Jesse Emmanuel is the Coffs Coast’s own diva. Last year she performed at Channel Nine 2010 Carols by Candlelight and has just come off the back of a tour with her father and uncle – Phil and Tommy Emmanuel. Jesse gives us an insight into her blossoming career.
Obviously you’ve grown up around music, with Phil Emmanuel as a father and Tommy as an uncle, but what is the earliest memory you have of getting involved in music yourself?
I always envied Dad for his amazing talent. I never really thought about emulating it until I was in primary school, and a friend and I decided to audition for the chorus in the school play. I sang and everyone was blown away, and I didn’t know why. From then on I decided I wanted to be a pop star and started a little group with my girlfriends.
It’s so funny to look back on today. We would make little documentaries on us pretending we were so famous, and our only gig was my little sister’s birthday party. Obviously my goals and aspirations have changed a lot since then!
> What was the first instrument you owned?
A little red imitation Fender Stratocaster, just like Dad’s!
> Who are some of your musical idols?
Michael Jackson is one of my biggest idols. He made some amazing music and was just electrifying on stage. I also love Chrissie Amphlett and Debbie Harry, the iconic Rock band front women, but my favourite writers would have to be Brad Paisley and Amy Winehouse. Kind of a strange array of influences, I guess.
> Last year you were nominated for a couple of awards at the National Musicoz Awards. Tell us about that …
I was nominated for Country Artist of the Year and APRA Songwriter of the Year at the Musicoz Awards, which is basically like the ARIAs for independent artists. In the Country category I was up against some stiff competition, including Jetty Road, who took out the award, but when I won the APRA Songwriters award. I couldn’t believe it! It was so fantastic to finally be recognised for something I’ve done for over half of my life, and it’s more important to me to create great ‘works of art’ and share them with fans than it is to gain any sort of fame.
Songwriting is my favourite part of the job, so to finally have it recognised was an honour. Plus, I got loads of great publicity, there was a red carpet and the craziest paparazzi ever! There was even a fashion website detailing my outfit and treating me like some famous fashionista!
> You’ve opened shows for some major acts, including Colin Hay, Toni Childs and The Whitlams. Who have been some of the stand out people to work with?
Touring with The McClymonts was probably my favourite. They are the most down to earth girls, and yet they are super incredibly talented. I’ve made great friends with them since then.
Each tour has been a great opportunity, though, to play my music to huge audiences who may not yet have heard of me, and I have a lot of fun meeting the artists too. Mental As Anything are a funny bunch of guys, and Colin Hay was hilarious.
> You’ve just come off the back of a tour with Phil and Tommy Emmanuel. What was that like?
An absolute dream come true. The best thing that has ever happened to my career, and the most fun thing I’ve ever done. We toured the whole country. I got to see Hobart and Perth and Melbourne and fly all over the place.
It was so much fun playing with the TE All Star Band and Tommy and Dad, sharing my music with the country and a few laughs on the road. I love touring, because you get to see new places and play to new people – but being able to do it with family made it that much better.
> Tell us about the albums / singles you’ve recorded so far.
I released my debut album, Everything I Know So Far… just over a year ago now, but being an independent artist, it has been hard to get it noticed.
I am still proud of every song on that album and have been having so much fun promoting it and selling it all over the country, but I am so keen to get back in the studio. I’ve already recorded a couple of new songs – which I intend to release on an EP, so I can get them out there ASAP!
> What’s your favourite song to perform live?
At the moment it would have to be my newest song, 21. It’s a funny little song about how I prefer to stay at home and watch TV than go out and party and do other typical 21-year-old things. It’s an anthem for all my fellow boring people out there, and it has proved a fan favourite at every show I play. But my favourite song of all time to play would be Too Lazy. It’s the biggest song on my album and whenever I’ve played it with a band, it has just gone off. That’s the song we have been closing our shows with on the Emmanuel tour.
> When you’re not making and performing music, what keeps you busy?
Modelling for Jane Potter has been a big part of my career in 2010. I would really like to be known for my style, as well as my music. Fashion is a big part of the job, so having Natalie Jupp from Jane Potter as my wonderful stylist has been an integral part of creating my image this year. It’s good to know I have something to fall back on if the music goes bust!
> What are your plans and goals for 2011?
I want to write more songs. This last year has been so focused on promoting the stuff I had already made, that I didn’t get much of a chance to focus on new material. The few songs I did write last year are so awesome – my writing style has matured so much. So I’d really like to keep writing and see what this style manifests into.
My Country influences seem to be shining through a lot more than they used to, so I’m thinking another major Country album will be in the works, and I plan to work more with my band The Bostocks and do fewer solo gigs. Big things for 2011, no doubt!
> Thank you Jesse.