CSR Speaks to Beautiful Town Music’s Founder, Emily Watts
Emily Watts is the founder of Beautiful Town Music and the organiser of the monthly event at the Gulbenkian Theatre café which showcases local talent. This month, Emily herself was one of the acts and we caught up with her before the gig.
Q: What are your musical influences?
Emily: I’m inspired by a lot of female singer-songwriters like Joni Mitchell. I discovered her when I was about 18 and thought she was amazing because she has such an intimate voice. I also like Beth Orton as well as female-led bands like Bat for Lashes and Daughter.
Q: How long have you been gigging for?
Emily: I’ve been gigging under quite a few guises but, since I was 16. I started out in a 6th form band and we were the only A-level music students; – me and two guys – we set up a rock cover band. We covered the Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Foo Fighters… I thought it was odd for a girl to be covering those songs but I was just into them at the time. I started gigging in pubs around London and since then I’ve been in different bands. This is quite a new thing for me, being a solo act. In one way it feels like I’m starting again but I’m really glad to have that gigging experience. I played Kent’s Keynestock when I was a student.
Q: How long have you been a solo performer?
Emily: I’ve always done solo gigs, while I’ve been in bands, in places where they couldn’t house a whole band. I would take my keyboard along and sing but, technically, I’ve been solo for around two years but I’m really launching it this year.
Q: Why did you found Beautiful Town Music?
Emily: Music is my passion and I really love original song writers. This links back to when I was gigging in the sixth form. I was arranging gigs at pubs where I was probably too young to play at but organising music events just comes naturally to me, like I see a venue and will see organising opportunities there and I was organising all the band’s gigs anyway. Since then I moved to Canterbury and started doing gigs with Oxjam and arranging gigs with them. They raise money for Oxfam through gigs and we did a Canterbury one in October which raised some money. I then got invited to program a stage at the Herne Bay Festival so that was my first professional experience of organising an event. I started attending songwriter nights down in Broadstairs and I asked if I could organise one in Canterbury and they said yes. I realised I needed an umbrella to place all of my events under so I started Beautiful Town Music. This event is our newest initiative.
Q: What is your opinion of the music scene in Canterbury?
Emily: It’s really thriving. A lot of folk bands like Coco and the Butterfields have been doing really well. I have seen some of the artists which I have booked whilst they were busking in town. I really like the grass roots level that Canterbury has, they seem to support each other and you’ll see some of the bands in the upcoming shows which I think are creating this strong music scene.
Q: Where can we find your music?
Emily: I am recording my debut EP at the moment, so unfortunately there is no music online. When the music is recorded, I will post it on my Facebook page.
Q: Have you worked with Mide before?
Emily: I met Mide at the songwriters circle and I thought he was amazing as he silenced the room with his voice. I largely just co-ordinate acts based on people’s availabilities and Mide was available to come this month.
Q: What’s in store for Beautiful Town Music?
Emily: At the moment, I’m just trying to get people to be a part of these gigs. In the long term I would love to start a record label with local bands so, when my debut EP is released, I think I might just put it on the label under Beautiful Town Music and I can be the first one. I would also love to organise a festival but these things take a lot of time and funding to put together.
Interviewed by Matt Byron.