Interview: Emma Noble talks Table Dancers and moving from DJ decks to the mic
With the release of her third single single 'Table Dancers', we caught up with singer and DJ Emma Noble...
Your new single ‘Table Dancers’ is all about letting loose, so what clubs and venues do you choose for a proper boogie?
In the olden days my main haunts would be Madame Jo Jo’s & Gaz’s Rockin’ Blues at St Moritz. But nowadays I don’t really have any specific venues I always go to. I will just go to somewhere where I know there is going to be good DJ or a good band playing decent music. So it just depends who’s playing where these days.
How did this whole project come to fruition and when can we hope to hear an EP or album?
It was all a bit of a happy accident really. (As Bob Ross would say) I’ve always dabbled in music but mainly just for myself as a hobby. My first "in a proper band" experience started when I was asked by my friend Nick Corbin, to join New Street Adventure (Acid Jazz Records), as a backing vocalist. After spending a couple of years with them, I was then approached by Lack of Afro to do some writing & guest vocal stuff with him. Not long after one of my tracks with Lack of Afro came out, I received a message from Fredrik Ekander (one of the Founders of Cosmos Music), asking me about my music side of stuff.
I had just recently DJ’d with Fredrik, which is where I first properly got to know him. He asked if I had any other ideas in the making, which I did, so I sent him some of my very rough demos and, as we both have very similar musical ears, I think he was able to hear my vision. He then asked me to go away and turn them into proper demos, which I did. We then met up, talked all things music, and a week or so later Fredrik got in touch and said he’d like to sign me up to the label - making me their first ever UK signing. There was a chemistry and understanding between Fredrik and I, which I think we could both sense was just going to work, and it did!
We then had to decide who would produce it for us - we picked Tristan Longworth, who also has very similar musical taste to us. And alas, the Musical Musketeers were formed. Tristan called in his go-to session musicians, who were all incredible, and all brought their own little magic touches to the tracks. This resulted in 3 songs which, so far, have been really well received, all of which will go onto the EP - along with a remix from Smoove (of Smoove & Turrell), out on 26th November.
Nothing’s been decided yet regarding an album - we’ll have to wait and see! I’ve certainly been surprised at how many people have been asking for one actually, which is really lovely and encouraging!
As part of the resurging and growing British funk & soul scene, having also had support from Craig Charles and a remix by Smoove, who else would you like to work with in that crowd?
Oh blimey, that’s a tricky one. There are a lot of amazing British underground soul and funk artists about, all with their own unique sounds and qualities. I think I would want to collaborate with different people for different reasons. I also like the idea of collaborating with artists who aren’t soul / funk based to see what would happen.
Some well-known names who I think are doing really interesting things are SAULT, Jungle, Tom Misch, and Michael Kiwanuka of course - god he’s incredible!
If I could expand this question to America too, I would also pick Vulfpeck, Khruangbin, Leon Bridges, Durand Jones & The Indications / Aaron Frazer, and also the Monophonics / Kelly Finnegan!
In August you released a cover of Marvin Gaye’s ‘Woman of the World’ - what drew you to this song?
When I first heard this song I just fell in love with it. The musical arrangements and melodies are beautiful, but I think the main thing was that lyrically there’s a really important message there, which is still so current and relevant now, nearly 50 years on!
It’s a song about female empowerment, so I thought it could be really interesting to do a version of the song sung from the voice of a female. We also changed up the lyrics, so it became about plural women rather than one singular woman. I think in hearing it being sung from the perspective of a female, and with the slightly adapted lyrics, gives it a different and new dynamic that changes it up enough to become its own version, rather than a straight-up cover - something we'd set out to do from the beginning.
I love that it is a positive and uplifting song about celebrating all of the brilliant women of the world.
You are also a DJ as part of duo Noble & Heath, so how long have you been spinning and what might be some of your go to dancefloor fillers?
Noble & Heath have been going for about four years now. Although, because of the current situation, we haven’t gigged for ages, so we are missing getting our regular dosage of loud music and dancing!
Cor blimey, it’s hard to pick just a few – these always tend to fill the floor and get people moving when you put them on:
1) Donny Hathaway – Always the Same
2) Coke Escovedo – I wouldn’t Change a Thing
3) Willi Bobo – Always There
4) Nolan Porter – If I Could Only Be Sure
5) Ann Sexton – I Still Love You
6) Teddy Pendergrass – Get Up, Get Down, Get Funky, Get Loose
7) Stevie Wonder – If You Really Love Me
8) Willie Wright – Real Thing
9) Glady Knight & The Pips – No One Could Love You More
10) Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell - Ain’t No Mountain High Enough
One of my Spotify playlists called ‘Lovely Jubbly’ is full of lots of my favourite tunes to play out.
Are there any records you are embarrassed about owning but also adore? What are your guilty musical pleasures?
Lionel Richie – All Night Long. You’ll never normally catch me with any 80s records in my box (unless it’s MJ), but I’ve got to say, when you whack this one on after people have had a few, everyone loves it and people always sing along too! It is a great track.
What other projects might we see in the future - are live gigs on the cards yet?
At the moment, we don’t have any live gigs booked in because of the current situation. Its impossible to plan ahead at the moment. We used a bunch of amazing session musicians to record the EP, I would love to start doing some live gigs eventually, but I need to get a band in place first...(calling any talented young musicians who want to join the Emma Noble band??!!)
Finally, what does the word ‘groove’ mean to you?
When a piece of music comes on that makes you stop whatever you are doing and properly listen. Groove to me has to be a mid-tempo track too. Nothing to slow and nothing too fast – something right in the middle.