Meet dBs Plymouth student and self confessed music production addict Em Morley. Having recently signed a deal with BBC Introducing, among other projects, we caught up with Em to learn about her sources of inspiration and how she created opportunities in the music industry.
It's been a fantastic summer for Em, having had one of her tracks played repeatedly during prime time on BBC Radio Devon while also getting the news that she will be working with BBC Introducing supplying music for all of their shows in the foreseeable future. Here's how it all happened...
With all of the good news from recent events, we were wondering what inspired you to get into music production and how did you get started with it all?
There are a few different things that gave me a taste for performing, got me into music and inspired me to want to do it seriously. Looking back to when I was at school, I always felt that music was the only thing I was good at, so there was no doubt that I wanted to do in the future.
At that time I played the piano. After learning my first song and performing in class, I got a taste for playing in front of people, I really enjoyed being the girl who could play piano. So I learnt more songs and kept playing, I loved it. Around the same time I went to my first ever gig (Lady Gaga) and seeing a female DJ open up for her caught my attention. The DJ impressed me a lot, but I ended up becoming a massive fan of Lady Gaga especially when I found out that she had written a lot of the music behind my favourite artists. She inspired me to start writing and producing my own music.
I decided to get Logic and I chose music as an option in secondary school. As soon as I started using Logic I became hooked on it. I also used to make music with my grandad, he was a synth enthusiast who had a massive collection of hardware synths that he used to restore and modify. It was working with my grandad that really gave me a taste for the electronic music I make now.
Going back to your new role with BBC Introducing how did this exciting opportunity come about?
I sent loads of tracks to BBC Introducing that didn't initially get listened to, around 5-6 months later they released one that was played 5 times on their show in the space of 4 months. They also started to play my other tracks as well.
An email followed asking if they could see a portfolio of my stuff that they could use on the up and coming artists segments of their show. I sent them more music and they asked if they could sign and use the tracks in their shows as filler tracks. They asked me to supply around 15 pieces and to be ready to make more on demand, which I’m excited to do.
You're currently in your second year studying B.A. (Hons) Electronic Music Production at dBs Plymouth, what are some of the best parts of the course so far?
I love that the course is so hands-on especially in terms of using hardware. My favourite piece of hardware to perform with is the MIDI Fighter. I've really enjoyed learning techniques that will enhance my skills as a performer in the future. This is an area where I see a large chunk of my work coming from.
As part of our live performance module we were given the opportunity to play live at local music venue Hanging Gardens, where I collaborated with fellow student Arron Halcrow. We played all of our own music and it went down really well on the night, which was an awesome feeling.
I'm also really excited that we get to visit Berlin in April to attend music conferences like Superbooth. I can't wait to explore new technology that I can make use of in my future career.
What made you choose to study dBs at Music?
I had never seen anything like dBs before, I didn't know that a music institution like this existed. After the first visit there was no doubt about being a part of it. I never felt like an academic in the STEM subjects. When I was presented with a place where I could focus on what I love, surrounded by creative people with access to all of the state of the art equipment, it felt like home to me.
As I started to dig deeper I also learnt that many of the tutors were seasoned industry professionals who had enjoyed the type of career that I wanted to create for myself. It was exciting to learn all that I could from them.
What other projects have you been working on?
I have been given the opportunity to write music that will be used on the showreel for a university degree course. The work will be presented at an academic event in Wolverhampton in November. I was able to get the role after being referred by an old music contact who I kept in touch with and would send music to from time to time. After being recommended, the university contacted me via email to personally ask me to work on the project with them. I strongly recommend building up a contact list and maintaining good relationships with people, even if you don't see any projects coming up with them in the near future, you never know what could happen later on.
What have been your favourite career moments so far?
My favourite career moment so far would be my first ever play on BBC Introducing in 2018, this came after a long wait for a response from the team. I had gotten to the point where I thought they'd never see my music until I received an email stating my track would be played prime time later that week!
Finally, any advice for people thinking about a taking course at dBs Music?
I would say just go for it. Although it's true that you can learn a lot online, nothing can really replace having proper feedback from your tutors or other people on your course. It helped me to progress so much quicker. Also there is nowhere else in the area that has what dBs has to offer in terms of equipment, recording spaces and knowledge all in one place. If you are serious about your music, like I am, I highly recommend it! You'll love it!