The little girl born in Devon, United Kingdom – who later moved to Perth, Australia – might have never imagined she was going to be at the Worldwide premiere of one of the most expected movies of the year. “[It] was a manic event”, she recalls.
The reason for her attendance was simple. She was the voice behind the goblin jazz singer at The Blind Pig, one of the iconic scenes from the latest Wizarding World film, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. The song, produced by Bulgarian composer Mario Grigorov, has the lyrics written by J.K. Rowling herself. And Emmi (or Emily) had the pleasure to sing them.
The Blind Pig is not first song by Rowling – she also wrote Celestina Warbeck’s You Stole My Cauldron But You Can’t Have My Heart, which is performed at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Florida – and was later published on Pottermore. But The Blind Pig is the first popular song by Rowling that could be considered her first hit. “It feels fantastic. Not to pun the movie, but that’s the only word I can think of that encompasses brilliant and magical at the same time. To be able to sing the words penned by a legendary writer like JK Rowling is an inexplicable honour,” said Emmi.
Emmi was on holidays in Australia when an email from Abbey Road Studios requested her to record a song. “As well as the backing track and lyrics I was sent a solo piano part playing the melody and rhythm they wanted me to sing”. She recorded the song in her bedroom, and that is the final version we can listen to in the soundtrack. Although she was provided with backing tracks, she added a little of herself to the final version “When you sing and perform, you naturally swing or play with rhythms a little, particularly with jazz, so there’s definitely a fair bit of my flavour in there. They kept a few of my extra hums and improvised vocals too.”
But it was not until later that she was confirmed her voice was going to be used and producers could tell her what the recording was for. “Then the music team at Warner kept in touch and were really sweet. They invited me to a scoring session in London and whenever I was in LA I’d stop by Warner Bros to say ‘hi’, so I felt very welcome indeed and just loved seeing what goes into a project of this magnitude.” But she did not need confirmation that this project was related to J.K. Rowling. When she received the lyrics, she noticed some trademark words by the British author. And it was a world Emmi already knew.
“I read all the books, saw all the movies! I grew up with JK Rowling, like most kids in my generation. I used to imagine I was Hermione. All of it. But I have to say, I think I love the wizarding world even more now. I can appreciate now, on a whole new level what Rowling creates and deals with in her work, and understand it in a way that perhaps was lost on me when I was younger. There are so many layers!”
Unfortunately, Emmi did not talk to J.K. Rowling during the process, and she was not able either at the London Premiere. “Although she was some way behind me on the red carpet I never had the chance to say hello that evening. She looked luminous though.”
When we asked her about the reaction of the fans and how it feels to be part of this incredible fandom, she told us that “people have been so lovely to me. It seems to me that Potterheads are all nice people! A rare thing to be consistent for any fan group I’d say, perhaps testament to what J.K. Rowling is about. But I’ve been blown away by the kind comments and messages I’ve received and I’m as excited as everyone else, so it’s really like being contacted by friends. People are writing to me like… ‘this is amazing…you must be over the moon… the movie is just incredible’ and I’m like…’I know! I am… and isn’t it just!’”.
You are reading an article from The Rowling Library Magazine Issue 4 (February 2017).
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