Whether she’s communicating through your screen, your speakers, or soon to be through a book, Emma Blackery is bold, engages her audience, and still remains authentic. We recently got a chance to speak to the U.K.- based musician, YouTuber, and author about all of the projects she has going on and the messages she’s trying to convey to her community of devoted fans.
Emma is well known for the comedic and personality-driven videos she posts on her YouTube channels, emmablackery and Vloggery. However, most of her fans know that she is a musician at heart. After releasing four EPs and the occasional song or cover on YouTube, Emma has recently dropped what she describes as her best music to date. On May 26th, her fifth EP called ‘Magnetised’ was released, reaching a peak of number three on the U.K. iTunes Album chart.
The six-track collection features many of Emma’s old songs reimagined to fit her new style. ‘Magnetised’ is best described as emotional pop, with hints of the pop-punk that drove her last EP released in 2016, ‘Sucks To Be You’. Emma is also fresh off of an accompanying U.K. headline tour for ‘Magnetised’, which included a date at London’s O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire.
In addition to her musical endeavours and maintaining two YouTube channels (not counting her brand new Vevo channel that has already racked up a few music videos), Emma announced yet another massive project towards the beginning of 2017. As a continuation of her popular video series of the same name, Emma will be writing an advice book called ‘Feel Good 101’.
A collection of personal stories and all of the lessons she’s learned so far, “Feel Good 101” is the book Emma wished she had while growing up, and was also written to provide a source of strength and wisdom for her little sister. In addition, Emma will be embarking on a book tour in September to promote “Feel Good 101” and to meet her supporters around the U.K.
We got a chance to catch up with Emma following the conclusion of her U.K. tour to discuss all things ‘Magnetised’, how she wrote her upcoming debut book, her future plans for music, and more! Read the full interview below, and don’t forget to check out our review of Emma’s ‘Magnetised’ EP.
Hi Emma! Tell us a bit about your latest single, ‘Don’t Come Home’. What was the inspiration behind the song?
‘Don’t Come Home’ is written about something I was going through with a past relationship. It had gotten to the point where we’d been arguing every day – I was picking fights over nothing and taking my stress out on him, which often happens when you live with someone. I knew I loved him more than anything in the world, but after every argument I would calm down and feel as though he’d end up happier in the end if he left me. The song’s really about trying to convince him to pluck up the courage to leave me and find someone better. It’s an upbeat song about something really quite personal and sad.
Can you talk us through your basic songwriting process?
The process differs from song to song. Sometimes I’ll come up with a concept for a song and write lyrics before writing the music to go around it, but other times I’ll write the music and lyrics at the same time. Some songs take months to finish, such as ‘Nothing Without You’, and other songs take ten minutes. There is no typical formula.
Many of the songs on your ‘Magnetised’ EP are improved versions of some of your older songs. How did you go about revisiting them for the EP?
The original idea behind the ‘Magnetised’ EP was for it to be a collection of acoustic songs, both old and new. I knew that before working towards a full-length album, I had to truly explore and revisit older songs that I didn’t feel reached their potential. When I wrote the older songs back in 2012, my influences were very different, and I definitely think my writing style has improved – but a lot of the reworking was down to my producer, Romesh Dodangoda. I sent him the original demos I’d written in 2012 and we sat down and reworked them to bring them up to date. The songs wouldn’t sound as intimate without his input.
You described ‘Magnetised’ as “my final goodbye to a lot of things that have graced my life” and “the line I am drawing under my past.” Tell us more about the overall theme or message of the EP.
After I’d written the song ‘Magnetised’, about a boy I liked who led me on, I knew I had to name the EP after it. Without realising it, I’d compiled all of these songs about love. During the writing process, I’d just gone through a breakup and felt as though my music was taking a new direction. The EP is my way of drawing a line under my experiences – being able to say “okay, this happened, it’s done” and never having to translate those experiences into songs again. It also ties in with finally officially releasing the songs I wrote in 2012. I wasn’t ready to say goodbye to them in the state that they were in, so I brought them forward so I could start afresh with new music in the future.
You documented some of the time you spent in Wales recording the EP. What were the most challenging parts of the process?
I’m a very stubborn person – I know how I like a song to sound. I’m extremely set in my ways. When I first received a demo for ‘Don’t Come Home’, it had been transformed from a piano-based ballad into an upbeat rock song. I was originally horrified by it! Fortunately it very quickly grew on me and now I prefer it a thousand times more than the original. Any time a producer or writer suggests changing a line, or cutting out a section to shorten a song, I freeze up. It takes a long time for me to realise when an idea from someone else makes more sense.
As for spending time in Wales – that wasn’t challenging at all! We spent a week in a studio surrounded by farmland. I woke up to the sight of horses staring at me through my window. We were in the middle of nowhere, and as someone that’s pretty reserved, it was perfect!
Let’s talk music videos! The video for ‘Magnetised’ features an epic wrestling theme coupled with a love triangle storyline. How did you come up with the concept and what was it like on the shoot?
I knew it had to feature wrestling because the person the song was written about loves professional wrestling as much as I do, if not a whole lot more. Because we’d never spoken about how he’d hurt me and grown distant in the months leading up to the EP release, I wanted a way to communicate that the song was about him. I’m not a very subtle person. A lot of what I do is very ‘on the nose’. The music video is very literal, besides the fact we’re all wrestlers. He showed me attention, called me pretty, cared about me – but he had a girlfriend. I won’t go more into it out of respect for them both, but the video is really about me and his girlfriend ‘wrestling’ for his love – and she wins.
The shoot was so much fun! It was freezing cold in the gym, and the local wrestlers agreed to come in and be a part of it – so long as they got a bit of time to themselves in the ring! Ian, who plays the love interest in the video, was very lovely and patient. I’m (obviously) not a wrestler, so the wrestlers at the gym had to teach me some moves that a wrestler-in-training wouldn’t do for the first few weeks – I quickly realised I wasn’t cut out for it. Wrestling is painful!
How do you think you’ve grown as an artist since your last EP, ‘Sucks to Be You’?
During the ‘Sucks to Be You’ period, I think I was very confused. I felt as though I was at a crossroads with my music – I hadn’t officially released anything for almost eighteen months, and I was being encouraged by those who worked with me to release more music when perhaps I wasn’t in the right place for it. In the end, I was so uninspired that I said ‘yes’ to a lot of things just to get something out there to please other people. All I knew was that I loved pop-punk, so I decided to release something along those lines. What we ended up with was a bit of a mish-mash of pop-punk, pop and pop-rock. There were a lot of co-writers on the ‘Sucks To Be You’ EP, which isn’t how I’ve ever worked before. I find it hard relinquishing control with my releases. Only the title track for the EP was an original concept for me – the other two tracks were passed to me, and I changed some lyrics to fit my sound a little more.
I learned a valuable lesson after that release – don’t just do something because others want it. You have to want it even more than they do. ‘Magnetised’ was my idea, and I wrote demos for every single song. Every word is mine. There’s a reason it’s my best work to date.
You toured with Busted on their ‘Pigs Can Fly’ tour last year, which must have been an amazing experience! Who else would you love to go on tour with?
Paramore is the dream. I’m not sure it’ll ever happen, but I sure didn’t think the Busted tour would happen when I was a kid, so who knows? I’m also a huge fan of female songwriters such as Maggie Rogers, Ryn Weaver and the band HAIM – it all depends on the direction I take my sound in next.
Speaking of touring, you have just wrapped your UK headline tour! How did it go?
The ‘Magnetised’ tour was the best tour I’ve ever done. Every tour gets better and better. My new band are absolutely wonderful, and so talented – the memories we shared will stay with me for a very long time. That’s not even mentioning the shows themselves – being able to play my new music to enthusiastic crowds every night was so inspiring. Every person in the crowd knew every word, every night, even though the EP had only been out for a few days. After the Busted tour ended, I was burned out – playing to arenas filled with thousands of people who don’t know you and who aren’t specifically there for you is such a challenge, and often quite demoralising. The last two tours I’ve done – the ‘Magnetised’ tour in particular – just made me want to get back out there and do it all over again as soon as possible.
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i played shepherd's bush tonight. i could write an essay about how it doesn't feel real, and how much i dreamed of nights like this, but all in all, now that tour is over, i am tired, and i am sad, and i just want to write more music to play for you guys all over again. i need time to unwind, catch up on sleep, straighten out my back and then it's back to work. thank you if you made it to a show. 💙
You also have your book “Feel Good 101” coming out later this year. How has the writing process been going?
The book is completely finished! My final draft was sent off to my publishers the other day. I’ve been writing it on and off for eight months. For the most part, it was therapeutic – it’s all I’ve ever wanted to articulate to my audience. Some parts were a little harder to write – it’s hard putting your worst experiences down into words. There was so much that I didn’t even want to touch on. For me, the book always had two purposes – to act as the book I never had growing up, and to be a gift for my ten-year old sister, so that she had my words physically printed for her to read whenever she needed them. It’s a book about finding strength after feeling weak – rising from your own ashes. It is a book to make my little sister feel strong. If it has an impact on anyone else in the same way, that’s a bonus for me.
You’ve switched between creative mediums a lot recently, from writing a book to making this EP, and constantly maintaining your two YouTube channels. How does your creative process differ between all of these projects?
I think it comes down to the fact that I have to deal with being extremely impulsive and also that I like being organised – I have to always be creating new things, and that often means new mediums, but they all need to have their own place. That’s probably why I’ve had so many YouTube channels. Every different path I explore has to be able to stand on its own two feet, separate from everything else I have going on. The creative processes aren’t all that dissimilar from each other. Invent an idea, plan it out, put it out.
The only medium that works a little differently is my second channel, Vloggery. That’s a place I refuse to feel pressure. I’ll upload what I want, when I want. It doesn’t follow the same rules as everything else – I don’t worry about time restraints, and I don’t go over those videos with a fine-toothed comb. There is nothing wrong with being polished – working on a project such as an EP or book for months can produce wonderful results – but Vloggery is where I can separate myself from that concept.
Any other exciting plans this year in terms of music or YouTube?
Music-wise, I’m writing – I don’t know if there will be something ready for the end of the year, or if it’ll be at the start of next year, but I’m working on new material. I want to be back out on the road. I want to work towards a full-length album – after five EPs, I think it’s time. It’s about working out your desired sound. There’s another couple of shows I’m doing before the end of the year, that’s all I can really say right now.
As for YouTube, I’m enjoying what I’m doing right now – I feel less pressure to fit the mold. I have a core audience who watch me for me, and not so much my content. They support every decision I make when it comes to my own happiness. I’m very much going with the flow on both channels, and I’m happy for the first time in a good few years. I’ve also got my book tour in September around the release, where I’ll be doing signings and hosting Q&A sessions. I’m so excited to share my writing with my fans.
Is there anything else you’d like to say to your supporters?
I’m so grateful for you standing by me – through the difficult times, the times where I doubted myself and who I was, and for coming out to events and shows. I can only hope to provide an escape for you as you have done for me. I look forward to playing for you again soon.
Thank you, Emma, for taking the time to answer our questions. Everyone at CelebMix wishes you the very best with your music, book, and YouTube channels.
Emma Blackery’s latest EP, ‘Magnetised’, is available to purchase on iTunes. Additionally, tickets for Emma’s U.K. book tour can be purchased here. Be sure to keep up with Emma by following her on YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and Snapchat.
Let us know your thoughts about our interview with Emma Blackery by tweeting us @CelebMix!