The singer who melds Swedish folk, jazz standards and classic pop.
"I don't like to say I'm a jazz singer," says Emilia Martensson. "People think of Broadway," she says, miming jazz hands, "but jazz can mean a lot of things."
For Martensson, 29, the genre encompasses Swedish folk songs and pop as well as jazz standards. Her lush, beguiling interpretations of all three can be found on her debut album, And So it Goes, made with the pianist Barry Green.
"I approach songs from a jazz musician's point of view when it comes to phrasing and improvising," she says. "I think the art is in finding songs that you really connect with."
Growing up in a village just outside Malmö in Sweden, Martensson discovered jazz at school. Hooked, she established a jazz night at her parents' restaurant. Two years later, she moved to England to study music at Trinity College of Music in London. She's lived here ever since and is now based in east London. "I like the London jazz scene a lot. It is a great community. Everybody is really supportive. And everyone knows each other," she adds with a mock-weary look.
So what sets her generation of musicians apart? "Quite a lot of us are going away from the jazz standards. People are writing their own music, using the harmony and the language of jazz in a new context."
Though she loves what she does, Though she loves her life, Martensson admits it's not easy. "We aren't in this for the money. If we were, we'd do pop."
The best gigs, where she can do her own thing, tend to be ones she does for free. She works as a singing teacher and takes paid gigs at weddings. But being on stage is where she feels most comfortable. "I especially love the smaller venues. That's another reason I do jazz, because the venues are often more intimate. Normally, you're playing with a good group of friends, and because of the way that jazz music works, it is very much about communicating and listening to each other; having a nice time and trying to get that across to the audience."Gemma Kappala-Ramsamy