Interview: Emma Dean

Having travelled from Australia, Emma Dean has arrived at the Edinburgh Fringe with her cabaret show Broken Romantics: A Unicorn’s Quest for Love. Based on some of her real life experiences of being heart-broken and of creating a vibrant unicorn persona, Emma, along with her 4 piece band, will make you laugh and cry with this spectacularly colourful piece. We interviewed her to find out a little more about what we can expect from the show.

Interview © Amie Taylor

AT: Tell us a little about you and your performance background:

ED: I am a musician from Australia, I’m primarily a singer-songwriter, and I love to tell stories through song. I’ve been writing music since I was about ten years old, it’s always been a way of expressing my feelings; I was very shy growing up, so it was a way of putting those thoughts down on paper. I studied at a music school on the weekends from the age of two, my dad is a musician, my mum is a music enthusiast and my brother, Tony, is in my show. I found the genre of cabaret because I never really fitted in to a box and I love that cabaret is such a broad genre and so many different styles of music fit under that genre. 

AT: And is this your first show in Edinburgh?

ED: Yes.

AT: What inspired you to come and do the Edinburgh Fringe?

ED: I had a really bad experience with another Fringe Festival, not Adelaide Fringe (who are fabulous), but a lesser known Fringe Festival. And after that I said never again, I had this very irrational fear of Fringe festivals following my experience, but I’d always had Edinburgh Fringe in the back of my mind. It was the dream, but of course travelling from Australia is hugely expensive, and bringing five people you multiply all of those expenses by 5.  But I felt like I finally had the show I wanted to showcase at this amazing melting pot of art, it’s the biggest performance market in the world; an extraordinary festival. It’s a bit of a bucket list thing, being able to say to myself that I did it. 

AT: And what’s the show about?

ED: It’s a show about heartbreak healing and unleashing your inner unicorn.  It’s an adult cabaret, which is very important to say, as we’re often out flyering on the mile, and as you can imagine, lots of little children get excited by our unicorn costumes, and we have to break the news that it’s an 18+ show. It’s a mixed tape of songs that have nursed me through my most broken hearted moments, mostly songs I have written myself, but also some well known, kookily arranged covers that we perform as well.  It’s a mixed bag of emotions; there are moments where the audience are belly laughing, and moments where they are crying. It’s a show for anyone who’s ever been heartbroken, taking the audience on a journey and by the end of it hopefully fixing some broken hearts. It’s got a 4 piece live band, and a beautiful physical theatre performer who weaves in and out of the show playing The Heartbreaker. 

AT: What do you hope the takeaway will be for the audience?

ED: We jokingly say ‘Enter as a human, leave as a unicorn.’ A lot of people by the end of the show have previously said that they’ve been dulling their light for a long time, and that they feel as though the show has given them permission to shine. So I guess this idea of unleashing your inner unicorn is my way of saying ‘stand in your light and shine brightly.’ In the show we have a theme song called ‘I Am A Fucking Unicorn’. The inspiration for this song came from a blog my friend sent me called ‘Fuck it and five other mantras’. I read through these mantras, and one of those mantras was, ‘I am a fucking unicorn’. It really resonated with me during a time when I seemed to be attracting people in to my life that were putting me down and dulling my light, which was probably due to their own stuff, and these words just resonated with me, and I took on this persona of a unicorn, and anytime I felt really bad I would say ‘I am a fucking unicorn.’

AT: You’re also doing these Unicorn Jams around the show – what are they?

ED: Yes, they will happen regularly, I’ll announce on social media, 24 hours before they happen with the time and location.  People dress up in their most flamboyant, unicorn inspired costume, come to the location and we will sing for them and teach them a dance and the best unicorn costume will get free tickets to the show. 

Follow @EmmaDean_music for updates on Unicorn Jams and info about the show. You can catch Broken Romantics: A Unicorn’s Quest for Love at Greenside, The Infirmary (236) at 7.35pm pm throughout the Fringe (Not 12th or 19th) To book tickets visit the Ed Fringe website.

Cast and Creatives:

Emma Dean
lead vocals / piano / writer / director / professional f*%king unicorn
Katie Swan
backing vocals / the sound of a unicorn / vegan catering
Tony Dean
drums / guitar / synth / backing vocals / tech director / voice of reason
Jamie Kendall
physical theatre / choreographer / dreamboat 
Richard Grantham
viola / piano / backing vocals / hair swooshing

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