Despite being crowned winner of Sky1’s Must Be The Music in September last year, Emma Gillespie, aka Emma’s Imagination, has kept her feet firmly on the ground. Having been helped along her way to musical success by show judges Dizzee Rascal, Sharleen Spiteri and Jamie Cullum, Emma scooped a £100,000 prize fund and since signed to Gary Barlow’s record label Future Records.
Chart success beckoned with her first single This Day hitting the Top 20 and her debut album Stand Still entering the Top 20. She also bagged a new celebrity fan this week in the form of Jessie J who revealed she voted for Emma to win. Ahead of the release of third single Brighter Greener on March 27 and her debut headline tour next month, I got on the phone to the Edinburgh-born singer to talk having Gary Barlow as a boss, money-grabbing ex-managers coming out the woodwork and the axing of Must Be The Music.
What’s been the most surprising thing to happen in the four months since winning the show?
I think when people recognise me because I’m not used to that. I always think they are recognising me because they’ve met me at a party or something but it’s obviously because they’ve seen me on the telly! It’s not like they’re chasing me down the street or anything. People are always really nice and they’re like ‘Oh you’re that girl from the show’ and tell me they’ve bought my album. It’s really nice and I always make time for people. It’s not at a level where I have to wear a moustache or wig to disguise myself.
The last four months must have been a whirlwind. How much of what’s happened can you remember?
It’s all happened so quickly. I really feel like I haven’t had a change yet for it to sink in properly. If you think about it I won it in September so it’s only been a few months. I still can’t believe it.
Your video for Bright Or Greener looks very glamorous…
It’s me floating around on a lake but it was f**king freezing. We shot it at in a park in London and I was lying there on a lilo trying to look all glamorous but it was pretty hard.
Have you been out splashing the cash since scooping £100,000?
I think I’ve bought a couple of jumpers! I also got myself a laptop and an iPhone but that’s only because I needed them to keep in touch and get myself updated with technology because I’m sh*te. I’ve never ever spent a lot of money so I’m still really tentative when I go out. I’m always like ‘I couldn’t possibly buy two pairs of shoes in one go!’ I’m too scared to spend it. But I’ll now get a taxi instead of a bus. I’m still sticking to charity shops for clothes because it’s what I know and I like finding different things to wear. I feel a bit weird going into big expensive shops and would never pay £100 for a top! I quickly run into H&M instead.
Do you keep in touch with any of the MBTM judges?
Yes I was actually round at Sharleen’s place for a cup of tea a couple of days ago. It was really nice and it’s so lovely because she always gives me lots of advice and tells me about experiences she’s had.
Would you like to collaborate with any of the judges?
I don’t know. I’d never rule anything out but as a songwriter and artist myself I’m really keen to prove that I can have a go at it on my own. I’d love to put the album out and establish myself as an artist first. I’d hate for people to think I was just hanging on to other people’s coattails. I’d absolutely love to collaborate with other artists but where I’m at now I want to establish myself first. I’m still exploring everything and that’s a lot of work still for me to do. I’m under no illusion that I’m a successful artist yet. It can happen but I’m just trying at the minute.
Are you disappointed that Sky have decided to drop MBTM after just one series?
I was really surprised. It’s a real shame as it was such a great show and it did really well. Maybe it will come back next year in a different form. I honestly have no idea why they would choose to cancel it and really wish that I did know. Maybe I should start a campaign to bring it back!
What’s it like having Gary Barlow as a boss?
It’s amazing to have Gary Barlow as a contact. Often we sit together having a cup of tea and just talk about songwriting. He is such a massive fan of music and has so much knowledge. He is very obviously as passionate about music as I am. Despite being such a big star he’s so laid back and not up his arse. He is such a busy man and has a great team around him.
Gary always gives great support to his artists so are you hoping he’ll sign you up to support Take That on tour?
I would absolutely love that! But I would never take for granted that that would happen. I’m just happy to be where I am right now as there are so many musicians out there that are still busking and haven’t got a record deal. It would be huge and any help from Gary is appreciated.
Since winning the show have you had any old acquaintances come out of the woodwork?
I’ve had a few. I had one old guy claiming to be my former manager and saying that I owned him quite a bit of money. He was my old manager but it was all complete b*****ks and he sadly was just trying to make a quick dollar. It was really disappointing to be honest. He was a ‘friend’ that had helped me get a couple of gigs and we then split the money but there was no contract or anything like that. It just seems he got arsed when I won the show and it was really disappointing.