A shared taste in music lit the fuse for a pair of high school friends from Bellville to form their own band and write songs that have found an audience both locally and abroad.
Emma de Goede (vocals/lyricist) and Gerry Matthee (producer/guitarist) launched Emerger in May 2018, but the pair have been making music together ever since they met in high school in 2009.
“We both attended DF Malan High School at the same time,” says Emma. “We met after we saw each other perform at the school’s talent show. Gerry contacted me right after the show and said that I should sing for his band. We then formed a new band with three other friends, called Lemolow.”
She traces her love affair with music to her father’s massive CD collection and her passion for singing.
“He always played us his favourite golden oldies, but it was especially when I started with singing lessons at the age of 9 that I realised I truly loved performing music too.”
Gerry recalls falling in love with music at the age of 10 when he went to watch The Guitar That Rocked The World. He started guitar lessons soon afterwards, and the rest is history.
Asked what inspired them to pursue music as a career, Emma says: “After we won the KFC Sessions Battle of the Bands in 2011, this gave us a chance to perform at Vredefest in Hatfield Square. Another great competition that we won during that time was the Woordfees’ Ketelprys Battle of the Bands. That really sparked the flame to pursue it as a career.”
After finishing school, they both enrolled at UCT’s South African College of Music to study a Bachelors of Music.
“I studied jazz voice and Gerry studied classical composition,” says Emma. “During this time, he came across an international song contest that was hosted by Abbey Road Studios. We decided to quickly record one of the songs we had written together and submitted it for the contest.”
But they needed a new artist name for the competition, and came up with Emerger – a loose blend of the first letters of their names.
“We submitted our song, Break & Fall, and were picked as one of three winners, out of 5000 entries from across the globe. This gave us the chance to go to Abbey Road for mixing and mastering sessions of our music. That was the real spark to the beginning of Emerger.”
Thereafter the group released their debut EP, Bloom, which has surpassed 100 000 streams on Apple Music.
Three of their songs, Round We Go, Hindsight and Nomadic Love, have been played on BBC Radio 6 Music, and they scooped the People’s Choice Award at the Anderson Uploaded International Songwriting Competition on Thursday February 18.
“We also had our latest single, Round We Go, added to the official Formula 1 music playlists, F1™ Tracks, on streaming services,” says Emma.
She describes their sound as dreamy with synth-driven melodies, cinematic progressions, powerful vocals and punchy beats.
Asked how the pandemic and hard lockdown have affected Emerger, Emma says: “It was a massive blow to not have been able to earn gig revenue and to perform in front of audiences, but it’s been very interesting to seek alternative ways of doing our live shows in a different manner for online audiences.
“In July 2020, we were asked to be part of an online streamed show on Twitch, where plus-minus 10 500 people were watching while we performed. We’ve been surviving the pandemic by doing side-hustles such as giving music lessons via Zoom, as well as in person.”
As for the future, the pair hope to release a full-length album and perform on stage again for live audiences.
“We will be releasing more singles leading up to the release of the album. If lockdown regulations permit, we would love to start performing again. Our European booking agent is currently working on organising a Euro tour for us and a couple of other South African artists, for later this year, so we’re very much looking forward to that when everything is back to normal again.“
You can follow Emerger on their Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Twitter feeds and watch the video for their latest single, Round We Go, at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PXCFfkEkDz0