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INTERVIEW with the singer Emma Hewitt for her album Burn The Sky Down on Armada

Making the world a little more colourful with each song, Australian singer/songwriter Emma Hewitt is proud to present her long-awaited debut album, ‘Burn The Sky Down’. Fusing ambient and pop with electronic music, each track reveals a new side of the multi-talented songstress. While taking the listener on an eclectic ride into her private universe, Emma’s warm voice lights the sky and shows exactly why the world is ready for her.

Having worked with EDM’s producer elite and winning the ‘Best Hi-NRG/Euro Track’ award at the International Dance Music Awards of 2010 with Dash Berlin collaboration ‘Waiting’, has made Emma Hewitt one of the fastest rising names in dance land. Her characteristic and versatile voice became a favorite both in and outside the EDM scene. Outstanding live performances and acoustic sessions have made her a universal crowd favorite. With ‘Burn The Sky Down’, Emma Hewitt is ready to be more than a featured vocalist.

Thinking outside the box, the album slides down multiple genres and reaches far beyond the expected. Emma: “I didn’t particularly focus on being driven by a specific genre or style so much for the album. I really tried to let each song be what I felt it should be, so stylistically it is quite eclectic, although there is definitely a common thread running through the entirety. We worked with producer Lee Groves on the album, he has worked with artists such as Marilyn Manson, Gwen Stefani and Depeche Mode, so he was great at creating the ambient soundscapes we were looking for. I wanted to cover some different territory to what people may have traditionally heard or expected from me, and to show that no matter what style the tracks were produced in, the essence and spirit of the songs remained the same. In the end we have a landscape of different moods and dynamics that will hopefully take the listener on a bit of a journey. Each song will have an ambient, or slightly pop version as well as all the various dance remixes.”

‘Burn The Sky Down’ brings you the warm and welcoming ‘Colours’, the driving ‘Foolish Boy’, dark and seductive ‘Rewind’ and ‘Crucify’, and the haunting ‘State That I’m In’ amongst many other musical jewels. Bursting with touching lyrics, strong vocals and heart-rending melodies, this is Emma Hewitt in full flight.

My aspiration was always to organise an interview with Emma, and I’m glad we finally managed to do one about her fantastic album. I hope you will love her answers as much as I do, so I highly recommend you take your favorite drink, put on Emma’s album, and read this really brilliant interview. Take my word for it, you will feel very enlightened when you reach the last lines!

Interview is written and conducted by Dimitri Kechagias, Radio/Club DJ & Music Journalist

Dimitri: First of all I would like to take you back in time and ask where you were born and if you come from a family that has any connection with music or other arts?

Emma: I was born in Melbourne, Australia, but I grew up on a country property near the Murray River near a town called Swan Hill.  The area we lived in until my primary school years was pretty remote country, very rugged and very beautiful.  Music was always a very important part of life in my household.  My father played acoustic guitar and has a really lovely singing voice, he was a big music fan so there were always records playing, bands like The Eagles and Fleetwood Mac.  I have a lot of early memories of sitting around a fire out the back with my Dad playing guitar.  I knew from a very young age, for as long as I can remember really, that music was all I ever wanted to do.

Dimitri: Do you remember exactly when you took the decision to pursue your career as a singer and did your family encourage you with this decision?

Emma: It was never so much a conscious decision for me, as much as it felt like something I was just driven to do as far back as I can remember.  Nothing else ever entered my mind as an option.  My family were always extremely supportive.   It was tough for them at times to understand though, it took a long time to get to a point where this seemed like a viable career choice.  My brother has always been heavily involved in this too. From us playing in the same band together to him now being my manager.  We have always written and worked together. There were so many set backs and let downs for us over the years, so many times where things would almost pan out, but then something would happen that would send us back to the start.  So many record deals we almost signed that fell through at the eleventh hour, or record deals that were signed only to have the label sold or the person who signed us take a better offer with a different company, ruining our album release plans… So many of these experiences over ten years.  I think my family hoped we would change our minds and follow a different dream, and they were probably confused as to why we did keep pursuing this, but they were always 100 percent behind whatever we chose to do.

Dimitri:  Is it possible to choose for us the artists that have had the most influence on the way you write and perform songs? Singers, EDM DJ’s and producers, writers, poets?

Emma: I am sure I have been influenced in some way by most of the music I have ever loved.  The early bands like Fleetwood Mac and The Eagles taught me to sing harmonies and I learnt to play guitar cords listening to their songs.  The music from my school years like Pearl Jam and Nirvana gave me the soundtrack to some of my most poignant memories.  I don’t think I have ever been quite as passionate about music as I have about music from this time, the 90’s grunge scene, when everything seemed new and exciting and anything was possible. 

The first EDM song I was really affected by was the Tiesto mix of “Silence” with Sarah McGlaughlin.   I also remember going to some of my first raves and parties to the early music of Cosmic Gate, even though I didn’t know it at the time, so I think it is quite an odd synchronicity that I make music with the guys now.

I am also influenced by many different styles of music, Tori Amos, Tom Waits, Nine Inch Nails, Depeche Mode… Too many to mention really.

I suppose the inspiration that all of these artists, and many others, gives me is somehow embedded in the music I make. 

Dimitri: Can you pick one or two songs for us from other artists that you believe have had the most impact on your life, and your decision to pursue your singing career?

Emma: Sure, Pearl Jam “Black” was a very important song to me in my school days.  This whole album was really groundbreaking, and still stands up perfectly today.  It just reminds me of those magical times where anything could happen.  The world of possibility was opening up, and I was dreaming of getting out of the small part of Australia that I grew up in, and somehow becoming more.  This song still takes me back to those days and that feeling.  I am very nostalgic, and I think music has the ability to completely transport us back to a time and place in a flash.

The Eagles “Wasted Time.”  From the Hotel California live album.  It was my Dad’s album as he was a fan.  This live album just blew me away, the fact that everything sounded better live than it did on the record.  When I was young my family packed up and drove around Australia for months.   This album was the soundtrack to that part of my life, and it reminds me of desert roads and dreaming.  As I mentioned before, I learnt to sing all the different harmony parts from the Eagles music.  I guess I would have been about 11 years old, and I still hold this music and these times responsible for me learning how to sing I guess. 

Dimitri: Did you have the chance to attend music school and get professional training as a singer or songwriter, or are you totally self taught? Do you believe that formal training is valuable and important for artists?

Emma: I didn’t have any formal training as a singer.  I did learn classical piano for a few years and did all my exams.  I do believe it is important for musicians to learn about the theory side of music, just to at least get a basic knowledge of keys and which notes work in which scales etc.  But on the other hand it is a fine line, as I also think that sometimes lessons will beat the creativity out of someone and teach them not to improvise.   For example; if I have sheet music in front of me I can still play classical piano, but I learnt to stop playing by ear, which is how I started out.  My brother who plays by ear and was never taught piano can play much better than I can because he doesn’t over think it.

I decided against formal training with singing for this reason, I wanted to keep the natural tone of my voice.  Perhaps I don’t sing correctly, but I do like it when people keep their own sound.

Dimitri: The EDM family focused its attention on you after your collaboration with Chris Lake for ‘Carry Me Away’. Can you tell us what kind of music scene you were involved in before this smash hit?

Emma: At that time I was still in  a rock band in Australia signed to Sony.  We were releasing our first album over there and touring a bit.  I loved the track “Carry Me Away” and was just so happy when Chris decided to release it as a single.  I never knew if the song would be heard or not when we made it, so it was wonderful to me that it got such a great response.   I definitely wanted to make more of this kind of music, so I was very happy when these doors started opening.

I spent a few years with the rock band.  We worked really hard and put so much into it, but It just wasn’t meant to be, when Cosmic Gate then asked me to do a track I really enjoyed that too, and EDM just became my passion.

Before the rock band my brother and I played a lot of acoustic music, almost folk/alt country style.  We were always writing and saving up all of our money to record demos or go on overseas trips to work with producers.  We always put all of ourselves into it, whatever genre it was.

Dimitri: After that, your next global smash was ‘Waiting’ with Dutch trance star Dash Berlin. It would be great if you can explain how you met up with Dash Berlin, and if you can remember the reaction from your fans while you performed this amazing tune live, which you will remember forever?

Emma: I actually met the Dash Berlin guys through MySpace when people were still using MySpace.  They got in contact after I worked with Cosmic Gate, and they heard the track.  I loved the Dash Berlin track “Man On The Run” with Jaren, so I was really happy to work with them.  They sent me a backing demo which my brother and I  wrote the lyrics and vocals too, and I recorded the vocals in Australia and sent it back to them.  Funnily enough, this was a song I was unsure about sending, I was thinking “oh maybe they won’t like it”.  I had no idea what they were hoping for, and for some reason I was worried that I had missed the mark with the vocals, we almost didn’t send it through, but luckily they loved it and the song came out!

Only last week I toured Mexico with Dash Berlin, it was amazing to perform the song onstage with Dash to a sold-out crowd of thousands.  The Mexican crowds were mental, it was a lot of fun!  I will always remember performing this track on NYE 2009 in Vietnam Times Square live on TV, the crowd was 300,000 strong for the biggest free concert in Vietnam’s history. The energy was amazing. My family came over from Australia.  It was a very special time that I will remember forever.


Dimitri: Another very important moment in your career was your collaboration with the German trance legends Cosmic Gate for the IDMA nominated anthem ‘Be My Sound’. Can you tell us where you got the inspiration to write the lyrics for this amazing track, and how this collaboration came about?

Emma: I absolutely LOVE working with Cosmic Gate!  They are the most wonderful people, and their productions are always amazing!  I get so excited to hear what they do with a track, it always far exceeds any expectations I could have!

This time we worked in a different way.  My brother and I wrote the idea with a guitar and recorded the vocals just to an acoustic, and sent that across to the guys which they then created the track around.

The lyrics of this song were written about being fiercely protective of someone that is a little more naοve and sheltered.  It is about wanting to keep this person sheltered and safe from how cruel the world can sometimes be, and wanting to keep them under your wing away from anything that could hurt them.


Dimitri: Was your idea to release a whole album, or was an offer that came from Armada Music? What is your opinion of Armada Music and your collaboration with them?

Emma: I always wanted to release a solo album, and after working with the Armada team on  the Dash Berlin releases and seeing how amazingly everything from their end was handled, it seemed like a natural fit to discuss releasing an album with them.
As a label, Armada are by far the most impressive team of people I have ever worked with, they are always on the forefront of what is going on, they have an incredible way of using to their advantage the changes within the music industry that have caused a lot of the major labels to suffer and implode.

Maykel from Armada is an amazingly positive energy.  In fact everyone at the label has been incredibly supportive.  They fully embraced the idea of trying something a little left with this album, and they have always had a “can do” attitude towards anything we have spoken about.
I am really happy for my music to have found a home at Armada.

Dimitri: How long did it take you to complete this great album and can you choose the most unforgettable moment that happened whilst you were recording it?

Emma: There were a lot of ups and downs with making this album.  It was really over a year from start to finish, but we had a few false starts and upheavals along the way.   Not being from a production background myself, it was really important to find the right producer that really got where we wanted to take this sonically.  I have a lot of definite ideas in my head of how I want something to sound, and it took a while to find the right fit with a producer who was on the same page with this.  We spent a lot of time, and moved to 3 different countries starting over 3 times, before we found Lee Groves in Australia. He understood the mix of live instrumentation and Electronica that we wanted to create, while keeping in mind the songs needed to be ready for remixes too.

To me the most special part of this recording was hearing the live strings come to life, for me you can’t beat live strings, and hearing players from the Sydney Symphonic Orchestra play on our songs was really humbling and a moving experience.

The remix package, which is the second side of the album, and just as important as the first side, is still being worked on.  Hearing the songs come to life with other people’s creative interpretations is really wonderful and exciting for me too!

Dimitri: Why did you choose the title ‘Burn the Sky Down’? Does this title signify something very special to you? Did you have other ideas for other titles?

Emma: In the first little piece of music that opens the album I am singing the words “Burn The Sky down”  and it just seemed like a natural title for the album.
To me this conjures up images of passion and a light burning in the dark.  And that is what music is to me, that brightly burning passion that can tear through darkness and make everything light again.


Dimitri: It would be great to take us on a tour track by track, and tell us your own comment about each track.

1. Burn The Sky Down (01:43)
Burn the Sky Down is a little intro segue into the album to set the mood.  We wanted to create more of a concept album.  I always loved the way bands like Pink Floyd so affectively used segues to set the mood before the next song.  The segues seem to make the album more of a journey I think, which becomes more of a little world of it’s own.   This little piece of music reminds me of driving out onto a dark forest road in the rain to start a new adventure.

 2. Colours (04:01)
“Colours” was written about my grandfather passing. It wasn’t written from a sad perspective, but from the place of wondering what it is that we all will remember in those last few moments.  Which memories will become the most poignant.  To me, when thinking about this, I realised that the memories that will probably stick with us the most and become the most important are probably the seemingly ordinary or uneventful moments.  The beauty that is born out of the mundane and the every day.  I was also wondering if all of those people we have met along the way will somehow one day come back to us again in some form.

3.Miss You Paradise (03:31)
Miss You Paradise was quite autobiographical.  It is about my life and the way I have always had to pack up and leave everything and everyone behind to follow a dream that wont allow me to give up on it.  There is always hope and gratitude for the dream, but sometimes I still miss the people and places that I once belonged to, and there is a slight sadness in knowing that I can never be content in that world.  

4.These Days Are Ours (03:47)
I am quite nostalgic, and this song is kind of talking about my teenage years, when we had that complete abandon and anything was possible.  Sneaking out with my friends, stealing cigarettes or wine from someone’s parents and walking around the streets of our home town. It felt like we could do anything.  Even though this song is singing from the perspective of the present tense, there is still the sense that it is being sung about a time long gone.   But there is also hope, and the want to bring that feeling of possibility into now.

5. Foolish Boy (04:15)
Foolish Boy was originally written as a dance track with Ivan Gough.  I felt like this song needed to have a darker side to it as well, so we made a version with live strings and drums and a different beat.  I love the sounds Lee Groves created for this song.  The meaning I guess I speaks for itself on this one. 

6. Rewind (03:20)
Rewind was a little bit of a dark spirit of a song too.  The theme for most of this album is, as my Dad put it “A Nostalgic look forwards”. It is very much about my past, and also the moments of realising these things are gone and it is time to move forward with hope and courage.  This song is very much about that.  Spending so much time away from home, it is strange to return home to find things have completely changed from the way you left them, or the way they were in your mind.

 7.Still Remember You (Stay Forever) (04:22)
This song is about a past love, and the feeling that maybe that person will stay with you forever in your memories. This song was also released in another form with “Allure”  I like the spirit of this song, I don’t really write about love very often.

 8. Can't Turn Around Now (01:50)
This is another little segue.  “Are we lost?” - “We can’t turn around now”  It is that part of the journey where you know you have gone too far to turn back so you must keep pushing  forwards with purpose. 

 9.Crucify (03:50)
“Crucify”  is actually about a time when I watched someone close to me make a string of bad decisions and get themselves in to some dead end situations, but I couldn’t help them anymore.  To stay and help in the end would only bring take me down with them.  It was for me the realisation that if someone completely refuses to help themselves, then eventually you have to let go, you can’t stay in their world either.

 10.This Picture (03:31)
This Picture is the cover on the album.  It is a song by a band I am a huge fan of, “Placebo”  I wanted to put my own spin on this song, as I find the lyrics so evocative.  The lyric “Farewell the ashtray girl, angelic fruitcake, beware this troubled world, control your intake”.  Kind of takes me to the same place in my mind as “Crucify.”  This is someone else’s perspective on what I imagine may have been a similar situation.

 11.State That I'm In (02:34)
State that I’m in is kind of half segue, half song.  It just came out one day when I was playing piano.  It didn’t have a chorus or proper verses as such, but I thought it just needed to be what it was.  It was fitting for this song to be at the end of the album “An ending, so we can begin”  are the closing lyrics.  This song to me is about the cyclical nature of everything.  One cycle has to end and be let go of before the new, fresh and once again exciting times can be ushered in.  And all the songs in some way are about moving forward or letting go.  Change is always positive and exciting, but it is nice to also reflect on where we have been before we move on.

 12.Emma Hewitt & 16 Bit Lolitas - Circles (05:55)
Circles was a little song that was written at the end of the album, but we decided to put it on there as a bonus.  My brother and I just recorded this one with a guitar, and the 16 Bit Lolitas guys did an amazing job on the production, and capturing the essence of this song with their music.  To me this vocal had a slight 1950’s feel to it, I don’t know why, this is just how I saw it when it was being written.

 13.Dash Berlin feat. Emma Hewitt - Like Spinning Plates (Bonus Track) (06:33)
This Radiohead cover was actually recorded in 2009 with Dash Berlin, when I was over in their studio. We had just filmed the video for “Waiting”, and on the same day that we recorded “Spinning Plates” we also wrote and recorded “Disarm Yourself”.  It was quite an eventful few days really! I never knew whether Dash Berlin was going to release this track, but I am glad it has been put out here now.  It is slightly darker and different to the other collaborations we have worked on.  I am a big Radiohead fan too!


Dimitri: The tracks of the album where you release them as singles are supported by great remixes from artists like Armin van Buuren, or Cosmic Gate for Colors, and Shogun and Morgan Page, for Miss You Paradise. Would you like to give me your opinion on how important you think remixes are in order to reach as wider audience as possible?

Emma: The remixes for these songs to me are equally as important as the original versions, if not more so.  The original versions of these songs were made to show a different, slightly darker side, but also to form the bases of the tracks to be remixed.  I wanted to create my own sound, and not just rely on various producers to create the backbone of the album, so the original versions being made by the same producer and with the same musicians, was very important to me to give the album continuity. 
The remixes are probably going to reach a much wider audience than the originals, which I am not at all unhappy about, this is the world I am from and I am extremely glad that people want to hear the trance or house versions of the songs.  This is why this side of the album was so important, and we have spent a lot of time compiling the remixes.  Making the original versions just allowed me to explore a little more and create something that perhaps some people who may not go out to clubs can also enjoy.


Dimitri: One of your latest live performances was for ASOT 550 event in Netherlands. How did it feel to perform on that all female stage, and what do you think about Armin’s belief that women should be supported within the music industry? Do you feel that women are disadvantaged, and this situation discourages them from get involved with the EDM scene?

Emma: I think it’s wonderful that Armin is choosing to support women in EDM.  I had an absolute blast performing at ASOT 550, it was a fantastic opportunity, and great to see that live vocalists were welcomed on to the stage.

I have never though of music as something gender specific, I never noticed to be honest that women were disadvantaged.  I never have felt disadvantaged myself because of being a woman.  I guess I just put my head down with determination and try to do what I do in the best way I can, without comparing myself to anyone else, or thinking about things such as gender.  I have found in music there are always a lot of difficult set-backs and road-blocks to push through, but if you have passion, determination and talent for what you do, then I believe whether you are male or female you will have success eventually. 

Dimitri: I notice that your schedule of Live performances is pretty busy in the coming months. Would you like to tell us exactly what are you doing in your live performances, how long they last, and which track you always enjoy performing, and is maybe the most requested from your fan base?

Emma: The live performances always vary.  If I am performing by myself, I usually perform for about 45 minutes, about 8 tracks, and they change depending on the place.  In America the Cosmic Gate and Dash Berlin tracks are probably more popular, where as in places like Russia for example they prefer the Housier sounds, so they always request “Carry Me Away”  or the Serge Devant track “Take Me With You.”  So the live set is always changing and evolving.  Most of the time I sing a few covers or vocal mashups of other songs in there too, just for fun.

If I perform as a guest with a DJ, for example on the Cosmic Gate tour, I will just perform a couple of the songs we have released together within their set.

I am working on a new live format with the album now, where we will be creating a hybrid of club tracks with live electronic drums, keyboards and a visual show on stage too.  I can’t wait, this is going to be a lot of fun!!!

Dimitri: If someone asked you to choose between a career in the pop mainstream world or a career in the EDM scene which one you will prefer the most?

Emma: I am extremely happy with being in the EDM scene, so I would never chose another genre as such over EDM. 

However in saying that, I don’t really believe that music needs to be genre defined.  I make songs that I want to hear myself, and then I hope other people out there want to hear them too.  I never set out to say “this one needs to be a pop song, or a house song” or whatever. The songs just come out as they do and I try to stay true to them.  So my style may change slightly with each song.  I may even do a country song one day if one wants to come out, haha, who knows!

I am not really driven by “career” so much as I am by music.  I think that career is the outcome that follows when you make the music you love, but “career” can’t ever be the motivation.  For me it’s more about making sure that I am true to whatever songs I feel need to come out, and to make sure they are realised in the way that suits each one the most.

Dimitri: You are from Australia which is a faraway country for Europeans or North Americans. I would love to know the kind of stereotype that people you meet have in their mind for your country, and what you answer them about it in order to give them a clear picture, and put things right.

Emma: They tend to assume I grew up by the beach, swear probably a bit much for a girl and don’t mind drinking beer.   In most cases they are pretty much right .  They are usually a little surprised at my lack of a tan though, I guess that doesn’t fit the stereotype so much!

Dimitri: Do you feel that it is necessary to be visible on the internet through web sites, Facebook and Twitter? How long do you spend on interacting with your fans and answering their emails, or getting requests for your performance?


Emma: Oh the internet is EVERYTHING in today’s music industry.  Everyone is taking control of their own destinies and promoting themselves to an extent.  It is so wonderful to jump online and chat to people who have actually appreciated the music you have made, it’s amazing!  For me a lot of my early gigs and exposure came from the YouTube views on my first few videos.  I was so surprised to travel from Australia to places like Egypt, and to see people actually new the songs out there! 

I spend a lot of time on Twitter now, and a fair bit on Facebook.  My management takes care of all the bookings though. 

Dimitri: You have a gothic rock star look in your music videos and artwork of this album. Was it your choice to go along this line, and do you see yourself as an anti-star maybe, rather than having the image of the “sexy blond”? It would be great to choose your absolute favorite from your music videos,  and explain why to us?

Emma: I suppose I do see myself as kind of anti-star.  I am definitely more about the realness of things.  I am a little bit dark in my dress sense in real life, so I wanted to bring a bit more of that side of myself to this album.  Taking it back to my rock roots a little I suppose.

My favorite video has to be “Colours”  filmed by Elliot Sellers and the guys at “The Masses”

They just absolutely, 100percent captured the feeling of the song.  I always hoped that this video could really convey the sense of a life of memories flashing before your eyes, and Elliot really tapped into this so that the song combined with the video actually became something a lot more than it could have been on it’s own.


Dimitri: It would be great to finish off with your advice to any great singers out there that would love to get noticed and get signed to a great label such as Armada Music.

Emma: I would say firstly write as much as you can, and try to develop what you see as your own style. Then record as many demos as you can until you create something you really love. Then send it out to the people who you truly want to work with.  Find the other people who you think will be the right fit for your music!  If it doesn’t work at first just keep writing and repeating the process over.  Eventually you will get there!  And don’t give up when things get tough, it’s all just a test to see how badly you want it! 

Many thanks to Emma for this thought-provoking interview. It’s definitely one of the finest interviews I have ever done, so I’m glad she replied to it in the way that I wanted.

Many thanks to Marije de Konink at Armada Music offices for her excellent assistance in organising this interview. Marije is a real treasure.

Many thanks to Tjerk at Armada Music offices for his fantastic support in my show with fantastic tracks.

Many thanks to Paul at 1mix radio for proofing the final version of this interview


Don't miss Emma Hewitt  LIVE check her tour dates:

June 01 Entrance, Medan, Indonesia
June 02 Illigals, Jakarta, Indonesia
June 08 Republic (with Cosmic Gate), Winnipeg, Canada
June 09 Electric Daisy Carnival (with Cosmic Gate), Las Vegas, NV
June 21 Big Love Festival (with Cosmic Gate), Chengdu, China
June 23 Innovation White (with Cosmic Gate), Manila, Philippines
June 28 Sutra OC, Costa Mesa, CA
June 29 Flames Central (with Cosmic Gate), Calgary, Canada
July 01 Marquee Pool (with Cosmic Gate), Las Vegas, NV
July 07 Makronissos Beach (with Cosmic Gate), Ayia Napa, Cyprus


Buy the album at Beatport:

Booking for Emma via:  www.kissthatsound.de