WPGM Interviews: Emily Burns – Telling Real Stories, Punchy Pop Sounds And ‘Too Cool’

If you haven’t come across the pink haired Emily Burns yet, you’ve made it just in time. Her addictive new song, “Too Cool”, has been stuck in our heads for days, and we’re not mad about it at all.

The track, she says, “is about a relationship that’s just a little bit too perfect. I wrote it about a girl I was seeing who was just SO lovely and wonderful in every way that it actually got a bit annoying“. How terrible that sounds! “You know when someone is just too accepting and too forgiving and too calm and collected about everything… and you just wish they’d occasionally slam a door or freak out at you a little – just to show they care!?

There’s a line in the track that sums that feeling up as it builds euphorically towards the chorus: “You’re so sweet like peach iced tea it kind of makes me sick“. Straight off the bat, you might already be sensing the sass of Emily Burns, but in fact she’s quite the opposite. Her songs are cheeky and playful, of course, but often incredibly tender and brutally honest, with harmonious vocals to match.

The new music video, directed by Luke Bather, is the perfect addition to the single, with its playful theme as we see Emily side-eyeing her love interest with boredom, finding vexing ways to elicit a reaction from the gradually riled up lovely girlfriend.

On the experience of making her first music video, Emily says, “I had never met Izzy (who plays my girlfriend in the video) before… so it was a strange experience having to look her in the eyes and sing to her in the first hour of meeting!

The video itself feels incredibly fun. On the impressive director of the music video, Emily says he “made me feel so comfortable and natural on set. It ended up being a day of just making loads of mess, which I’m naturally quite good at“.

In the past year, Emily has released one infectiously catchy track after another, including the mini album Seven Scenes From The Same Summer, a seven-song mixture of tender lyrics and cheeky sass laid on top of punchy pop sounds and melodies resonating with R&B and tropical house vibes. This music has launched Emily into full view of pop fans everywhere.

One similarity in all of Emily’s songs is you can never anticipate just how catchy the song is going to become, until you find yourself humming the melodies days later, retracing where you’ve heard it before. From the racy track “Test Drive” to “Girlfriend At The Time”, the lyrics in these songs cover such a vast range of emotions and situations, from love songs, to bitter exes, to desire, or loss.

It totally blows my mind to see how many people have been listening to and connecting with these songs. They really are just like excerpts from my diary so it’s wild to have had so many people relate to and enjoy them!

The range of styles in the tracks that Emily has produced is a testament to her artistic versatility, having emotional, more stripped-down tracks like “Senseless” and the romantic, whimsical “Vanilla Sundae”, next to tougher hits like “Damn Good Liar” and “Cheat”.

“I really wanted there to be tracks that people could dance to and scream the lyrics to whilst thinking about their awful ex…” About “Senseless”, which she describes as her personal favourite from the EP, “I also wanted to show people that these songs all stem from me sitting down with a guitar and pouring my heart out… [Senseless] feels like the most vulnerable song and I totally love being that honest and real“.

Emily’s honesty in her writing encapsulates the thrilling highs and disappointing lows of relationships in such a realistic way, it seems like she’s had a fair share of it! “All of my songs are written about personal experience. I know that might be hard to believe haha!

Emily has also been featured on several LGBTQ+ platforms, using same sex pronouns in her music. Representation for any community is such an important issue today, and is definitely starting to trickle through into the current music scene as equality becomes more of a priority for artists and listeners, with artists like Hayley Kiyoko and Marika Hackman writing more obviously queer lyrics and being more open about the conversation of representation.

Now, LGBTQ+ pop fans have another artist to relate to. “It’s so important for me to be honest about who I am in my music. I love the thrill of making myself vulnerable and letting so many people get to know me on this deep level. So I think it’s massively important to be open about my sexuality“.

With more musicians like Emily being open about their sexuality, more people can relate to the music. There’s often the misconception that this sort of honesty for people who make art are limiting their audience, but Emily’s lyrics are honest, fun, and situational, and it doesn’t matter who you are or who you date, there will no doubt be a song you can relate to.

I really don’t want to make a ‘thing’ out of it you know? I want to show that my songs are just like anyone else’s songs, it’s just that they are about girls. And I hope that I’m doing my small piece towards making people realise that it’s really not a big deal“. With more and more artists like Emily being unapologetically themselves in their music, there can only be a positive impact.

As for gigging, Emily has been busy travelling on the road in between UK cities with her headlining show, adding her new track, “Too Cool”, to the set list. “This experience has been craaaazy. It’s so so amazing to see more and more people streaming and downloading my songs but, then to actually travel and see people buying tickets and turning up to my shows is insane“.

Of her UK dates, “the Louisiana in Bristol was breathtaking“, says Emily. “I actually got really emotional on stage. Seeing a full room of people, in a city I personally have no links to, singing along to my songs… it was a dream“.

It feels like things are really growing and building and I’m just loving every part of it”.

When it comes to live performance, crowd reaction is the most important thing for Emily: “that moment when I start to play one of my more known songs and I feel a genuine buzz from the audience. I can see people being truly excited to hear them which is an unreal feeling“.

Like her own work, the singer-songwriter says she loves artists who tell real stories in their music. “Tove Lo’s ‘Queen Of The Clouds’ album is one of my favourites. I’ve been going back to that a lot recently“.

When listening to the album, the similarities between Emily’s music and Tove Lo are certainly detectible, with fast, layered beats, or slower, sultry tones, with captivating lyrics. “I just love the way it tells a story from start to finish… I think it’s definitely inspired my own style of writing“.

Emily hints that she may have some new tracks dropping this summer: “It feels like things are really growing and building and I’m just loving every part of it“.

Not only has she been popping up all over the UK, and simultaneously appearing near the top of a variety of popular Spotify playlists and charts – she has now taken her music from studio to the stage on an international scale, fulfilling the demands of ecstatic fans across a multitude of UK and international cities.

In April, Emily is touring eight dates in Asia. “I really can’t believe I’m selling tickets in this part of the world for these gigs… it blows my mind“. When she arrives back in London, Emily will be playing her biggest gig yet, at the Omeara on the 23rd April. “I really think is going to be the best night of my life! I seriously can’t wait“.

And neither can we. Keep up date with new music and news from Emily Burns by following her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Spotify now, and don’t forget to check out her new single, “Too Cool” below.

Words by Lauren Hurrell

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