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Emma Beckett Goes 1-on-1 with Unheard Gems

Emma Beckett is a singer-songwriter that I originally found after listening to her amazing cover of Curious by Hayley Kiyoko. Her album, Drop Out, is just the first of what's to come for this musician and I'm honored to have had the chance to interview her for Unheard Gems:

Why name your album Drop Out? Is there any significance behind the title?

I wrote most of the songs on the album between late 2016 and early 2017, which is around the time that I dropped out of university. And I was basically stressed about it constantly and worried that I was making the wrong decision and stuff. So at the time I was writing all these songs, I felt like being a drop out was my entire identity. Whenever people asked me about school I had to tell them that I dropped out, and I used to be so embarrassed to say it. But I kind of came to the realization that it wasn’t really anyone else’s business, and I decided to just be proud of myself for doing it. So I named the album Drop Out to acknowledge that time in my life, and to kind of just claim the title as something I was happy about and proud of.

What got you started on this musical journey?

My family is super musical, so I was in piano lessons by the time I was six, and singing in church choirs and stuff like that. When I was in middle school I was really into Taylor Swift because I was a dramatic pre-teen and her music made me feel better. And I basically decided I wanted to do what she did. So I started writing really terrible songs on my ukulele, and I fell in love with it. My influences changed and I got better at songwriting and it all kind of just went from there.

What inspired you to start your YouTube channel?

When I first started singing a lot and songwriting, I only ever did it when I was home alone, and I didn’t tell anyone. Then when I was thinking about taking music more seriously I realized that nothing would ever happen if I kept it all a secret. So I started recording some videos, and I would upload them to YouTube. I didn’t show them to anyone and they would usually get less than 100 views, but it helped me get more confident. Then one day I was feeling super bold and I tweeted out a link to a video of me singing an original song. And a bunch of people I went to school with said really nice things, so I started posted regularly, and now it’s been four years and it’s going pretty well I think.

What's your favorite song on Drop Out? Why?

Probably Twisted. I really love it musically, I produced the track and I’m really proud of it and I think it bops. But lyrically it’s kind of funny for me. I had been in a slump where I was writing a lot of  super sad songs about unrequited love and basically just begging someone to like me. Twisted was a response to that, basically calling myself out for being dramatic, and reminding myself that no one is obligated to fall in love with me. I thought it was a fun concept for a song.

Do you have plans to release more music?

Absolutely. I’ve already started writing for a second album. I’m hoping that the next one will be more cohesive and clean, and I’m really excited to really start working on it.

6. Who are your biggest influences?

I’m most directly influenced by Hozier and James Bay. They’re both really inspired by roots and blues music, and that’s a vibe that I really try to emulate when I write. Listening to their music changed the way I write. But I’m really influenced by all the artists I listen to, because I take elements from music I like and try to incorporate them into my own music. When I perform live I use a loop pedal, and I definitely took that idea from Ed Sheeran so I should probably mention him as well.

As an LGBTQ+ musician, do you believe representation is important in the music industry? Why? Do you wish to advocate for the community through your art?

It’s so important. As far as our society has come in terms of acceptance, finding your identity and coming out can still be so difficult. And if young people see themselves in media and in music, it can make it so much easier. Music definitely helped me when I was coming out. I would listen to songs by Mary Lambert and Hayley Kiyoko and feel validated. And as more queer artists become successful it’s going to help so much with normalizing queer relationships and identities. So I definitely would love for me and my music to be part of that normalization and be representation for someone. And hopefully one day I’ll be in a position to really give back to the community and use any influence I have to lift up and amplify the voices of LGBTQ+ people especially queer and trans people of colour. 

What are your goals in terms of your music?

I want to release a second album, probably a full length one this time. I want to get to a point where I can travel further from home and play shows for people who know my music. Basically if I ever got to a place where I could quit my day job and tour and make music and fully support myself with it, I would be happy.

If you could recommend a small artist to us, who would it be?

Goodbye Honolulu is a really cool rock band from Toronto. I don’t know if they qualify as small, but I’m really into their new EP right now, I think they’re fantastic.

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