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Photo by Brendan Schoenmaker

An accomplished vocalist, cellist, guitarist and pianist, Emily Victoria’s creative pursuits to date have seen her awarded an AMRAP Women In Music mentorship, currently mentoring under Chrissie Vincent, as well as multiple projects and performances in her wake since 2013, including performing with her high school band My Tree Origin launching an experimental jazz quartet, releasing an EP The Creature You Are in 2018, and harnessing her dream pop prowess as of 2020 under the moniker Emily Victoria. From studying classical cello in her youth to now spreading her creative wings further than ever, her new single ‘Memorise’ is a delectable continuation as much as it has been a pivotal juncture to future endeavours, as Emily says, “I am so in love with this song. From writing the lyrics on Chapel Street a few years ago to shooting the video clip at 5am at Emerald Beach NSW earlier this year, Memorise has taught me so much and taken me on a journey. There has been so much growth.”

Australian Musician sought to get to know Emily Victoria a little better with the following dozen questions.

1 What was the spark which lit your flame for music? I’m not sure. My first memories of life revolve around music. People singing to me, film soundtracks and noticing how my mood would shift when I was around particular pieces of music. Through an ever evolving journey music is a constant that has provided direction and purpose. I’ve loved exploring musical language and the many ways it manifests itself in history. It is a universal language and engaging with it is like reaching into the air . . and finding grounding energy.

2 What was your first instrument? Cello. My dad used to sing with the MSO and was heavily into Classical music and every weekend we would listen to Jacqueline Du Pré CDs. It was at this point that I fell in love with Romantic music and the haunting sound of the cello. Cello was incredibly difficult to learn. I remember trying to build strength in my arms to elevate my elbows for long periods of time and my fingers were always sore. In the end the hard work paid off. People would always talk about how beautiful the cello is and I didn’t quite understand the extent of this at seven years of age. It is an instrument that I continue to explore and uncover new things I wasn’t aware of. Recently I played cello for a contemporary dance piece and discovered that I could bow vertically as well as across the strings if I played at a quick speed and it had so much momentum.

3 What’s your main instrument now and how did you acquire it? I have a Jazz Singing degree and have spent years studying Jazz singers so I guess you could say that Voice is my main instrument! I was mentored by Ainslie Wills for many years and she encouraged me to sing Jazz. as it embraced the texture of my voice in the middle of my range. Ainslie introduced me to artists like Joni Mitchell and Jeff Buckley. We would explore their music extensively and how so many of their compositions and improvised melodies were inspired by Jazz. Singing felt like the most raw thing to do and I am always interested to discover different ways that I can use it.

4 What was your first band t-shirt? I used to screen print my own t-shirts in primary school. I think my first band t-shirt was a Tinpan Orange t-shirt that I made with a green font that I was really proud of. I remember enjoying matching the t-shirt with a little skirt with apple print. Tinpan Orange were one of the first groups I saw live when I was eight years old. I remember going to Bennetts Lane with my sister and my dad to see them and was really inspired by their style. My sister fell asleep in the interval, so we rushed home, dropped her at home and drove back into the city for the second half of the show!

5 A record that changed your life? Bowie’s Berlin Trilogy changed my life. I was sixteen when I discovered the Berlin Trilogy while listening to all Bowie’s records. Something about the darkness of the synths and Bowie’s distant / layered vocals conjure images of shadows in the middle of the night in a landscape that felt unknown and like something I would be interested to create. When I was 20, I went travelling with my friend. When we were in Amsterdam a philharmonic orchestra were performing arrangements of Bowie songs and his death still felt very recent. My friend wasn’t feeling well, and I remember going to the concert on my own . The concert started and the richness of the musical layers echoing off the walls of the hall . . Bowie was in the room that night… the most spectacular piece was Warszawa , it was so emotionally overwhelming . . everyone there felt the same. We were huddled closely in the hall and I remember reaching out for people’s arms and we all clung to each other tightly.

6 What’s your latest recording ? Last week I released a song called Memorise. The song is about time passing, seasons changing and making sense of memories, images of things that occurred a long time ago. The lyric ‘no one will know where all the soft posies go’ ,  the lives of people living in another time and place who we can never know about. The song was released with a video which involves a character revisiting their memories and trying to make sense of them. The video also features a mannequin presence which blurs the lines between the character and mannequin. It is a song and video that captures a lot of concepts that I have been exploring for a long time.

7 Most memorable gig? The most memorable gig would have to be a Halloween show at The Toff. I asked my sister to paint my face white and cover me in sheets to create a haunted ghosty look. Neither of us knew anything about makeup and we were using this thick white paint stuff on my face. She layered it on so thickly that the paint started cracking, it looked slightly horrible however also interesting. We had lots of fun coming up with ideas for shows. One show we did we decorated the stage with portraits of faces and X Rays. Another one we made an underwater scene. It was lots of fun to imagine these scenes and I think the audience really enjoyed it.

8 What would be your worst stage nightmare? With this question I keep envisaging dangerous and dramatic scenes with ghosts and earthquakes. Thinking about the musician’s nightmare , it would have to be noise related . Some kind of really loud feedback loop that is impossible to escape and impacts my hearing forever would be pretty awful.

9 What would you like your music career to look like in 5 years time? My thoughts on this change constantly. I would love to just keep moving forward and not think too far ahead. At this point I’m just writing as many songs as I can and challenging myself to try different things. I’d love to see more of the world and explore more ground. So that would be part of it.

10 What would be your dream collaboration? It would be super fun to collaborate with Nile Rodgers . I’d love to show him my ideas and see if we could make some really catchy grooves together. I’m drawn to him when I see him in documentaries.

11 What would you consider to be your greatest musical achievement to date? On the 2nd of January this year, Humming Heart (the first song I released) went to #1 on the Spotify Latvian charts. It was quite a left field event . Maybe a DJ played it in Latvia and people resonated with it or something. . It would be amazing to tour Latvia some day!!

12 What gigs are coming up in the next few months? I have some things planned for September! Have a look at my Instagram account emvictoria__ for updates about this project.

‘Memorise’ is out now


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