We’re always on the lookout for gifted new artistes to profile, doing our bit to shine a spotlight on their craft because we believe it’s just a matter of time before their talent is ‘discovered’. Singer/songwriter and performer, Emily Mutaako is an artist that should be on your ‘one to watch’ list.
Born and raised in East London but influenced by jazz and soul overseas in the states, 22- year old Mutaako effortlessly fuses the two genres in her music. Not only does she reaffirm that neo-soul is alive and well, but that Brits do it just as well. She’s definitely an artist we’re keeping our eyes on!
We recently interviewed the bright and soulful singer to find out about her influences and plans for the future.
Melan Mag: Using only three words, how would you describe your sound?
Emily Mutaako: Soulful, jazzy and bright.
MM: At what age was your interested in music sparked and why?
EM: I’ve always been interested in music. More so instrumental when I was younger and then around 14, I started to get into singing, but I couldn’t sing, so I learnt how to sing.
MM: Where did your inspiration to become a singer come from?
EM: I watched a lot of music videos. You know the music channel videos? I remember I would always try to challenge myself. I used to be obsessed with Beyoncé, so I would challenge myself to learn everything about her.
MM: Which artists do you admire and why?
EM: Definitely Chrisette Michele. She has a Gospel background but also, a jazz and classical background and it’s just the versatility. A lot of her music is very versatile.
MM: You write all of your own music; where do you draw inspiration from when you write songs?
EM: It depends on when I’m writing and the state of mind that I’m in. A lot of the time I will kind of just be in a particular mood and sometimes I’ll just be listening to songs that reflect my mood. I’ll hear one key word and I’m like yes this it. I’m going to write a whole song based on this one word. So, for example, I was listening to a song the other day and I heard “Double Dutch”, and immediately I was like “Oh my God, that’s it. I have a concept.”
MM: Tell us about your first EP, Heart and Mind
EM: I feel like some people really struggle between a decision that they want to make with their heart and a decision that they want to make with their mind. So, I was like, I’m going to write about this and apply it to my own situation, which was at the time, “I’m not sure if I want to go to Uni” or if I wanted to pursue music. It was always an internal battle. For other people, it might be something else, a relationship, a financial situation or a mental health situation. I felt like a lot of people could apply it to life in so many different ways and I felt like the music that I was writing at that time was so universal that you could apply it to anything.
MM: What’s your biggest success so far?
EM: One of my proudest moments was when I was 17 and I performed at the Hackney Empire at an event called Alter Ego, which is an opportunity for young people who are just starting out in the music industry to showcase themselves in front of artists such as Krept and Konan, Misha B and Jermain Jackman. It was a great opportunity, I guess it sparked up my inspiration to keep going and it opened doors to auditioning in front of Stormzy and auditioning for Dreamgirls. It’s a good avenue to take if you’re just starting off with music because it provides an opportunity to perform in front of more than 3,000 people.
MM: If you could open up for any artist on tour right now who would it be?
EM: Lalah Hathaway, she is an amazing individual. She is the daughter of legendary jazz and soul musician, Donny Hathaway. She was trained in jazz and grew up with some amazing talents such as Snarkey Puppy, she’s even performed with Stevie Wonder. She’s renowned for being able to sing harmonies, in the sense that her one voice can break into a three-part harmony, which is very rare. She just remains herself.
MM: Do you have any new music that you’re working on?
EM: Yes! My current project is about mental health and it talks about the different mental states that you can go through, just generally in life. I’m still working on a name though. I’m also looking forward to performing at the Roundhouse Rising Festival and the Jazz Café in March 2018!
Listen to Emily’s latest single Fall below: