Artist of the Month May 2012 - Emma Graves
The guitarist is Jose Zarb and we met waiting for a bus in DeeWhy, Sydney. We started performing together 5 years ago when he gave me my performance break, and I am still serving an on-going apprenticeship with this very inspiring person! Stuart Henderson is my ‘go-to’ percussionist who performed on the recorded tracks on ‘Sifted Sunshine’ Vol 6. We met performing together one New Years Eve and then realized we had some key mutual friends/musicians. The collaboration was cemented recording with Peter Rundle on ‘Night in Tunisia’ and ‘Boplicity’.
What’s your musical background? When did you start playing?
I’ve been singing forever, as a child on the swing in the back garden, at school in the choir, but suffered with a lack of confidence for years until I settled in Australia and had some serious tuition from Pat Wilson, who ultimately mentored me into the singer I now am. There is singing in my family with my 2nd cousin Judy Bellingham an Operatic singer in NZ and my mum is in a choir! And apparently it all began with my Great Grandma who I never met!
I was classically trained in Piano from age 7 for 11 years, so this definitely trained my ears, and gave me the foundation of it all.
Has your music evolved since you first began playing together?
Since first performing with Jose as a newbie on the circuit we are now a force to be reckoned with; The Ultimate Duo/Trio and always able to get people toe tapping, up on their feet, singing along and swinging those hips! We have cut out our own style whilst still offering a broad audience appeal, but staying true to our passion and always trying out new stuff. We Love it!
How would you describe your music to people?
Our music is world jazz oriented; rediscovering and playing homage to the jazz legends and divas, enjoying easy listening favourites, adding European Gypsy flare and South American flavor with an injection of modern world. Basically that means the old school favourites like Frank, Ella, Edith,& Duke etc, the experimental Miles, Charlie and Dizzie, the undisputed ladies Eva Cassidy & Aretha, throw in some Latin with Jobim and Getz, some Gipsy Jazz including the Kings themselves, and some modern feeling from Norah, John Mayer & Adele. That about sums it up! As many different languages and countries as we can manage!
Who are your musical influences?
All of the above, but I guess the people that influence me now are the amazing musicians that I get to share the stage with, which are inspirational and totally influence the incredible journey we are all on, during that performance.
How do you promote your music?
My website: http://www.emmagraveslive.com and I have profiles on various websites, such as Entertainment agencies and Wedding websites. And I try to perform as much as possible to be seen and heard. But you always would like more exposure and more work – it never seems enough!
What live performance experience have you had?
Other than performing every weekend at Weddings, private and corporate functions, hotels bars and clubs, my favourite moments to date are performing at ‘Lizottes’ several times, one time supporting Glenn Shorrock from the Little River Band. Lizottes is such an amazing Venue promoting local musicians and putting the northern beaches on the Entertainment map! I’ve had several guest spots with ‘Marsala’ the world music band at 505 Surry Hills, at Darling Harbour, and performing with Gadjos Guitars the gypsy jazz guitar trio at Camelot in Marrickville was very special. I would like to perform at some more exciting venues like Blue Beat and Note, and I feel a few festivals coming along – the ball is rolling!!!
Which songs do you perform most frequently? Do you have a set play list?
We always play according to the audience. I would have a guideline of what I think we will play that performance but you are always looking to connect with the crowd and work with what they give you.
What has been your biggest highlight in the music industry?
Supporting Glenn Shorrock was awesome – he is such an Icon and still sounding so amazing. Getting several songs published and introducing to audiences some fabulous music which they may never have discovered before.
What’s the most interesting thing that’s ever happened to your band?
We were performing at a wedding for 270 guests throughout dinner, playing easy listening-create-a-nice-ambience kind of stuff, and we were receiving raptous applause and cheers in-between songs whilst they were eating their dinner – that was pretty cool!
What has been your biggest challenge in the music industry?
Selling myself! If you are not the best Marketer in the world then you need some help! I always want more work and the trick is getting more of the kind of work you want! And to have fun! That’s why we do it isn’t it?
What are your long-term goals as a musician?
Long-term, I would like to keep improving my sound and quality, become a genuine performer, I would like to record some more original songs – enough for an album, and of course finish the current concept album. I think just to be successful in what you are aspiring to do would be great.
Are you planning to release a new album anytime soon?
There will be some more music, just not sure when, probably next year.
Where can we hear your tunes online?
You can hear 2 songs arranged by Peter Rundle with Stuart Henderson on percussion on itunes: ‘Sifted Sunshine’ Vol 6 by Austep Music.
Who would you most like to perform with and why?
I would love to perform with The Idea of North, the acapella ensemble of 4 voices – they are amazing to listen to and I would love to challenge myself in that way to try and keep up! Also I always wanted to perform with James Morrison; I guess when you look up to musicians and you admire what they do, you ultimately would love to share the stage!