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Interview with jazz singer, Emily Saunders

16 March 2015 | Laura Stevens

London Calling spoke to acclaimed jazz singer, Emily Saunders, ahead of her album launch at St James Theatre. Outsiders Insiders has a Brazilian inspired sound and is currently in the Amazon’s Top Ten charts.

London Calling: Tell me about your performance at St James Theatre.

Emily Saunders: It’s the album launch and that’s going to be great fun – I’m really looking forward to it! It’s going to be lots of lively Brazilian instruments as well as Brazilian tunes – it’s going to be great fun.

LC: You have Brazilian influence on your music – how did you discover that?

ES: I’ve not been to Brazil and I definitely want to go! It’s very high up on my to-do list. I’ve grown up in inner London and I’ve always found it a very culturally rich place where it’s a natural thing to bump into different sounds.

It’s the kind of music that really fits with my voice and how I like to use my voice. I use my voice quite instrumentally. I started as a classical clarinettist I was always listening to jazz music, and I wanted to lean over to do jazz and then when I did make the break and decide to do so I found that style suits what I love, because it has space for really strong instrumental technique. 

LC: How has the new album been received?

ES: It’s going down brilliantly – it’s in the Amazon charts. At the moment it’s in the Top Ten! I woke up this morning to discover that!

It’s been going down really well. But also for me, it’s an aim to have artistic integrity and to write the things I want to write that’s very about me and from me.

LC: Who is creating music right now and inspiring you?

ES: I would say Christine Tobin is fantastic – she’s very individual and focused, and determined in her own sound and what she’s creating. She crosses genres in a really individual way and I think she’s fantastic.

LC: How do you create your music?

ES: I’ve written songs and composed music since dot! I don’t really know when I started. My family were all musicians so had a piano in the house and playing around on it is a natural, automatic thing to do.

I’ll either find it walking along the road and I’ll start singing a rift, or I’ll start thinking of words and it will be a poem and I’ll record them on the phone. So either I’ll start with words and I’ll add music or I’ll start with music and I’ll add words!

LC: Does the London jazz scene excite you?

ES: Yes absolutely! I think there’s a lot going on in the last few years there’s a real development in the variety of different sounds that are being created.

Emily Saunders will be live at St James Theatre on March 17. For more information click here.

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