Music Q&A:
Emily Smith &
Jamie McClennan

Award-winning Scottish folk singer Emily Smith and New Zealand-born Jamie McClennan celebrate 15 years of making music together with a new tour

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Tell us a bit about your sound and your influences.
Our sound is very much focused on the two voices. We love singing together so harmony is a big feature and getting the most out of a song with what the two us can bring to it, both vocally and instrumentally. We listen to a lot of music from the States – country, bluegrass and Americana artists – and although we’re not specifically playing those genres of music there are definitely influences from artists such as Chris Stapleton, Buddy Miller and Tim O’Brien in our songs. It’s a big melting pot!

How have you evolved as musicians over the years?
For the last 15 years we have worked mainly on promoting Emily’s name as a solo artist, for which audiences know her mainly as a folk singer, performing both traditional and original songs but still very much in the folk genre. When we first started out Jamie mainly played fiddle in Emily’s band line-up and we played a mix of instrumental sets, with Emily on accordion, alongside traditional songs. These days Jamie plays lead guitar and the set is much more song based. On this tour the material is largely written by Jamie and has more of a roots feel to it. We still have traditional material in the set, although much of it has been reworked with new melodies and additional lyrics.

What are you up to at the moment artistically?
We are celebrating 15 years of making music together in 2017 so currently we’re working on new material with the view to making a record in 2018.

How do you stand out from the crowd in a saturated industry?

We think it’s important to believe in the music being played. There’s no sense playing something that you think others want to hear if you’re not into it yourself. And most of all, don’t dwell on comparing yourself to others.

What’s on your rider?
Pretty standard fare really – fruit, nuts, water, a fully stocked artisan kitchen, an Italian bean-to-cup coffee machine and of course a fish foot spa.

Tell us about your worst live show.
The venue had to be changed at the last minute to a garage adjoining a club. It was November, no heating and barely any lighting. Everyone was freezing. Thankfully that was many years ago now.

The duo play 1 June, the Atkinson, Southport; 2 June, Beehive Folk Club, Sheffield; and 3 June, the Met, Bury

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Emily Smith &
Jamie McClennan

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