THERE are plenty of stories about people who escaped the City to get into farming, painting, charity work or plough any number of non-rat race new directions. However, in taking the City worker-to-pop star route, 26-year-old Roxanne Emery is pretty much unique. And refreshingly, the former trader’s change of direction wasn’t even because she wanted out.
“I loved working in the City and I miss it a lot,” she says. “I miss the adrenaline, getting up at 5AM and knowing what was going on in the markets, the non-stop banter with colleagues. It was great fun, and I worked very hard.”
Emery, whose debut single is released on Monday, spent three years as a trader in investment banking, first at Bear Stearns – she left two weeks before it went under – and then at Russian bank Renaissance Capital. After studying Philosophy, Politics and Economics at Warwick University, she went straight into the City, along with most of her friends.
“My best friends still all work in banking, so I still come into the City to have drinks, but life is so different now.”
Emery only picked up a guitar and started writing songs early last year. She found it an escape from the intense pressures of the banking crisis.
“It was a horrible time, we lost a lot of colleagues – you’d come in one day and your best mates would be gone, and you’d worry you were next,” she says. “I found music hugely cathartic.”
She began gigging on the open mic circuit, and after only her third live appearance, she was approached by a company wanting to manage her professionally, whose previous clients included Natalie Imbruglia. In return, though, she’d have to give up banking.
“I was weighing up three gigs against three years of investing in my banking career,” she says. “I decided to be sensible and stay at the bank – that was on a Monday, but by Wednesday I couldn’t work, I couldn’t ignore the impulse.”
Since then Emery has been mixing live appearances with writing and recording her album, Remember Me, due for release at the start of next year. First single
Real is an easy-going slice of whimsical orchestral pop.
“My music’s the least rocky thing ever,” she laughs, stating that her principal influences were her dad’s albums by the likes of REM, Jackson Browne and Bruce Springsteen. Another family influence is her brother, the leading house DJ Gareth Emery, who has provided plenty of support and guidance in a career gamble for which she gave up a £50,000-plus-bonuses salary.
“My life has completely changed,” she says. “But the biggest thing is how emotionally attached I am to my job now. I took banking very seriously, but I care about this so much because it’s personal.”
Real will be available for download on Monday on De Angelis Records.