Wednesday 19 February 2020

Backstage with Emi McDade

SoGlos goes backstage with 17-year-old rising singer-songwriter, Emi McDade, to talk about bizarre comparisons, hitting the wrong chords and our mutual appreciation of Enrique Iglesias.

So tell our readers a little bit about yourself, Emi.

My full name is Emilie Louise McDade, though I only get called that when I’m in trouble – which is most of the time.

I’m from a small village called Highnam, which is on the outskirts of Gloucester. I, being a typical teenager, often complain about there being little to do, but it really is a beautiful place!

And how would describe your style of music to our readers?

It’s tricky to say because much of my music is developing all of the time, as I’m exploring different styles of writing and truly finding myself as an artist. But in a nutshell, I’m an acoustic, piano-driven singer-songwriter.

How long have you been working as a musician?

My passion has always been singing; it’s just a part of who I am. As far as songwriting and promoting myself as a singer-songwriter goes however, I’d say since April 2013.

The journey so far has been a colourful one; there have been great times, and not-so-great times. And my goodness, there’s a story or two to tell, but it’s a journey that I hope will last a lifetime.

Who would you say your main influences are?

Being brought up in a family of classical musicians, whose tastes range from classical – obviously – Ray Charles and Bobby Vee, to T-Rex, Eva Cassidy and even The Spice Girls, I have a lot of different influences!

I wouldn’t say that I have any particular genre that I favour either; if it’s good music then I’m happy. Although I do have a soft spot for more local musicians, and there is so much unbelievable talent out there, like Lewis Mokler, JPR Music, Natalie Holmes, Jake Isaac, Kitten and Bear… the list goes on.

That’s probably what you’re likely to find at the top of my iTunes playlist.

Do you ever get compared to anyone?

Bizarrely, Amy Lee from Evanescence, which I never understood since Evanescence is a rock band and I do sad, acoustic songs with my keyboard! More recently, people have been commenting on a growing likeness to artists such as Gabrielle Aplin, for which I’m always honoured.

Congratulations on the release of your debut single, ‘Through My Eyes’, and its successor, ‘Just Begun’. Can you tell us a little bit about each song, and how they have been received?

Thank you. ‘Through My Eyes’ was actually a bit of a surprise release. I had planned to release my debut single earlier this year, and the song I had actually decided to release was one called ‘Paper Plane’. However, after a lot of thought it was decided that something just wasn’t sitting right.

I went to the piano one night with the intention of learning a new cover and, being the scatterbrain that I am, naturally got distracted by hitting a wrong chord. Lo and behold, ‘Through My Eyes’ was then written. And it’s just a song about the heartache felt by being ‘the other woman’ in a relationship.

Well it’s a good thing that you hit the wrong chord! What about ‘Just Begun’?

I am very excited to have just released ‘Just Begun’. This one came about one evening when I again sat at the piano, in a rather silly mood. I turned to my left, where my mother was listening, and asked her to give me a key. ‘B-flat!’ she decided.

I then turned to my right, where my father was reading his book. He paused and lowered his glasses to look across in a bizarre combination of disdain and amusement, when I asked him to give me a topic. He then hurried on to tell me family stories about my grandmother as a young woman, who decided to leave her life in Scotland to travel across the globe to Canada, where she explored the land, the history and, most importantly, found herself. So, I suppose you could say that ‘Just Begun’ is dedicated to my Grandma.

It was personally exciting to hear the finished product of both songs, and I’m all the more honoured and taken aback at the response they’ve had already. There’s no feeling like knowing when someone is enjoying your music.

You filmed your first music video for ‘Just Begun’ too, correct?

Yeah. It was the first video I’d done with a ‘storyline’, so it was a very new and slightly bizarre experience, involving stumbling over rotting wood on a canal boat through eel-infested waters, spending half an hour trying to blow out two candles at the same time – much harder than you’d imagine – and learning to walk.

Am I right in thinking that you’re going to release your debut EP as well this autumn?

That’s the plan! Recording starts very soon. The lead track, ‘Faith’, will be released with a video beforehand, which is very different to my usual writing.

How so?

I had just been listening to a lot of Hazier and Lewis Watson, which definitely influenced this song. It’s about being a broken relationship, knowing that staying together is going to destroy both people, and yet feeling that having a broken life and relationship is better than not having either at all.

You’ve had a pretty jam-packed summer this year. Any highlights?

I have and yes – so many! I was particularly honoured to be asked to support Kal Lavelle and Fiona Bevan at the Secret House Show in Cheltenham recently; the latter of whom co-wrote One Direction’s ‘Little Things’ with Ed Sheeran.

We walked into the lounge, and there were parachutes draped from the ceiling, and lights and cushions scattered on the floor. I can honestly say that they are two of the most talented and inspiring people I’ve met.

I was also honoured to support Gren Bartley at Downend Folk Club, which was a beautiful gig. I learnt so much from watching him perform, and any gig where you get given coconut and chocolate cake is automatically a favourite!

Are there any places in Gloucestershire you’d still like to play?

I always think that Gloucestershire is such an amazing area, as far as music is concerned. At any given time there are festivals, local gigs, higher profile gigs and contests going on, though I think I’d have to say Gloucester Guildhall.

I went to my first gig there, and it was such a beautiful venue with so much buzz and life about it. I’m also hoping to have my EP launch there… but that’s all to be confirmed.

I will always have a soft spot for The Cross Keys Inn in Gloucester too, as not only did I have my first solo gig there, but it has such a homely, family atmosphere and is where I shot the video for ‘Through My Eyes’.

What advice would you personally give to other local artists and bands trying to make it in the music industry?

I’m only just starting out myself, but I would say never be afraid to bare your soul when you’re on stage. And off stage, it’s research, research, research.

Also be prepared to do a lot of work – you don’t just turn up at the odd gig and get catapulted to the stars; there’s a lot of behind the scenes work, so don’t feel disheartened if it takes time.

Who else would you still like to support and why?

Enrique Iglesias because he’s beautiful.


I’m going to reach for the stars and say Adele, Daniel Merriweather and Jamie Cullum too, because they’re all such inspirational musicians.

We should mention that you’re still only 17. How do you juggle being a teenager with your career?

Lots of forward planning!

So what do you get up to when you’re not making music?

Being a typical teen, I’m happiest making music, spending time with family and friends, and just going out and doing things. I really want to explore the world. I’m also a bit of a country gal though, and I love anything natural and all things small, cute and fluffy!

How do your friends deal with your growing fame?

They’re very supportive. It is tricky when they’re coming out of college and I’m off to do a gig, but I’m a very stubborn person – sorry mum and dad! – and to me, if you want to make something work, then you make it work.

So where can local fans see you perform in the next month or two?

I’ll be at 4 Shires Festival from 12pm on Saturday 16 August 2014; Witcombe Cider Festival from 2pm on Saturday 23 August 2014; the Gloucestershire Canal Festival from 2.15pm on Saturday 30 August 2014; Phoenix Festival from 12.25 pm on Sunday 31 August 2014; and Oxjam on Saturday 18 October 2014.

And finally, any big plans in the pipeline that you can tell us about?

Well there’s the release of my debut EP, and I will be putting updates about that on Facebook and Twitter – I can’t wait for people to hear what we’ve been working so hard on.

As far as any other plans? Now that would be telling, wouldn’t it…

For more information see or keep up-to-date with Emi’s latest releases and gig dates at

By Lara Shingles

© SoGlos
Friday 08 August 2014

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