Emma Gatrill is a multi-instrumentalist based in Brighton, UK. Her debut, 2012’s Chapter I, was a poignant collection of songs based around her then-latest acquisition – the harp. Subtly accompanied by various members of Brighton’s Willkommen Collective, her intricate harp playing coupled with a unique vocal fragility drew comparisons to Björk and Joni Mitchell as well as her friends and co-conspirators Rachael Dadd and Rozi Plain.
By the time the album came out, she’d already played clarinet in Laura Marling’s band on Glastonbury’s Pyramid stage, made up part of Broken Social Scene’s horn section on a run of UK dates and toured all over Europe as part of Sons Of Noel And Adrian. Since then she’s been touring and collaborating with kindred spirit Kristin McClement and as a member of Matthew & The Atlas.
In amongst it all, Gatrill somehow found time to develop her own live show beyond the simplicity of Chapter I; augmenting her harp and vocal with ambient analogue synths and drum machines using foot controllers, as well as introducing accompanying guitar atmospherics from label-mate Marcus Hamblett.
Five years and hundreds of live shows with dozens of different bands later, her larger-scale live ambitions fed back into the writing and recording process for Gatrill’s forthcoming second album, Cocoon.
The album showcases a huge leap forward in scope and imagination. The harp, tender vocal and unique take on classic songwriting are still at the core of Gatrill’s sound, but the arrangements draw from a much wider and often darker sonic palette – from orchestral strings to monosynths, drum machines to tap shoes and Casio keyboards to vibraphones.
Gatrill’s circle of influences has widened too – on Cocoon Emma draws from the joyful experimentation of Juana Molina and the intelligent pop and texturally rich arrangements of Julia Holter and My Brightest Diamond.
While the songs are more honed and focused, the lyrical content is broader. Philomela explores Greek mythology to the backdrop of tumultuous strings and thunderous drums and Robin tackles climate change set to chamber pop orchestration; while universal concerns of loss, isolation, hope and togetherness tie the album together.
The album was mixed by Dan Cox whose work for the likes of Laura Marling, Thurston Moore and Florence and the Machine lead to him being named Breakthrough Engineer Of The Year at the Music Producer’s Guild awards.
Praise for Cocoon:
“a beautiful slab of skewed folk-pop brilliance.” Line of Best Fit
“As a solo artist she’s a real stylist, with her evocative yet introverted approach touching on personal subjects in a universal matter.” Clash
“From her evocative music, Gatrill proves evidence of having a crafter’s mind, one that can coalesce varying elements of earthiness and anodic nature into pieces of harmonious exploration.” GoldFlakePaint
“she’s probably somewhere between the Julia Holter aurora and the Sufjan Stevens supernova — and you can trust that Gatrill’s music sounds like it’s being projected across the heavens.” Stereogum
My new EP is out today, it’s called Be Brave and features four new tracks. You can listen on Spotify, Bandcamp or any of the main digital platforms. It was produced by Marcus Hamblett and features contributions from Lewis Renshaw (electronics), Andrew Stuart Buttle (violin), Jonny Wildey (AKA Alphabets Heaven, electronics) and Tom Heather (drums). Photography by Sequoia Ziff.
I hope you like it! More news coming soon, I’ve already got the next release ready to go!
One of my songs – Odd Ones Out has been included in a lovely compilation compiled by A Lonely Ghost Burning. You can download it for free here but if you do choose to pay for it all the money goes straight to Equality Now.
I’d like to send a huge thank you to everyone at Burning Eagle Festival for a magical weekend! I was honoured to open the festival with my own solo set and to perform with Sons of Noel and Adrian in Germany, our spiritual home. It was a great way to spend my birthday! I highly recommend the festival to everyone! Make sure you get your tickets next year 🙂
Lucy Rose‘s new album Something’s Changing is out today! It is a beautiful album and it was a pleasure to play some harp on it, alongside guest appearances from The Staves, Elena from Daughter and more. Have a listen and enjoy!