Arts & culture,

The Sound of Change: Emily Hopley

Kate Veling | November 16, 2020

Emily Hopley is an up-and-comer in the Gold Coast music scene, although most of her involvement happens behind the scenes rather than on stage.

Emily is an audio engineer and music producer who at 23, already has a wealth of experience under her belt. Demonstrating passion, dedication and talent, her hunger to keep learning, progressing and upskilling in her chosen field is as impressive as it is inspirational.

In high school, Emily was a drummer in the Gold Coast Youth Orchestra and at age 15, she became an intern at local recording studio, Bignote Productions, where she learnt the tools of the trade and gained invaluable experience.

“I was the first female who had ever asked to intern there,” she says. “I went every day after high school and holidays for almost three years, just watching and learning off my mentors Jennifer Harris and Paul “Smudge” Harris. That’s when I really fell in love with production and engineering.”

She credits this hands-on insight into the industry for cementing her path and showing her what was possible. After school, Emily went on to study a Bachelor of Popular Music at Griffith University on the Gold Coast, which she’s very close to completing.

“The experience I had at Bignote is the epicentre of my drive and love of creating music,” reflects Emily. “I will always have extreme gratitude towards Jen and Smudge for teaching me invaluable professional and personal lessons and giving me a chance. It has influenced me so much so, that I want to create opportunities for other women, youth, LGBT+ and First Nation people, just like Jen did for me.”



From there, Emily’s ambition and talent resulted in her being selected for the Professional Attachment Program through Gold City Council, which saw her undertaking a month-long placement with the Australian Women in Music Awards, working under event producer, Theresa Famularo.

To say Emily was thrilled is an understatement – it was a dream job. The philosophy behind the AWMAs is perfectly aligned with the direction she’s heading.

“I want to have a music business that creates opportunities for women in music, and that’s exactly what AWMA are doing,” she says. “They’re championing women in the industry who haven’t necessarily been championed, rewarded or publicly acknowledged. I really wanted to be a part of that scene.”

The attachment gave Emily opportunities to network with industry professionals and make valuable connections, which have already led to more career development experiences.

“I spent a week in the ABC Studios with Virginia Read, who was one of the AWMA winners for studio production,” says Emily. “We recorded the Queensland Symphony Orchestra! I’ve never really dabbled in orchestral recording before… classical recording. It was a massive eye-opener.”

Emily obviously made a brilliant impression as she was chosen as an executive team member by AWMA founder Vicki Gordon and was recently offered the role of Youth Project Manager for the awards.

But wait, there’s more! In August, Emily was selected by AIR (Australian Independent Record Labels Association) for their Women in Music Mentor program – a four-year nation-wide mentoring and training program aimed at empowering women in the Australian music industry. “I’m stilling pinching myself!” says Emily, who was one of two Gold Coast residents to make the cut.

“It’s such an honour to be selected for the first round of Women in Music Mentorship Program. I’m excited to incorporate my learnings into my own business. I’m extremely grateful that I am able to build myself up in an era where women are championed the way they should be.”

October also saw Emily selected to be a part of the Gold Coast Music Managers Round Table (starting November), a mentoring program delivered collaboratively through the Australian Association of Managers (AAM) and the City of Gold Coast Music Action Plan 2021.



Considering she hasn’t actually graduated yet, this young music maven has proven that she’s destined for a promising career in the music industry. And despite the fact that the arts have been hard hit by the pandemic, Emily remains confident in the power of music, the resilience of the industry and her place in it.

“Live and recorded music has been tremendously effected by COVID and has forced artists, managers, promoters and events to creatively pivot, to stay present in the music industry. The positive and innovative business models for social media platforms have definitely reinvented how we consume music.

“If there’s ever been a time in history where the importance of music is at an all-time high, it is right now. Music has the power to provide solace, comfort, inspiration and bring communities together. I’m very honoured to be a part of that!”

Keep up to date with Emily’s work on Instagram: @groovequeeen 

The City’s investment in arts and culture is reaping rewards. We’re becoming a place where artists, performers and arts industry workers are excited to call home and a destination cultural tourists are keen to explore. The Gold Coast is gaining a reputation for being a creative city.

To support the development of creative practitioners and arts workers on the Gold Coast, the City offers motivated individuals the opportunity to undertake a broad range of professional development activity accelerating their career opportunities. Visit our website to find out more.