Photo: Ania Shrimpton

“It wouldn’t be interesting for me or the listener if I was very literal about life. I always like to create my own characters.”

It’s hard to believe that Distant Television Studios is the first proper release from Emily Isherwood under her own name. She’s been a formidable talent on the Bristol scene for a few years now, albeit under a few different guises. From the first listen of the EP, it becomes clear that she’s been in the game for a while. It’s beguiling, beautiful and packs a masterful command of lyricism and instrumentation. 

We meet in a small café on the harbour, on a rainy Bristol morning. Emily explains how the release didn’t come together overnight: “Although it’s been a long time in the works, it’s still a bit alien to be releasing under my own name. I started the recording in my living room with just an acoustic guitar and a mic but it ended up turning into a lengthy process.”

Once the song skeletons were in place, she set about finding some guests to bring them to life. “I basically posted a list of different musicians that I needed to fill the sound on Instagram. Quite a lot of people responded, so I staggered it and had people come in for two hours at a time and contribute. The guests hadn’t really heard the songs before so their contributions were quite natural. I didn’t want it to be perfect, I wanted them to bring their own sound and ideas.”

Familiar names from the Bristol scene offered contributions, from the likes of Pet Shimmers, Cruelty and more. Emily continues: “Then we took them to the studio in The Island and brought it all together. Out of the blue I got a message from Benji Compston of Jelly Boy and he mixed the EP over the course of a few months. I went to London a few times to visit his studio, which was really fun.”

“I’m so glad that nothing has come out until this point. It really feels like my idea of what I wanted to create has been realised.”

Although these external figures have been pivotal to the overall spirit of the release, the real vision stems from Emily’s vivid and surreal lyricism. She says, “Lyrically my songs are always semi-fictional, so I can feel strangely detached from them.” The process does stem from reality though: “Normally there will be an idea that’s based on reality for every song. It wouldn’t be interesting for me or the listener if I was very literal about life. I always like to create my own characters and use circumstances based on life.” Emily pauses for thought before continuing, “I think it allows me to explore different characters that I have within myself. It does definitely allow me to be more confident with expressing myself because I feel like you can listen to a track and it wouldn’t tell you anything about me.”

With a launch show at The Louisiana on the horizon this month, Emily hopes the narrative of the EP will translate to the live space. “Much like the release itself, I want it to be a positive experience. I want it to feel like you’re walking into this world that I’ve created. If you’re in day-to-day life, you can create this fictional place that inspires people to be a lot more outrageous.” It’s also something of a thrill for Emily to be launching the release at the Bristol venue, “It is so rewarding and I’m so pleased to be doing it there because they’ve always supported my different bands. It’s the first time I’ve ever been able to create a show as well so it will be really fun.”

Mostly, Emily feels that this is the right time to be releasing: “There’ve been times in the past where I could have put something out, but I’m so glad that nothing has come out until this point. It really feels like my idea of what I wanted to create has been realised. I feel like it’s original and I’m proud to share it. This is a true representation of me and who I am.”

Distant Television Studios is out on vinyl via Breakfast Records on July 19th

Live: The Louisiana, July 19th

https://www.facebook.com/emilyisherwooduk/

https://www.instagram.com/emilysarahisherwood

Listen to ‘Silver Lake’ here: