Perhaps even more interestingly, Emily didn’t really plan to be a musician per se — as she notes she wrote songs without the intention of releasing them, but simply just felt the need to. Just like a moth to a flame, the songs poured out — and with her father’s encouragement, she recorded her first EP when she was in just 8th grade.
Most teens put together a band in hopes of attracting the opposite sex — but Emily put together a band with her brothers friends just because she wanted to try playing live. As time went on, she discovered how much she truly loved music — and that just maybe, she actually had a true knack for writing super catchy songs. She attended NYU Tisch/Clive Davis Institute, and landed a songwriting deal with Dr. Luke’s Prescription songs in 2013.
In the past years, she’s been known to be a hit-maker for others, featured on Frenship’s “Capsize” and two Chainsmokers songs, both with over hundred of millions spins on Spotify to date. “Working with The Chainsmokers was a serious turning point for me. The first song we had together was “Until You Were Gone” which was actually written about my band splitting up, and one of the first songs I wrote outside of that. They took it and reproduced it and I asked to stay on the song because it was so personal to me. To my surprise they said yes immediately,” Emily says.
After a summer of a total dream gig: opening for the Chainsmokers, Emily’s back to evolving, and moving on to making her own solo songs —which will soon be released in October.
With her first single as a solo artist, “Something to Hold Onto,” Emily takes a different route this time mixing 90’s Mazzy Star vibes and showing us perhaps a sadder, more emo side of herself. With more songs on the way, we can only expect great things from this accidental musical genius.
You opened for Chainsmokers recently with some pretty large crowds — what was it like performing in front of those crowds?
That experience was completely surreal. I went from being very much behind the scenes and just bouncing around studios to suddenly performing in front of arenas full of people all over the country. It was absolutely insane!! There is that final element of watching people sing your lyrics back to you from a stage that you just don’t get when you’re behind the scenes. I feel really fortunate to have had that experience.
Have you had any weird fan encounters yet?
Ha, not too many, no. Except at one show a guy came up to me afterwards and just handed me his phone to put my number in. I didn’t, but what a bold move homie!!!
“Capsize” with Frenship has almost 400M spins on spotify — how does that make you feel?
“Capsize” is really a crazy one because it was really a wild card. The guys from Frenship and I had been friends for a while when we wrote that song and sort of sat on it for a minute so when it started catching on the way it did it was absolutely mind-blowing. I think it did a lot for me in terms of my creativity. I don’t think that song is a traditional Pop song, really. It’s quite left-of-center and abstract and flowery in its lyrics, and very much an expression of everyone in the room. I learned from that song that being creative isn’t only the most fun, but seems to also be the most rewarding.
You just dropped a new single, “Something to hold onto” — tell us about that song. What was the inspiration for it? Is it about a specific person or event?
“Something to Hold on To” is about my boyfriend, who actually also produced the song and is in the video with me. He was smoking cigarettes at the time and it was tough watching someone I love do something to harm themselves. One night he went outside to smoke and the song just poured out of me.
You’ve been a really strong supporter of going the independent artist route so far — and you’ve had some great success doing things this way, do you feel more free to do what you want musically as an indie artist? What are the best parts of being independent? What are the worst parts?
I realize that I am really fortunate to be in a position to do this independently. Largely because of the songwriting, I am able to reinvest what I’ve made (financially and relationship-wise) into my own artist career. However, I do think it’s important for artists now to think critically before signing a deal. I think we all sort of get in our head that signing is the goal, but that’s only one step in the process, and if it’s not the right deal with the right people it can be, at times, a challenge, and a new layer of pressure that maybe you don’t want or can’t handle. I think for me, after being on the other side of record deals so often in the room with artists who were feeling immense pressure from their label or were not seeing eye to eye, that when it came to me releasing my own music, I didn’t want to have to answer to anyone. It’s been really quite rewarding making exactly the music I want to make and releasing it whenever it feels right, doing the videos, and being 100% in control creatively. I think it’s important to challenge the “norm” at this point because the musical climate is really changing and there are more and more platforms and opportunities to do things your own way.
You seem to have a very sleek and chic sense of style — Do you ever feel pressured as a female to wear skimpy costumes like other female artists?
That is pretty much all thanks to my stylist, Drew Manares! Thank you. Honestly, no. I haven’t felt any pressure regarding that. If I want to show any skin here or there it’s my choice and it’s because I like the piece of clothing. But for me, it’s about the music first. I often find that wearing skimpy costumes ends up distracting from the story or the message, and I don’t dress like that in my every day life anyways so I like to feel comfortable and myself when I’m on stage or in photographs.
You have an EP about to be released — what can we expect to hear from that? Are there any tunes on there you are excited about finally sharing with the world?
We will most likely be skipping an EP and going straight for an album, actually! I am so excited to share them all. A couple I’ve been sitting on for up to 2 years, but most of them are quite new. We’re just finishing them up now and will release the whole thing when it feels right.
What’s next for you?
I am planning to put out at least one but possibly two more singles, and then the album. In a perfect world, all of the singles will have videos. And I know it sounds crazy but since it’s still early stages we don’t have too set of a plan. Just feeling out what works and what seems right, while still doing lots of writing with other artists!
Dress: Christy Dawn
Dress: Christy Dawn Necklace: Ambyr Childers Jewelry Hat: Gladys Tamez
Dress: Christy Dawn Earrings: Oscar De La Renta
Story / Angie Piccirillo
Photographer / Dustin Giallanza
Hair and Makeup / Julia Flaherty
Stylist / Drew Manares @Wilhemina