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Emelia Beeson

My two passions in life are music and learning; I’m naturally curious about everything.

MY STORY

When did your interest in music begin?

“I’ve always been interested in music, I grew up with it. 

My parents always had music playing in the house when I was a kid, and from all sorts of genres - so I was lucky enough to have had loads of varied influences. 

My parents actually set-up a music shop at one stage - although funnily enough, during that period, the background music stopped.

I always got a bit worried about doing music professionally because of that. You know… turning something you love into your livelihood. It’s such a different experience to having it as a side hustle. Turning it into your livelihood I guess adds an extra layer of stress. You start focusing on certain routes that you often don’t really love, but because you’re putting a commercial value on it.

I noticed it once I started depending on music more. When I started gigging and depending on it to survive, I was just learning covers for the sake of learning covers. You stop making music for yourself and start becoming a jukebox, which is not cool. 

The first instrument I picked up as a kid was the sax. It’s funny because I was very young at the time - at that age I shouldn’t have been able to physically play the saxophone at that age, but I’ve always been a big girl!

Singing has always been something I’ve loved - I’ve always had song in my heart. But I’ve not always been good at singing…

I’ve always sung a little tune here and there and used to make up my own melodies. But my mum would also tell me to shut up, because it was not sounding good!

I’ve found that an important part of becoming a musician is externalising what you hear in your head. My path to finding my sound was trying to match what was in my head. It was a continuous process of trying to find it. 

Unfortunately the saxophone was a short lived hobby. When me and my family moved to Spain - when I was around six - we discovered there were no sax teachers! But what my new school did have was an array of guitars. So I kind of started to pick those up. I’d hated how theoretical learning the sax had been and I knew that music was a fun thing I wanted to explore on my own terms - guitar allowed me to do that.

Once I was playing guitar, I could match my voice to things. 

Developing my voice took years though, as I never had the confidence or any formal training. I was well into my twenties before I started sounding decent and could actually bring out my voice. In my opinion though, not having training helped me find my sound. I’ve been told that I’m the best bad singer. Adding a bit of character into it is good!”

What sort of support did you have from teachers?

“Loads of people have taught me and helped me get where I am. 

That’s what I love about music. It brings people together and everyone wants to help and create a sound together. It’s not one of those things where knowledge is restricted, or not shared, or it has a value. Knowledge itself is an asset but it’s not a value. 

In school, our maths teacher would teach us a few chords in a mini unofficial music class - it was kind of freestyle - you could do what you wanted. I loved playing the guitar and learning songs. By the end, there were just three of us picking up the guitar and learning some Beetles and Blue Suede Shoes - the old stuff. Easy to play and really simple - three basic chords is enough.

My foster brother, Connor, also had a real impact on me. He’d grown up playing guitar and had such a deep understanding - which I of course lapped up. He let me play with his sparkly turquoise blue fender - the guitar that really accelerated my learning. I started off with some Chilli Peppers, Jimi Hendrix, and different kinds of electric stuff. Connor was a fantastic electric guitarist. But every electric guitarist has an acoustic guitar lying around, and so that’s what he lent me to learn on. I ended up getting my own acoustic guitar eventually - which I still have to this day.  

After Connor, a few people have made a distinct impact in bringing me out of myself. 

At uni there were several people I played with who helped me develop my guitar skills. One of which was a guy called Swanny - who is now the bassist in a well-known heavy metal band called Monuments. What he taught me in guitar really clicked, because he taught me everything was structured by patterns. He taught me theory without teaching me theory. It opened me up to a whole different way of seeing and playing guitar - the most useful knowledge I could have wanted in terms of music production and what goes with what. It’s all tone, semi-tones, tones - he really made things click for me in a simple way.

The people to bring out my singing were people here in Estepona, Spain though. Many people really encouraged me with my music and creating. 

Thomas, my best mate, got me the first ever draft recording that sounded like an actual arrangement. 

With the voice, I found encouragement to have provided the most impact. The support I received here was totally non-competitive - people just wanted to hear me sing. I don’t know whether they just saw something that no one else did or maybe I’d just gotten out of my shell after a few jam sessions. I didn’t have a voice in England. It was developed here. Maybe that was because a lot of the musicians I was playing with in England already were amazing singers and I was just happy to be a guitar player and absorbing the scene. I was always happy to jump into whatever instrument. We’d all be jamming round my friend JP’s house - often all day. He had a few instruments going around - and I was so happy trying out all of them. Which is why now I’m probably so open to experiment now that I have a bass and MiDi! I think that’s what music is, you’ve got a bunch of sounds, so let’s do something with them. Everything instrument has its own role."

Every musician has their own personal sound and I think that just has to come from your soul.

What was your first official gig?

“My first paid gig was technically back in uni. It was a one-off and some unknown was organising an event and gave me 20 quid to play.

The second time I was working in a bar, there was a guitar and I was playing and singing something for fun - I’d started to get my confidence from jams. My boss had heard me and asked me to play for a group of customers. The table asked for more and thought it was amazing! At the end they gave me £40 for just a few songs. I almost cried, I remember thinking “You want to pay me money for this!?”

I did a lot of jam sessions prior to my first official gig though.

Al, rest his soul... 

Al was a friend of mine who died a few years back. He heard me at a jam, and was one of the people that inspired me to get my voice out and just relax and discover my sound. He was my biggest fan. He cried alongside my brother when he saw me perform at my own gig for the first time.

He made lots of recordings - but all you can really hear is Al singing along. I found the files a few months ago actually and my soul was so happy. 

He was an old boy, but so pure. So full of life, and amazing soul - I feel privileged to have known the guy. He loved music. He wasn’t a musician at all. I mean, he did like having a go at the tambourine and he did get involved - but he didn’t play anything properly. He loved music and maybe in that way he was a musician. 

Al got me my first gig.” 

How did things kick off from there?

"I got another gig from someone who saw me. But it was really the jam sessions that made the impact - I was getting heard that way. People would then recommend me - and put me in touch with venue / night owners. 

My Sonora gig - a big music venue here - was early on. I wish it had been a little later on to be honest. 

It was all quite intimate early on - everyone knowing each other. I think that’s how it really got going.

Oh, and I got a few gigs from enquiring.”

How did you get started professionally?

"I started professionally during lockdown.

Someone recommended I do ‘Rock the lockdown’ - a global remote live music event. I decided to apply without having much hope, but I got a slot. It wasn’t a paid gig. But it was the fact that strangers were watching me and I had to start a Facebook page to be part of it. And then that got some traction - people were asking when I was next performing. It just turned into a thing.

I mentioned earlier that I’m scared about performing with monetary value as the driver, but actually I did end up having to do that during covid. It forced me to develop as a musician as well. I was going out there trying to find gigs. Because I needed the money - I was doing it to survive. I was hard up during covid, and did a few illegal gigs. It did make me actually focus on it professionally, and really develop and hone it so I could have a decent act I was proud of. 

But when I really started to depend on it and was trying to get gigs, I did see the commercial side of it start to have a negative influence. People were appreciative of what I was doing but told me it wasn’t going to fill seats. It was like “I need ‘this’ to fill seats in my bar.” You know, go learn a fucking shanty. 

I didn’t want to be playing Sweet Caroline all night. If I do cover a song I want to add my own style and add something to it or make it something different. And not a fucking sing-along - I’m not a jukebox.

I guess it’s all in balance and moderation and finding that. If you are doing it as a side hustle, you are still looking at it professionally, but it’s not the be-all and end-all - and you don’t have to take on stuff that’s going to kill your soul creatively." 

The best parts of creativity happen when you’re more restricted.

The process of finding your sound? 

"That’s the thing, what is my own sound… 

I believe it’s something that’s just developed and I think it comes out naturally. I don’t personally strive to have a sound. If I like something then I go with it. 

Obviously there are limitations with what I’m doing. I’ve got a guitar and a voice - I’m not going to change the world with a new sound from just a guitar and a voice. 

Every musician has their own personal sound and I think that just has to come from your soul. And that’s what makes it so difficult, thinking about it as brand or yourself as a commodity. Literally my sound is my soul. When it comes out, I’m closing my eyes - I’m literally absorbed in it. 

When you are thinking of it as a raw performance that’s how it has to be. I’m not saying as a musician that I’ve developed my sound completely, as I don’t have an album out and I don’t know what the fully produced sound of it is. I have a very clear idea of how things sound in my head, but I wouldn’t say I’m constricted by any genre. Some are more upbeat, some are slower." 

Which artists / genres have influenced your sound?

"What I think are my influences aren’t necessarily what I sound like. My influences are many - my parents had a music shop - I had every genre available to me. I listened to every genre there was. The weirder something is or the more experimental something is, the more I like it. I like to see what people are doing creatively. 

Personal sound wise - Soul & Hip Hop have influenced me greatly. I don’t sound ‘Hip Hoppy’, but I do play with melody when I’m trying to creative something and that’s a hip hop influence. When I’m trying to get a nice hook, I play with melody and the way you deliver the words - which is a very Hip Hop approach. I know that’s with all music - but especially with Hip Hop where you get the bouncy sound - I love that. 

Oh and of course rock is a massive influence…

Trip Hop. That’s been the key to me finding my voice. That slow husky voice came naturally to me. The whole sound I would put in electronically into my sound. A lot of my stuff is upbeat or rocky and it doesn't sound like that, but it’s a massive influence. There’s just so much. Weirdly waiting for the bus is a massive influence - that’s when I get my melodies in my head and know it needs to come out. Some songs start off with an influence. 

‘Addiction for the season’ - my most recognisable song that people now even request… I had the idea for it while I was at a bus stop and wrote it there and then - I had this really shitty recording of it. My original vision for it had involved an old house piano, but because I don’t have a piano I had to find a different route for it and it kind of works now. I can still see it with a piano but it would be a totally different feel. But it’s turned into something different and that’s beautiful. The best parts of creativity happen when you’re more restricted. Sometimes having an overabundance of choice can restrict you creatively because you are so wrapped up in the whole thing you forget that the beauty is in the simplicity.” 

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TOP 3 MUSIC VIDEOS

5 SONGS THAT MADE AN IMPACT ON ME

Morcheeba - Tape Loop

The way she says 'Tape Loop' was game-changing for me. It's how I now angle my voice. I have a husky deep voice and even before I knew I could sing, this song helped me realise I could have a specific sound. It directed my whole way of singing.

Amy Winehouse - You Know I'm No Good

This song helped me develop me voice from husky into pure power. For me this passionate song really struck a chord. It's sung by someone who has a good heart but is misunderstood. This is a big theme of a lot of my songs.

Ed Sheeran - You Need Me

Perhaps an unexpected influence, but this was his breakout song. He's singing about living on people's sofas as a breakout musician. This song really shows how talented he is - he uses a loop pedal which is what I've only seen done with Dub FX and I always wanted to use a looper in my songs - it just adds an extra dimension. A solo artist can have a full performance with a loop pedal. I'd never seen a solo guitarist do what he did with it. He also adds in Hip Hop influences - and this spoke to me too as it's also been a huge influence for me. Even though many may see him as a sell-out, he's a fantastic song writer, and there is realness behind that.

Bobby McFerrin - Don't Worry Be Happy

This was the first major song where an artist just used their mouth as an instrument. He recorded the song in 30 mins off the cuff, as an inspirational jamming tune. This really made an impact on me - as that's how most of my good songs are made anyway - off the cuff. You're never so versatile as when you use your mouth. Although Bobby wasn't the inspiration for me playing the mouth trumpet specifically, his overall sound was.

Sublime - What I Got

This song epitomises everything music meant to me in my formative years.

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