Effie: Eyes on the Prize
British R&B singer, Effie, was crowned NME emerging artist in 2018, but that doesn’t mean taking your eye off the ball, as we discover at her 'Emerging Headliner' session at The Pool, Miloco Studios' premier live recording space.
“The best thing about being an emerging artist is being able to be in full control,” states Effie without hesitation. “I have full creative control. Most of the time I own the rights to everything, so being independent and being an emerging artist is great. I think the struggle is that when you are emerging, there are all these things we have to adhere to, like social media, having an online presence and keeping up with everybody else. When you're emerging, you don't have a huge fan base yet. So trying to build that can feel like a really slow and long game, but at the end of it, you want those fans and the people that believe in you to be there. Unfortunately, it does take time.”
Admitting that she is not always the most patient person, Effie is refreshingly honest about her musical ups and downs, although notes that she has made a conscious effort to be patient to build up her fan base over the years.
“Yeah, I have been patient with that,” she smiles, agreeing that those trying to get into the industry often want a quick fix when it comes to making it big. “It absolutely can be frustrating, because you can do something like film this video [at Miloco], which is a very emotional song for me, and I want so many people to hear it, see it, and relate to it, but because I'm not a big star, it's probably not going to get the reach that I want it to, or it's going to take a really long time to, at least. If you're established, you put something out, and boom! Everyone is there. So that can be a bit tough in the sense that I have all this to show, and I want people to benefit from the message of the song as well.”
"You must always trust your own creativity; be true to yourself and your sound."
When it comes to taking charge of her career, Effie is laser focused – and completely savvy.
“I’ve learned to work smart,” she asserts. “There's definitely something to be said for just being a good person, getting along with everyone, and being really respectful. Building a good rep for yourself is so important. Putting talent and being an artist aside, I feel like if people will remember you in a positive light, then you're more likely to get a call for something. That's what’s put me in good stead – just being able to build up a really good network of people and do it quite organically.”
Effie pauses… “That’s probably why it's taken a long time, because I'm not very good at small talk, and I'm really not fake. You can really look and see what I'm thinking on my face,” she laughs. “So it's taken me a long time to be in the right room and be around the right people, rather than just for the sake of it.”
A part of being an artist is revealing things about yourself that you might normally reserve for the pages of a diary, or just bottle them up inside (the good old British way).
“Exactly,” Effie laughs. “It’s like, ‘I’ve known you for half an hour, but we’re working on a song, and now you know all of my past dating history!’ I think it's hard as a woman as well, as it's a male-dominated industry, so it's difficult sometimes. It seems like it’s more frowned upon for women to talk about the same things that some men do in songs.”
In terms of advice for new emerging artists, Effie keeps it simple:
“Always be true to yourself and be true to your sound. Just be really honest, and make good music. I think you must always trust your own creativity, although I have had the hardest time trusting myself sometimes,” she says. “Just trust your gut, and believe in your own creativity and vision. If you're emerging, you want people to buy into who you are, your brand, and what you're about. And you want that to be authentic to you.”
During today’s Miloco live session, Effie is performing emotional track, Goodnight, in one take using an Electro-Voice ND76 dynamic microphone, which was recommended to her to complement her tone.
"This is the first time I've used an ND76, and it made such an impact on me, that I'm taking one home to use in upcoming sessions,” she says. “It’s taken me a while to figure out what mics suit my voice. I did a [mic] shootout here once and tried several mics, and realised that I like the ones that suit powerhouse vocalists, and the ND76 is also very easy to work with; it's clear, crisp, with a really smooth top end."
Effie is very familiar with Miloco Studios, and cites it as one of her favourite recording spaces.
“I love coming here; it feels like home because I've been there so often. The space is fantastic – they’ve got every kind of instrument or piece of equipment that you could want, and it’s got such a good vibe to it.”
Effie has big things planned for 2020, starting with her imminent single release, Spiteful, which will be available on all streaming platforms.