Emma van Heyn is a singer- songwriter from Cape Town, South Africa. Her voice is paired with a balance of acoustic and electronic instrumentation, subtly making use of instrumental and vocal looping. This brings out the poly-tonal and -rhythmic elements in her jazz pop/ progressive pop originals.
Since the age of six, Emma has written and composed music. Known for her honest lyrics, complimented by quirky overtones, she creates songs that glorify fairness in unwanted situations. She made her stage debut at age 7 at Spier Amphitheatre, performing in the production, “Movies’ Greatest Music”. This production also went to the KKNK in 2003, when she was nine years old.
Her debut performance as a solo artist was in 2010, when Imogen Heap requested her to sing one of her originals at her show at the Paul Cluver Amphitheatre. This inspired Emma to further her songwriting, performing on the very same stage four years later, playing her first solo debut set at the Hope@PaulCluver Festival in 2014 under the auspices of the Thembalitsha Foundation.
Before Emma’s solo career took flight, she was the lead vocalist and songwriter of alternative rock band, Morning Ms Dednam. They were a four-piece act, known for their jazz-funk infused music. She was also formerly part of the electronic duo act, Emma + i. Emma + i was a collaboration with Helmut Meijer, where Emma wrote the songs and sang the music. Helmut Meijer produced these tracks, focusing on a deep house approach. These vastly contrasting acts have helped mold Emma’s music into what it is today.
Now, Emma produces her own music, having Uys Visser at Uys Visser Productions help mix and co-produce these tracks.
“As long as I truly stick to the integrity of the song, I’ll have a truthful outcome in the end,” says Emma. Although it is not always easy to pinpoint her genre, her fifteen-track debut album strives to create a versatile body of music that stays true to her main focus – the song. She places focus on themes such as female exploitation, the current state of the country, personal trauma, heartache and heartbreak.
Emma van Heyn has just finished her Drama degree at Stellenbosch University, majoring in acting and physical theatre. This training has influenced her to enhance a theatrical element to her music and performance. She directs and edits her own music videos as she chooses to have a true documentary of her creative process.
Choral singing has inspired Emma’s vocal layering through the use of looping. She has sung in choirs such as the acclaimed Tygerberg Children’s Choir (2004-2008) and The University of Stellenbosch Choir (2014) which was crowned three times world champions at the World Choir Games that same year. She was also part of The Voice of Angels that won a SAMA award for Best Classical Crossover Album in 2009. Emma performed with great success at the Cape Town Fringe and Aardklop festivals in 2016. Asylum is Emma’s long-awaited debut album and was released in August 2016.
“I will not call myself unique or something fresh, because that is the easiest form of promoting oneself. But, I can say this – I write for ears that want to listen.” – Emma van Heyn
“Emma van Heyn is the full package – looks, voice, great songs. She’s a powerhouse and the best thing I’ve heard in a long time. She is completely fearless and totally owns it.” – Mauritz Lotz