Emily Warren Q&A
Featured in Forbes’ 30 Under 30 Music Class of 2018, Emily Warren has written for a whole host of top artists including The Chainsmokers, Dua Lipa, Charli XCX and Shawn Mendes, just to name a few. Having released 3 original songs in 2017 (her most recent being ‘Poking Holes‘), Emily is seriously looking forward to her debut album, and so are we! We can’t wait to see what she puts out in the run up to it.
Recently, we had the pleasure of interviewing Emily, and we’ve got the Q&A for you to read below:
- What was your first ever job? When did you first know that music, and song writing, was what you wanted to do as a career?
The first job I ever had was babysitting for my neighbours. After that, I had an internship at my parents’ law firm and I am very lucky to say that those are the only two “real jobs” I’ve ever had. I’m really lucky in the sense that I never really had to choose music as my career – it all happened very organically, as I started writing, recording and performing while I was still in high school and signed my publishing contract before I graduated college. It all just sort of happened because I was having fun and doing what I love. I still am, and the fact that I can make money doing such a thing is completely insane and I am so so grateful.
- People might not know but you’ve worked with a fairly large number of artists, influencing some big names with the songs you’ve helped write, but who is the best artist you’ve had the pleasure of working with so far?
Although it’s hard to choose the best, I have to say The Chainsmokers, and for several reasons.
First of all, I’ve been working with them for almost three years now and have sort of watched them undergo a large chunk of their meteoric rise to success. Although it’s surprising, it’s pretty uncommon for an artist to keep the writers they work with around when everything changes. A lot of the time they move into bigger rooms with bigger names, but Drew and Alex have done just the opposite, and it’s made for an incredible creative relationship. They even had me perform several songs as a part of their show on their Memories… Do Not Open arena tour last spring. The benefit of us being so close is that when we go into the studio we already know each other, so it’s comfortable and easy. I don’t need to be filled in on their life story every time, I just need to be caught up on what’s happened since we last saw each other, and the result is that we get to dip into deeper, more experimental concepts and try more creative things.
- Which 2 artists would you really like to collaborate/work with in the future?
Rihanna and Harry Styles.
- With 3 original songs for 2017 already, what are your plans for 2018 in terms of your own original work? What can we expect from your 2018 album?
I’m really excited about the album, I feel like it has a good range of emotion and character. Part of the reason I want to release an album is because I’m nostalgic for the albums I grew up on, and the deeper cuts that aren’t necessarily radio-ready singles but still have good emotion and feeling. And while I put out some EPs when I was younger and in a band, this will be the first full-length album I’ve ever released so I’m SO excited.
- You’ve been writing for a number of other artists over the last few years, how have you adapted to seeing a song with an emotional link performed by someone else; do you find it hard to let them go?
I’m very happy to say I’ve never let go of a song that was directly personal. There have been a few close calls where people were wanting to cut songs that were about my own personal experience but I held on to those (at least two of which will be on the album as well). When I go into the room with an artist, it’s not about me. I always ask whoever I’m working with about what’s going on in their lives, what it is they want to express, and help them release their story. Beyond a point of relation, I really don’t bring my own personal experience into a session unless we’re explicitly writing for me.
- How does it feel to be included in the Forbes’ 30 Under 30 Class of 2018 and have the likes of Skylar Grey say the following “I think she’ll be killing it for a long time”?
Honestly the news of the Forbes 30 Under 30 really affected me. I wasn’t at all expecting it, and I know how prestigious that list is and it was quite crazy to be included – I can’t believe it! I’ve written with Skylar, and I so look up to her, and it’s genuinely surreal having someone who’s footsteps I’ve tried to follow turn around and say something like that to me. INSANE!
- You’re known as an artist who can easily swap between genres and blend them together. With many other writers in the industry trying to be successful at this, how do you go about changing from writing tracks like “Soap” to “Don’t Let Me Down”?
I think, like I said before, I really try to abandon my ego when I go into sessions with other artists. It’s not really about me, or my style, or my influence. I’m just trying to help whoever it is I’m working with express themselves in the clearest and most genuine way, and often if you follow their lead on what they want, and don’t worry about what it is you want, you’ll see that it’s easy to arrive there. Beyond that, I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that I listen to all kinds of music. In fact, the main criticism of the band I had in high school is that we didn’t have a concise sound – one song was reggae, the next was soul, rock, pop, etc. Being able to dip my hand into so many different genres with various artist projects has really helped me peel away at and discover my own sound.
- We know you have close ties with The Chainsmokers and have performed with them at a lot of shows, so which has been the best show you’ve performed at and why?
Oh man. Very hard to pick a favourite. I just recently sang with them at Madison Square Garden and having grown up in New York and seen so many legends there, really, genuinely put my life into perspective. I kept thinking, if you told 13 year old me, sitting in the audience at Jingle Ball, that fast-forward a few years, I myself would be up on that stage, I would have combusted. That was an unforgettable experience.
- We love your original track “Poking Holes”, which was released in October. We know a little of the background to the track but what was the deeper motivation for writing it?
Thank you! “Poking Holes” came about in a session in New York with some of my closest collaborators Scott Harris and Nick Ruth. We were having a long conversation and I actually said the phrase “poking holes” and that’s where the concept came from. The metaphor in the lyric is like, for example, if you made tiny pin pricks in a painting, each isolated hole would not be that noticeable, not do too much damage. However, if you made several over time, you’d step back to realise that the picture had been ruined. This is similar to a relationship, and the little things you brush under the rug and avoid.
While each issue is small, and seemingly unimportant, over time it all adds up.
- From “Poking Holes” to “Capsize” with FRENSHIP, it really shows how versatile you are as an artist.. What’s the song you’re most proud of, original or collaboration?
I don’t know if I could possibly choose a favourite – they’re all my babies. I think “Capsize” was important because it gave me the courage to start putting out my own original music because my vocals were being really well received. But at the moment, I’m most excited about Dua Lipa’s “New Rules”, because I’m really proud of the message in that song, especially given everything that’s happening with women right now. I’m completely taken aback by the song’s success! It feels good to have written a song with a message and have it spread the way that song has. It makes me feel like I’m doing something that, even in its small way, might actually be positively impacting the world.
- Having listened to “Something To Hold On To” we can’t help but compare the track to the style of Sia, a really emotional track which draws you in from the first few lyrics. What other songwriters such as Sia do you look up to?
Thank you! Ahh there’s so many. Some of my favourite lyricists are John Mayer, Emeli Sandé, Alex Turner from the Arctic Monkeys, Feist, Regina Spektor…
- Having now made a big name for yourself in the music industry, can you give us an insight into other less well–known writers that you admire?
I LOVE this question! Yes. Not that these people are at all less-known, but my favourite people to work with who are behind the scenes, and likely responsible for many of your favourite songs are (in no particular order); Scott Harris, Britt Burton, Mac & Phil, Caroline Ailin, Alex Hope, Ian Kirkpatrick, Nick Ruth, Chris Loco, Joel Little, Plested, KIN… and the list goes onnnn.
- Spotify released their “Wrapped Up for 2017”, and looking at yours you’ve seriously made an impact, how does it feel seeing your hard work start to pay off?
It’s really insane. Genuinely. I can’t believe any of this has happened. And the best part is that while it is at times hard work and long hours, it’s pretty much always fun, and so it definitely doesn’t feel like work, and that’s what makes the fact that it’s actually a viable career option so insane. I’m extremely fortunate. And ALL I can say is follow your passions – when I started making music and taking it seriously, everyone thought I was ruining my life, wasting my education, and not going to make any money. So, do what you love and I PROMISE you’ll never work a day in your life.
- What advice would you give 18-year-old Emily Warren looking back on your career so far, or to those younger song writers in the industry trying to break through?
I think I would try to pass on something I’ve learned only by trying it repeatedly and having it turn out well nearly every time – trust your gut. No one knows what’s best for you better than yourself. Whether it’s a lyric you’re not comfortable singing, or a deal you’re unsure about signing, listen to that little voice in your head. Being patient and acting with a moral compass and aligning what you choose to do with your beliefs will ALWAYS turn out for the better. You have to believe in yourself. ☺️
Thank you to Emily for answering our questions! We really hope we get the chance to interview her again and we can’t wait to hear her killer debut album when it’s out!
Check out Emily’s social channels below and definitely give her a listen! 👇🏻
Written by Conor McCarthy-Lusher