Interview: Emma Louise

| May 7, 2013

Words by Ash Kissane

Emma Louise first burst on to the scene in 2011 with her hugely successful debut EP, Full Hearts & Empty Rooms. The EP saw her gain slots at huge festivals overseas like SXSW, The Great Escape and CMJ, a number 23 place in The Hottest 100 for her single, ‘Jungle,’ and a deal with New York label Frenchkiss (Passion Pit, Bloc Part, Les Savy Fav). The Brisbane-based songstress’ eagerly awaited debut album was released only last month and has already confirmed her place as one of Australia’s most exciting songwriters. I had a chat to Emma about the new album, getting back into the studio after a huge breakout EP, and breaking the US.

MM: So Vs Head Vs Heart’ is doing really well, it was number 12 on the Aria chart in its first week, has any of this sunk in yet?
EP: It’s definitely pretty cool. It’s dropped down in the charts now. It’s kind of weird, I cant really gauge if it’s doing well or not.

You’ve got a huge tour starting tomorrow night; 21 dates, some of which have sold out, which is amazing. Where are you looking forward to heading?
Yeah, we head out tomorrow to Launceston in Tassie, and it should be really cool. Some of them have sold out, im hoping for all of them to sell out, but I guess that’s what everyone hopes for in a tour. It should be fun, we’ll be playing all the songs from the album and we’ve got a new lighting set up. It should be cool.

You’ve played some huge festival shows like SXSW, The Great Escape, CMJ… how did you find audiences treated you overseas, particularly in the US?
SXSW was a pretty hard one. The gigs were very hard, small rooms and small stages. They are hard gigs but I think we were received quite well. Hopefully we’ll get something out of it.

You spent a fair bit of time in New York late last year. How did you find that impacted you creatively?
It was good. I was there for two months. I didn’t get too much out of it, I felt a bit lonely after the first few weeks. That kind of took over a bit. I don’t think New York is really my place though; I don’t really stay up late or go out much so I guess in that way I didn’t get as much out of it as I could have. It was a good experience though, I’ll put it down as a good experience.

Head vs. Heart comes out in a few weeks in the US as well as Europe. Did playing shows in the US give you any confidence?
I think I’ll just accept if it does well it does well, if it doesn’t, I don’t mind. I’m not too nervous about it. I don’t mind if it does well or it doesn’t. I’m working on the album one now so I just can’t wait to record that one.

Do you write at all when you’re touring or do you have to be on your down time?
I write whenever. I don’t have a specific term for it but whenever I feel the need to write something, I’ll write it. I really have to be disciplined demoing. I have to set aside a few days a week where I go into the studio and record my new material.

Tracks off the EP are still doing really well, there’s a remix of ‘Jungle’ that’s floating around the top 10 in Italy…Because songs like ‘Jungle’ did so well, did you feel a little daunted or that there were expectations of you when you were writing for your first album?
Yeah, definitely. Before the album, I experimented with heaps of different producers. When I was recording with Matt (Redlich) it was very comfortable and I was pretty confident that I had made the right decision in recording with him. The pressure was kind of lifted off me when I realized for myself that I wasn’t trying to make another ‘Jungle’ or live up to any expectations, I was just going to do what I wanted to do.

When did you decide you wanted into pursue music and start making music in the first place?
I got into it when, in grade 7, one of my friends had a guitar and I started playing around. I’m from Cairns and before I moved to Brisbane I would do two or three residencies where I would play in cafés and bars and stuff. More seriously, was when the EP came out and ‘Jungle’ was on it and I started touring with Boy & Bear.

You’ve had some awesome shows, like Boy & Bear, do you have a gig highlight so far?
I think always playing at the Tanks Art Centre in Cairns is probably my favourite gig. Just because it’s my hometown and it’s probably my favourite venue I’ve ever played in.

Who are some people you listened to growing up?
I actually didn’t listen to much music at all growing up. My parents weren’t musical. I only really started listening to music in grade 9 or 10. My best friend Grace really likes music so I would always just listen to what she would listen to.

So what kind of stuff do you listen to now?
I actually don’t listen to too much music. I probably should. I’ve been listening to a bit of Boards of Canada and Bjork and Air.

What else is coming up this year after the tour that you’re excited about?
Hopefully after the tour we’ll be heading to Europe, but nothing’s really planned for the rest of the year.

Where would you like to head? What would be a dream gig for you?
I’m keen to check out France a bit more. Pretty much anywhere overseas is a bonus.

Find dates for Emma Louise’s Head vs. Heart tour here.


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