See Emily Play

Bossing the Sheffield ivory trade with her piano skills, See Emily Play’s elephantine pop has been charming goose bumps on listeners’ skins for a few years now but despite an exclusive Tramlines announcement last year (and scooping Best Unsigned Act at this year’s Exposed Awards), we’ve never had band leader Emily Ireland and her merry men in for an In Session…

Time to rectify that one. With a third EP about to be released – plus another super special Tramlines show in the offing (more on that later), we settled down on a drizzly afternoon in Crookesmoor Park for a natter in advance of a visit to Sheffield’s newest (and leafiest) studio The Old Pig Farm to record her two tracks. “What To Do I literally wrote in around 20 minutes, after a flash of inspiration,” She reveals. “It sort of wrote itself and was influenced by random events going on at the time… it’s a bit fragmented but quite a catchy number! Whereas Let’s Go Let’s Get Away is a bit tongue in cheek. It’s about two people I know who got themselves in a situation worthy of a bad soap opera...”

It is also possibly the sassiest song ever performed for In Session. Is most of your songwriting inspired from observation, Em?
Emily: Sometimes. I do tend to write a lot of songs about myself, not because I’m self-centred, but it can be quite cathartic.

Your EP, ‘Four Feet from the Door’ just screams ‘teenage heartbreak’ to me…
Sort of, I was about 18 when I wrote it, and it’s that horrendous age when anything feels so big and hits you hard emotionally.

An awesome time for writing music, then?
Yeah, definitely, relatively meaningless events feel like the end of the world – and the emotion definitely aids the song writing.

Your songs are quite emotionally draining sometimes – how tiring are they to perform?
To be fair, I’m sat down most of the time! It’s hard to get round the stage unless I develop some kind of weird portable piano device, which I don’t think exists (Say hello to the Roland AX-7 – Keytar Ed…)

A strap on piano is a great idea!
(Laughs) Sorry, ‘strap on’ set me off there. But I do try to make up my lack of movement around a stage by making an array of stupid faces to try and entertain the crowd.

Sheffield’s music scene has its fair share of laddish, indie/rock bands. Are you conscious of being a bit different?
I think it could be a bit more difficult as a female to instantly appeal to Sheffield audiences. But then again, the Exposed award that we won completely goes against that! There were a lot of very beardy men in great bands that we were up against. But yeah, I did dedicate the award to all the female musicians in Sheffield. That’s not to say there aren’t any good female fronted bands in Sheffield at the moment, Blessa and Sarah Mac are incredible but I suppose it does frustrate me a bit that they may not receive the recognition they deserve.

Guilty pleasures next! Even someone as tune savvy and musically adept as you must have one or two blush worthy tracks on the MP3 player?
Yeah, I must admit, I have a bit of a penchant for Alanis Morissette and The Barenaked Ladies – their melodies are just so catchy! Oh and erm *winces slightly and adopts ashamed tone* I love Call Me Maybe by Carly Rae Jepsen…

Can you do a cover of that, please?
I’ve already done one! I played a cover of it at a wedding and everybody started crying!

So if you can turn Carly Rae Jepsen’s Disney friendly anthem for 14 year olds in to a massive tearjerker, could you do a weepy version of RATM’s ‘Killing In The Name Of’..?
*Hums intro to the song enthusiastically* Funnily enough, my brother’s trying to teach me that on the guitar. So yeah, shall I release it as the B side to Call Me Maybe?

I thank would work wonderfully, yeah.
Let’s do it!

In my experience, you can tell a lot about a person through the house they’d place themselves in in Harry Potter. Yours?
Ooh, that’s a big question. I’d want to be Gryffindor, or even Slytherin, but I’d probably end up in Hufflepuff – because I can be a bit of a wimp at times.

Hufflepuff is a noble house and usually chooses people with kind personalities, so don’t knock it too much. The Sorting Hat can surprise you sometimes though…
Yeah, hopefully it will see something in me to put me with The Gryffindors. That’s where all the heroes go, isn’t it?

Talking of heroic deeds, your Tramlines performances have become the stuff of legend, with last year’s Library Theatre show being a highlight of the festival. What have you got planned for this year?
See Emily Play are performing with Stannington Brass Band right here at Weston Park (“That’s at 4pm on Saturday” – Tramlines Times Ed). Hopefully, it will sound really good. Last year’s Tramlines at the Library Theatre was my favourite gig ever. It was just magical. I know that’s a bit of cliched term to use, but it really does feel that way. The energy coming from the audiences is amazing – and I can’t wait to experience it all again.



Exposed In Session is produced in association with O’Hara’s Spiced Rum. Follow O’Hara’s on Twitter at @OHarasParrot

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