Saint Clair (aka Emma Topolski) grew up singing and playing instruments. However it was not until after university that she started singing jazz alongside a number of London-based musicians. She explains how her network expanded as she exposed herself to more gigs, with opportunities pre covid presenting themselves from playing and writing to touring and recording. We caught up with Emma following the production of her new EP “in the violet hour”. Developed following the loss of her father (Daniel Topolski); the EP is a homage to her father, in collaboration with her sister (actor/director Tamsin Topolski). Through 4 very distinct video concepts, representing each stage of the grieving process.
“It was incredibly challenging creating something so personal, especially filming it all in our family home, but I was also very grateful to have made a body of work that allowed me to connect so deeply to my loss. Despite all the sad and vulnerable moments, it felt like we were including him in a new experience somehow and I not only learned a lot about myself but also unearthed new information about him.”
The artist describes her music as mainly dark, epic, emotional and electronic. Accompanied by real instruments, lush harmonies and a traditional song-writing approach. Stemming from 3 generations of freelance creatives, the artist found it only natural to pursue a career in the arts. Something that Emma highlights as always having been normalised and encouraged. She goes onto highlight how she was very lucky that she wasn’t met with any resistance when she ventured into music. i
Working through Anxiety
The artist humbly opens up to having experienced mild anxiety, due to the very nature that working in the music industry has very little certainty..”When I don’t feel I have anything secure to work towards or am achieving what I hoped to, it can become overwhelming emotionally and financially.” Utilizing social media has enabled the artist to share her experiences both practically (surrounding releases and tour dates, etc); and creatively (bringing people into her “music world”). Emma points to having collaborators and allies in supporting her in achieving her creative goals to date. Highlighting how she finds it difficult to be productive when alone, and bouncing ideas off other people provides her with the confidence she needs to drive forward. “I also feel like it holds me more accountable and helps me stick to deadlines when other people are depending on me.”
Saint Clair finds inspiration from both artists of old and new depending on what she wants to indulge her creative musical mind in listening too. Ranging from The Beatles and Stevie Wonder to Jeff Buckley, Nirvana, Lauryn Hill, Frank Ocean, & Outkast; to name a few. The artist finds herself being inspired by all sorts of “weird and wonderful” things both musically and outside the realm of musical art. She recommends those wishing to follow in her footsteps to ensure they have a really clear vision and to not compromise on it. To write relentlessly until you have a body of work that best represents you and to always try and get your ducks in a row before you release your first single so you’re not left chasing your tail.
“If you want to be a session musician, you just need to practise your ass off in lots of different styles and then get out there, go to jams, play with your friends as much as possible and don’t be afraid of making mistakes or ‘looking silly’ – it’s the best way to learn!”
The artists biggest challenge to dates has been endurance. Pushing through the uncertainty and rejection, which she openly admits has been incredibly difficult in finding inspiration and motivation to keep herself going. The key she has found is bringing it back to basics of her passion for enjoying the creative process. The artist is currently gearing up to release the fourth and final chapter of her visual EP “in the violet hour” alongside a full 18 minute short film. In addition to finishing the recording of CHILDCARE’s second album, with the planning phase now being entered to develop the artwork and general campaign details.