Sharna Waid catches up with Emily, AKA Rebel Without a Coat, to talk rap influences and why she's playing CleverGreen Festival.
Tell us a bit about Rebel without a Coat and why you decided to get involved with music?
Rebel Without A Coat is me as a solo rapper/singer-songwriter producing my own beats and occasionally doing more melodic indie-type songs, usually with a guitar. I came from a musical family and I found myself annoying my friends by tapping on the tables all the time at school and they told me to get some drums so I could do that shit at home and I didn't have to annoy them at school, so I did! After a few years I took up saxophone and started learning to write songs with a keyboard and make electronic music on the computer, and writing poems and awful cheesy raps, all around the age of twelve-ish. Guitars and ukuleles have slowly found their way into the mix over the years. So it's pretty much always been my thing!
How would you describe your style of music?
It's mainly alternative hip hop ranging from deep, chilled, penseive and spiritual mindbabbles to heavy beats and firey flows, with the odd acoustic song thrown in for good measure, which is more along the lines of indie/folk/blues/pop.
Who are you music influences - growing up and now?
Growing up it was all about Red Hot Chili Peppers, Rage Against the Machine, Eminem, Radiohead, Nirvana, Muse, Cypress Hill, Miles Davis, Limp Bizkit, Incubus, and all sorts of eclectic shit of any and every style from classical to jungle to jazz. Later on came Kanye West, Dizzee Rascal, Bliss 'N' Eso, Scroobius Pip, John Frusciante and Mumford and Sons, and all of these guys have had a heavy influence on my work as well as people who I maybe haven't spent a huge amount of time listening to but whose music has made a real impression on me eg Bon Iver, Lupe Fiasco, Bjork, Damien Rice, Dirty Projectors etc. In recent years the artists who have been shaping me as a writer have been Watsky, Wax, Kendrick Lamar, Lil Dicky (some of his recent stuff has been a bit weak though!), Dizraeli etc, and I dare say my singing and songwriting has been influenced by a local singer-songwriter who used to live in Brighton called Sean Smyth.
Whats the highlight of your singing career so far?
My solo career hasn't exactly gotten very far yet so I wouldn't say there's been any one particular highlight, but I've had some special times going to the Roisin Dubh open mic in Galway when I spent a few weeks there on my travels around Ireland after releasing my first album, and every week a shitload of acts would do one song each and almost every act of the night was proper quality which is rare for an open mic, and there was such a special atmosphere and connectedness there, and a bunch of regulars that knew each other and would all take the piss out of each other, sweet times! Also used to play a lot at Express Yourself Sundays back in the day when it was a monthly night upstairs at the Caroline of Brunswick, those were really special intimate gigs where the artists always felt really heard and witnessed and it was all about love and spirituality and freedom of expression, and there'd often be spontaneous jam sessions outside the pub after closing time until the neighbours started shouting at us!
Why is it important to support eco-living events like CleverGreen?
Well apparently the planet's dying, so there's that. I think today's generations are largely disconnected from the fact that we're part of the organism that is Gaia - even I feel quite disconnected from it, especially living in the city, and we need to do more to tap into the energy of the planet and start looking after her so that all creatures can be healthy and breathe clean air.
In what ways do you try to live more sustainably?
Being vegan is the main one for me, it's the single biggest thing you can do to make a real impact on the environment with the possible exception of doing little to no flying. Generally everything else an individual does pretty much pales in comparison. I haven't flown in years either but I have to say that's less out of choice and more out of not having the money to travel the world! I'd like to think if I do any proper traveling I'll overland where possible. Apart from that it's the usual stuff like recycling, not overusing electricity, and commuting on foot or bicycle.
Do you have any quick tips for people who are interested in eco-living but don't know where to start?
I'm no expert on eco-living but I'd definitely recommend going vegan as a starting point, it's healthier and it means the animals can live in peace. If this seems daunting, you can slowly transition into it and eventually you'll forget all about eating animal products and you'll be super excited for the next vegan sausage brand to come out.
Whats the best advice you've ever been given?
What generally? Stop thinking all the time and just breathe, be present to your inner and outer surroundings, stop judging and labeling things, just be present to what is, in the moment, instead of having a constant running commentary happening in your mind, so you can deepen your enjoyment of every experience and have more inner peace. Easier said than done though!!
Rebel Without a Coat will be performing in the CleverGreen Unplugged tent on Saturday 20th July at The Level Brighton. Find out more about her here.