EMMA BLACKERY SPILLS THE BEANS ON NEW SINGLE “DIRT” & FUTURE PLANS 54

Vlogger, writer, pop star. Emma Blackery has achieved a lot in her 26 years on this Earth, and she has big dreams for the future too. Following her hugely successful Magnetized tour last year and with an album due out in the coming months, she’s keeping busy and loving life. Having just released her new single “Dirt”, she spoke to ThisIsTheLatest about ‘Feel Good 101’, social media and what’s on her bucket list.

TITL: Hi Emma, lovely to speak to you. How are you?

Emma Blackery: Hi, I’m good thank you. How are you?

TITL: Glad I’ve got the weekend off.

EB: Same!

TITL: It happens every weekend, but the buzz and joy is still the same…

EB: I don’t think I’ve ever talked about myself so much in a week, so I’m looking forward to a weekend of just relaxing, playing video games and being by myself.

TITL: Ah, I’m at a gig tomorrow so I’ve that to look forward to.

EB: That’s great, who are you seeing?

TITL: Thirty Seconds To Mars in Manchester. I’ve seen them something like 15 times so far I think…

EB: Big fan then…

TITL: You could say that yeah…Okay, first of all, thank you so much for taking the time to talk to me today. I really do appreciate it.

EB: Oh not at all, thank you for having me!

TITL: I read your book, ‘Feel Good 101’ last week and I’d like to run a review of that a few days after this feature if that’s alright with you?

EB: I really hope you liked it if you’re reviewing… (laughs)

TITL: For those who might not – yet – know who you are, exactly who is Emma Blackery?

EB: Oh wow. You’d think after twenty-six years I would know that but I’m still getting there. I am a singer-songwriter who has been making music since they were about twelve or thirteen years old, who found success by putting their music, and their life, on YouTube. I’m now trying to extend my reach and head on into the music world and I’m documenting all of it on my channel as well. And I wrote a book…

TITL: It could be argued that individuals who have found fame via the likes of YouTube have and can get a lot of criticism when they branch out into different things such as writing and music. How do you feel about that and do you mind people’s criticisms?

EB: I definitely used to. I think a lot of people like to put people in boxes. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, it’s just what we do as humans – we like to see people as one particular thing. So when people are used to seeing you make and post YouTube videos, they call you a vlogger, and when you try to branch out into other things, they will always try to put YouTube in front of it – because that’s what they know. I’m hoping to try and break that. I’m definitely not ashamed of YouTube; I’m proud of everything I’ve built on there and I’ve been able to connect with people I never would’ve met in my entire life if I hadn’t put my life online – but, right now, I’m putting EVERYTHING into my music and I would love for people to see that as its own thing. I’ve loved music for as long as I can remember, and it’s nice that people are seeing my passion for that through my own music.

TITL: Is your latest single “Dirt”, addressed to anyone in particular or is it just a more generalised pop tale of revenge?

EB: It was inspired by somebody. I don’t think it’s particularly professional to name that person, but it was written in late summer of last year when I had a falling out with somebody that I hadn’t really seen eye to eye with for a couple of years. You know how it is – tweets get thrown around, you make digs at each other; it’s all silly and childish, and we had another falling out, at which point people online started taking sides. It got to the point where I actually left social media for two weeks and, if you’re a millennial, two weeks is like taking a year off from your life. It really got that bad – I just had to leave. I was so angry and upset about what had gone on that I just had to get it out in song form and now I’m actually really grateful for that experience as I got to write “Dirt.” It was worth it in the end.

TITL: I went on holiday to Australia last year with the plan of staying off, or at least reducing my social media use, but I just couldn’t do it….

EB: I say it every time I go on holiday – that I’m not going to go online, that I’ll make time for myself…but as soon as you get somewhere, or see something nice, I’m taking photos and sharing. But at the time prior to writing “Dirt”, I literally took two weeks off social media. I deleted the apps off my phone, I logged out of everything. I just didn’t want to know any of it.

TITL: You released your Magnetized EP last year and embarked on an extensive UK tour. Looking back, do you have any favourite moments or highlights?

EB: I got to play Shepherd’s Bush Empire. It’s such a prestigious venue; it’s been in such high regard since I was a child and being able to play there…to be backstage and see all the names of the bands and artists you look up to that have graced the stage – it was an incredible moment. We had so many great shows – Cardiff was amazing, Manchester was amazing but Shepherd’s Bush really stood out to me. We had special light production and people turned out, even though it was only a few days after a really tragic terror attack in London. Music still proved to be something that united all of us and for people to come out in the face of that, even though they were afraid, was an incredible thing.

TITL: Feel free to come back to Manchester any time then I can come and see you…

EB: That sounds like a great idea…

TITL: Now that you are focusing more on your music, are there any future performance or tour plans in the works?

EB: There is definitely some tour stuff coming up in the future, but not for a little while. I’m focusing on “Dirt” at the moment – it’s only been out a week but it feels like forever (laughs), then I’ll be working on the next single pretty soon, followed by the album and then there will be a tour. There’s already a European tour all set to go and I can’t wait to perform these songs, these new songs, for the first time. I haven’t really thought about it much as I’ve been so busy recording but yeah, that’s going to be scary – and fun! I can’t wait.

TITL: If you could share a stage with three bands or artists that you haven’t already, and who can be living or dead, who would they be and where would you play?

EB: Wow, oh my God – this might take some thought I think! I know where I’d play because my dream venue is Brixton Academy. To headline Brixton is my BIG dream and it has been for about ten years or so. It’s my favourite venue in the world, so yeah, I’d definitely play there. I hope I can do it one day. As for acts I’d like to play alongside…if this is an ideal world, I suppose I would say Taylor Swift, maybe Paramore and, I don’t think it would really fit, but my favourite band in the world is Placebo – I’ve seen them live like eight or nine times – so I’d love to share a stage with them, just so I could see and hear them again. But I’d also like to play with Lorde. It’s all hypothetical of course, but it would be so much fun.

TITL: In your book ‘Feel Good 101’ you openly address your struggles with mental health and speak candidly about your experiences. With that in mind, and especially now that Talinda Bennington has  launched the ‘I Am The Change’ campaign, do you wish more individuals in the public eye would speak out about such things?

EB: I think it’s completely up to the individual whether they feel ready for that and whether they or not, they think they can handle the responsibility that can come with it. Ultimately everyone handles their mental health differently, and I think, it can be very easy to say that we should be talking about it more but when it comes to personal experiences, maybe not everyone is ready to do that. If they feel comfortable talking about it, sharing their stories with others then yeah, absolutely – so long as their advice and what they have to say is helpful and can help banish the stigma around depression and other mental health issues.

It shocks me that there is still such a taboo about talking about mental health. We’ve come a long way in ten years when I was thirteen, fourteen, and back then NO celebrity was talking about mental health in the way some do now. The times are changing, but there’s still a long way to go. We’re making progress.

TITL: As long as the conversation keeps moving forward that’s the main thing…

EB: Exactly – baby steps.

TITL: How much of an impact have you seen and heard your book and your story have on others? Do you have any regrets about being as open as you are in the book, or do you maybe wish you’d opened up sooner?

EB: I think, there’s kind of two sides to it, because being open about my own experiences has helped people connect with me as a person, and that I somehow helped them feel less crazy and more normal. When you hear someone sharing a story about how they’ve gone through the same thing that you have or that you’re currently experiencing; it can make a big impact and a difference.

There are however times when I wish I’d held back a little bit because, for instance, when you said you’d read my book, it was like ‘wow, you now know so much about me, but I don’t know much about you at all.’ That can be a little bit intimidating especially when you meet people and they know who you are, and know EVERYTHING about you. It put Tinder out of the question I’ll tell you that and for a 26-year-old, not getting any younger, that sucks, but at the end of the day, sharing my own experiences has helped people overcome serious stuff. I get messages every day from people saying my songs have helped them, my book has helped them and if not being able to go on blind dates is the sacrifice for that, then I’ll gladly make it. I’m glad I’ve been able to help people.

TITL: I’m thirty-two and never been on a date so there you go…

EB: Oh man…well, when I come to Manchester, we’ll hang out, see Thirty Seconds To Mars; it’ll be a great night…

TITL: I’m up for that…I’m going to hold you to that! (laughs)

EB: (laughs) Oh no…oh dear. Okay, good!

TITL: Given that you’ve made a name for yourself across social media, do you think we as a general society are too ‘dependent’ and attached to technology, or is the notion that anyone can find out almost anything about a person, or talk to virtually anyone at any time, simply part and parcel of the world we live in now?

EB: The thing is, you can’t speak for everybody. Some people will feel too connected, some people won’t. I personally do spent A LOT of time on social media because it’s my job, but it’s odd that you can feel and be connected to practically the entire world and yet still feel really lonely and isolated. When you see everyone else having fun times, meeting up and you’re just sitting there scrolling on your phone, it can make you feel so much worse. Having Instagram for example, where you’re comparing yourself to fitness blogs and people who have flawless skin – whether that’s from an app or just good luck – it can make you feel terrible. But ultimately, it’s about taking control of it and saying “It’s time I step away from this for a little bit. This isn’t real life, just me looking at a phone” and seeing it as that. Seeing it as a screen that lights up but that you can turn off at any time.

I think a lot of people do have difficulty with it – myself included – but I have started to see a little bit of a backlash from it. I think some people are noticing that and trying to counteract it. I know a lot of people who have deleted their social media apps or who are only on YouTube and not Instagram or Twitter and stuff. I think people are taking back control. It’s a great way to feel connected to people but I think people are starting to feel more disconnected than ever. It’s going to be interesting to see where it goes in the next couple of years or so.

TITL: I personally have a number of social media pages, which like you I use for work related things, but it’s sometimes hard to pull myself away or not get drawn in my certain things that are posted on sites and the like…

EB: It’s crazy that sometimes, I get a little bit of happiness from the number of likes on a post because if it’s a high number in particular, it makes me feel like I’m doing a good job. It’s unrealistic and a weird way of looking at the world…but I’m working on that.

TITL: You’ve already achieved so much in your life, but what’s left on your bucket list? What would you want or like to achieve/do in order to be able to look back 60 or so years from now and say “I have no regrets”?

EB: As I said before, being able to headline Brixton Academy in London is like, the BIG dream for me. Anything above that, like arenas or stadiums, that’s nice – it’d be a bonus. For me, being able to fill Brixton Academy; I would be able to look back and tell my grandkids: “I did that!” and I’d be happy with that. Just to make an album that people really enjoy. In an ideal world, I’d love to create an album that people will still be talking about ten, twenty years in the future – I’m not saying that will happen, but it’s a nice dream to have. It’s something to work towards; I’ll give it my best shot…I’ll give it a go.

Check out the video for Emma’s new single “Dirt” below and you can keep up to date with her by subscribing to her YouTube channel, following her on Twitter and Instagram or giving her page a like on Facebook.

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REVIEW: KID KAPICHI – ‘LUCOZADE DREAMS’ EP 27

Kid Kapichi are currently one of the most talked about up and coming bands in Britain, and, on the back of their previous EP, are so with good reason. However, some bands can and do often struggle when it comes to a second release. There’s more pressure and expectation, and sometimes it’s more than artists can handle well. So, how have KK fared with their sophomore EP, Lucozade Dreams?

The intro piece, at just over 46 seconds long could easily have been left off the EP, but given that it’s brashier and bolder than many opening instrumentals featured on albums and the like in recent months, it doesn’t fare too badly. It is however a good thing that “Cinderella” quickly follows on from it and ultimately sets the tone for the EP overall. With it’s big, catchy verses, and a chorus that’s even bigger, combined with a toe-tapping bass undertone, it’s an exciting little number, sure to impress and win over music fans who give it a listen.

The momentum and energy continues through “Puppet Strings” and although the instrumentation is good, ultimately it’s the impressive lyrics that make the track stand out. Meanwhile, anyone looking for a superb riff and a thumping, invigorating beat need look no further than “Jack Jones” and the slick production on “Machine Men” means the EP ends on a rewarding high for both band and listener.

While the group from Hastings might still be considerably unknown to some, they’ve been talked about for some time now, and the amount of said talk is only likely to grow on the back of Lucozade Dreams – a collection that’s fun, fizzing with energy and highlights just how much Kid Kapichi love what they do, and in time, more music fans might just find themselves loving them too.

Lucozade Dreams is available now.

DANIELLE PINNOCK CHATS ‘YOUNG SHELDON’ & THE BODY POSITIVITY MOVEMENT 56

With The Big Bang Theory having proven to be a global hit since its very first episode, it should come as no surprise to learn that its spin-off, a look at the childhood and early years of Jim Parsons’ Sheldon Cooper, aptly titled Young Sheldon, has also become a phenomenon. With the show about to air its debut season finale, and with season 2 already greenlit, ThisIsTheLatest caught up with Danielle Pinnock, who plays Ms. Ingram in the show, to find out about her very first audition, her role as a body activist and how she feels about the reaction to and her being part of the smash-hit series that is Young Sheldon.

TITL: At what age did you first realize you wanted to pursue acting as a career? Was there one particular show/actor you watched that made you think ‘I’d like to do that’?

Danielle Pinnock: When I was 19 I was in a production at Temple University called In Conflict. It was a documentary play about war veterans returning home from serving overseas. The show was so incredible. We were even pulled out of school for a year to perform at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and Off-Broadway in New York.  All of the vets we portrayed were real people, based on interviews done by journalist Yvonne Latty. The veteran I played, Sgt. Lisa Haynes, was the only one we were unable to get a response from during run of the show. I heard that during her initial interview, her PTSD was so severe once returning home that she may have “fallen off the map.” I didn’t want to accept this, so I took it upon myself to find Sgt. Haynes. I called every VA hospital in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where she was from, and was able to locate her and her family. During the run of the show,  I flew down to Tulsa and met Sgt. Haynes and her family. When I returned back to New York, I was determined to have Sgt. Haynes see the final Off-Broadway performance. So in the final two weeks of the run I managed to raise $10,000 to get Sgt. Haynes and her family members up to New York to see In Conflict’s last show. It was THAT show that made me want to act for the rest of my life.

TITL: Can you recall your very first audition? 

DP: Yes! Ha! My very first audition was for the middle school production of Aladdin. I played Halima, Jafar’s evil sister. It was like pulling teeth to get me to audition for this role. I never wanted to be an actor growing up, and was super shy as a child. My audition song was “Doo Wop (That Thing)” by Lauryn Hill.

TITL: Which auditions, looking back on them, do you feel went really well or that you struggled with? 

DP: The reason I ended up in Los Angeles is because I auditioned for a production at the Geffen Playhouse called Barbecue by Robert O’Hara. At the time of the auditions, I was still living in Chicago and actually flew up to L.A. to be seen for the project. It was a risky decision and I would not recommend actors doing that, but I knew I had to be on point! I also knew if I was going to move to Los Angeles, I needed a job! Barbecue was one of my best auditions in L.A. Recently, I ran into Colman Domingo and he said: Danielle, you just walked in with your blue dress and commanded our attention. Working with Colman and the cast members was a dream realized. It was an honor to be included in that production.

My most memorable audition that I struggled with also happened in Los Angeles. I was going in for the role of a nurse on a sitcom. A lot of auditions in L.A. happen in “bungalows” which are really just trailers on the studio lots. I only bring this up, because the walls in most audition rooms are extremely thin so you can hear another actors’ entire audition. There was a young woman who went in before me, and her audition was so fantastic that the casting director actually booked her for the project IN THE ROOM! The entire waiting room, full of actors, heard the casting director call this woman’s agent to say the actor had booked it. However, in the waiting room, chaos ensued. People began to leave the audition and I had no clue what to do because I was NEXT! As soon as the actor left the audition room all I heard was: “Danielle Pinnock come on in.”  It was my worst audition to date. I forgot all of the lines and was just unmotivated to even give my all because I knew there was no chance of me getting booked on that project.

TITL: How did you hear about the role of Ms. Ingram for Young Sheldon? What was/is it about the character that made you want to audition for the role?

DP: Funny enough, this was a same-day audition. My manager called me on a Thursday morning and I had three-hours to prepare the sides for an Untitled project. I initially went in for the music-teacher and then Nikki Valko, the casting director, asked me to read for a brand new character they created that week “Ms. Ingram.” It was refreshing to see that casting was considering me, a plus-sized African American woman to play the mathematics teacher. Ms. Ingram is one of my favorite characters to play because she is so quirky, hilarious and extremely no-nonsense.

TITL: The show has proven to be a HUGE success in the US and is also popular here in the UK. Did you or your fellow cast members ever expect the show to get the response and reaction it has? 

DP: It’s surreal! This show is a hit internationally and I’ve never, in my entire career, been a part of such a phenomenon. Chuck Lorre is a genius and absolutely has the Midas touch when it comes to creating successful television! Working with the creators Chuck Lorre and Steve Molaro has been a dream come true. My mom and I were in the grocery store and someone stopped us and said “That’s Ms. Ingram, Oh My God!” In the pilot, my character Ms. Ingram talks about attending Oral Roberts University and the school sent me a gift! I went to graduate school at Birmingham School of Acting UK, now known as the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire, so it’s really cool for my friends, family and professors to see it overseas as well!

Aside from it’s obvious TBBT connection, what do you think it is about Young Sheldon that has attracted so many people to watch, and keep watching, it?

DP: The show is hilarious and the main cast give masterful performances. Iain Armitage who plays Sheldon Cooper is a brilliant young performer and is such a joy to work alongside. His portrayal of Sheldon Cooper is honest and relatable.

TITL: You’ve also appeared in Scandal and This Is Us. How important to you is it that you’re able to take on a variety of roles that really put your abilities to the test, and with that in mind, what’s your dream role? Which show would you most like to appear in and why?

DP: Working on those two shows was incredible. I was able to work on Scandal with the genius Kerry Washington; the legendary Viola Davis was the cherry on an already delicious sundae! I’ve had the opportunity to play some fantastic roles both in theatre and on-screen. To be honest, I don’t know what my dream role would be. There are so many great shows out right now. My favorites at the moment: Good Girls, Atlanta, How To Get Away With Murder and SMILF. 

TITL: The entertainment industry is cut throat and competitive, so what advice would you give to anyone looking to make their mark on it? Is there any one piece of advice you were once given that you still look back on?

DP: A colleague of mine once said: “In this industry, you must learn to be plural.” In this industry, especially nowadays, you have to be multi-faceted. This is why there is an uprising of artists creating their own content now.

TITL: Away from TV, you’re an accomplished writer/playwright, and are passionate about creating productions that address life, living and the many issues that come with it. Does your work in that field ever cross over into your acting work and vice-versa?

DP: Absolutely. I’m actually developing an improvised Instagram series with my friend, LaNisa Frederick called Hashtag Booked. Hashtag Booked is a hilarious, raw, and shocking portrayal of what happens during the short period of time in the audition waiting room.  These “characters” are based on real-life experiences.

TITL: How are you finding your role as a vocal activist for body positivity impacting both yourself and those around you? How did you first get involved and would you like to see more individuals, especially those in the public eye, using their status to speak out about important matters as you are?

DP: The first play I ever wrote was a solo show called Body/Courage. Body/Courage was created from over 300 interviews I conducted worldwide, and it was an exploration on body acceptance. This project changed my life. The show is about my journey to find my own beauty through the voices of others. The cool thing about the show is that it introduced a constellation of characters grappling with diverse body issues including weight, illness, disability, skin color, aging, and gender transition. It was this show that got me involved in the body positivity movement. Body/Courage, allowed me to find a courage in myself that I didn’t know I possessed. The body positivity movement already has some fierce voices and it can always use more so I would encourage others to speak out.

TITL: Are there any other plans or projects in the pipeline you can tell me about?

DP: This summer, I’ll be releasing an interview-style podcast called SHOOK discussing true stories of mental health in the industry. I’ve also been asked to be a guest contributor for Shondaland, so check out my essay I’ll be writing for them in the next few weeks.

TITL: Finally then, given that the industry is ever changing, sometimes at a pace even fans can’t keep up with, where do you think the business will go and be 5-10 years from now? What would you like to see happen and do you think that such things will? 

DP: My hope for the industry in 5-10 years is that we can begin to bring more stories by women of color to the forefront. I want to see more women of color on set, I want to see more women of color in the writers room, I want to see more women of color as producers and directors. I want to see women of color win in this industry now and in the future.

Young Sheldon is currently airing on E4 in the UK on Wednesdays at 8.30PM. You can keep up to date with Danielle Pinnock via her Twitter. Header photo credit: Joe Mazza.