Music Q&A:
Emily Barker

The singer has penned and performed theme songs for TV dramas and entire scores for films. She’s heading out on the road, stopping at Manchester's Band on the Wall, 24 Nov

Hero image

What informs your music and songwriting?
I’m often inspired by strong women. A recent song I wrote was all about the incredible Sister Rosetta Tharpe. I read her biography and her story blew my mind. She was such a trailblazer and inspired the rock ‘n’ roll movement, but was forgotten about over time and ended up being buried in an unmarked grave in Philadelphia. I’m also inspired quite a lot by Indigenous Australian politics and culture, social issues, relationships, my experiences and the experiences of others in my life.

How have you evolved as an artist over the years?
I think my voice has changed significantly. It is a bit deeper and fuller and I’ve also developed a lot of strength in my higher register. I can reach some higher notes with more power. I’ve also worked hard on honing my craft as a songwriter. I’ve learned more about the relationships between chords – how you can create different chord patterns and modulate from key to key, then return back to where you’ve started to make a song a bit more musically interesting. My style has changed also from a more folky-country sound to recently a more soulful-bluesy sound. I imagine it will change again as I listen to different music and soak up what I hear.

What are you up to at the moment artistically?
Mostly I’m gigging and working on the live show with different musicians, depending on which country I’m performing in. But I’ve also recently started writing again and actually finishing songs (rather than just jotting down lyrics or melodies as they come to me on the road).

What’s on your rider?
Dark chocolate, alcohol-free beer, gluten-free bread, hummus, raw vegetables, crisps, red wine. If I could I’d have a puppy or two on the rider and just sit and cuddle them for a while after a long van drive.

Tell us your most embarrassing or surreal experience.

I was about to walk out onto the fake Glastonbury Tor and do guest vocals and harmonica for Frank Turner and The Sleeping Souls at the Olympics opening ceremony in London 2012. We were the first act on and there were 200,000 people in the stadium and many million watching from home on their TVs, when I suddenly got my period. I was wearing a skirt made of rather sheer fabric and it was definitely going to be visible if I didn’t sort it out immediately. I had about one minute to do so and am pleased to say it got sorted! Phew.

What song do you wish you’d written?

Do Right Woman by Dan Penn and Chips Moman.

What’s your worst lyric?
Haha, one of the first songs I wrote when I was a teenager had a lyric that went “Toasted you burnt me, don’t try to butter me up now.” My brother Joel never lets me forget that one.

If you liked this article, we think you’ll enjoy these:

Interact: Responses to Music Q&A: Emily Barker

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published.