When did you move to Bristol?
I moved to Bristol in the year 2000. I was 20 years old and utterly bewildered by the stark demands of adult life. I had 3 GCSEs and a C.V. which consisted of a chain of abortive washing-up and waitressing jobs. We moved into a run-down, red-brick house in St Werburghs, where I read Dostoevsky and Kafka next to a gas fire in a hydroponic haze.
I did play guitar at this point and had written a couple of spidery instrumentals, which would fit loosely into the post-rock category, but I didn’t sing at all and it would be a few years before I got on stage. This lack of ambition, work ethic and requisite skills did not stop me from being enormously opinionated, judgemental and pretentious. The folly of youth….
I was initially suspicious of how friendly Bristol people were and found their enthusiasm for the city grating, since then I have been fully indoctrinated into the cult and have started smiling at strangers.
Who’s your top Bristol artist at the moment?
If there was an algorithm advanced enough to know exactly what turns me on about songwriting (tragedy, humour, trash and sophistication), it would present me with Duncan Fleming AKA War Against Sleep. I have been lucky enough to have an advance preview of his new album and it’s an instant outsider classic. Imagine if Scott Walker, Serge Gainsbourg and The Ronettes got together to write an album about chemsex and you’re halfway there.
Mike Crawford and Patrick Duff are also two of my long-standing favourite Bristol songwriters who have been part of the city’s cultural landscape for decades, and I have to mention millennial sweethearts, Somebodies, Gen Z ratbags Droogs and MISS KILL, who are brand-new. I predict big things for these acts. Catch them if you can.
What are your go-to places to eat and drink?
My favourite Bristol pub is The Hillgrove, which combines proper old man boozer sensibilities with an excellent playlist and lovely bar staff who I have known for years. If I’m feeling decadent, I will head up to The Crying Wolf and bask in its velveteen gloom with a gin martini or an old-fashioned (this place also has an excellent playlist).
Next door, Bravas serves the best tapas in Bristol, but I’m not organised enough to book in advance so usually can’t get in. The next day, when I am hungover and filled with existential terror, I like to eat an OOWEE cheeseburger in bed, watch low-budget YouTube documentaries about serial killers and pray for the sweet release of death.
What’s the perfect way to spend a day here?
I’m not one for long walks in the gorgeous greenery that surrounds Bristol, or any sort of organised fun or enriching activities, so other than visiting any of the establishments mentioned above, my perfect day here would involve being left alone to write a song in my flat before eating a steak with my boyfriend, getting wildly drunk and over-excited about everything under the sun and arguing over who has control of the stereo. Sorry, I know that is not very helpful for the tourist board.
What’s your favourite thing about the city?
My favourite thing about the city is the friends and community I am lucky enough to be supported, challenged and bolstered by. I have never had any kind of budget or industry backing for my music. As such, I am eternally indebted to an army of talented and kind souls who have played in my band, recorded my songs, made videos, taken photos, allowed me to use their rehearsal space, lent me equipment and driven us to shows for nothing or next to nothing. This, to me, is what sets Bristol apart from other cities. I try to do what I can to pass on the positivity and generosity to the next generation of penniless artists.
And your least favourite?
I would like to see more done by Bristol City Council to support homelessness and to impose rent caps on the ludicrous rent hike we have seen in the last ten years. Also, the public transport is a joke.
Any top venues?
Most of the venues are great: Exchange, The Louisiana, The Fringe and many more, but my favourite is The Cube for maximum eccentricity and atmosphere.
What plans for 2019?
This project and band is relatively new, and we have only done a handful of gigs. We are releasing our album, Rituals in the summer but before that we are releasing our second single, ‘Ego Death’ on 8th March. This song is a departure from our usual lounge-noir offerings and instead sees the band in full synth/sleaze mode. I was inspired by “Miami” by Baxter Dury, “Is That All There Is” by Peggy Lee and “I’m Losing My Edge” by LCD Soundsystem and wanted to do a spoken-word, hypnotic, groove-based song that I could spew venom and bile over.
Lead guitarist and long-time collaborator, Rob Norbury had been insisting I write something to a riff he had for some time, which I would casually dismiss with encouraging comments like, “Keep it for your solo album” and “play this one in your dad rock band.” Eventually he just stood over me at band practice, playing it over and over again really loud until I capitulated and, channelling Patrick Bateman, improvised a particularly caustic and godless lyric. Now thanks to Rob’s steely resolve and the combined brilliance of the rest of the band, it is one of my favourite songs on the album and provided the perfect backdrop for lines such as, “I will liquefy your heart and drink it from a champagne glass”
I am thrilled to announce that the single will be accompanied by remixes from ex-Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds/Magazine bass player and David Lynch composer, Barry Adamson, Bristol’s finest avant-garde titans, Modulus III and Berlin-based Giallo disco superstar, Antoni Maiovvi.
The single and remixes will be on sale 8th March at The Hen and Chicken in Bedminster at the launch show and Modulus III will be joining Emily for a live set.