Terry Emm Interview

Terry EmmLearning how to sweep pick sextuplets at 180bpm is all well and good, but what good would that be to you if you didn’t have a song to put it in?

In fact, if you want to make money these days you may have to put the electric guitar down all together.

The likes of Ed Sheeran are out touring the world and selling records better than anybody at the moment.

Indeed, the age of the singer/songwriter is well and truly upon us.

That’s where Terry Emm comes in.

Since his first album, 2009’s White Butterfiles, Terry has gone on to develop a reputation as one of the UK’s greatest up and coming songwriters.

Terrys songs come from the heart, his lyrics paint a picture in your mind, and, on top of that, he has some incredible guitar chops.

We recently spoke to Terry about his influences and songwriting tricks.

He also gave us an insight into what it takes to become a successful singer/songwriter, and, more importantly, we spoke about groupies and zombie grannies!


Read on…

Hi Terry, thanks for talking with us today. As a successful singer/songwriter, how important is the guitar to your songwriting process?

It’s my main and pretty much only instrument and the first instrument I fell in love with, so it’s vital to all of my songs.

Some songs come initially from guitar or at other times it adds to songs that come from elsewhere.

Who inspired you to pick up the guitar and why?

Probably Noel Gallagher in the beginning.

Oasis’ attitude seemed like an escape from the mundane normality of school.

How would you describe your approach to guitar playing?

I try and just get guitar parts that ‘feel’ right to me, to sound really pretentious.

If the chords or notes resonate with me at the time then I’ll go from there, that’s usually my stance on it.

As a singer/songwriter, the majority of your live work is very acoustic based and focuses more on accompanying your vocals.

Do you ever get the chance to crank up an electric guitar and shred your fingertips away?

Live, not so much.

I’ve done sets with a band backing me, which get a bit more heavy going.

On record there’s some solos, Richard Durrant and I took it in turns to do some electric guitar on tracks like ‘Dove’ and ‘Snow’ and on the new album I’ve got a solo on ‘Is There An End To Your Love?’ which I kept feeling was right for that track.

As your shows are solo gigs you obviously don’t have to share the groupies with any other band members – any wild stories you would care to share?

[Laughs] I’ll sound really arrogant maybe but there’s been a few fleeting relationships with people met through music which always give you a confidence boost.

But this can also make you question continuing with music as it’s linked up and people remind you of certain venues or places.

Then it usually ends up in songs coming from it and building yourself back up again… ready for the next one.

Obviously I’m talking like 1 or 2 encounters, I’m not that popular!

Terry Emm

What has been your wildest moment as a musician?

My solo stuff isn’t so wild, unless melancholy is your idea of wildness.

Back in school and at uni I had some other bands where we’d smash stuff up or dress up as zombie grannies.

I once ran round a church eating a bunch of roses for an experimental music project!

On a serious note, your songs are very moving and honest. Who are your songwriting influences?

My biggest influence musically is a guy called Mark Kozelek who has a few monikers, Red House Painters and Sun Kil Moon.

What advice would you give to any budding singer/songwriters out there?

Give up cause I’m the best (laughs)?

Nah, just to make sure you’re always feeling what you’re doing deep down, but also take the advice of other people on board too.

What are your musical plans for the rest of the year?

There are more shows to be announced and the new album ‘Starlight’ comes out August 11.

I’d like to say more but playing things by ear at the minute with myself as I’m on my own label, so it’s up to me.

Terry Emm

Tell us a bit about your current gear that you are using.

I use a Gibson J-45 guitar mainly that my dad bought me when I was 16.

That’s my favourite guitar and pretty nice and never lets me down touring.

Second guitar is a small body Guild M-20 guitar, slightly influenced by Nick Drake, but also because they’re so good and so cheap and look cool.

I also have an assortment of odd acoustic guitars that my Nan used to give me from jumble sales she’d do.

Home studio wise, it’s a simple MacBook and some condensor mics.

I recently bought a Fender Telecaster, which I like to write some stuff on aswell.

Finally, the music industry is a very fickle business. What advice would you give to anybody out there who wants to pursue a career in music?

Hmm it’s best to be yourself.

Especially coming into it, there’s lots of illusions of critical acclaim or people saying you’re good at your local venue/pub/folk club, but to actually make it a career is another thing.

I still haven’t got there, really.

You have to swallow your ego and push past the illusions and try not to fall out with people in the process.

People is the main thing, if you can get them on your side and a vast amount at the right time then you can make money.

It’s not all about labels, you can make money from YouTube or busking or printing up your own CDs to sell to people online.

Just keep it real and know when you’re being messed around.

It’s about the music at the end of the day, and if you can keep doing that and get engagement from people and get money then that’s that.

It doesn’t matter how you do it – there’s no set way, especially in the digital age.

It’s all to play for.

Thanks Terry. Good luck with the new album and live shows! We cant wait to hear it.

It’s been a pleasure, thanks for having me on.

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