral process for her throughout her life. She does not subscribe to any immutable belief system or omnipotent deity, recognising these ideas to be fallacious, yet persistent constructs of the human mind. Her approach is to find joy in the simple ordinariness of life and to constantly develop her level of emotional intelligence, self-awareness and consciousness. She cherishes being her natural, authentic self, rather than someone who uncritically follows a set of autocratically conditioned, artificial rules and impositions. She understands the importance of using her acquired knowledge to learn about herself and others as a whole, rather than applying her knowledge to narrowly and rigidly define herself by a set of experiences or characteristics. Experience has taught her the futility of exhaustively and fearfully trying to cultivate forced positivity realising that natural flow and positivity can exist and emerge when excess control and effort are relinquished. This is her constant practice, as the conditioned responses of excess effort can often kick into play when she is confronted with perceived danger, fear and uncertainty. The music Emily creates and expresses has always been an extremely necessary emotional outlet which allows her to reflect upon and release these conditioned responses and subsequent realisations. From a young age, music has been a deeply personal and valuable lifeline for her when words and a sustained, safe space to express truth otherwise failed.