Artist Spotlight: Emily Burns

Following the release of two EPs last year and the massive success of single ‘Is it Just Me?’, singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Emily Burns is back with a new project called I Love You, You’re the Worst. If you’re looking for a collection of supremely catchy yet emotionally resonant pop jams, look no further – Burns’ latest EP achieves just the right mix of vulnerability and self-deprecating humour, from the quirky production and bouncy hooks of ‘I Love You, You’re the Worst’ to the upbeat yet earnest ‘Terrified’. Whether sitting down at the piano to deliver a heart-wrenching, melodic ballad like highlight ‘Curse’ or coasting on vibrant pop synths like on opener ‘Hello’, Burns wears her heart on her sleeve, and her music is all the better for it. And with a lot more new music in the works, it looks like this is just the beginning.

We caught up with Emily Burns for this edition of our Artist Spotlight series, where we showcase up-and-coming artists and give them a chance to talk about their music.

What inspired you to start making music?

I grew up in a very musical household. My parents loved music and were always encouraging me to listen to brilliant songwriters like Elton John, The Beatles, The Police from a very young age… they made falling in love with music very easy. Both my brother and my Dad played guitar and I didn’t want to get left behind. Then after I picked up a guitar, words and melodies followed very naturally. In my guitar lessons when I was around 9, I kind of just started doing my own thing, rather than learning what I was actually being told to learn. My teacher realised I was starting to write my own songs and so helped me to record my very first demos. 

 What are some of your musical influences? 

When I first started playing guitar, I fell in love with the likes of Newton Faulkner, Jack Johnson and Corrine Bailey Rae, so I kept things very acoustic in my early days of writing. Then as I grew up I started listening to a lot of RnB and soul music and I think that influenced the melodies I write and love today. 

What were some of the ideas that went into the making of your new EP?

All of my songs are true stories about my life. I always say that me releasing a song is like opening up my diary for the world to see. I want people to listen and really feel how I felt when I wrote them. These four songs feel like a level balance of “make you want to cry” and “make you want to dance.” There’s a definite theme of unrequited love in this particular EP. I was lucky enough to work on it with some of my favourite people, so I think you’ll be able to hear how honest and vulnerable it is. 

How was your approach different from My Town

With the My Town EP I really wanted to show a more stripped back side to my music. When I’m writing songs, they always start out on just the guitar or piano, so with this EP I decided to keep it that way… not add too much production and keep it pretty raw. The ILY,YTW EP is a lot fuller.

 What was the inspiration for ‘Curse’?

I wrote “Curse” about how everyone else seems to be able to fall in and out of love all the time, and it feels as though I’m an outsider, looking in. As if love is this transcendental world that only I don’t know how to access. I decided to use the word “Curse” as a metaphor … making out that love is evil and that I don’t actually want to find it. The irony of the song is that I’m just saying all of these things to save pride. Of course, everyone wants to be in love. Right? 

What was the process of making the music video like? 

I’m not gonna lie, when a massive VHS camera turned up at my front door, I was a little stressed, but the challenge of making a music video during lockdown ended up being really fun. I wanted the video to reflect the loneliness in the song, so it was actually ideal to be shooting it in isolation. Fortunately my housemate was willing to head up to Primrose Hill with me at 4am one morning and get some shots of me looking out over the city… Sophie Colfer then added some beautiful animation over the top of the footage I shot, which I LOVE. She really brought it to life and I’m super pleased with how it turned out. 

What are your plans for the rest of the year? 

 First and foremost, to celebrate the release of this EP, I’m going to be doing a live-streamed show from Studio 3 at Abbey Road Studios on July 30th. It’s really special for me because I used to work behind the front desk there for 4.5 years! So it’s amazing to be heading back and performing there. Once the I Love You, You’re The Worst EP is out in the world, I have SO much new music to release. Including some really exciting collaborations which I can’t wait to tell everyone about.

I Love You, You’re the Worst is out now via Island Records. Tickets for the live-streamed show at Abbey Road Studios are available to purchase here

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