Interview: Emma Blackery on her new music, debut book and life advice
As she embarks on her eight date UK tour, I was able to catch up with Emma Blackery ahead of her Cardiff gig, to chat about the release of her latest EP, ‘Magnitised’, her upcoming book and what advice she has for her fans in life.
You’ve just released your brand new EP, ‘Magnetised’. How would you describe it in three words or less?
Sad… Growth… That’s pretty much it! Sad, growth; that’s what I would use because it’s about moving on and underlining things – relationships, cute boys who screw you over and old songs.
You spent around two weeks in Wales recording – do you have anything that you need to take with you when you travel someplace new to work on music?
I have to bring a guitar, but not just to record but when you’re in a studio, you get so inspired when you’re recording. Apart from that, lots of snacks, games consoles for whenever the others are recording their bit and you’re like, “uh huh, you’ve been doing this for 20 hours now! Drums, drums, drums!” It’s a fun process.
It’s been around five years since you released your first EP, which is a long time to grow as a person and an artist. How would you say your music has changed since releasing ‘Human Behaviour’?
Oh God! Hopefully a lot, thank you for recognising that EP, most people don’t even know it’s a thing. All of that EP was done with the drummer from my really old band in his little tiny garage and the sound is not that great. But when I was 20, I was so happy, I thought it was the best thing I could possibly do. But I’d like to think now that my voice is a lot stronger. I think it’s definitely improved a lot; I was very unconfident before, but since moving out and being on my own I’ve been able to proper belt and not feel nervous – it’s hard singing when there are other people in the house. I think my songwriting has gotten more personal – it’s less quick rhyming and hopefully a bit catchier.
It was recently in the news of pop culture about how Harry Styles wrote a song about a girl and didn’t tell her, so she found out when she heard him performing it on national television. Do you feel the need to contact the people you’ve written songs about and give them a heads up or do you let them speculate as to whether or not it’s actually about them?
I wait and see if they mention it, and if they don’t mention it, I tell them. The guy I wrote ‘Magnitised’ about, I was like “hey, have you listened to this song yet?” and he was like “oh, yeah, I’ll give it a chance” and didn’t and in the end I was like, “no, you need to listen to this song, because it’s about you.” He was like “Oh, I’m so sorry I made you feel that way!” I want them to know; it’s a message. But then, if they confronted me like “hey, is this song about me?” I’d go “Nooooo… it’s inspired! It’s just experiences!” I hate confrontation, believe it or not.
You’re currently on tour right now! Since the last big tour you did was with Busted, how would you say this tour is different?
The main difference is that the people who I’m singing to are there for me. With Busted, it was the coolest, scariest experience I’ve ever had. Because you’re playing in front of 20,000 people who don’t know who you are, they’re not there for you, they don’t have time for you, they’re not interested in you. You have to win them over. Whereas with things like this, people have bought tickets to see you. They know every single word, they don’t want you to just hurry up and get lost and it’s so much better. I’d rather play to smaller capacities than arenas full of people who didn’t know me.
You never really take yourself too seriously and always make sure that you’re enjoying yourself in life – how would you say this approach in life would be beneficial to other people, particularly your fans?
Ultimately, we’re all gonna end up dead, you know? I hate saying that, but it’s true. You’re either going to go to the grave spending all of your life worrying about what other people think of you and wanting to make the best impression, or you could spend those 80 years having fun and being like “you know what? I am a bit of a dick, I’m not perfect” and having fun with it. We’re all going to end up in the same place, you might as well spend your time enjoying it.
Aside from your EP, you’ve also been working on your book, ‘Feel Good 101’. There’s quite a debate in the book community when it comes to YouTubers releasing books. What would you say in defence of your upcoming release and why it’s actually a book that could be of use to young people, such as your fans
Ultimately – and this is what I’ve said before – if one kid reads that book and thinks “you know what? I am going to take myself less seriously and I am going to stop worrying about so much, there’s someone who understands how I feel” then it was worth writing it, the six or seven months it took just constantly writing it. I used to have a real problem with it [the idea of YouTuber books], but now just I think if it helps one person, then it’s a good thing to have out in the world.
You’re pretty open in having anxiety and mental health is a big issue that young people today are dealing with. A lot of your fans tend to look to you when it comes to advice; is there anything you’ve found that helps you that you’d really want to recommend to fans who are reading this interview?
The obvious is talking to someone. I know it’s the go-to answer, but it’s the best thing you can do; seek help from a professional. But otherwise, you have to take one thing at a time, one day at a time, everything is a mountain, don’t think your problems are insignificant if they’re big to you. Take one step at a time, whether it’s depression and you have to take things day by day and focus on the next few hours before you go to sleep or whether it’s a long term thing and you have to just kind of get to know yourself better. You’ve just got to take it into these tiny little bits rather than this whole big thing in your head. Just take little bits like “what can I improve on? How can I help myself in this way?” Your health comes first, don’t worry about what anyone else think about you, take necessary steps to help yourself. Fuck them, think about you.
You’re a big supporter of animal rights and cruelty free products. What would you say is your number one cruelty free beauty product that everyone should have in their make up collection?
Oh no! That’s tough! *Thinks for a while* The vanishing cream by LUSH, it’s lightweight, cruelty free, it’s vegan, smells like lavender, really thin and absorbs into your skin. It’s great.
We’ve seen you rock some incredible and diverse hairstyles – what is one thing you’ve learnt from your experimenting with your daring ‘dos?
Stop thinking you can just bleach the colour out all the time and don’t complain when it won’t grow because you’ve just bleached it to hell and back! I don’t do it anymore, I’m sticking to natural colours. But Emma, stop cutting your own fringe! Stop cutting your own layers. Look how short they are still! *pulls a piece of hair* They’ve been that short for about five years! Just don’t do it yourself, for God’s sake, go to a professional.
What would you say is next on the agenda for you to try and achieve in your career?
My main goal is to be able to go and play Brixton Academy, which I think is around 7,000 in capacity. There’s a few I’ve got to do before I get to that, you know? I’m playing Shepherd’s Bush so that’s a way, but yeah, Brixton – that’s the goal.
Emma’s latest EP, ‘Magnetised’, is out now.
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