There’s nothing new about writing songs about an ex-boyfriend, but it takes a gifted musician to move past “diary-entry songwriting” (we’re looking at you, Taylor Swift) to a more mature writing style. And that’s exactly what Emmy the Great (real name Emma Lee-Moss) has done. After her 2009 debut album, First Love, the London singer-songwriter released Virtue in 2011. While the second album also revolves around the death of a relationship, the lyrics are penned using an intriguing mix of themes from myths, fairy tales and saints’ lives. With her mellow vocals and folksy tunes, you’ll probably like Emmy’s brand of music if you’re into singers like Laura Marling or Regina Spektor.
With the local indie music scene blossoming, we thought it would be great to get Emmy’s advice on surviving the cut-throat nature of the music business. We caught up with her after her exclusive showcase at the recent House of Häagen-Dazs party.
What’s your number one tip for struggling musicians?
Know what you want and stick to it. It’s normal to have a lot of self-doubt, but you need to stay focused on your vision and see it through. The industry and its foibles are incidental.
How do you deal with critics?
I try to ignore it but of course most of it sticks, so sometimes, I just play therapist to myself. Also, I do a very weird thing: if someone gives me a bad review, I google their entire back catalogue so I know what kind of tastes they have.
Who are some of your favourite musicians?
My boyfriend Leo Abrahams, is the most incredible guitarist I’ve ever seen. It blows my mind even when I watch him play random notes in the studio. Another musician I really admire is drummer Andy Burrows, who’s with the band We Are Scientists. He once played drums on a track for me and I was mesmerised.
If you could catch any musician/band – living or dead – live, who would it be and why?
Laurie Anderson, an American experimental performance artist, composer and musician who plays the violin and keyboards, and sings in a variety of experimental music and art rock styles. To me, she’s fascinating. She’s like a hypnotist.
Complete this sentence: “If I weren’t a musician, I would be … ”
A brain surgeon. So someone out there is really lucky I went into music instead. Ha!
Emmy the Great’s second album, Virtue, is available on the iTunes store for S$7.98.
About The Author: Vanessa Tai is a founder of Material World who has previously worked on magazines Simply Her and Cosmopolitan Singapore. Now a freelance writer and a full-time contributor to this website, the 26-year-old dreams of attending every single major music festival before she turns 30. Follow her on Twitter @VannTaiTweets.
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