I have known Emma for few years now, she has always been the girl at the front of the pit. We exchanged few words here and there and whenever I put a post about checking my grammar for my books she was among the first one willing to help me with the appropriate correction. As the years has passed, Covid hit us hard, we lost touch. Obviously restrictions took place and Emma was going through tough time, what I did not know, but the quietness was suspicious. She was always active in her local scene, doing gigs, promoting bands, doing photography among others. I have decided it is the best time to interview her and find out more about her life and current affairs. I would like to bring more female interviews to my page as I believe they do not get that much attention despite doing the same hard work in the scene. Girl power all around. Enjoy the reading.
Note to myself, this interview did not go through grammar correction so excuse my shitty English.
R: Hello Emma, I hope your day is going well today? What are you currently doing? Right in this moment.
E: My day is going ok. I am currently planning lessons and replying to emails for my new business.
R: What kind of lessons you are planning? What kind of business it is going to be? Tell us more about it please.
E. I am planning lessons in lighting for makeup artists. I am setting up as a freelance makeup artist for the events and entertainment industry. I am looking to work with bands for music videos especially if they have special effects ideas.
R: How is life in Margate? Its beautiful small city by the sea, nice sandy beaches, and amazing coast trails. Is there anything weird about the city? Tell us anything what the weekenders do not know when coming for their sun break.
E: Margate is great. Nothing weird about the city really, but it does have lots of cool locations to check out. There is a cool little section of Margate called old town which has lots of little vintage shops and cafes. There is also dreamland, which is a theme park, but also a music venue. I work there as a freelance stage manager throughout the year. Margate has lots of lovely walks and it is very family friendly.
R: Dreamland is the park on top of the hill, right? So, when you are riding the rides, you can see the beach and old town. I particularly love to visit the comix shop in the old town, well it’s a vintage book shop with loads of comix in it too. Do you go there?
R: I would like to know more about your childhood. What is your earliest memory from your childhood? Where did you grow up? Where did you go to school? Did you like school? Did you have any favourite subject?
E: My earliest memory from childhood is when I was young and playing in the street with the neighbour’s child while living in Cyprus. I can’t tell you all the places I went to school as I am an army child and we moved around so much so I went to schools all over Kent. I really didn’t like school and was bullied a lot when I got older. I find making friends easy, but I was always a little different as a child. I really enjoyed history at school and seriously hated maths.
R: Interesting you mentioned it you are an army child. Dad was in the army, what did he do in the army back in there? How difficult it was and what does it mean in your world when you say, “army child”? Have you served yourself in the army or you have not followed the army life? How did you cope with the bullying? What helped you to overcome it? Did you have any support at that time, or you had to deal with it on your own? What would you advise young person being in the same situation to do?
E. My dad was in the Princess of Wales royal regiment. He was in the army band from what I remember. I would say it had difficult times the older I got but I also believe it made me the strong person I am today, and you learn to be resilient and also learn to make friends quickly. I didn’t follow my dad in the army life. It wasn’t for me, but I did think about it. I didn’t deal very well with the bullying, and it made me sick. My family were very supportive, but the school system was very hard when it came to dealing with the bullying. I would say to any young person now who is experiencing bullying, go and speak to an adult you trust and can talk too. Also do your best to stand up for yourself. The longer you stay quiet, the worse it will be.
R: How was it growing up from a child into a woman. Did the puberty slap you across your face big time? Did you have a stable and cool growing up or went through phases where things were going wrong?
E: I had a tough time growing up when it came to puberty. I suffered badly with stomach cramps and ended up in hospital a lot. I also suffered from an eating disorder after being bullied for being a larger child. I suffered with this until I left school.
E. Yes, Dreamland is the park on the hill. Its right next to the train station. It’s an amazing vintage type theme park that now hosts four stages and runs shows all year. I have been in the shop you’re talking about. It’s an amazing book shop.
R: You are tall girl, but that should be your advantage I guess when growing up right? So, all those physical health issues were related to the eating disorder? When you left the school did it become improving? Reflecting back is there anything you think that helped you to overcome the eating disorder? What helped you to overcome it? Do you still struggle with it?
E. I am tall for a girl. This got me bullied because I was different. When I look at myself now, I see being tall as a good thing but when you are young and trying to fit in being tall and curvy is not a good thing. You want to be tall and slim. The eating disorder was separate for me to anything else. When I left school, it helped but it didn’t mean it was gone. Due to the length of time, I had the eating disorder it will stay with me for life now and even though I really enjoy food, there are still times when I look at myself and think I am fat or ugly because I have eaten too much. What helped me deal with it was the doctor I was seeing, he told me if I didn’t start eating more than I would end up in hospital.
R: What was your first job? Did you like it? Do you remember what you bought with your first pay check?
E: I worked in a corner shop after school when I was 16 and then moved to a shop called Next in the High Street when I went to college. I hated working in retail, but it did teach me a lot and I got paid very well. I don’t remember what I spent my first pay check on, but I was happy I was earning my own money.
R: Lovely, when I think about my purchase for my first job, I would not figure it out, but I do remember around that time I bought inline skates haha. What have you learned in retail what helped you in the future? What was the valuable lesson learned?
E. I learnt a lot of things in retail. It taught me how to manage my time and how to deal with difficult people. It was also a job that helped me become the hardworking person I am now, because it made me realise that the harder you work, the more likely you are to succeed and do well for yourself.
R: What were you listening to when you were growing up? Was punk rock already part of your life? Where did you get your music from? Was it from parents record collection or TV programmes?
E: I loved all music when I was growing up. My dad is a musician, so I was bought up around everything from classical and jazz to rock and pop. I really enjoyed metal music from a young age. My first cd I bought was Blood hound gang and then my mum took it away from me due to the language. I discovered metal music through my friends and TV.
R: Do you play instrument like your dad? Have you tried it?
E. No I don’t. I have tried to play saxophone like my dad, but it just wasn’t my thing.
R: Blood hound gang? Wait it was the band singing “the roof is on fire” right? Mum should be happy you did not put the roof on fire…
E. Yeah that’s them. It was that song that was the issue. LOL.
R: When did you discover punk rock / hardcore music?
E: I discovered hardcore music when I went to college. I had friends who listened to it, and I started going to shows in London with my friends.
R: You have been hitting shows for a while. Do you remember your first? Did you feel embarrassed coming into the crowd of strangers, predominantly males, how did it make you feel?
E: I don’t remember my first show, but I remember it was a small one. I did feel unusual, but I remember when I went to my first show in London. I really noticed the lack of girls in the scene. It was mainly male dominated and the only girls there were band members girlfriends. This didn’t intimidate me as I have mainly male friends, but it seemed very unusual and made me think about why girls weren’t coming to shows.
R: Why do you think the girls were not coming to the shows?
Nowadays it has changed, there is loads of bands with female members on instruments or as lead singers. Which is cool I guess and refreshing. Is the scene more open now as it was in the old days you think?
E. I believe because when I first started going to shows, when people see mosh pits and things like that, they see them as violent. I also think girls don’t see it as their kind of scene. Nowadays it has changed loads, there are girls at shows in the crowd, on the stage, in the band. I believe that the hardcore scene is a lot more welcoming to anyone who wats to come to a show if they don’t cause trouble. I believe this is how it has always been but due to issues at metal shows and other alternative shows all shows were tarnished with the same problems and girls avoided them. Now that people are aware of all the issues that have been spoken about, I believe people are more supportive of anyone attending events.
R: Have you ever experienced sexism in the scene?
E: I have experienced it many times. I haven’t had it much in the last few years, but when I started going to shows and putting shows on it was everywhere. I would get comments thrown at me about girls only go to shows for one thing or you must be someone’s girlfriend. There is no mention of me just being at the show just because I like the music and enjoy the scene.
R: How did you deal with this? Were any of the guys trying to grab you or touch you inappropriately during shows or when in the pit? Considering you are coming from a smaller scene and being local person, you had to know most of those jerks, right?
E. I dealt with it the way I have always dealt with it. I called them out on it and sometimes depending on the type of show I was at, I had assistance from band members or fellow crowd members to deal with the person in the pit. I have been grabbed and touched and the last person who did that, got a swift kick to the chest, and sent flying into a group of lads in the pit who dealt with him. I have been quite fortunate and no one I have known has ever done anything.
R: I noticed there are some bands in the scene, who promote feminism, which is great, however some preach hatred towards men. And I wonder, is this where the “modern” feminism is going to? Ending up in hatred towards men? What do you understand by the term feminism?
E: I don’t think this is the way forward. Feminism is about being female positive and not pigeon-holing woman saying they can’t do certain things. I am a female in a very male industry within the sound and lighting industry and I can do everything they can do. They respect me for this and we just work as a team.
R: I know you have security licence, so pretty much a girl, who can punch and deal with drunk lads and lasses during night out. How did you get into this kind of job? Did you like it? Do you still work in this field? If not, why did you leave?
E: Lol I do enjoy this job and I got offered it and my training by a company who I used to steward for. It’s a fun job and no day is ever the same. I do odd jobs every now and then but not as often as I used too. I stepped away because I got a job at the police, and they don’t like you having jobs in security as they believe you will abuse your power.
R: How did you get the police job? It’s an interesting turn thinking the scene is usually very unfriendly towards old bill. That takes guts to approach work career as an officer. Tell me more about it please.
E. I applied for it because I like helping people. Yes, it is a weird one to join but I always made friends with the police if they ever came to my shows for issues to make sure we had a good working relationship. Doing the job made me realise how many issues they must deal with and how there are many aspects of the forces that are crooked and dangerous. I was only a civilian. I used to be the voice on the end of a police officer officers’ radio. I will be honest it is one of the best jobs I have ever had, and I got to make a difference to people’s lives but at the end of the day I also had my life damaged.
R: Along the way you have started to take pictures of the bands in your area. How did you get involve with photography and taking pictures of bands? Did you have any inspiration in particular shooters at that time?
E: I have always loved taking photos of people and events. I studied photography at college and that is how I started photographing bands. I didn’t really have any inspiration apart from music videos I saw and pictures in magazines.
R: Do you still take pictures?
E. Sometimes, I haven’t been to a show for a while but do want to get back to taking band photos. I still really enjoy taking portraits of people.
R: From attending shows to promoting them. You created your own band promoting company called EMV. Is it solely your project or do you work with somebody? Tell us more about it. What bands you are helping, what venues or places the gigs take place. What is your cut on it? How this experience works for you?
E: It was a thing I created with a friend and then it turned in to my own thing. Currently it is on hold due to losing all my venues during Covid. I created it originally to be able to bring bands from all over the country to small venues so that people could hear them. This evolved and I ended up with bands from all over the world. I take no money from this and pay for everything myself which can make things very hard. I would love to get back in to shows and have recently had some small venues start to contact me asking me to set something up for them.
I am hoping I can do this very soon with venues who are happy to help with funding so it will take some pressure off.
R: Wait, wait, wait, how could you fund this from your own pocket only? That is not cheap hobby at all promoting bands? How did you secure the money for the events? Tell us what bands came through your hands.
E. I used to work full time and basically take money from what I earnt. I would also use the money from the ticket sales to help towards the cost. No, it is not a cheap hobby and if I’m honest I never wanted it to be a hobby. I wanted it to be my career. I love music and I love watching people enjoy the shows that I have organised. I always made sure my shows were open to everyone and even had kids come to my shows and I had a regular customer and one venue who was deaf.
I was very fortunate to host the last ever pay no respects UK show before they retired, I also had bands such as Jonestown, Death remains, Bleed again, The mausoleum trap, Dock 83, On Hollow Ground, Chuggaboom, this is endless plus many more to name a few.
R: As an EU citizen living in UK, I am always interesting to know the views of people from UK scene about the whole Brexit experience and what they were feeling about it? Obviously, it’s done, UK departed from this relationship and be honest, UK is not doing very well despite all that hateful propaganda from Farage and Conservatives. What is your take on this subject? How was it in your area, I am assuming Margate is very liberal free city, but I might be mistaken. Shoot and be honest, haha. Did you care about this topic?
E: I will be honest and hated the fact we left the EU as it made some band work difficult, and I am aware it is making things even harder with things like carnets. I find politics quite hard to follow as it changes so much every day and all I believe is that if you have your say then that is all that matters.
R: As much the politics is dirty game, they are going to make it way harder now to protest, you can literally get arrested for attending rally, any rally. You can have your say, but they might throw you in jail for it now and that suck. Do you go to vote?
E. I do vote, and I do what I can. I think the reason they have done this is because they don’t know what else to do anymore and they are stuck. It’s not an excuse but I genuinely think that is why they have done it.
R: Covid is technically gone, I know it should not be an topic anymore, but I will go this way anyway. What impact did it have on you during those last two years?
E: I will be honest with you, Covid was one of the hardest times of my life. A lot of things happened during Covid for me, and they were not very good. I became very sick (not covid ) due to my mental health and I actually stopped eating, couldn’t sleep, tried to hurt myself and also lost my job. I also couldn’t listen to music at all for two years as it really messed with my emotions which was super hard for me. It has taken me a lot of work to get myself back to where I am now.
R: I think it’s important to share our own experiences so others can learn from it to overcome them. You have been suffering from anxiety issues based on an unpleasant experience. Can you tell us, whatever you feel you want to share, not forcing you, how did you cope with it, what helped you to overcome it to stage you can function again normally? What impact it had on you, how your life looked like before and with it and afterwards?
E: I was diagnosed during covid with severe anxiety and a form of PTSD. This was a result of a stalking incident which occurred while I worked for the police. A fellow member of staff who was also a police officer started stalking me and became very inappropriate plus the way my case was dealt with made me scared to go to work and fear for my life.
I did not cope with this very well at all and it all hit me super hard when we went in to lock down. I have therapy which did not help me, and I also didn’t do well on medication. The only thing that actually helped me was alternative therapies such a acupuncture and also holistic massage. I also had some super supportive friends and family. This event has impacted my life greatly as I chose to leave a very good job for my own sanity, I lost friends, I lost myself and honestly it has changed me forever. I still have nightmares but not as often as I did before, I see or hear things sometimes and they will cause a panic attack as my brain associates them with this period. I also have no trust in the police anymore after the way it was dealt with.
I believe I am a lot stronger than I was before, but I also now have to life with the nightmares and panic attacks which I have now found ways of managing. I now actively try and find new ways of dealing with my mental health and helping to look after myself that does not involve drugs or alcohol.
R: That is tough, especially when you consider the fact the Metropolitan police is facing loads of issues not only with institutional racism, but with sexual abuse by the force officers against women. Were they trying to cover up the stalking in your case? What happened to the officer who was abusing his power?
E. They did try and cover it up, but I guess you can say fortunately he did it to another girl and they tried to cover that up too, but the other person went to the press. The officer was asked for his resignation, didn’t even get fired and for the whole time he was suspended under investigation, he was being paid a full salary. He has only been told that he cannot work in law enforcement again but that’s it. No criminal charges.
R: That sucks big time, considering, it’s a force which should be protecting and serving citizens and are paid from our taxes. I find it very upsetting.
E. This was a few years ago now and still to this day, I do not put much trust in the force even though, I am fully aware there are good police officers out there that do the job to help people. It is things like this that will show us that all institutions have a level of corruptness, but we do also have to remember, the ones that do follow the rules. This incident will stick with me for life and I will continue to work through the traumas it has installed in my brain. I will still have night terrors, I still get anxious when I see certain cars & the sound of heavy boots on flooring still makes me go cold, but I know I am stronger than I was before and that I will continue to grow and evolve from this.
R: Only way to go is to go forward in life, takes courage to deal with it. Going forward, what music do you like to listen to nowadays? What do you play when you are sad to cheer you up and what music you play when you go for a run or long walk?
E: I am a massive music fan still and to be honest I have music of shuffle so listen to whatever my playlist chooses.
R: Give us your top five albums from your phone? What UKHC band you like? What do you think about the current UK scene?
E. Sore teeth, Praetor, Own your life, Clawhammer, Cold hard truth.
I really enjoy UKHC bands. If I’m honest I prefer to listen to HC live. I used to go to the Unicorn every weekend no matter what was on and literally just mosh out to whatever was on. UKHC have some epic bands and honestly I hope we can produce more music from the scene in the future and see those bands thrive.
R: What do you like to do in your free-free time, taking away the band promoting, shows, how do you relax yourself? Do you have favourite place?
E: Free time? I like to learn new things so recently have qualified as a makeup artist so I can work in TV, Film and on music videos. I am now qualified in makeup SFX too.
R: You recently finished a movie, your first movie, tell us more about the experience? How did you get the chance? How long it took and what is the movie about? Is it TV movie or cinema movie? How many hours a day you had to work and how did your day look like? Is there another movie coming with your make up art?
E. Yes, I have just come off a film which is a dark comedy. I got offered the opportunity by a mentor of mine who taught me special effects makeup. It was one of the best things ever. I got to work with some amazing actresses and actors, some of which have been in big films and tv. I believe it will be going to TV. I was working 12-hour days, but it was worth it. I would be on set for 8am most mornings and set up depending on which location we were at. I would then prep my actors or actresses with my colleague for the start of filming and then spend the day doing adjustments and watching them film. This is my first film but as we speak, I have been booked to do a short film at the end of the month and then I am looking for my next project. I am hoping to start working with some musicians on music videos, if I can find anyone who is interested.
R: When going to grab a coffee, what do you go for?
E: Love a cold coffee.
R: Emma, thank you very much for your open answers and courage to discuss personal things with me, us. Last words are yours? Anything we forgot to mention or touch? Thank you.
E. Thank you so much for allowing me to do this & for letting me be open with you and your audience. I just want to say to everyone reading that if they ever need to talk my inbox is always open. I believe this industry is built on the connections people make and the friendships that form due to this.
Special offer: any UK bands that want to hire me for a music video or gig: 20% off when they mention this article.
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