The artist returns to his melancholic melodies and chats with us about what is to come for 2022.

Photography by Rachel Lipsitz

Photography by Rachel Lipsitz

Stepping back into his stratospheric soundscape, Terry Emm marks his first release since 2018 with his awe-inspiring new track, “Wish You Were Here”. Over a ballad of gentle guitar strings, Terry reprises his soul-baring vocals to narrate a story of loneliness, vulnerability and heartache as he finds himself missing the lover he has lost. While reflecting on the beauty of the mundane, a tender melody washes over the track’s chorus, tugging at a listener’s heartstrings and tear ducts respectively.

In his own words, Terry explains, “The song is a reworking of a track called ‘Here’ from my 2012 Petals Fallen Off The Sun album. That album was my ‘difficult second album’ in many ways and I always felt like ‘Here’ was one of my best songs that hadn’t quite been realized yet and one day I’d revisit it. The idea stuck with me for some time, niggling away, so I felt like it must be done. So now, in a way to introduce myself back into the world of music, I thought why not touch on the past but also bring things up to date at the same time.”

To celebrate his latest release, we sat with the artist to discuss the impact his home town had on his sound, his inspirations in life and music and the highly anticipated next steps for him in 2022. To stream the track and for the full interview, head below now…

Heya Terry, how are you? How has this past year been for you?
It has been a very crazy time but it feels like things are gradually getting better. The pandemic put a lot of things in perspective for me and emerging from it has been a curious experience. It’s still been very hard in many ways but in new ways, it has been freeing and positive too and the latter is what I’m trying to hold on to.

Talk us through your musical journey, what sparked your interest?
In my early years, when I was about 5 or 6 years old, my Dad was working as a local Radio DJ and he had a lot of records around the house and I am told I used to pick up a toy wooden guitar and ‘play along’ to songs, especially “The One And Only” by Chesney Hawkes apparently. My two uncles both played guitar and had a band in the 60s called The M Squad at one point, named after the Americana crime drama series of the same name and era. So, I gravitated towards learning the guitar and went from there.

And you’re from Hertfordshire, do you think your hometown impacted your sound in any way?
Hertfordshire is actually more of my adopted home county, now. I was born in Bedfordshire but moved here around five years ago, but Hertfordshire feels like my home. Both have similar countryside and wildlife that has impacted my music. Simple things like noticing the changing of the seasons in the fields and plants blossoming are something I’ve always felt fascinated by and tried to portray in my writing. The small town I live in now is sort of in the middle of a triangle of places where very interesting philosophical writers from history including Francis Bacon, John Milton and William Penn lived. I’ve been finding looking into these characters’ histories and works greatly rewarding lately. There’s a lot of other places that have inspired me though; Buckinghamshire where I first started gigging, Bedford where I went to college, the Regency terraces of Cheltenham where I went to University, the Cathedral in Chichester and nearby beaches in West Wittering, where I also lived for a while too.

You spoke out about starting a new era within your music, what does this mean for you?
I saw a lot of people around me during the past two years pass away, including a couple of people who had been encouraging and supportive of my music, so that all made me want to seize the day and live life to the fullest. So part of that has been coming back to record and release new music. The first three albums I released now seem like my ‘young’ era and now I am hoping to have matured in many ways to build a ‘new era’ in music.

It’s your first release since 2018, why the long break? 
I only really record and release music when I feel like it. I took a big break after releasing “Starlight” in 2014 to take a step back, work out a few things and explore other interests. I wasn’t sure if I was actually going to return to music, but a friend persuaded me to lay down some unreleased songs in his studio and we ended up with my “Ornate” EP. I emerged slightly in 2018 to release it. I think musicians and artists shouldn’t be afraid of taking a mental health break and waiting to find new inspiration.

Talk us through your mindset approach with “Wish You Were Here”, what was your mindset going into it? And it’s a reworking of the track “Here” from your 2012 album, why did you decide to do this?
That album was my ‘difficult second album’ in many ways and I always felt like “Here” was one of my best songs that hadn’t quite been realized yet and one day I’d revisit it. The idea stuck with me for some time, niggling away, so I felt like it must be done. In the years following its original release as “Here”, I played it live so many times that the song changed and developed, and with the new recording, I wanted to reflect a more poignant and refined version of the song that I felt was still in there somewhere. Every recording is subjective and captures a creative moment in time as it is and that’s what can make re-visiting songs years later in a new production setting really fun. When demoing material, I always end up with so many versions of songs and you almost want to release all of them in all of their variations. Then there are so many choices to be made in the studio too. Lately, I have also been relating to this song’s particular themes again and it has been cathartic to open up to the song again. I have always admired the work of Lukas Drinkwater as a musician, so reached out to him to add extra instrumental flourishes to see how it panned out. When he sent back his version of the arrangement, I was blown away and realized I’d made the right decision to have him on board and revisit this song. It feels like this song maybe has more to say or do somehow in the world at this time.

What do you hope people take away from your music?
I love that magical moment of when I’ve discovered a song on the radio while driving around at night, or on a film soundtrack, through a friend or by chancing spontaneously on going to a gig and these discoveries feel personal and shock you right to the core. Then, you treasure that song for as long as possible, reliving that moment and it feels like the song is on your side in life. I hope something I’ve done with my recordings or shows has done or will do that sort of thing for at least one person out there in the world. I also love when you hear a new version or cover of one of your favourite songs and it’s even better than the original. Hopefully, those who’ve heard ‘Here’ in the past will love its new and enriched version as “Wish You Were Here” in 2022.

Who inspires you? 
Musically, early on I was inspired to become a singer-songwriter by artists like Will Oldham, Martyn Joseph, Barzin, Neil Halstead, Sophia, Nick Drake, Clifford T Ward, Iron and Wine and others of that ilk. However, my tastes have always been so eclectic, I enjoy everything from experimental jazz music to chart pop music, so I’m sure lots of varied influences have filtered through into my tracks throughout the years. I’ve been particularly digging Scott Matthews’ latest album New Skin and Danish band Mew lately. Outside of music, I read a lot of different philosophy and poetry books and try to keep my mind agile in that sense and as I already touched on a bit, nature and wildlife has always inspired me. However, the best moments of inspiration always come unexpected, catching you off guard. They can be like a sudden realization often at inconvenient times and you have to note it down or capture it somehow before it disappears. Then suddenly you have a lyric, song theme or a guitar part idea which can then be worked on. I guess, for me, it’s all about capturing the indescribable feelings, experiences and moments of each phase of life somehow, to almost know that I exist in some way and put it on record to connect with other people.

Is there a new album on the way? What can we expect?
Lukas and I are working on more tracks and the plan is that there will eventually be an album, but at the moment we’re solidly still in the recording phase and nothing is set in stone too much. I’d love to add another album to my discography but at each stage, we’re feeling out the process and working from our gut feeling to see what happens. It may be that the songs suit a series of single or EP releases rather than an album. There are so many different ways to release and market music these days, maybe I’ll do something a bit different like attach a QR Code to a crystal cluster and call it the album or something like that…

What is the next step for you? What are you most excited for?
My next step really is just to continue being creative and following the inspiration wherever that leads. I’m excited for all the twists and turns and new people and things that that will most likely bring.

Photography by Rachel Lipsitz

Photography by Rachel Lipsitz

Related → Related → Related → Related → Related → Related → Related → Related → Related → Related → Related → Related → Related → Related → Related → Related → Related → Related → Related → Related →