Emma was very open and welcoming throughout the Emma Langford Q&A. Photo: Emily Gale
Emma Langford’s Upcoming Album and Tour: Emma Langford Q&A
by ilovelimerick correspondent Katie Glavin
I met with Emma Langford the singer-songwriter who hails from Limerick city to find out a little more about her history with music, and her upcoming tour and album release in this Emma Langford Q&A.
Since entering the live music scene in 2013 Emma has been gigging throughout Ireland both solo and with a host of musicians. Emma has made appearances in some of the country’s foremost venues such as Limerick’s Dolans, Dublin’s Whelans, St James’ Church in Dingle; and at festivals such as Electric Picnic and the Doolin Folk Festival and is now branching out through her this new tour to Germany and Switzerland. This seemed like the perfect time to catch up with Emma and get to know her a bit better.
I met with Emma in Chez le Fab for a coffee where we sat down and relaxed. for the Emma Langford Q&A, Emma got started on filling me in on all the ins and outs of her life as a singer/songwriter and what’s new in the cards for her music career.
How did you first get interested in music?
“I don’t think there was ever really a point where I ‘got interested’ I really just grew up with it. I was talking to my older sister the other day, we used to listen to the cassettes of Phantom of the Opera and Les Miserable. We would slow down the cassette and write out all the lyrics because there was no option to google lyrics then and we would practise duets and stuff like that together once we had all the words to the songs learnt. Those are some of my earliest memories, that and listening to the Spice Girls in the car. Music was just always in our house. My parents used to have Elvis, and Enya, and the Beatles playing all the time. There was always music going on. I even remember being in trouble in Primary school because I wouldn’t stop singing. I got kicked out of playschool because 1. I kept kissing boys and 2. My playschool teacher kept giving me instructions and instead of taking them I was kept singing them back to her instead. It was always just one of those things in my life.”
When was it that you began taking music more seriously and decided to take it on as a career?
“I didn’t study it in secondary school, for some reason I just didn’t think studying it was for me. I took a year out after secondary school and I went away and worked for a year as a charity street fundraiser. In that year, I started playing the guitar a bit more and I started writing music a bit more. After that year I kind of realised what I wanted to do was music. So I went and studied the BA in Voice and Dance at the University of Limerick in the Irish World Academy. During that 4 years then I developed what I was interested in and developed my skill set and I started taking it seriously. I was quite late to the game. I was always creative, I thought I was going to be an animator, I thought I was going to go into art and then the music just came to me.”
You play the guitar as well, did you learn this from a young age?
“My mum tried to teach me the guitar as a kid, but I had no interest in it whatsoever. When I was in my Junior Cert, I wanted to distract myself and needed some way of procrastination and decided that then was the best possible time to learn the guitar! So I was about 15 when I started learning it, just basic chords from my mum and from a book. I didn’t take any guitar lessons per-say until after I finished my undergrad and started learning proper technique. You can actually damage your wrists if you don’t learn the proper technique so I had started to develop carpal tunnel, repetitive strain, from just playing poorly.”
You’ve got an album coming out soon, how did this come about?
“Basically I’m going on tour in Germany and Switzerland in October for a month but contingent on that tour is that I record an album. Just so I have an impact on that tour, they want to make sure I have a body of work that’s sellable and that represents me. They’ve asked that I record an album for that and record a new music video as well that represents who I am as an artist. I’ve been in talks with a studio called the production suite, they’re a Dublin company recently Grammy nominated for their work with the Chieftains which is really cool. I’ve been talking with them and figuring out pricing. I’ve gotten them to really come down to where I am at as an independent artist. It’s a really expensive process recording an album but these guys are willing to work with me at my level. Thankfully the tour is a paid tour and its not very often you’ll get an offer like that so I’m really really chuffed to be offered it. It was actually Niamh Dunne from Beoga who put me in touch with the touring management, and they’re really happy with what I do. It would normally be very expensive but they’re covering my expenses so at least that takes a huge thing, that would hold me back out, of it.”
The new album you’re recording, will it be music people already know and love or will this be a new side to Emma Langford?
“I’ll probably re-record a lot of the stuff that’s on the EP that was released in June last year. There’ll also be a lot of stuff on it that people may not have already heard. Really, Limerick people that come to my gigs might know my songs but outside of that circle, I don’t know how many people actually know my music. I would say there are a fair few songs on the album that people may not have known before unless they’ve come to a quiet intimate gig where I might have played it. Other than that, there’s definitely a few tunes that people won’t have heard. Hopefully, it will go down well, it’s kind of scary. You get used to playing certain kinds of gigs to certain kinds of people. There’s demographic of people that would know you. Even when I went to the UK I had a group of people coming who knew my music, who knew me from social media who had some impression of me, and to then play to people who have no idea who you are. Especially growing up in Limerick and growing up in Ireland you get used to walking down the street and knowing everyone, that transfers to your music. You think you’re telling stories people know, but when they don’t they either go ‘oh wow this is a whole new insight into this person’s life’ or they can go ‘I don’t get it. I don’t understand it’.”
With the tour then, is it a solo tour or will you have people playing with you?
“I’m playing solo but there are three other acts as part of the tour as well. There’s me, and there’s a group called Socks in The Frying Pan, they play kind of trad but they also play medieval music and ballads as well, and then there’s Cuig who are a trad group but they have contemporary arrangements for their music, and there’s Fusion Fighters who are a dance group, they’re a Riverdance style, percussive, hard shoe dance style, they’re really, really cool. Fusion Fighters have been on the Late Late Show a few times. So they’re the groups and I’m the featured songwriter on the tour. It’s a slot that Niamh Dunne and Declan O’Rourke have done before, it’s really exciting to be filling their shoes, it’s big pressure but it’s exciting.”
Do you consider yourself then in the Irish Music category? Because your music seems to sound more of the Indie genre?
“I don’t know… I think there are people who would say I have quite a trad style voice. My ornamentation would be quite trad vocally but then I also have a lot of jazz and blues style stuff. What I write would be definitely indie and indie folk. Definitely the vocal and the guitar in my music would be folk. I find it very hard to stick with one genre and go with that. There’s probably people out there grumbling ‘no… you’re just folk, there’s nothing special about you, you’re just folk’ but I honestly don’t know. Maybe it’s better that way though, I’m more able to collaborate with people and more open to ideas. It’s the only way you can grow as a person and as a musician.”
Looking back on past performances, what would you say is your favourite gig you’ve ever done?
“There’s been so many! I’ve only been doing music professionally for a year but I’ve been gigging for about 3 years. I’d say probably the little intimate gigs, I really love just chatting with people and telling stories and telling jokes, I like interacting with people. There was one last year in Levis’ bar in Ballydehob. Levis’ is like… kind of like Charlie Malone’s on Wolfetone Street, it’s this really really old fashioned pub. It’s a little bit bigger spatially. You go in and there is the shop counter and the band play just up behind the shop counter and people all sit around the bar and they watch you. It’s really nice. What’s gorgeous about those gigs is that people are coming specifically to listen to you. They’re really generous with their time and they’re really anxious to buy CDs. Your not just another band to play another gig. In Levis’ Jeremy Irons just happened to be there! I mean the voice of scar in The Lion King was at my gig! That is mindblowing! The White Horse sessions at the Doolin Folk Festival last year were really special, Wallace Bird was lurking in the back somewhere and Luka Bloom was there. Luka commented on Facebook something like ‘oh Emma Langford was great doing the Folk Festival’ and I was shocked. The kind of people that are at my gigs! It’s those little moments and those little gems of gigs that make it for me. You just have a really good time and a lot of those places will look after you and you just get really good chance to relax into the gig.”
After chatting with Emma Langford, I had really felt like I had gotten to know her through this Emma Langford Q&A, despite it being my first time meeting her properly. Emma was very open to all the questions I asked her for the Emma Langford Q&A and didn’t hold back on speaking her mind. She was very down to earth and genuinely seemed like someone who had a lot to offer the world both creatively and intellectually. There was something very humbling about meeting with Emma who naturally fell into music because of pure passion and creativity.
Everyone at ilovelimerick would like to wish Emma the very best of luck on her new tour and on recording her new album.
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