Emma Ballantine: An Interview

Emma is a talented singer songwriter with her beautiful guitar. She's going places quite literally. All over the UK and Germany people are hearing her voice on the radio. Her latest EP, Tourist, reached no.15 on iTunes for the Alternative chart. 

Check out when she's playing next on her website here

1. Who are you and what do you do? 

I am Emma Ballantine and I'm a singer songwriter - originally from Salisbury and now based in London

2. Why do you like to create music? 

So many reasons! It's relaxing, it's cathartic, it connects you to people, it makes people feel something, it makes you feel something, it's challenging, it's a form of self-expression, it can say things in ways you'd never be able to say them otherwise, you travel and meet so people through the work you create - with some of them becoming lifelong friends... This is why I've written and performed for so long - and why I'll always do it in some form or another, till I'm old and grey!

3. When did you start writing music? 

Aged 12 - I'd written poems before, and been musical, but that's the first time I put the two together. My piano teacher taught me three basic chords, and once I realised what I could do with them, I was hooked!

4. Any fun road stories to share? 

Touring has been an amazing experience, but probably the most memorable was a gig I did at an old castle in Germany. It was a lovely show, and afterwards the priest who lived there gave me a tour, telling me the story of Cordula - the ghost who haunts it, who leapt to her death when her lover was killed in a duel. He then showed me into the tower she's believed to have jumped from and said I was sleeping there on my own that night! Suffice to say, it took a while to doze off!

5. What has the mentorship in songwriting been like ? 

The Songwriting Academy has been a fantastic experience so far. I've loved meeting other writers and performers and everyone is so supportive and open to collaboration. Getting feedback on new songs from the mentors and the community is really helpful, and it's made me branch out into writing songs with and for other people, which I've really enjoyed.

6. Who are some people you look up to in the music world? 

It would have to be some of the promoters I've worked with, who keep the grassroots music scene breathing. Promoters have a bad reputation for being sharks and exploiting performers, but the good ones I've worked with are absolutely brilliant. People like Kal Lavelle (We Love Shows), Claire Hagan (Electric Foxes) and Lorraine Solomons (Success Express) put so much energy and love into the shows they curate and work so hard to fill venues with attentive audiences. They've been known to sacrifice their share of profits so artists can get paid and they provide a platform for music that they genuinely love, rather than booking bands solely on the number of Facebook fans they have. It's rare - especially in London - and it's what makes it possible for artists like me to get our music out there.

7. How would you categorize your sound? 

I would describe it as folk-pop, as there are definitely folk (and maybe even country) influences. However, I listen to a whole range of different genres so other elements often creep in! I like to experiment with different styles.

8. Any future albums in the works? 

I haven't set a date for the next one just yet, but I'm writing new material with the next release in mind, so watch this space!

9. What's one song that's really made an impact on you? Is there a story behind it? 

I remember listening to The Queen and the Soldier by Suzanne Vega when I was about nine years old. I was completely captivated by the story it told and loved the stunning images it used. It was pure poetry. Ever since then I have written songs with a storytelling element and have thought about songwriting as painting with words and music. It's one of that reasons that I covered the song on my last EP and I have played it in so many different places over the years.

10. What's your ideal working space to create your music? 

It's always good to mix things up. I like the peace and quiet of my studio at home, but often it's good to get out and about to find inspiration. Traveling is always a great time for new ideas! 


Filmed on 24th July 2015 at The Bedford, Balham Video: Todd MacDonald Audio: Warren Bassett, Peter Waterman, Rick Lehane Guitar: Fernando Sanchez Drums: Vito Guerrieri Bass: John Rixon Cello: Jo Quail Trumpet: Will Rixon Backing vocals: Elisa Jeffrey


Fun Questions

1. What musician would you meet living or dead? 

I'd love to meet Joni Mitchell. She lived so bravely - especially for the time she grew up in - and wrote the most incredible music. I'd love to hear about the early days, before she became successful, as well as the later years, and talk to her about the inspiration behind her songs. I'd also love to hear her thoughts on today's music scene, where there's so much artists can do for themselves. She always had that DIY ethos - from producing her own records to designing her own cover artwork. She's a huge inspiration.

2. Who's your favorite literary hero?

I always thought Pippi Longstocking was pretty awesome when I was a kid. A buccaneer's daughter who does what she likes, doesn't care what people think, shares her house with a horse and refuses to grow up - oh and has superhuman strength too! You need people like that in your mind growing up to remind you to be your own person!

3. If you were stuck on an island what five things would you want to have with you? 

  • A grand piano 
  • My cat
  • A notebook and pen 
  • Dark chocolate
  • An album of all my photos, ever

4. If you had a super power what would it be? 

I think it would be invisibility. I would love to be able to slip unnoticed into all the world's most exciting and secret places, eavesdrop on conversations, travel the world on empty plane seats and do nice things to surprise people without them knowing how.