We saw Emily Howard open the proceedings for Ferocious Dog at the Exeter Phoenix back in April, we contacted her soon after the gig but owing to some computer problems, have only just got round to catching up with her.
As well as gigging her socks off, she also runs her own record label 'Randomfishrecords' which I dare say eats up most of her time.
We had a good chat about all the important things in life such as hangover cures, festivals and musical influences, see how we got on....
Hi Emily, I know little about you other than you’re an award winning singer songwriter from Exeter in Devon, please tell me something AMAZING about you that even Google doesn’t know….
I like to put Pom Bears (crisps) in tubs of houmous and pretend they are having a party.
When did you know that you wanted to be a singer songwriter?
I wrote a song called ‘Virtual World’ with my friend Matt at primary school around the age of 10, and haven’t stopped writing songs since.
Was there one act or artist who made you want to start playing and writing music?
Yes, a band called Daddy Mango, who I saw just after I had performed my first festival gig, it was in Torquay, I was around 14 years old. I looked at lead singer guitarist Barney Dine and thought, ‘That’s what I want to do!’ I was really chuffed to discover Barney ran an open mic at the Cider Press in Torquay, and I used to frequently play my new songs there. It was a really good platform for me, Barney would always have something positive to say about my music, and the open mic band would jam with me! Thinking about it now, they were the first professional musicians I ever jammed with and looking back it was probably their advice, enthusiasm and encouragement that really got me into doing music.
I saw you when you supported the awesome Ferocious Dog in Exeter recently, how did that come about and did you manage to survive the mosh pit?
Last year on bonfire night I supported FD at the Hare and Hounds in Birmingham, I hadn’t really paid attention to how far away the gig actually was from Exeter when I was first asked to do the gig, I just put my name forward because I love their music! I think the FD boys were a bit taken aback by how far I’d travelled, so they promised to get in touch when they were gigging a bit closer to my home! I first saw FD in 2013, when I was on the road with the 3 Daft Monkeys working as their support act/merch girl/baby sitter. Not only is the music great, I think that the work they do to help soldiers with PTSD is magnificent, and the more we can do to help these poor people that have seen horrific things, the better. It would be amazing if we they didn’t have to fight at all.
If I asked your friends to describe you using just 3 words, what do you think they would say?
This one was too difficult, so I asked the face book community. Here are my favourites.
Hardworking, happy, philanthropic | Creative, positive, and chilled | A fucking winner!!!!!!!!!!!!!! | Talented, Sweet, and Filthy
What does music mean to you?
Healing, expressing yourself.
You set up your own record label ‘Random Fish Records’, please tell me why you did this and which other acts can we check out on the label?
Random Fish Records is an independent self-release record label that I set up in April 2013. I set it up because Ani Difranco and her independent record label Righteous Babe inspired me. I used to think that you needed to be signed to sell albums, but now I’m making albums with my own money, and selling them online and at gigs. It’s a small business model at the moment, but that suits me. You may hear of other artists on the Random Fish Records label in the future, but for now it’s just little old me. The name Random Fish comes from my Mum, she is a painter, and used to sell cards under her company name Random Fish, I thought it was too good a name to be out of use.
What was the last book you read?
Scar Tissue – Anthony Kiedis
What are your Saturday night and Sunday morning albums?
Saturday night – Black Keys Big Come Up
Sunday morning – Gomez Bring it On
Whilst on Sunday mornings, what is the best hangover cure?
A pork pie and a pickled egg.
Do you come from a musical background?
Yes, my mother was a singer, and my Great Pap was a singer before that. We were spoilt as kids to get music lessons, despite my parents not having that much money, they treated my sister and I to flute, piano, guitar and singing lessons.
You manage to do some impressive ‘human trumpet’ noises, is this one of your party tricks? If not, what is your party trick?
This has now become my party trick since frumpeting in public. My old party trick was making all the booze disappear. My liver is grateful.
What was the very first song you learned to play?
Blowing in the Wind Bob Dylan
Being Emily Howard, do you enjoy parasols, kittens and other such ‘lady’ things?
Yes particularly riding my bicyclay! (It never gets old!)
Who would you say are your main musical influences?
Tom Waits, Bob Marley, Janis Joplin
What is your idea of hell?
Playing at a Conservative Club
What are your aspirations as a musician?
Save the world
If you could be any character from a movie, who would you be and why?
I would be the Big Lebowski because I love white russians.
If you could duet with ANYONE (dead, alive or fictional) who would it be and why?
Seasick Steve because I love the Doghouse Blues.
Where do you play on a regular basis, do you have a favourite venue?
I play every Wednesday at the Angel Bar, and every Thursday at the Globe in Exeter without fail! I usually play for a bit at the start, and then proceed with the open mic night, it’s nice to meet lots of musicians, some local some travelling around. I don’t have favourites, I just can’t.
As for a favourite venue, I’m going to go with the Phoenix in Exeter, not only do they put on amazing bands, shows, they do really lush coffee and their café is a lovely place to go if you need to get on with some work or have a creative coffee fuelled meeting. I’m going to have to chuck in the fire pit at Henry’s Campsite here as well actually, those who have been will know what I mean!
There are tons of social media channels out there at your disposal, which would you say are the best ones to get your music out there to people?
I don’t know. I’m not very good at keeping in touch! I guess I use mainly Facebook and Twitter. I still haven’t found a use for Linkedin (has anyone? MM).
If you could have a super power, what would it be and why?
Disarm the world and make every body cuddle the shit out of their enemies.
What are your views about the use of smartphone and tablet use at concerts, do you think they should be banned?
I can’t help but stare at a phone/camera if somebody holds one up in front of me when I’m watching a gig, it is quite annoying. Plus the video and sound quality is usually quite rubbish, especially at festival gigs. I do think that artists banning phones from concerts is possibly a step too far, but maybe people should have a little think about respect for the artist, and other people in the audience, and their own enjoyment of the show. You can’t really dance that well if you’re trying to keep your hand steady for filming, and I think there are better ways of capturing the moment than a poor quality video on your phone.
Have you had any embarrassing moments when on stage?
I once said "Hello Wales", and said how chuffed I was to be doing my first gig in Wales, then was told by a member of the audience, I wasn’t in Wales.
What was the first gig that you ever went to and what was the most recent (as a paying customer?)
I’d seen loads of local bands play around Torbay before this, but the first big gig was the Rolling Stones, at the Heineken Hall in Amsterdam, 2005/6, just after Keith had fallen out of a coconut tree.
The most recent gig I went to, as a paying customer, was Martin Harley at the Phoenix, Exeter.
How do you approach song-writing?, is there a ‘magic formula’?
Something stirs me up and I sit down with a guitar. If I’m busy and have a tune in my head I record it on my Dictaphone, then have a good laugh trying to turn it into something later.
If you were on a desert island and could only have 3 items, what would they be and why?
A sharp knife, my guitar, and a bikini.
Any festival appearances planned for 2015?
I’ll be playing at Glastonbury and Beautiful Days with my friend Matt Calder who plays Hang drums, under the name ‘Sculpture Music.’ Look out for us somewhere in the Small World/Bimble Inn zone! I’m set to do some solo sets at Port Eliot too.
We thought it was only fair to make Emily run our 'Quickfire' round of questions, we gave her a minute to compose herself prior to strapping her in, ready for the ride....
Hot Chocolate or Cappucino?
Bagel or Crumpet?
Loop Pedal or Chorus Pedal?
Great British Bake Off or Masterchef?
Night out or night in?
UKIP or The Green Party?
The Green Party
Playing solo or playing with a band?
With a band
BBQ or Picnic?
Strictly or X-Factor?
Festival or normal gig?
Camping or Campervan?
Beach or Pool?
Sunbathing or Snowboarding?
Paperback or Kindle?
God or Google?
We'd like to thank Emily for getting in touch with us and sparing her time to have a chat, we wish her every success in the future and look forward to seeing her again, maybe at a festival in the summer. In the meantime, here's some links to her pages, go check them out....