Here’s what Spotlight is about; it’s an interview that promotes you! It will feature questions that are formatted to your needs. Questions will be focused on your work, upcoming work and some personal [but not intrusive] questions for your fans to get to know you more!
Today features Emily Coates
Tell us about yourself
I am a musician and singer/songwriter from Ireland, living in the UK. I’m a poet, and I guess a bit of a free spirit. I’m petite, with a large laugh, and a lively sense of humour.
Share with us some of your interests
I have so many interests. I love a wide variety of music & I’m passionate about film. I adore art, photography, theatre, dance, reading and writing. I spend a lot of time exploring the areas of psychology, philosophy & conscious/aware living. I’m a lover of good conversation (not gossip). I love walking, swimming, tennis and yoga. I love to watch figure-skating (Unfortunately I cannot figure-skate at all!) I love to cook & to eat, and I adore travelling.
What makes you the person you are?
That’s a good question, because I could easily answer by saying: “my conditioning” but I feel that I am so much more than that – a combination of natural & conditioned elements, ever changing. The person I am today (with the perspective of life I currently hold) has been shaped by my choices and experiences to date.
Adding something else:
How did you get into music?
Music featured prominently at home when I was growing up. It has always been a natural part of my life, and a natural calling. I always knew this is what I wanted to do, and I just followed that instinct.
Which famous musicians do you admire? Why?
I admire many musicians, but some of those artists that stand out for me are Barbra Streisand, Leonard Cohen, Bono, Damien Rice & Muse. Apart from displaying a creativity & talent I respect, I admire artists who’ve had career longevity and who make honest and real music. I value integrity, and a strong sense of self. I like a good sense of humour, because it’s not healthy to take ourselves too seriously!
Are there any famous musicians you have learned from?
Every musician and every piece of music I have ever listened to has taught me something. Whenever I read or watch an interview with an artist, I learn something new. I am always learning – it’s one of my favourite things about life.
What is your fondest musical memory?
I think the best memories I have involve recording or performing with other musicians. I love collaborating – simply the exchange of ideas where we’re all feeding off each other & there’s an alive, creative energy in the air. That’s the best. I’ve also some great memories of live concerts – Leonard Cohen in London was spectacular.
If you could play with anyone you wanted too – who would it be?
What advice can you offer other musicians?
First and foremost, I would say be 100% yourself, be real. Believe in yourself, trust in yourself and in life, and know that everything works out for the best. Focus all your energies in the now. Create the music you love, instead of trying to be like anyone else. Always do what feels right for you – not what others tell you to do. It’s not as hard as you may think. So persevere, and enjoy yourself along the way.
How do you handle mistakes during a performance?
I keep going! I’ve found that if I don’t bring attention to it, most people are not likely to notice. I don’t usually make very obvious mistakes when performing, although I have been known to get anxious about the possibility of that happening! Maybe a couple of times I’ve forgotten a lyric and had to make something up on the spot, or I’ve hit the wrong chord, but I’ve just kept going.
When nerves arise how do you deal with them?
Deep breathing. Not getting caught up or identifying with nervous thoughts. There have been times I’ve worked myself into a complete tizzy – for whatever reason – but the moment I’m onstage I’m fine. I just do the job, perform to the best of my ability, and make sure I enjoy myself. That’s really important, because the audience will pick up on that.
What do you wish you knew before you reached this point in your musical career?
I feel like I have come to many things late in life, so I wish I knew all the things I know now, earlier on. That’s the biggest thing for me. I feel it’s kind of silly to say because I am where I am, but I would love to have known better, so I could have done better when I was younger.
How do you stay confident in yourself and in your work?
I have always had a strong core self-belief, or sense of myself, but on top of that of course there have been waves of doubt and insecurity which at times I’ve probably entertained, and displayed more than I should. I have always believed in my music, it simply felt right to me. As I’ve grown older, and seen the kind of commercial music that monopolizes the music industry, I have definitely questioned or doubted my ability to succeed in this business. Not that I’ve questioned the caliber of my music, only my ability to succeed in the current marketplace. But having experienced those feelings, and knowing that they don’t help me at all, I made a decision to just focus on what I do best, and to not think about competition, or what’s considered “cool” or “marketable”. As cliché as it sounds, being true to myself & the music I create is the most important thing for me, and that helps me to stay confident as I continue the journey.
Featuring your work or upcoming work:
What are the pros and cons of being a musician?
For me, I love being able to express myself through the medium of music – it’s always been an emotional outlet. I like being able to speak this Universal language. I’m pretty identified with being a musician, so I think that’s a big con for me. I have to remind myself that I’m a person in my own right without that label, as I have a tendency to measure everything in my life against my perceived success as a musician.
What sets you apart from other musicians?
I’m lucky in that my voice is quite distinctive, and it’s usually the first thing people comment on when they hear my music. I just love words, and I think I have a unique way of expressing things lyrically. My music is very emotional and raw – I don’t do sugar-coating. Apart from that, I think it’s the same thing every artist has – the ability to create something original and new from a fusion of influences. No two people have the exact same set of influences, or experience those influences in the same way. We all bring our own interpretations to the table.
What instruments do you play?
I play the piano and keyboard. I also dabble on guitar, and I love playing the bongo drums & bodhran (Irish drum). I would love to play the cello. It’s on my list…
Why did you choose the platform you did with your music [blog, websites, etc]?
I created my website almost ten years ago now – it’s gone through three different designs in that time. I’m having it upgraded again at the moment, but staying with the same brand elements so it stays recognizable. I think it’s essential to have an online presence. I love connecting with people online, both in discovering new music myself, and in bringing my music to others. It’s a fantastic portal. In terms of the specific platforms I’ve chosen (see the list below), I have guidance from an indie music PR company in the US as to what works best. I’ve come a long way in managing my online presence. I didn’t know what I was doing in the beginning, but I feel a lot more comfortable with it all now.
Where do you usually gather songwriting inspiration? What is your usual songwriting process?
I’m inspired by everything I experience on a daily basis. These days, I don’t usually pre-decide to write about a certain subject. Maybe the lyrics come to me spontaneously and I’m not exactly sure what I’m writing about until the song is finished, or an idea will be floating around in my mind for a few days and then I have to sit down at the piano and give it form. I write music and lyrics at the same time, one brings about the other. I scribble the lyrics & chord progressions on a piece of paper and I just remember the melody and rhythm naturally. Over the last couple of years, I’ve taken to recording a song in progress, or a newly completed song on my iPhone which is a convenient way to go about it for me. As I’ve set up a home studio this year, I’m planning on approaching my song-writing in different way over the coming months. I want to lay down some rhythm tracks or bass parts and work on improvising over them to see what comes about. It’s a new and interesting way for me to approach the art.
When recording an Album what is the hardest part?
Well, on this Album I’ve had some technical challenges, as I’m recording it myself. (I’ve previously worked with different sound engineers at various studios in London). So, there has been a big learning curve for me. Apart from that, I think making sure that all the songs work well together, that the Album is coherent and seamless from beginning to end. Even though the recording process can be all-consuming, I think it’s important to take time away from the studio, because when I’m recording a song, it can be hard to feel objective towards it when listening to it every day. So my approach is to work on a song towards completion, then leave it for a while and go back to it with fresh ears to see if anything needs tweaking. Oh and when to stop tweaking, that can be a challenge J
What do you think about online music sharing? Do you ever give your music away for free? Why?
I think it’s a great way to reach a wider audience. As with everything, it’s a question of balance, because although I’m not opposed to giving away my music for free, at the same time music is the way I make my living, and so I have to generate a certain amount of income from the music I make. I think people who think they shouldn’t have to pay for music (I know a few of those!) are not thinking from the perspective of the artist, or they simply don’t care.
What do like best about creating an Album?
During the recording process, it’s the moment to moment inspirations that arise, and then of course seeing everything take shape. This might sound a bit crazy, but I love doing numerous takes – especially with the vocals – because with each take I aim that bit higher, and I colour the melody in various ways until I find the right approach for the song. This also develops my ability as a studio musician, because it’s very different to playing live. It’s like being under a microscope. I like listening to solo vocals, because this reveals every little nuance, and brings my attention to places that need work or attention. I like to improve upon things, to find the best way to deliver. Out of the studio, my favourite aspect of creating an Album is the artwork. I want “Roads” cover-art to be special.
How is this album different from your previous works or what makes it different?
My previous release “Nature’s Flow” was recorded over a few years in two different studios. I recorded a lot of material over that time, and then chose five songs that I felt offered an overview of the music I was creating. For me it was a kind of sample EP, introducing people to my music. I didn’t think in terms of a theme for that release. This Album is much more structured, deliberate and I have a specific theme that I’m working with. Also, I’m recording this Album on my own in my home studio, and it feels very different not having others in the room to share inspirations (and laughs). I feel solely responsible, and it’s a little scary!
What inspired your new Album?
I wanted to create an Album that documented through song my life journey to date. The title of the Album is “Roads” and I’ve chosen songs for the Album that I’ve written during different periods of my life. To me, each song represents a different road I’ve travelled along, and hopefully the listener will be able to recognize that trajectory from beginning to end.
What kind of music would you like to dive into that you previously haven’t?
I would love to provide vocals for a dance track, or collaborate with a dance or hip hop artist both as a writer and singer. One of my favourite songs is Delirium’s “Silence” – which featured Sarah McLachlan. I’d love to do something like that. I’d also love to record a Jazz Album. I studied Jazz singing in College as part of my music degree, and I loved it!
Promote Your Album
My Album “Roads” will be released next year, so if you’d like to be kept updated on its progress, you can sign up to my monthly newsletter by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. My previous release – “Nature’s Flow” is available on iTunes worldwide – http://tinyurl.com/m26gu8c.
Emily Coates’ Links;
I’m also on Spotify, so you can stream my songs for free!