When Emmi first became involved in music she decided to first write for other people.
In a way, this was her education - writing for a folk artist one day, then a hip-hop artist the next, she was stretched as never before.
Yet still she yearned to take centre-stage. Debut single 'My Kinda Swag' was blessed with effortless pop energy, laced with colour, and a unique sense of style.
Follow up single 'You Said You Loved Me' drops tomorrow (June 3rd) with Clash able to bring you the audio before anyone else.
It's an empowered, emphatic return, one that firmly stamps out Emmi's independence. Tune in below, then check out a Q&A with the rising artist below.
You originally wrote for other people, how was this? Did you write to order, or come into the studio with artists to ghost-write?
I absolutely love songwriting. I still write for others now and I just really love collaboration. Creating something from nothing will always be magic to me. I’ve written for artists from all over in all kinds of genres so the process is always different. Sometimes the label sends a brief and you write remotely and sing the demo yourself. But as a rule, you are in the room with the artist and it is a collaboration. That is my favourite situation.
When did you decide to step out of the shadows? What made you focus on your own career?
I still love the ‘shadows’. We have an understanding. But it was actually a chat with my mum over a bottle of wine that challenged me to also create my own work. I’m not home often so when I am, Mum likes to cut straight to the heart of things. She asked me what I would do with my life if I had just been told I only had a year to live. I told her I’d keep making music, but then she asked “Yes but would you keep writing for other people?”. That question hit me hard… “No.”
I talked it through and realised I would want to write an album of letters to my family. Something to leave behind that said what I needed to say, in a way only I could say it. When you’re faced with your own mortality questions like am I pretty enough, is my voice good enough, is what I have to say important enough… just disappear. The fear is gone, and you say and do what you feel you need to, however you can, while you can, because you can. Realising I may not have tomorrow, let alone a year, I decided to get cracking.
So I wrote that album. Just for me and largely in secret. But then my mates in music heard it and wanted to be involved, and it started growing into something bigger than me. Soon that music became pop. And other people’s stories. And I even started having fun with it. And that’s what you’re hearing now.
Debut single ‘My Kinda Swag’ was a big success online, did this take you by surprise? Did it underline your decision to work as a solo artist?
It was my first release so I was incredibly nervous to see the reaction. I expected not to get one at all really being a newcomer. But people really latched onto the track and got behind me. It was such a rush! The reaction to “Swag” was like a warm welcome to the music party, and a little pat on the back that I was on the right track… somehow…
‘You Said You Loved Me’ is a terrifically direct pop song, can you remember writing it? Was it a struggle to get right, or did it come together naturally?
Basically, we sat in a room and asked ourselves… “what is every break up song actually trying to say?”. And eventually it boiled down to this: “You said you loved me…but you didn’t. You let me down.” And that there is our chorus. Being a fair verbose person and a lover of words and poetry, a lyric like that felt like cheating. But on reflection, that’s what songs are for. They say for us what we can’t say in real life. You wouldn’t walk up to an ex and say “you said you loved me but you didn’t” to his face. But I'd like to think you might sing along and dance around to a song that said it for you…
The song didn’t come too quick. I tend to be a pretty fast writer but I was really struggling for melodies that day, and the hook actually came out of my frustration that I couldn’t find a hook. I was on the mic going round and round the track trying to find something, and I eventually got so mad at myself I gritted my teeth and sung a melody on this “eh eh eh” sound. The guys stopped the track and said “that’s your hook Em!”. I thought to myself …Like hell it is. That’s ridiculous!. But then the next day it was in my head. And the next. And I thought damn it that is the hook. There was something so perfect about the sound of that noise that perfectly captured the feeling you get when someone lets you down. Still, we affectionately call it the ‘dolphin song’.
It feels like a real statement of intent – do you think you’ve gotten close to defining who you are as an artist? Or will that take more time?
It definitely sticks it’s flag in the ground doesn’t it? I’ve written about 3 albums in secret now, so even though the music I am putting out now is new, it’s very me. I’ve had a very long incubation period to really experiment and hone who I am and what I do without pressure so what I’m sharing now is the result of that. There are definitely threads to all my songs; big vocal stacks, crunchy beats, cinematic ambience, but I tend to let each song live in it’s own world and let the story of the lyric and the emotional intent dictate the overall sound. I will say that 'You Said You Loved Me' definitely nods toward the ‘epic’ vibes to come.
You played Radio 1’s Big Weekend, how was that? Are you enjoying playing live as a solo artist?
Big Weekend was a trip! I was backstage and I could hear Ellie Goulding’s actual voice floating across the field and I thought… “Well look at you Emmi. Look where you are.” It was a very proud moment. The sun was out. People were dancing. But I just LOVE playing live in general. I’m an incredibly nervous person beforehand but when I’m up there, I let go. It’s a wonderful thing to embody your own work in every way possible and see it effect people in real time.
What can we expect from you in 2016?
More music. Much more music.
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Stay in touch with Emmi HERE.