MASSIVE thanks to Em Hoggett…
for opening up for me regarding her latest single, What I Want to Say to You, and its emotional story. The E.P. of the same name is out and Hoggett talks about the music and themes running throughout; the artists and albums that inspire her; moving from the U.K. to Los Angeles – she tells me what the scene is like in L.A. right now.
Hoggett provides advice to upcoming artists and those who have been through the same experiences of rape as her; what we can expect from her going forward; a rising artist to look out for – she ends the interview with an epic song!
Hi, Em. How are you? How has your week been?
Hi. I’m great thanks. It’s been a busy week. I’m working on the new album.
For those new to your music; can you introduce yourself, please?
I’m a singer-songwriter and pianist. My music is soulful, sensual; dense…James Bond-esque in style. I trained as a classical pianist since I was four, so it’s all rooted in piano. What I Want to Say to You has a unique sound - partly because of subject matter, but expect Bond in the next album.
What I Want to Say to You is your new single. Can you reveal its story and how it came together?
What I Want to Say to You is a single that developed into a four-track E.P…
I was raped when I was sixteen. I suppressed it for years until it finally began to take over my life at eighteen. I couldn’t sleep, eat; work…do anything at all. My mum suggested I write a letter to my attacker, not necessarily to send, but just to get the feelings out on a page. Naturally, for me, this came in writing a song.
I wrote What I Want to Say to You in about ten minutes; the words were just there…waiting. A few days later, I posted the song on social media; therefore, letting all of my friends and family know what had happened. This was the hardest thing I’ve ever done but it was so important. At the time, I was suffering with denial a lot. It was so easy for me to pretend it had never happened because nobody around me knew that it had. Once I posted the song, I couldn’t hide anymore and I finally had to begin the process of acceptance and healing.
I entered a pretty rough few months after that, during which time I wrote Anger, which expresses the pure emotion of anger that is felt when you realise you’ve been abused. It was really important for me to put this song on the E.P. to let other survivors know that it is a totally normal and healthy feeling and not something to feel ashamed of or alone with. I then wrote Will It Always Be Like This, which questions if the rest of my life would be consumed by a painful dark cloud...(which it isn't, by the way - it does get better). The final song, Get Out, describes the feeling that this person and experience will live inside your body forever. I wrote this in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal.
Meeting producer Bruce Witkin was the essential ingredient that brought it all together. We got into the studio pretty much straight away and everything just came together. I couldn’t have asked for a better producer to work with.
You survived a brutal rape and are using music to heal, not only yourself, but others. What is your message to other women (and men) who have been in the same situation?
If you feel able to tell someone what happened to you, do it. I think you will be surprised at the response…
Telling my family and friends was the hardest thing I’ve ever done but it literally changed my life. I no longer walk around with an unbearable weight inside of me. I was believed and supported. Once you tell someone, you begin to realise the truth: that this was not your fault. From this place of understanding and acceptance, you can begin to heal…you realise that this weight isn’t yours to carry around; you can begin to let go. If you don’t feel able to tell someone, try expressing your feelings around it. Expressing through writing, painting; singing…creating in any way and even just talking is SO important. Get these feelings OUT of you or they will eat you up inside.
If you feel like you’d like to tell someone but are afraid you won’t be believed or you don’t know who to tell, you can contact me at the ‘Contact Us’ button on www.WhatIWantToSayToYou.com - I WILL believe you.
Might we see more material next year? How far ahead do you look as a songwriter?
Yes. I have another album ready to go; I’m hoping to get back in the studio as soon as possible.
I look pretty far ahead: I’ve got a lot of material to work with. I’ve been writing since I was thirteen and I have around four-hundred songs on my phone. I’d like to record some of those too…but this next album will all be songs I wrote in the past year.
You were born in the U.K. but live in Los Angeles. What is life like out there? Is it a great place as a musician?!
I love it! I feel so at home here. The sun, the relaxed atmosphere; the creativity…I feel like everyone I meet in L.A. is doing something artistic…they’re a writer, a model; a musician, a photographer; an actor.
It’s incredible to be surrounded by such creative energy all the time. Being a musician here is awesome. There are so many amazing musicians to play with, listen to and learn from. I’m an actress as well, so this is literally the perfect place for me…the creative juices never stop flowing.
Do you recall when you got into music? Which artists did you grow up around?
I was trained as a classical pianist since I was four, so music was a huge part of my life from a very young age.
My music taste is incredibly broad. I grew up with a lot a variety. I listened to a lot of Soul/Jazz. I’m a total Motown lover. I also listened to a lot of Rock - and a lot of Alternative. Honestly, all sorts. One of my big influences is Jamie Cullum; Pink Floyd was big for me, Nina Simone; Marvin Gaye…also, Birdy…I think I took a lot of inspiration from her. Kind of all over the place here.
What do you hope to achieve by the end of 2018?
I’d love to get back in the studio and record a few singles for the new album - and to get W.I.W.T.S.T.Y. out there more. This E.P. needs to be heard.
Have you got a favourite memory from your time in music so far – the one that sticks in the mind?
Wow…tough question. Honestly; recording with Bruce (Witkin) was such an incredible experience. Recording the piano and vocals was really special. I love performing too…so, a few of my live performances for sure.
Which three albums mean the most to you would you say (and why)?
I think I’d give a different answer to this question every year. Right now, I’d go with these.
Pink Floyd - The Final Cut
The emotion in this album is like nothing else. Pink Floyd have such an incredible way of using sounds to tell a story. I think they’re the filmmakers of the music industry. It’s amazing how you can listen to one of their albums from beginning to end and be taken on a total journey - and not just musically.
Bill Laurance - Flint
Bill Laurance on keys is just WOW. This album really speaks to me because it has so much skill, so much Jazz influence and a lot of upbeat tunes but still remains super emotional. I’m really into emotional stuff if you hadn’t noticed.
Frank Turner - England Keep My Bones
I’m a huge Frank Turner fan - it’s hard to pick one album. But, his lyrics are just incredible. I think he’s one of the most talented lyricists out there.
If you could support any musician alive today, and choose your own rider, what would that entail?
Jamie Cullum. What a musician.
A lot for the rider…starting with a white grand piano.
How important is it being on stage and playing? Is it possible to describe the emotions you feel when connecting with fans in the audience?
It’s super-important to me: there’s nothing quite like live performance. When you’re with a band and you’re all on the same wavelength, just vibing together…it’s an incredible thing. You learn a lot from live performance too.
You really have to listen.
What advice would you give to new artists coming through?
- Don’t give up.
- Write about what speaks to you.
- Play more! Meet musicians.
- ENJOY. Have fun. That's why you're doing this, right? 'Cos you love it.
- Be kind.
- Stick with what’s true to you. NEVER feel like you have to do anything or have to be anything for an opportunity. Always stick with your instinct and the right things will flow to you. Don't get pressured into stuff you don't feel good with.
Are there any new artists you recommend we check out?
Do you get much time to chill away from music? How do you unwind?
I do have time away from music because I’m an actress too, but that’s not exactly chill. When I do get to chill, I journal a lot; meditate, hike; travel, go to the ocean…all soul-cleansing stuff. I love to dance too and explore the world.
Finally, and for being a good sport; you can choose a song and I’ll play it here (not any of your music - I will do that).
Truth - Kamasi Washington. Wow. What a song
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