No one is going to be able to explain what sound you want better than you are. If you go into a studio session without reference tracks of the sounds you’re looking for, you’re going to end up with the sound the producer wants, not what you want. Make sure you do your research or the process will be way more frustrating.
As a part of our series about Nashville’s rising stars, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Fresh Lady.
Brooklyn born Nashville residing soul singer-songwriter Emma Morcroft goes by the moniker, Fresh Lady. Inspired by vocalists like Nina Simone, Etta James, Amy Winehouse, and Sade, her velvety voice winds you through a minefield of romance, recovery, and self-acceptance. She earned her stripes singing at blues jams at the age of 14 in the NYC scene. Her sound has since progressed into a blend of Jazz, Soul, and R&B elements with a contemporary dash of electronic pop. You can dance the pain away and leave knowing what doesn’t kill you makes this lady write a song.
Thank you so much for joining us in this series! Our readers would love to get to know you a bit better. Can you tell us a bit of the ‘backstory’ of how you grew up?
Thanks for having me! I was born and raised in New York City and moved to Nashville to pursue songwriting and go to college. After living in the same place for 18 years, I wanted to go somewhere I didn’t know anybody. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I wanted a chance to be fully on my own and get to know myself better. It was hard to start fresh, especially because the first year of college I didn’t even know how to drive. But moving somewhere completely different and feeling that culture shock forced me to find my people. I live on the East Side now and have such an incredible circle of musicians and creatives around me. I wouldn’t trade that experience for the world.
Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?
As a birthday gift one year I received a wheel of brie cheese and Neil Young’s After the Gold Rush. Neil Young was one of the first writers who really inspired me to get creative with melody. After that I got into Bob Dylan, and learned about how the beatnik poets and songwriters would play the venues on lower east side like The Bitter End, and I knew wanted to express myself in that way too.
Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
I had a ton of fun booking shows for myself and friends in college. One of the frustrating elements of the industry is how difficult it can be to get noticed as a female musician. A lot of the the time there are ulterior motives or dead ends. This taught me to be my own advocate, follow up, and do my research. I created a DIY booking company with a friend to elevate female and non-gender conforming artists and we would host a yearly event: “Babefest”. We’d feature local artists and bands and it was such a great vibe, it felt great to fill that gap in our community.
Can you share with us an interesting story about living in Nashville?
Any one who has lived and dated in Nashville will tell you it feels a little small after a while. Especially on the east side, you will run into your one night stand at the Kroger in your quarantine sweats. And you’ll definitely see your ex on Tinder, swipe left!
Can you share with us a few of the best parts of living in Nashville? We’d love to hear some specific examples or stories about that.
Nashville’s music scene and community cannot be beat. It takes some active searching to find your people, but once you find them it’s a non-stop roller coaster. During the pandemic, a lot of us have had to adapt to studio work rather than touring constantly. At first this was a real hit, but after a few weeks of sulking we all banded together and built out the home studio. It’s been a huge silver lining because there’s basically no limit to what you can learn. Most days my house is a constant hang with us all taking turns laying down parts and being creative.
I also never understood how delicious biscuits were until I moved down south. Biscuit Love has incredibly fluffy and delicately sweet biscuits that changed my life. I am somewhat biased because as a pet name my Georgia boy guitar playing boyfriend calls me biscuit, melts my heart like butter.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
The funniest mistake I made was thinking I could stop making music and live a normal life. About seven months after graduating college I got a desk job and was hustling to work up the corporate ladder because I thought that was what I needed to do. I got lost in the downward spiral of comparing myself to others and feeling self-conscious that I didn’t look the part and it just felt too hard. But after a while, I learned the hardest thing was actually living with the idea of giving up on myself, it’s a feeling I wouldn’t wish on anybody. I learned so much from that time, and I use those memories as fuel to keep going.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
I’ve had so much help along the way. Most notably Gavin Shea and Chris Gill, aka Handmade Productions who produced Citrine. When I first came to them I was planning on recording Love is Mine as a single, but after that one turned out so well I knew I needed to record the rest of the EP. They truly killed it and are extremely talented, Gavin has his own project called Richard String as well, Pocket/Same is my favorite song of his.
Craig Waters, a guitar player, songwriter and producer in town has also been a huge inspiration and got me out of some seriously tough situations. Like when he stepped in and helped me engineer vocals from the home studio after the world shut down due to the pandemic.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
I’m most excited about working on the next EP, but there will be a few singles before that’s done. There’s a very exciting collaboration with Vincent Williams coming down the pipe in the summer, and another with Jen Miller in the chamber called “Biscuits with Honey”.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
Youtube video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tmUfr_bcByY
First off, no one is going to be able to explain what sound you want better than you are. If you go into a studio session without reference tracks of the sounds you’re looking for, you’re going to end up with the sound the producer wants, not what you want. Make sure you do your research or the process will be way more frustrating. Secondly, don’t lose steam because something blows up in your face. This is going to happen and there’s no problem that can’t be solved by just putting one foot in front of the other. When I first went into the studio, a few years ago I didn’t know how to ask for what I wanted, and I had to learn the hard way. But I kept at it and didn’t let the initial failures sway me from growing. After that, try and remember you deserve to be wherever you are, doubting yourself is your biggest obstacle. When I work with people I look up to musically my mind plays all kinds of tricks on me. It’s a muscle you have to strengthen to not compare yourself to others. I constantly remind myself everyone’s career is different. Also, people who give you constructive criticism are your friends. You need feedback to grow. Don’t take it personally, they wouldn’t waste their time critiquing you if they didn’t believe you could be better. Lastly, be realistic about your budget, and flex the resources you have as hard as you can. Pay attention to the people who want to work and help you, see how you can help them and form strong relationships.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
Variety is the spice of life, in terms of music you are listening to and making, but also in what you are doing. You need to spend at least an hour a day on something that isn’t your music. Take a bubble bath, take a walk or my personal favorite, go roller-blading.
You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
I try and lead by example and spread as much love as I can. The issue that concerns me most right now is the justice system, be it police brutality against people of color or legislation regarding women’s rights, the system is so broken. I hope someday to get involved with a political candidate or group to help make marginalized people feel safer and respected within their communities.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
Pain is the gift that nobody wants. — I stopped drinking for 18 months and during this time I took a deep dive into who I was and who I wanted to become. I uncovered some things I didn’t like, it was uncomfortable to say the least. It hurt to look in the mirror and not like what I saw, but it led me down a path of healing. Without that pain I never would have learned what I needed to change to become a better person. It also helped that some great music came out of it.
Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂
I would love to get lunch with Ben Kissel from Last Podcast on the Left. He seems like a really wholesome guy with adorable dogs. I love true crime and he also ran for Brooklyn Borough president so I know we’d have a lot to talk about.
How can our readers follow you online?
Follow my YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCgSjUPgYHhI3ZR5VitB5ldQ
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/freshlady615
Or Instagram and twitter @freshladymusic
This was very meaningful, thank you so much! We wish you continued success!