Entertainment & Arts

Unsigned singer Emmi wins big break in Fantastic Beasts film

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Media captionHow Emmi got a magic nod from JK Rowling

An unsigned singer from Devon has been given her big break in the new Harry Potter spin-off, Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them.

Emmi, who has no management or record deal, was hand-picked to sing the film's only song, called Blind Pig.

She recorded the vocal in her childhood bedroom after being contacted out of the blue by director David Yates.

However, she was kept in the dark about his identity, and the song's destiny, for almost a year.

"It feels too good to be true," says the singer, who will see her song on the big screen for the first time at the film's premiere in London on Tuesday night.

"I feel like it's a bit of a joke. I don't feel like it's real."

Image copyright Warner Bros
Image caption Eddie Redmayne stars as Newt Scamander in Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them

The 29-year-old was born in Devon but raised in Perth, Australia. She now lives in London, where she has been making music full-time for seven years.

A former child actress, who had a small role in Home and Away, she has spent much of that time writing for other artists, but decided to make music under her own name in 2013.

Her second single, Sleep On It, attracted the attention of Taylor Swift, who tweeted it as part of her playlist: "New Songs That Will Make Your Life More Awesome".

Although that raised her profile, she decided not to capitalise on the hype.

"I had a couple of deals on the table but I felt I wanted to do things in a more independent, organic way," she says.

"I wanted to make some mistakes on my own, and create something that was wholly me before I got a whole team on board."

When Yates got in touch in summer last year, she was back at her parents' house for a holiday.

"I have two weeks with my family ever year and I got this email from someone I didn't know saying, 'Do you mind singing this? Here are some lyrics, give it a try,'" she recalls.

Image copyright Emmi Music
Image caption The singer says she has written upcoming songs for "a few big names you will recognise"

"I was like, 'Well, this is a difficult time for me. I'm on holiday with my parents and we're about to eat pizza, can we put this off?'

"And they were like, 'Probably not. You should probably give this a go.'"

When the singer looked at the lyrics, she found references to magical creatures like the Hippogriff and Billywig.

"I started thinking, 'This sounds like something from Harry Potter,' so I Googled the words and confirmed that for myself.

"I thought, 'This might be nothing, but it might be something… And on the off-chance it is the something I think it might be, I'm going to do this.'"

Having completed a rough vocal in her bedroom, Emmi started receiving requests for more and more versions of the song: "Can you get more whispery? Can you do it more sexy? Can you do it more innocently?

"At the time I didn't know it was David Yates directing me. If I had, I might have been a little more nervous in my bedroom," she laughs.

Image copyright Emmi Music
Image caption Emmi has no record deal, publicity team or management

However, having finally completed the song, everything went quiet.

"It wasn't until April of this year that I got a call saying, 'We'll be using your voice in a film, is that cool?'" she says.

The singer soon found herself on a movie set covered in green lycra, having her performance motion-captured so she could appear in the final film as a computer-animated character.

Even at this stage, she was not told that her song - a smoky jazz number - had been written by JK Rowling herself (along with film composer Mario Grigorov). That information only came to light when the film's IMDB page was updated a few weeks ago.

"I'm not sure if it's her first song or not," says Emmi, "but it's amazing to come so close to embodying something that came from her brain. Does that make me smarter by osmosis?"

The singer will see her performance for the first time at the London premiere of Fantastic Beasts on Tuesday evening, where she also hopes to meet Rowling.

"I'll probably say something nonsensical and embarrassing because I'm so nervous," she says.

"But what I'd like to say is, 'Thank you for a childhood of escapism'. I have so much respect for an imagination like that."

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