Welcome to HEADLINERS. This is an ongoing interview series with various movers and shakers in the entertainment world. Some names you may know,others you may not have…..yet! But either way, you’ll come to enjoy meeting these folks!
And now and meet one of the UK’s best voices, Kate Emerson!
I first heard Kate Emerson’s voice when I was sent the latest CD from one of my favorite bands, Mermaid Kiss in 2006. I had stumbled across them the year before and became an instant fan. While they had a lovely lead singer named Evelyn, she wasn’t able to do all the vocal duties on the new album “Salt on Skin”. The members looked around and came across Kate who sang on three of the EP’s 7 songs. I was hooked even deeper because of Kate’s voice. Sadly as you’ll see below, the meshing of Kate and MK didn’t hold but I then discovered Kate on MySpace. During the past few months, I have found Kate to be a sheer delight, a powerhouse writer (when the mood hits), extremely creative and not afraid of any musical challenge. Currently she is living and writing songs in the UK in hopes of recording a EP or a LP in the near future.
You can hear some of Kate’s songs here
1. What was your childhood like? Do you have one moment that defined who you are today?
My Childhood was so great that I have trouble letting go of it… and in all honesty I would often like to return… :/
My Mum and my Auntie were un-identical twins and my Auntie had my Cousin (Ian) two months after my Mum had me… so we spent a lot of time together… and I think that’s why I get on so well with Men on a platonic level. Then along came my Cousin Matthew 2 years later… and Amy 3 years after that… We spent the Summer holidays building bases in their garden and dams in the river… I was quite a Tom Boy and had mostly male friends in my younger years… As time went by I tended to have one female ‘best friend’ and a few other very close friends… I think what has defined me has been the various ‘compartments’ of my life… for I do compartmentalise and I battle with this… I have a Sister who is 7 years older than me and a Brother who is 5 years older than me… so in the ‘Birth Order’ scheme I am the ‘Last born’… and yet with these age gaps – from the age of 11 I was more like an only child … My Brother bought a house soon after leaving school and my Sister went off to live her mad existence at Art College… leaving me to be quite introspective.
I have always lived in Cheltenham… yet where I live we are on the edge between Gloucester and Cheltenham and ended up falling into the geographical catchment for Churchdown… so I went to School there… all the way through Primary to Seniors… This meant that most of my friends weren’t local… Hence, I tended to have friends at school who were different to the friends I saw at weekends or in the evenings… and I had all these different sections of my existence… I have often felt like I’m an actress in the film of my life playing different parts…
I have been a bit of a loner and that (I think) is the true ‘me’ as opposed to the extrovert that I become when placed in social settings. I spent most of my teenage years shut in my room studying (I was the ultimate square!!!) with my cat… listening to music and singing… all at the same time.
I spent hours playing about with my keyboard… writing strange pieces of music and putting them on to tapes… I became absorbed with Rock music from the age of 12 onwards and hated grunge when it came and swept many of my favourite bands out of the spotlight…
I kept dream diaries… I wrote journals… I have always felt like I’m living a secret life inside my head and have found a small number of special people who I have been able to invite in to my World…
In terms of ‘one moment defining who I am today…’ that’s quite difficult to say… I don’t think there is one single moment… I feel that my 3.5 year relationship with Darren has developed both me and him as people… although we are no longer together (we became more like Brother and Sister so are now best friends) – we really ‘opened’ up each others’ minds and I for the first time I felt like I could totally be myself with another person. I would say – that relationship enabled me to be even more eloquent, communicative and brutally honest than I was in the beginning.
I also think that when my Cat died (which hit me like a sledgehammer) – it imprinted the true fragility of Life into my psyche… making me realise – as I did more recently at my Brother’s Wedding… that life isn’t a rehearsal… it’s all happening right now… Scarey but true.
2. How did you get your taste for singing?
I can’t remember a time when I didn’t have a taste for singing… My earliest memory of music is that I used to love those songs that Olivia Newton John did with dolphin and sea sounds in the background… (I can’t remember which they were)… But anyway, I was very young and I wouldn’t go to sleep unless my Dad played those songs and held me in his arms dancing with me to them… It was spiritual.
I used to sing along to the radio, my Parents’ records… anything I could hear… and I didn’t always get the lyrics right just by listening so I made my own up…ha ha!! In some cases these came out as really funny alternatives (I don’t think I understood the innuendos until I was older!!!)
I would sing in my room the whole time whilst I was studying… and I think the reason I have developed my lower range so strongly is that I was singing to vocalists like Eric Martin and Paul Stanley.
The truth is that no one really commented that I could sing… they just teased me… that is until I was 19 and got up and sang at a karaoke (of all things!) Then I just started getting up and singing at every opportunity. It has only been in recent years that my family and friends have taken any notice of my voice. It used to be a “closet” thing… practised in my room… or in the shower.
3. What is more challenging, singing or song writing?
That’s a tricky one… because they both are but in different ways. I mean – singing can be so natural for me – when I’m using the “sweet spots” of my range… but when I’m reaching very high it’s much more challenging than the song writing.
When it comes to writing songs they kind of come like astral gifts… like they just arrive in my head and stream out when I sing.. I write the lyrics down.. then sing them into my dictaphone to capture the melody.
But, when it comes to “getting the music out” from my mind’s eye and playing it on instruments… well…I find that a tough challenge… Playing musical instruments is something I have to work at. The lyrics and the slightly deeper, velvety vocals are my strengths.
4. You sang with Mermaid Kiss “Salt on Skin” EP in 2006, will you stay with the band or go solo?
I joined Mermaid Kiss in October of 2005… we had a magical time and I loved it. We did some amazing photo shoots and Chris Walkden was great to work with, as were Jamie (Field) and Andy (Garman)… I did lead vocals on three of the tracks on the Salt on Skin ep… Then, for various reasons, in the Spring of 2006 I chose to leave. Some of these reasons were creative, some geographical… some down to human “ego” and no, I’m definitely not perfect there!!!)
I still talk to Jamie and who knows what might happen in the future. I still value his friendship – we don’t talk very often but when we do it’s lovely. I know that the latest Mermaid Kiss project is really coming together now and I’m so pleased because I know how much it means to him.
For now… I have had various ups and downs in my recent endeaviours…and I have a few other avenues that I’d like to explore… I like the contrast of my vocals with electronic music…and I’d like to try something different… maybe with a slightly gothic edge.
5. What’s your opinion of the British music press?
I am probably the wrong person to ask here as I don’ really read “the press”… I used to get quite a few music magazines but now I tend to find new music over the internet… (myspace, amazon… general googling… or friends’ recommendations).
But I’m deviating from the question.
Okay, well, I’ve always hated the fact that we get bombarded with a lot of mainstream rubbish (in whatever genre it is) and I’m very thankful that the internet is giving us a chance to hear some great music that would have otherwise been the underground of the underground!!!!
6. If we came to your town at 9 am and had a day to kill and you were our tour guide, what would you show us?
Hmmm.. interesting one!
Having lived in Cheltenham all my life it’s a little hard to get excited about it… but I think I’d take you to Woodchester Park and show you the amazing views… lakes.. and the Mansion there… I’d take you to “The Night Owl” and you’d realise what a lousy rock scene we have to put up with!!!… but at least we have one now (for years we didn’t… it was just some “cyber goth” judder night at a pub called “The Two Pigs” and that wasn’t inspiring at all!!!
I’d take you up Cooper’s Hill and show you the Roman Ruins and then we’d walk to the pub at the end of the long path and sit in the garden out the back where all the bunnies and wildlife come out to play! (Magic ƒº)
7. Whats the best looking cat you have ever seen in your life?
(answer: Derek Jeter)
Ha ha!! Is this a bonus question Mike 😉 for there are two number sevens!!! Well.. yes… Derek is amazing… yet I have to say that my Cat Sophie was and always be my Guardian Angel and I miss her so much it hurts.
8. If you had a chance to model with a top agency or sing with your favorite band, which would you choose and why?
It would definitely be singing with my favourite band… (I’d love to sing a duet with Steve Perry from Journey!!!) Let’s face it… modelling is about creating images of beauty that aren’t altogether “real” in order to sell ideals to the consumerist society… Whereas music is the food of the soul… and singing is like spilling out emotions to (hopefully) touch others… it’s so satisfying and can feel so euphoric…
9. What are 5 things you would change about yourself?
1) Without a doubt I would have less sensitive skin… one late night or the wrong food and it breaks out… It’s much like the rest of me…: responds very well to being nurtured and very badly to being abused / taken for granted.
2) I would like to be a minimalist without the need to hoard everything… I love collecting things but it can become obsessive. In a nut shell: I’d like to not have obsessive compulsive tendencies… lol!!! (this seems to come hand in hand with my perfectionist nature)
3) I would be able to use the higher range of my voice as well as my lower range – and have as much a natural ability to play musical instruments as I do to write prose / lyrics (I am more of a ‘poet’ than a ‘musician’).
4) I wouldn’t need to seek approval from others (I still seem to do this… perhaps because my Dad was never that expressive about how proud he was / is of me… and thus I never thought he was). I tend to try and win people over as opposed to just embracing the people who love me exactly as I am… (I am changing this now…)
5) I would naturally balance my energy levels – rather than burn out and break down so often (yes… meditation will help).
10. Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Hmmm… I’d like to think that I’ll be out of the 9-5 existence and making a living from some kind of creative pursuit(s)… This could be writing, singing, producing, directing… I don’t really mind.
I would like to be living somewhere that’s not surrounded by roads and cars… ideally with my Soulmate.
In truth, I love creating and it is that part that I love the most… sometimes I wonder if I would just be happier living ‘in the close’ – with my creations being perused but not me… I feel more natural beneath the surface. That’s not to say that I don’t love being on stage and feeling the buzz that gives… I do. But I don’t know if I could retain my sanity being in the public eye constantly… Heather Nova’s got the balance right – Worldwide popularity, respect and recognition without the ‘celebrity’ status that invades peoples’ lives.
By Michael Sullivan