“Everything I make comes from the ethos of wanting to move the body, the mind, and the soul,” composer and trumpeter Emma-Jean Thackray tells Apple Music. “It’s music with a message, something to make us realize our common humanity, as opposed to focusing on our differences.” It is a musical mantra that perfectly reflects the Yorkshire-born musician’s open-ended approach to her craft. Having started out playing in local brass bands, the chance discovery of a Miles Davis version of a trumpet concerto sent Thackray crate-digging for jazz and ultimately to London to study jazz composition. Here, Thackray made a name for herself within the city’s burgeoning jazz scene, collaborating with the likes of pianist Elliot Galvin and drummer Dougal Taylor—but also acted as a creative resident with the London Symphony Orchestra and featured on work by UK post-punk band Squid and with MC Pinty. Her debut album on her own imprint Movementt is just as varied and creatively searching. “I was getting pissed off that I was only being called a trumpeter, when I am actually so much more than that—so I decided to make this record a showcase of all the creative facets of me,” she says. The resulting 14 tracks, Yellow, are produced by Thackray and feature her own vocals front and centre, singing about everything from psychedelic experiences on the ’70s jazz-funk of “Say Something” to Vedic mythology on the Afrobeat-inflected “Rahu & Ketu.” “Yellow is giving people the space to be moved, in whichever way they want,” Thackray says. Read on for her in-depth thoughts on the album, track by track. “Mercury” “This was the first track I wrote for the album—the bassline and melody just popped into my head fully formed after a meditation and the sound world was there. I love how McCoy Tyner voices melodies on the piano, and that was a reference I gave for how my keys player Lyle Barton could approach the Rhodes on this track. Mercury is the planet of communication, and I have a poem at the end of the song showing how we can build love through it, by talking and listening to each other.” “Say Something” “This follows on thematically from ‘Mercury’ as it’s about getting someone to speak their mind, rather than saying what they think they should say or saying nothing at all. There is a tight, housey beginning which should feel a little restricting and then it opens up into a bridge with a huge soundscape, like someone opening up their mind and finding their voice.” “About That” “I had this idea for a drum groove that I got Dougal to play and then I sampled and looped it to layer everything else on top at home. Usually I have the whole song worked out in my head before I begin, but for this it developed naturally, from the bass drum resonances to the bassline—it all has an electric Miles Davis, Bitches Brew feel to it.” “Venus” “Venus is the planet of love and passion, and I wanted to emulate that in this song, to get the listeners into a trancelike state. The music is in a measure of five but there is a 4/4 feeling going through it, and where these different time signatures intersect is where the trance happens—it is a sacred combination. There is also chanting in the song, calling out to love ourselves, which can be a really hard journey to go on in a world that sometimes feels set up to tell you not to.” “Green Funk” “A German promoter once brought my band some weed before a show and he called it ‘green funk,’ and from that moment, we just started calling it that too. I’m a big fan of P-Funk, and I wanted this to sound like my love for that music, rather than a copy of P-Funk itself—so it’s packed with playful vocals and horn stabs.” “Third Eye” “Charles Stepney from Rotary Connection is a massive hero of mine, and this track builds a sound world that is something of an homage to him. I’m really proud of this one, as it’s a bit of fun essentially playing around with two chords and encouraging people to use their intuition in the lyrics, to engage with that ‘third eye.’” “May There Be Peace” “This is an adaptation of a prayer that Alice Coltrane had recorded, and the tune plays as a dedication to her and her use of sound as a religious practice and spiritual connection. I have a few sizes and pitches of medicine bowls which feature on the song, and it all acts as a palate cleanser. We’re halfway through the record and this is a break to say you’re safe—you haven’t lost your mind!” “Sun” “This tune plays as if jazz met house, which is how I told my drummer Dougal to approach the groove. It also has an outro at the end, which is a nod to the outros I really love in hip-hop—these skits and short stories which come after something heavy in the song itself. That section just came from a jam in the studio that we played to shake off some nervous energy.” “Golden Green” "This is about as close to a love song as I can get—if you listen to the lyrics, they’re about my partner, since he really does smell like biscuits and weed and cocoa butter! Musically, I wanted to create a mixture between an LA hip-hop feel and a 1970s spacious synth sound.” “Spectre” “‘Spectre’ is about dealing with mental health problems in yourself and in your loved ones—it can often feel like this spectral presence following you around. It was one of the first things I wrote for the album, since the image of someone feeling like a photocopy of themselves when they are in a bad period was so clear in my mind. Hearing it out loud in the studio was very cathartic, and there are bells at the end to cleanse the energy and to drive away any negative spirits.” “Rahu & Ketu” “This is based on a Vedic myth of this immortal being who is split into two after betraying the god Shiva and then these two parts are forced to live as opposites, like the head and the tail or the sun and moon. I love this duality of opposition and balance; it reminds me of the Taoist ideals I was brought up with. Musically, there is a representation of balance with this cyclical feel we create by not marking out the downbeat.” “Yellow” “This is another homage to the spiritual works of Alice Coltrane. I wanted to capture the spirit of an ashram, where people have shed all outside life and are focusing on truth, which is what I’ve tried to do in this record too. I use yellow to embody positivity and gratitude in my meditation, and the lyrics are the simplest way I can express the need for sharing love and providing oneness with each other.” “Our People” “The lyrics explain everything in this song. I’m singing that I want everyone to love each other and realize that we all come from the same stuff but that we’re also not all the same. Backgrounds and cultures give us a unique story, which we need to be respectful of. There’s a cosmic, jazz-funk vibe to the music, inspired by Stanton Davis.” “Mercury (In Retrograde)” “We recorded this straight after ‘Mercury’ in the studio, and it is a cosmic reference to bookend the record. It is musically retrograded, since the bassline and chord sequence is backwards and the voices are backwards, which sounds like ‘here we come,’ and I really love that. It feels like a new beginning in an ending.”

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