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We sure have missed you Emmy, what have you been up to over the past year or so?
I’ve been living a soap opera and then making an album about it! I missed being on the road. It was such a weird year, I feel as though it doesn’t count.

Last time you played Bristol was at the Fleece and that’s where you’re headed back to on this tour – what do you think of that venue and the city as a whole?
Actually this time our keyboard player is a Bristol University alumni so it’ll be a bit of a homecoming for her. It’s a very cool city. People there are always massive music fans. And one of my buddies just moved there, so it’ll be a good date. I haven’t been to the venue since we played but it was definitely a fun night. I seem to remember getting hammered.

What was the main inspiration behind your recent album, Virtue?
I started writing the songs in the Autumn of 2009, which is when I got engaged. I finished the songs around June 2010, which is when I was supposed to be getting married. What actually happened was that my fiance converted to an extreme form of Christianity, apparently overnight, and started a new life abroad. It just happened that I was writing an album over this incredibly curious period, and if I didn’t address that in the songs, it would have been a wasted opportunity to deal with and make a record of my experience. It’s so strange because a lot of things came out in the songs which I didn’t even know I was feeling, and I sometimes felt like my subconscious was sending me messages. It was an effective form of therapy as much as anything else. That sense of being looked after made it into my writing as well. I started to assign my own, secular ‘saints’ to each song, who were symbolic of me knowing I would be all right.

There are a bunch of interesting items featured on the album cover, talk us through those…
The album cover was devised over a few months with Alex Lake (www.twoshortdays.com). We used a few things as starting points – photos I’d taken during songwriting as inspiration, images from the album, images from fairytales etc…The gingerbread factory and the dinosaurs were our Eureka moments. There was also going to be a more traditional gingerbread house, but I made that one as the baker pulled out last minute, and we ended up having to use Alex’s one on its own as mine just looked like a three year old had eaten a bag of sweets and pooped on a plate. Both houses were designed by Patrick Wheeler and Jane Larmour, Belfast-based architects. I asked if we could eat the house, and Alex asked me if I liked the taste of wood glue. It now lives at a primary school in Brighton.

What’s been your best ever festival experience?
This year it has to be playing on stage with Billy Bragg, a complete legend and a huge hero of mine. It was a life highlight i think.

You’re best known for your solo work but you’ve been part of groups as well, which do you prefer?
I love being in my band when we all play together. It’s the funnest thing. Me and Euan have played together so long it’s telepathic these days.

Tell us more about your collaboration with Tim from Ash earlier in the year…
We got snowed in over Christmas 2010 – like literally snowed in – and ended up missing four flights between us and so we wrote the songs (or at least the titles) for a Christmas record. Then while we were recording that later on, in 2011, we were asked to record a song for a project set up by Robert Manning for the MS Society, so we recorded that too. It’s a great project. We also did a bonus track for the Asian version of my album which turned out to be a bigger hit than the normal album tracks, because it was a cover of a Cantonese song.

If you don’t mind me saying, you and Tim are both pretty hot, do you think it’s easier to go far in the music industry when you’re good looking?
I LOVE you. Um, isn’t it basically easier in general in life if you’re good looking? I’m not actually hot in real life though. If I look good in a photograph it’s because i’m pulling my Myspace face.

Emmy the Great plays Bristol Fleece on October 11 and Cardiff Globe on October 13.