I arrived at Brezza’s, the new bistro on Wellington St, Sheffield to interview the lovely Emily Ireland. I am early and sample one of their fine tea’s (the lager would come later) and chat to proprietor Michael Breeze, formerly drummer of the excellent Elephant Keys and now taking the same position in Emily’s live band. On cue the young lady arrives with her ever present smile and we find a seat in a quieter area to chat. Emily eyes fall immediately on the nearby piano and she mischievously makes a pledge to play on it one day soon, with or without Michael’s consent.
Throughout the interview we regularly fly off at tangents unrelated to the subject matter including her years at King Edwards School where my children attended along with old boys including the likes of Toddla T, Phil Oakey and Martyn Ware. Then she mentions she followed my elder son Matt’s old indie band The Speakeasy naively thinking they’d made it after getting a good fanbase at school. We also discussed the importance the music businesses puts on image rather than talent and our joint pleasure at seeing how Adele succeeded in spite of her perceived negative body image, something Emily has very strong feelings about. She’s very easy to talk to and also a very good listener so at times I feel like the interviewee before making conscious efforts to get the discussion back onto the subject in hand, namely Emily Ireland.
My aspiration is to be able to make a living from making and playing music, I don’t really know what the future holds, be it next year or in 20 years, but I’d love to be able to do music as a job!
So where did story begin for Emily? I recall seeing her perform in a band called Illiodds when in her low teens but her tale actually begins some years before, aged 8 she started with piano lessons and then at 12 when she started playing guitar. A few years later she helped form the aforementioned Illiodds, for which Emily was main vocalist, and they played their first gig, a Battle Of The Bands type competition at the sadly missed Boardwalk. Ironically Jon Windle of Little Man Tate fame came to judge and obviously liked what he heard as several years later Jon was to approach Emily and her parents about her joining his current band. Jon is such a big fan he has now signed Emily to the label he has formed with bassist Andy New and they have also gone the whole hog and are managing Emily’s music career.
Big strides in a very short time? Not really. Emily has been turning heads with her music for several years, developing her solo act in the guise of See Emily Play (named after the old Pink Floyd classic song) and with which she got her own monthly residency at the Frog & Parrot, a buzzing Sheffield city centre music venue.
She recently put together her current live quartet featuring Mike Breeze, Nick Wainwright (Cut Your Wings) on bass and Emily’s multitalented brother Tom (Q Ship) on guitar. Plenty of rehearsals to date but only one gig to their name, a low key affair at The Red House, Sheffield to test drive some of her new catalogue of songs including her excellent 5 track ep 4 Feet From The Door.
The origins of the ep began in February when Emily went to 2Fly studio by herself and recorded some demos. She played them to Jon and Andy and they saw the potential but wanted to them to be polished up and then released as an ep on their label. Emily carries on the story enthusing “In our basement at home my brother and I wrote and played all the parts of the songs but didn’t know how to fit it all together. We went back into 2Fly and luckily they did. Both Alan (Smyth) and Dave (Sanderson) worked with us to produce the finished tracks” she adds with obvious pride “Tom played drums, bass and most of the guitar parts”.
Emily admits the ep is very much based on personal experience, “I find it easiest to write about things I know about or have experienced”. The song titles include ‘A Loner Like Me’ and ‘The First Time Someone Has Ever Broken My Heart’ sad songs sung with such emotion that belie her normal sunny disposition. The more positive vibes of ‘My Brand New Boy’ provide a good balance to the highly rated release.
Currently on a gap year before university, Emily works part-time at Cow, the retro clothes shop on West St, Sheffield, whose staff also boasts Dan Whitehouse of Mabel Love fame. I recall buying a very loud tee shirt from there but put the thought to the back of may mind immediately.
Emily’s star is deservedly on the rise, both as solo artist and as part of Jon Windle’s live set up (whom it’s obvious she rates very highly) so what are her aspirations for the future? “My aspiration is to be able to make a living from making and playing music, I don’t really know what the future holds, be it next year or in 20 years, but I’d love to be able to do music as a job!” then adds with a big smile “I also reckon I’ll know Jon and Andy forever”.
She has the image, personality and above all talent to rise above the masses of musical artists vying for public attention and with the backing and faith shown in her by Mssrs Windle and New all bodes well.
Emily is launching her debut release on 20th November at Library Theatre Sheffield supported by Feelix and Dead Like Harry, a mouth watering line up headed by a young lady who could well be a household name in years to come