Name: Emily Jane Roberts
Occupation: Guitarist, composer, producer
Nationality: British
Recent release: Emily J Roberts's EP The Persistence of Memory is out via Bridge The Gap.
Recommendations: I’ve been listening to the David Bowie album The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars. Some art I’d recommend is The Persistence of Memory by Salvador Dalí.

If you enjoyed this interview with Emily Jane Roberts and would like to find out more about her work, visit her on Instagram, Facebook, and Soundcloud.

When did you start writing/producing/playing music and what or who were your early passions and influences? What was it about music and/or sound that drew you to it?

I started learning acoustic guitar when I was 9, with a local teacher and we learnt all the classic beginner guitarist stuff.

I was drawn to this in particular because I walked in on my friend having a lesson, and they were just having a jam and it looked like they were having the best time. So I started having lessons too.

When I listen to music, I see shapes, objects and colours. What happens in your body when you're listening and how does it influence your approach to creativity?

I’ve never seen anything in a visual sense, but I do notice musical details that can inspire me when I’m writing, such as textures, effects and structure.

Music can also make me feel a range of things from being tense to wanting to dance.

How would you describe your development as an artist in terms of interests and challenges, searching for a personal voice, as well as breakthroughs?

I’m still searching for my personal voice now. I think it helps that I’ve done all the production and writing myself, so the EP is as personal as it can be. I tried to focus in on tracks I thought went well together as whole and made something cohesive.

I think the more I wrote, the more breakthroughs I had with how I wanted it to sound overall.

Tell me a bit about your sense of identity and how it influences both your preferences as a listener and your creativity as an artist, please.

I would consider myself to be quite introverted and shy, which people do say comes out in my improvising too.

I think it can be easy to try and play things safe sometimes. But I want to push myself more.

What, would you say, are the key ideas behind your approach to music and art?

My approach is to create a sense of excitement when someone listens to my music, or at least to try and take them on a journey and give them things they don’t expect along the way. I think it’s also important to showcase the musicians within the compositions.

Jazz for me is an outlet to be free and play whatever you want without boundaries.

How would you describe your views on topics like originality and innovation versus perfection and timelessness in music? Are you interested in a “music of the future” or “continuing a tradition”?

I’ve been back and forth between the two ideas.

I was tempted to do a more traditional EP in the style of Grant Green or Emily Remler - but then why would I do that when it’s already been done in the best way possible by the masters of the craft?

Over the course of your development, what have been your most important instruments and tools - and what are the most promising strategies for working with them?

An important tool for me is to find as much inspiration as possible, and to have really supportive band members to help me along the way.

Take us through a day in your life, from a possible morning routine through to your work, please.

Every day is completely different.

At the moment I’m spending time writing music for my various bands and projects, gigging and also trying to make time for new hobbies.

Could you describe your creative process on the basis of a piece, live performance or album that's particularly dear to you, please?

For “I’ll Tell You How the Sun Rose”, the immediate inspiration was actually me experimenting with a new guitar effects pedal, I think it’s one that Kurt Rosenwinkel uses. It makes everything sound really shimmering and magical, which kind of reminded me of space.

Listening can be both a solitary and a communal activity. Likewise, creating music can be private or collaborative. Can you talk about your preferences in this regard and how these constellations influence creative results?

I do enjoy writing with other people, but at the same time I think it has to be the right combination of people with skills that are different to your own or a different perspective on music so that you can create something interesting.

Sometimes I find it can be difficult to motivate yourself to write on your own and it helps to have another person.

How do your work and your creativity relate to the world and what is the role of music in society?

I think the role of music for me is to think about things more deeply and feel things that you can’t get from just reading words or talking.

Art can be a way of dealing with the big topics in life: Life, loss, death, love, pain, and many more. In which way and on which occasions has music – both your own or that of others - contributed to your understanding of these questions?

I find surrealist art pretty expressive and interesting in that regard, it expands your mind and makes you think there’s more to life than just what you can consciously perceive.

I think music can help you tap into these experiences such as love and pain. But for me it’s more just as you get older, your understanding is more developed rather than it coming from music.

How do you see the connection between music and science and what can these two fields reveal about each other?

I think it can be hard to connect the two because one is very subjective and the other is very objective. But on a basic level we wouldn’t have music without science.

Creativity can reach many different corners of our lives. Do you feel as though writing or performing a piece of music is inherently different from something like making a great cup of coffee? What do you express through music that you couldn't or wouldn't in more 'mundane' tasks?

I think there are many more factors that go into writing and performing a piece of music but on a basic level it’s similar. You have to have the right balance of ingredients and be in the right mood to perceive something as being ‘great’.

Music is vibration in the air, captured by our ear drums. From your perspective as a creator and listener, do you have an explanation how it able to transmit such diverse and potentially deep messages?

I guess it all just comes from our own heads really. We create the deeper messages ourselves and the music just enables that.