ITT: How did you originally become involved with the Irene Taylor Trust?
Emma Williams: Back in 2009 while studying for my masters degree, I was offered the opportunity to take part in a taster course for Music In Prisons. The prospect of songwriting with inmates and shedding some light on what I imagined to be a pretty grim environment was something that really appealed to me so I jumped at the chance. I spent the week working in a prison under the wings of Sara, Nick and Rex and was won over by their amazing ability to make brilliant music in such an environment and by their warm personalities. I absolutely loved the project week. After taking part in a second placement with ITT I was asked to come and work for the trust by Sara and the rest, as they say, is history.
ITT: Have there been any particular stand out moments for you?
EW: There have been so many funny, moving and proud moments over the years. One moment in particular that stands out for me was a marriage proposal from one of our participants to another inmate during the Friday morning gig at a women’s prison. We always have a large audience for gigs there and the crowd went wild. It was a heart warming moment.
ITT: Do you have a piece of music that is particularly inspiring for you?
EW: I love any music by Radiohead. I couldn’t get enough of Hail To The Thief when it came out and listened to it non-stop. One song in particular from that album that stands out for me is Scatterbrain. It’s a beautiful, poignant piece. The production on the album goes hand-in-hand with the songwriting and that’s something that I’ve tried to bring into my music making.
ITT: If you hadn’t had a career in music, what do you think you would have done instead?
EW: I think it would have been something to do with fashion or clothing design. As a child I’d spend hours drawing pictures of outfits and making pretend clothing collections. I also remember going to a careers day at secondary school and asking what qualifications I’d need to be a forensic scientist. I hate the sight of blood and anything gory so that would have been a terrible choice.
ITT: What do you get up to in your spare time?
EW: I don’t get a huge amount of spare time but I really enjoy sewing and making clothes when I do. I also like going to the cinema as watching a film on a massive screen with a great sound system is awesome – it’s also a great opportunity to eat pick ‘n’ mix and popcorn!
ITT: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
EW: To be yourself.
ITT: Thanks Emma!