A special double-bill gig featuring British singer-songwriters Emily Maguire and Me For Queen will come to Bristol later in August.
While classically trained Me For Queen’s aka Mary Erskine original piano-based songs draw comparisons to Regina Spektor and Carole King, Emily Maguire similarly is a classically-trained multi-instrumentalist with five albums and two books to her name.
As an advocate for mental health, Emily has featured several times on Radio 4 including Woman’s Hour, Loose Ends and Midweek, she has recently released a new book ‘Notes From The North Pole’ and a new album ‘A Bit of Blue’, which follows a dark time in her life and is a hauntingly beautiful testament to the human spirit.
Andy Howells recently put questions to Emily about her new album and the forthcoming show
How did you get into music originally?
I started playing instruments as a young child. We didn’t have a TV at home so playing music and reading books was what we did. I learned to play the piano, cello, flute and recorder. I only got a guitar for my 21st birthday because I was ill for a long time and stuck at home needing to distract myself from constant pain. I wanted to play Bob Marley’s songs so I taught myself to play guitar from one of his songbooks. A few months later a friend suggested I try writing a song and it was a revelation. The illness became a complete blessing in disguise as I had all this time on my hands to write.
On this tour you’ll be touring with Me For Queen – are you looking forward to working with another singer/songwriter?
I’m really excited to be touring with Mary Erskine from Me For Queen. She is an amazing singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist. She lives in Portugal and we’ve Skyped but never actually met so I’m really looking forward to meeting her at our first gig of the tour at Café Kino in Bristol.
What can people expect from the shows?
Mary is performing with a 3-piece band. I’ll be touring with my partner and bass player Christian Dunham. We’ll be performing songs from my new album ‘A Bit Of Blue’ and old favourites from my other albums. I write songs about life and the world inside my head. The lyrics are really important to me – my intention is always to uplift, comfort and inspire the people listening.
Can you give us some background on your latest release?
My fifth album ‘A Bit Of Blue’ came out of a dark time in my life. I got chronic tendonitis in my arms after an intensive tour of Germany and I had to cancel all my gigs. Being bipolar, this triggered a depressive episode that lasted a year. I knew I wanted to call my new album ‘A Bit Of Blue’ and I knew I wanted it to be stripped bare, haunting and as beautiful as it could possibly be. My producer Nigel Butler is a musical genius and he did exactly that.
Are there any particular songs you are looking forward to performing?
I love performing all my songs – I am just so grateful to be able to play my instruments again – but I guess the title track of ‘A Bit Of Blue’ has great meaning for me with everything I’ve been through in the last few years.
If there’s a track that best defines you as an artist at the moment – what is it and why?
I performed my song ‘For Free’ (from ‘A Bit Of Blue’) live on Radio 2 for Clare Balding recently and it’s been played on BBC Radio across the country. In all the craziness of this time, it is my song to the world.
What are you listening to at the moment?
I’m listening to Me For Queen’s ‘White Bike’. It’s a beautiful, really moving song. Mary wrote a whole album about cycling which was featured in The Guardian.
- Emily Maguire and Me For Queen will play Café Kino, Bristol on August 16. Tickets for all the shows on the forthcoming tour are available through http://www.meforqueen.com/gigs.