In the Middle with Emily Burns

Sat on a sofa in the dressing room ahead of her performance that evening at Sheffield’s Café Totem, I talked beginnings, songwriting, collaboration and plans for the future with Emily Burns alongside her friend and musical associate Graeme.

Beginning with a discussion of her start in music, Emily talked about the support she received from her local BBC Introducing in Coventry and Warwickshire when she first made some demos at age 15. Following that, with a desire to move to London, Emily worked on the front desk at Abbey Road for 4 and a half years until making the jump to a full-time career as a singer-songwriter.

“I think the point where I decided I was just gonna do music, I signed a deal with an independent label and I was like things are moving, I’m releasing music, but it was still the scariest thing in the world. I’m gonna give up a really solid income to do something where you never know when your next pay check is coming.”

Whilst Emily mentioned that song writing usually begins “In my bedroom and then I’d take those ideas in to sessions,” she also mentions the aid gained from working with great producers who help bring her visions to life, one such person being Graeme. It was partly down to chance that Emily and Graeme first met. “We were put in a session together. It was a mutual manager who was kind of interested in managing me and also managing Graeme. So fortunate that he put us together to write together.” Graeme adding “It was love at first sight.”

After the odd tangent, discussing the infamous Fyre Festival (If you’ve not watched the Netflix documentary yet, I’d highly recommend it) and the prospect of an instant noodle triple meal a day (the life of a vegan touring Asia), we finally chatted about her EP, Seven Scenes from the Same Summer. Emilydescribes the collective of songs as “My own personal relationship traumas. It’s almost like when you listen to it, I just imagine someone opening up my diary and having a good read through. It’s just really personal I guess.”

Opening yourself up to the world may seem scary to some, but for Emily there is a “need to be honest in my songwriting and I want to be as honest as I possibly can because I want people to feel that its genuine. That’s its coming form an actual person’s heart. Not that it is thrown together pop music that doesn’t actually mean something to someone.” And that honesty is certainly conveyed in the EP with song titles including, ‘Bitch, Test Drive and Cheat’.

The importance of storytelling in Emily’s music can definitely be attributed to her influences, even if this was not always a conscious connection. “Growing up, in my house there would always be Elton John playing or like The Eagles, The Police- so from a really young age I was introduced to proper proper songwriters.” Talking about Usher’s album, Confessions, Emily said, “I just loved that album because it told a story from start to finish. It’s funny, I hadn’t actually noticed that my favourite albums all actually do tell stories. So, I guess that’s what kind of inspired the name and my whole little one.”

We discussed the world of Scandi-pop that has been rapidly rising over the past year and Emily said, “I’m really into the Scandinavian pop world. Sigrid, Tove Styrke, Sasha Sloan collaborating with all of those girls would be amazing!” But if there is one well established artist Emily dreams of collaborating with then that is P!nk.

Sheffield was the 4th show of Emily’s first headline UK tour. “This is my first time actually going to cities and playing my own show. So it’s been like a really weird feeling to just turn up to Nottingham and just see loads of people there who know my songs. It’s such a weird feeling but it’s been quite emotional actually, just to know that songs that I’m writing are hitting people and that they are connecting with them and then wanting to come and see me play is crazy.” But whilst she’s loving touring small venues, Emily has her sights set on taking her career all the way, “That’s the level I want to take it to, playing arenas… but I’m loving the journey.”

With some festival appearances also lined up for this summer, including Barn on the Farm, we talked about her experience of festivals last year, including Longitude Festival where someone threw a burger at her! With a tour of Asia to kick off April, Emily is sure to have plenty more stories to tell from life on the road!

Header Image Credit: Twitter