"I love that Sheffield is a city of sanctuary” - Emma Saville talks about her music and coming back home

It’s not often that you can begin a conversation with genuine laughter but that’s exactly how my time began with Emma Saville.

Thursday, 17th June 2021, 12:33 pm
Updated Thursday, 17th June 2021, 1:39 pm

It was a broad-ranging chat that saw us discussing random subjects, like cultural appropriation in pop, cancel culture, BLM, and so much more… culture. You could say that Emma is cultured in many ways. She perceives, appreciates and embraces multiple cultures.

This undoubtedly manifests in the music that she creates. Emma is of both Greek and Italian heritage with a background that saw her formative years being spent in an eclectic mix of music from across the world. It’s been part of her life for as long as she can remember, and her love of travel is something that instilled from birth.

Talking about her first forays into music, Emma told of when she first began to record: “So, did work experience when I was 15 at Red Tape Studios in Sheffield when I was there I met the guy in charge, called Leigh Devlin who had a medium downtempo, synth-pop, chill-out kind of white-label called Minus Blue and I did a song there.

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“He liked my voice and about a month later he contacted me and asked if I’d like to write songs with him.

"I wrote and recorded six songs on Minusblue’s first album”.

One of these songs, Be As One, has since been featured on over 200 compilations around the world, quite the start in music then.

Emma is a self-described evocative, soulful British singer/songwriter, who focuses on creating music that’s predominately a fusion of soul, jazz, pop and Latin.

Sheffield musician Emma Saville. Picture: Chris Etchells

Her latest single, Nostalgia, which was released at the beginning of the month, is an example of her breadth of inspirations all amalgamated into this breathy number, complete with effortless segues from English into Portuguese — featuring sultry vocals, lots of Latino guitar riffs and graceful melody to affairs. So far she’s released three songs from her latest project with three more on the way.

Emma is fluent in Spanish and Portuguese, with some knowledge of French and Italian to boot. Her linguistic skills have seen her travel around the world, working for a human rights charity in Senegal and with many other creatives, notably the Cuban big band, Orquestra Estelar.

In 2019 however, she contracted dengue fever in Brazil, an affliction from which she is still very much recovering — albeit slowly. This has had quite an effect on her musical output, never mind her physical wellbeing, with a noticeable reduction in cognitive behaviour, such as brain fog and the inability to multitask, concentrate, play musical instruments and more. It’s incredibly frustrating for her, a physical and mental battle, as she tries to rediscover her previous energies and pick up an instrument once more.

I make the mistake of asking what she can play when it should have been what she doesn’t, and she rattles off an admirable list – clarinet, guitar, (some) percussion, ukulele, piano… the list goes on.

Sheffield musician Emma Saville. Picture: Chris Etchells

I sense she’s being more than a little coy about the extent of her musical talents. I ask whether she’ll be open to performing more now that things are opening up once more but she is doubtful: “I won’t perform until next year, I’ll just focus on released music for the next year, I’m working on an album.”

I sense that our conversation could go on much further and deeper than now, but sometimes it’s best left to her to explain it herself.

“I came home [to Sheffield] to try and get better, it’s taking its time, but I love the community element that you just don’t find everywhere. I love that it is a City of Sanctuary and, as it may be the case right now, one of healing and recovery too.”

"But what about your music?” I ask, to which she replies: “I want to connect with people on a number of levels, even if tomorrow I decided that I’m not going to bother anymore, I’m never going to stop writing or singing”, and going by our discussion and her work in music so far, I don’t think she should. She has so much more to say and discover about herself and right now she’s planning on doing it all back home in Sheffield.

Sheffield musician Emma Saville. Picture: Chris Etchells

Nostalgia is out now on Apple Music, iTunes, Spotify and YouTube, where you can also find her previous release Out The Door. And you can now also get her latest single Ontem across all platforms as well.

Follow Emma Saville on: Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/emmasavillemusic/ or Twitter: @EmmaSavilleMusi

Sheffield musician Emma Saville. Picture: Chris Etchells