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December 2020 / January 2021

Getting to know... Emily Burns

Her new EP is fab.
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Published: 1:40 pm, July 24, 2020 Photos: Ayshe Zaifoglu.
Getting to know... Emily Burns

Quirky popster Emily Burns has just dropped her new EP, 'I Love You, You’re the Worst'. Packed full of pop hits that should by rights be all over the radio ('Hello' and 'Terrified' are particular highlights), she has a knack for creating unabashedly intimate-yet-huge tunes with hooks that'll still have you bopping in the queue at Tesco two hours later. This is proper pop, here - none of your 'sounds a bit catchy on the internet' business. Give the release a listen in full below, and get to know Emily a little better too.

Hi Emily, how's it going? Are you busy at the moment, how are you spending your lockdown days?

Heyyyy! I'm really good thanks. I feel like I've managed to keep myself fairly busy through lockdown… I've still been releasing music as was planned before lockdown happened, and actually threw an unplanned single into the mix as well, so it's been pretty full-on! Finding ways to make music videos and promote the releases has been challenging but a real learning experience.

It feels like you've had a great first few years - what've been your highlights?

The support I've received over the last couple of years has totally blown my mind. If I could have told my 15-year-old self what I'd be doing now, I'd never have believed it. Highlights for me have definitely been touring with some incredible artists, such as James Arthur, Gabrielle Aplin and Tove Styrke. I also did my own headline tour in Asia last year which was insane… I couldn't wrap my head around the fact that I was SO far from home and people knew my songs out there. There's nothing quite like being on the road. Another massive moment for me was being asked to play the BBC Introducing stage at Radio 1's Big Weekend last summer, that was a mad experience.

The PlayStation collab was unexpected, how did that come about? Are you a gamer?

I haven't had as much time for it lately, but when I was growing up, my brother and I loved PlayStation. I love games with a great storyline, and I'd heard a lot about the new Last Of Us game, so was totally thrilled when they asked me to collab with them on this project.

Were you given any guidelines for the cover, or did they just let you get on with it?

The only thing they asked was that I "make it my own." I knew as soon as I picked up my electric guitar that I'd be able to do that. I spent a lot of time layering my voice to create a kind of pad of vocal harmonies underneath me. It was really fun to be involved.

What first sparked your interest in music, when did you start giving songwriting a bash?

My parents brought me up in a really musical household, so they made falling in love with music easy for me. I started writing songs when I was about 8… which I know is super young and trust me, they weren't very good. But I'd just picked up a guitar for the first time, and words and melodies came very naturally to me. My guitar teacher at the time really took me under his wing and helped me to record my first demos whilst I was still in primary school. The first song I recorded was called "A Birdseye View"… It's pretty cringe-worthy now.

Is there a particular vibe you like to aim for with your songs?

I just like to be honest in my songwriting. All of my songs are true personal stories about love, life, relationships, good times/bad times… I like to be as open and vulnerable as I possibly can be in my writing.

How does your own music compare stylistically to other artists you enjoy listening to?

I grew up listening to a broad range of music. I loved acoustic singer/songwriter vibes from the likes of Newton Faulkner and Jack Johnson, but then I also loved RnB and pop music like Usher and Pink. Then more recently I've been listening to Julia Michaels, Tove Lo, Selena Gomez (to name just a few.) So I feel like my own music style has formed out of all those styles.

What inspired your new EP, have you had trouble with relationships lately?
There is a little bit of a theme of unrequited love in this EP… I guess I went through a stage where I was chasing the wrong people, (people who definitely did not want to be chased haha.) We always want what we can't have, right? The title-track, 'I Love You, You're The Worst' sums it up pretty well. When I wrote it, it felt like closure on that chapter because I wasn't sad about it anymore, I was able to laugh at myself and how ridiculously I'd been behaving.

What was the process of putting it together like?

I'm really lucky that I've found a few key people who I LOVE working with and have become very close with. So with this EP, it felt incredibly special to have them involved. Creating it was easy because I felt comfortable and was able to be completely myself at all times. I hope people will be able to hear that in the music.

What does the rest of the year look like for you, there's a tour planned for October?

There is! I'm obviously very hopeful that I'll be able to play these shows… playing live is something I've missed badly over the last few months. There's nothing like feeling the energy coming off of a live audience. In the meantime, I'm going to be live-streaming a show from Abbey Road Studios on July 30th, which is crazy for me because I worked there as the receptionist for 4.5 years before doing music full time!

It'll be nice if we can have gigs back by then. What've you missed most about 'normal life' since the pandemic struck?

I've really missed my friends and family. Just being able to pop round to my Mum's for dinner or go for a drink with my mates. I'm hopeful that we will all come out of the pandemic feeling a little more grateful for the small things in life that we normally take for granted.

Anything else we should know?

I have a tonne of new music that I'm desperate to release, including some very exciting collaborations that I can't wait to tell you about…

Emily Burns will perform a live-streamed gig from Abbey Road Studios on 30th July.

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