Emma Stevens is not only one of the big names of the British country / folk music scene, she is also already looking back to quite some career in the business. She started 2021 with releasing a new song, On a day like today. In March, she will release a new album. In my Spotlight interview, we of course talk about her new single, but also look back – and even share memories about South Korea and China.
Flyctory.com meets Emma Stevens
FLYC: Hi Emma, thanks for joining me for an interview. You are one of the most established artists in the British country and folk music scene. Was the year 2020 with Covid-19 and the Brexit the most difficult one in your career? Emma: I try not to see years as “difficult”. My career has its challenges, regardless of pandemic and Brexit. It was annoying that I had to reschedule my tour twice, but I have been very creative and able to do more recording from home.
FLYC: Do you know how many concerts and festivals you had to postpone during 2020, which will be done in 2021 and 2022 – or have you stopped counting them? Emma: I’ve stopped counting!! A LOT!
FLYC: Country and folk are both having quite a solid market and fan base in the U.K. – how was it like when you started your solo career in the early 2010’s? Emma: There was certainly not as many country music lovers back then, and it has been interesting seeing people put me in the country category, I suppose the banjo may have helped! But I don’t think my sound is particularly country. It’s hard as genres are forever changing, but I just like to write from the heart, it doesn’t matter to me where people place me.
FLYC: There is now almost one year without major shows, likely two cancelled C2C festivals in a row. How far, do you feel, does that impact the genre in Great Britain? And, of course, how much does it impact yourself? Emma: It’s been devastating for the arts in general. People need music, it’s such an important thing for the heart and soul, and for all the concerts, gigs and theatre, ballet etc to be cancelled has left a huge wound I think.
FLYC: Your debut album, Enchanted (2013), had been previously published as a series of four EPs. How did you get to the idea to release it in that way? Emma: I wanted to bring the art work out for the album in stages, kind of like a puzzle. The art work was done by my Mum just weeks before she passed away, so it was really important to me. It also gave me time to write the next songs.
FLYC: When you look back to the four underlying EPs, Heart on Hand, Dreaming Trees, Underwater and Sunflower – is there one EP which has been special for you? Emma: Hard to choose. There are special songs to me from each of those EP’s!
FLYC: An outstanding track of Enchanted and Heart on Hand was indeed A Place Called You, which has been streamed over three million times. Could you tell us a bit about the song? Emma: Thanks so much! I had fun writing and recording that one. It seemed to just take off and people connected with it! I did a piano ballad version too.
FLYC: One year later, you released your second album, Waves – which in 2015 has been additionally released in a Deluxe version. It did not contain such a success like A Place Called You, but got quite good receptions. How do you feel about Waves today? Emma: I feel great about it. I think the term “success” is very subjective. For me, I felt my songwriting developed, the production improved and it was a really varied album. It was great to get BBC Radio 2 support on this album.
FLYC: You are also very successful as a songwriter. For example, you wrote a song called Wowowow for a Korean boy-band called SHINee. The song sold 100k copies in the first week as a single. How did you get to that intercontinental collaboration? Emma: I collaborated with some people signed to major label publishers.
FLYC: How is it like to know that far away in Asia people are just buying your song like crazy? Emma: It’s a wonderful feeling to know people connect with my music all around the world.
FLYC: Your third studio album is called To My Roots – and parts of the preparation for it have been done in Nashville. What does the city mean to you? Was Nashville some sort of traveling to your musical roots? Emma: Nashville was a beautiful experience. I met some wonderful musicians. The album is very organic and it harks back “to my roots” to some of the music I listened to growing up.
FLYC: In 2019, you had seven concerts in China. How was that tour like for you? Emma: The tour was a whirl wind, and absolutely brilliant experience. The people were so friendly.
FLYC: I read that you are preparing for a new album. You already released a few singles from the new album. The first one was Jump In. What made this song the most special one? Or why did you select it? Emma: It’s not the most special, but it was the one I wanted to lead with as it felt appropriate – giving people an opportunity to “jump in” to my new music. I really have so many songs on this album that mean a lot to me, some won’t be singles, but are just as special, if not more!
FLYC: Thereafter, you released The Rain Fell on Haikou and Keep Dreaming. Can you tell us a bit about these songs? Emma: TRFOH is a song inspired from my trip to China. Keep Dreaming is about not letting anyone dampen your spirits. Life takes us on a strange path sometimes, with twists and turns. It’s about embracing them.
FLYC: The fourth single of your new album is On a Day Like Today, which you have released on New Year’s Day. What is that song about? Emma: It’s about reflecting back over your life when you are older and thinking about the good times you shared.
FLYC: Is there anything on top of these four songs you can already tell us about the new album? Emma: It’s called Light Year, and I’m hoping it’ll be out in March!!
FLYC: I guess it is very hard to make proper plans for 2021 – but what are you aiming for to do this year – if the pandemic is allowing? Touring, for example? Emma: Touring in November!! Can’t wait!!