Q&A with Emma Hewitt
Emma Hewitt was once an aspiring rock singer but she’s since stormed the trance world with her mesmerising voice. Having collaborated with big names such as Cosmic Gate, Gareth Emery and now German trance producer Ronski Speed, she is attracting the attention of famous DJs and casual fans alike around the world. We chatted with the Aussie before her W Hotel gig in Hong Kong to find out how she pens a tune and suppresses her party animal tendencies.
Hey Emma! We hear you first started out in rock singing. What led you in the direction of trance?
I was in a rock band [Missing Hours] for years. We were signed to Sony in Australia and put out an album there. I was wanting to write with different people in various genres though and on a trip to London a few years back I met producer Chris Lake. We wrote Carry Me Away together. It was written quickly and only recorded as a demo in his home studio. He later released the track and it got a great response around the world. After that [German trance duo] Cosmic Gate got in contact and we wrote Not Enough Time together via correspondence. I was back in Australia on tour at the time. I started to realise just how much I enjoyed writing and singing on dance songs, and the emotional freedom it allowed me with the vocals. I started to listen a lot more to EDM and really became enthralled by it. Dash Berlin was the next collaboration and after that I decided this was the way forward for my musical outlet – and I have never looked back!
Are there any elements of your rock singing background that you still use today?
Definitely. I really approach the performance angle from a rock band perspective. I’m not much of a dancer – I prefer to perform like I am fronting a band. My fashion sense is heavily influenced by rock as well – I’m much more about leather pants and combat boots than typical nightclub wear. I also still write songs in the same way. I approach writing from more of a pop/rock angle, where the song needs to have a verse, pre-chorus and hopefully a catchy chorus. My brother and I write all the songs either with an acoustic guitar or piano. Even if someone sends me a track, I’ll break it down to just the piano to write the melody. I always feel if a song can stand up on its own this way without relying on production then it will work well once the track is built around it.
Can you tell us what it was like working with Ronski Speed?
I loved working with Ronski! He is a fantastic producer and a really nice person too. We worked on the song Lasting Light via correspondence. Ronski sent me the initial instrumental and I wrote and sang to that – I really enjoyed that one as it flowed out very organically in the writing process. The entire lyrics came together very quickly which is unusual for me, so I really enjoyed that.
And could you tell us a little about the process in which you write lyrics? What inspires you to write the words to your songs?
I’m always inspired by life experience, either my own or the people around me. My lyrics are usually slightly melancholy but also carrying a strong sense of hope. I tend to look back over my life a lot and write from the viewpoint of the way I was at different ages. So even if the song is hopeful about the future and looking forward, there is already the slight sense that whatever I am singing about has already long gone and become a memory. A lot of my inspiration comes from that place of being a teenager in a small town and dreaming about what else was out there and the vast possibilities sprawling ahead, but at the same time the lyrics hold the feeling of nostalgic memory and looking back on being that teenager and living in those days.
Are there any other genres you’d like to explore as your career progresses?
Most definitely. I love acoustic music and live instruments, so I would love to experiment a lot more with incorporating live sounds into electronic music. I also do love a good pop song, so I would like to try some pop music if done in the right way. There are so many styles out there to experiment with, I guess the whole aim of music is to keep pushing yourself and pushing the boundaries of your creativity, so I would never say no to trying out anything if it is in line with my integrity and beliefs as an artist.
As a final question, coming from the clubbing scene and all, are you an all-night party animal yourself?
[Laughs] Yes, actually I really am. I never want to miss anything and love hanging out with people, so I have a hard time not being one of the last to leave! However, lately, with the amount of shows I am doing, I have to be a bit more disciplined and leave earlier so that I can get some rest before the next show or flight. It would be too easy to burn out doing so much travel and missing out on too much sleep – plus I have to be careful not to talk too much and lose my voice, and I really love talking so this is tough!
Interview: James Kim
Catch Emma Hewitt with Ronski Speed at the W Hotel this Tuesday April 3. Tickets: www.musicasiaentertainment.com