ANNA Emmins has had a busy few years, between getting everyone reaching for their hankies with her leading lady performance in ‘Carousel’, getting feet tapping all over Northumberland and the Borders with her fellow Mamatones and being a full-time mum. Now she has now found the time to start a new group...enter Electric Penelope.
What started off with the Berwick singer songwriter recording songs on her family computer has evolved into a four-piece band who caught the attention of many who went along to the recent Border Green Festival with their eclectic set.
The Five Arches event marked the start of a hectic summer for the band, as next weekend they’re fully booked with appearances at both the Dock Road and Glendale Festival, and also in the pipeline are slots at the Spittal Seaside Festival on August 14 and Gig at the Dump in Galashiels on August 27. But sandwiched in between is the real biggie - a performance at Edinburgh Fringe Festival.
Anna and her Electric Penelope bandmates Jimmy Manningham (lead guitar), Duncan Bell (bass guitar) and David Arnold (drums) have been signed up to launch new venue the Dissection Rooms in the capital on the first night of festivities.
Anna says the prospect of playing at such a high profile event is “really cool”, and it helps to have a guitarist with lots of industry contacts.
“To play the first night of the Fringe will be amazing,” Anna enthused. “I’m slightly nervous but also really excited. It was Jimmy who got us the gig - he knows everyone!
“We actually haven’t done that many shows so far, so to be playing at the Fringe is fantastic. Every time we have played we’ve had a really good response. Everyone that’s seen us play The Maltings or The Barrels has always come back for more.”
Although Jimmy’s initiative and book of contacts have helped Electric Penelope secure some great gigs, while working as a solo artist Anna also did her bit to get the Electric Penelope brand out there, and within a month of putting her songs online had a song broadcast on national radio.
“It all started because I had lots of songs and I wanted to do something with them. I wrote a lot of material when I was in The Mamatones but it didn’t fit with our sounds - it was all acapella and very sweet - whereas the songs I had were a lot more contemporary.
“I started to record some stuff on my computer at home and decided to send a song to Radio 1 Introducing. At first they said it needed a bit more work so I went to my musician friend Iain Petrie and we worked on it together. I sent it back and they played it!”
After getting the Radio 1 seal of approval Anna knew she needed to get a band together and originally her younger brother Thomas was the man on the drums, but owing to his university commitments, he’s no longer able to play with the band.
Jimmy was also a late recruit, joining up after seeing Anna and Duncan playing as a duo at The Maltings last winter.
Even though what he heard clashed with his own musical tastes somewhat, he wanted to be part of things, and both he and Anna thought that Electric Penelope offered something different to what was already out there.
Jimmy said: “We probably do sound a little bit like a few other artists but we’ve definitely got an interesting enough sound to set us apart from other acts.”
To listen to some of Electric Penelope’s tracks and find out more about the band and their tour dates visit www.electricpenelope.com, www.reverbnation.com/electricpenelope or www.facebook.com/electricpenelope.