Emily Smith and Jamie McClennan play Southbourne
Multi-award-winning Scottish singer Emily Smith and New Zealand-born songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Jamie McClennan have been making music together for 15 years.
Now they tour for the first time with their two young children in tow, aged two and almost five.
“Fortunately, my dad will be coming with us as tour nanny,” Emily says. “That’s his official title.”
They head to Tuppenny Barn, Southbourne on April 14 with a new album out: “In fact, we came up with so much new material that we have got two new albums. The first one coming out in April is called Unplugged because it is a very straightforward album.
“When we have toured as a duo, a lot of people have come up to us and said ‘Have you got an album that sounds exactly like the show you have just done?’ and that’s what this album is really, a live album but with seven previously-unreleased tracks and three new recordings of songs that people might already know. We are calling it a live album in the house, but really there is a lot of new stuff on there.
“And we have almost done another new album which we are going to be holding back for next year. We want to try to pace ourselves!”
Inevitably, Emily’s and Jamie’s world has changed hugely since the children arrived: “Parenthood is obviously a complete game-changer, but I think I am used to motherhood now. My oldest is nearly five, but I think what has happened is that it has made me value music even more because obviously I am so much more limited about when I can do it. It feels so relaxed, just standing there singing songs without someone tugging at my leg!
“Before the children, we had ten years of touring, and in some ways, it was great, just being able to get up and go, but I certainly wouldn’t change a thing.
“The great thing about parenthood is that you are no longer the most important person in your life. Your point of view changes, and many of the songs that Jamie has written have been inspired by the children or by parenthood or by the choices we have made, and we are finding that people are responding really positively to those songs.
“In the decade when we were touring a lot, we were doing a lot of traditional songs, and I love those songs and find them so interesting, but there is only so much of yourself that you can put into those songs. With the recent songs that have really come out of our own little household, we are getting a great reaction. Musically, it has made us look into ourselves a little bit more.
“Jamie has always been an amazing multi-instrumentalist, but I think he has found his voice as a composer since the children. And the two of us singing together… we are married, we live together, we spend so much time together, but I think we are getting into a new phase of understanding between us since having the children. We have been together for about 15 years. It is great fun working with him. We are still great friends. Before we had children, we were thinking that we would have to start working separately, but that hasn’t been the case at all. We are more and more together. Our wee boy starts school at the end of the summer, and after that things will have to change with us, but working in this industry, you have got to be flexible. We can get a lot done because we are together all the time. We often say that we actually have our best work meetings when we are pushing the pram in the park!”
Other stories by Phil: https://www.chichester.co.uk/author/Phil.Hewitt2