After releasing six albums and contributing songs to film and TV productions including as BBC’s ‘Wallander’, acclaimed Australian singer/songwriter Emily Barker has become a mainstay of the UK folk and country live scene.
James Youdale caught up with Emily as she prepared for the start of her tour in Germany.
Emily’s upcoming UK tour, which will take her to Holmfirth Picturedrome tomorrow ,will see the final time that she’ll be touring with her regular band, ‘The Red Clay Halo’, who she has played shows with since 2005.
“I think it will be a bit emotional for us all” she said pensively, pausing for a moment before continuing.
“We still do plan to collaborate together, if, say for example, bits of film or television work come in, so it’s not a final end, we do imagine it as a hiatus - which eases the process.”
But having worked with a fixed group of musicians for so many years, the next step in Emily’s career will invariably be a step into the unknown on a creative level.
When asked if working with a regular band has influenced her song writing, she replied, ‘absolutely’.
“For The first album, when I hadn’t formed the band, they ended up coming in and playing on it and from there we developed our live sound. I wrote the next three albums based on that.
“It’s been really cool to start writing the next record and not think about which instruments are going to be on it at this stage.
“That’s been quite liberating in lots of ways, but I’ve have really enjoyed working with ‘The Red Clay Halo’ on the songs we’ve done in the past.”
Prior to preparing for the tour, Emily was writing and recording demos for her new album at her home studio.
“It’s a new thing for me,” she said of taking a DIY approach to recording her own music, “it’s changing the way I work.
“I’ve just done a full length feature film recently where I had to record all of the music, and I had a limited budget. I would have blown the whole thing if I had to hire a studio.
“I’ll be recording the demos myself and taking them to different producers and seeing what their ideas are before making a decision about who to work with.”
In weeks running up to the tour, Emily took song requests from fans online.
“The set lists will be mostly bespoke. We’ve had a really good response from fans, but we’ll also be playing songs we want to play too. I’ve actually got this really elaborate spreadsheet that shows who’s requested
what from where.
“There are requests from our back catalogue that we haven’t played for quite some time – so it’s been quite a fun challenge to go back and relearn the songs we’ve forgotten how to play.
“I’m probably going to play a song that I’ve just wrote for a film, which will be new to most people, but I think I’m going to save my new songs for future tours.
“I’m really looking forward to the first show in Lewes”, she replied, when asked if any dates on her upcoming run particularly leap out of the calendar.
“I’ve only played a tiny little record shop there – which was fantastic, but I’m looking forward to playing a bigger gig.”
“We’ve got a support act from Sweden, a friend of mine called Christian Kjellvander, who I’m such a big fan of. I’m going to be singing some harmonies with him every night.”
Then there’s the mention of the Manchester ‘Whiskey Sessions’, to which her voice carries a real hint of glee at the prospect of sampling some fine whiskeys around her performance.
But what about her impending visit to West Yorkshire and her obvious excitement about her date at the Holmfirth Picturedome.
“Oh, Of course. I’ve never played that venue, so I’m looking forward to playing there.”
“It’s a beautiful, beautiful place” she says of the West Yorkshire environs, I think it’s going to be a great tour.”