My name is Emma Smith, I'm a double bass player, film maker and painter. Way back, I studied classical music at the Royal College of Music, a terrifying old gothic building full of etiquettes and traditions that I never fully understood. I left with the intention of never playing the double bass again, but thankfully fell in with a bunch of exiled folk musicians and learned to improvise bass lines to songs that told heartbreaking stories of love and longing. From there I moved into free improvisation and jazz, building a career that has taken me around the world including life changing gigs in Beirut and Damascus, Madison Square Gardens and appearances on Later... With Jools Holland. In 2016 I started working with Musicians Without Borders, and have led workshops and trained local musicians to do the same in locations across Europe, in Palestine and in El Salvador. My solo show The Relentless Approach of Better Times shows some of the photos I took whilst there and explores how the modern world takes its toll on us, and how to stay engaged without burning out. I love making music with people - both other professionals and with people in my workshops who have maybe never played an instrument before.
Fun fact: I was Damon Albarn's table tennis doubles partner on the Gorillaz Plastic Beach World Tour in 2010.
I haven't played at the Islay Jazz Festival so I'm super excited to be coming this year. Last time I was on Islay I naively took my bike across only to be faced with the hill coming out of Port Askaig. My legs weren't quite right for days. I'm looking forward to playing with some of my favourite people in this year's festival and celebrating some of the most beautiful words ever written.