Four years after she found herself writing and releasing her second breakup album, Emmy the Great returns with a more outward-looking EP and a few live dates including Manchester’s Deaf Institute, 23 January.
Why the gap in releases since Virtue?
I always finish an album around the time that you can’t put out records, so I have to wait six months for all the X-Factors and Take Thats to come out, so I can slot myself into indie February. As well as this I was working on a few other projects, like the soundtrack that came out in 2013, and I was figuring out who I was and what I wanted to write about. This last bit was the main reason, I guess.
Your first two albums focused on heartbreak and personal journeys. Were you eager to do something different this time?
Yes, I took a long look into the mirror and held my hand out towards my face and said “Who am I?” and my reflection said “The girl who put out two breakup albums in three years.” Essentially – undateable. I knew I had to get away from the breakup albums and I’d also run out of heartache. I was having fun. So I had to figure out how to write about being kind of upbeat, without sounding ike I’d been prescribed something.
How did the Tom Fleming collaboration come about?
I think Tom knew I was obsessed with his voice after I went up to him at a show we did together and said, “I am obsessed with your voice”. We kept in touch. He was the missing piece of [single] Swimming Pool.
You wrote a piece for Channel 4 on your family’s experiences in Hong Kong. Has political engagement influenced your music?
I would like it to. As I grow up I look around me and I start to think about things in a less reactive way and I wish I had the ability to address these thoughts. The problem is I’m quite literal so it would be a little soapboxy, I think.
Is writing something you’d like to continue to pursue?
I find writing about stuff really liberating after the process of songwriting, which is now much less about hours alone with a notebook and much more about combing through sounds and practising the same songs over and over again.
You’re based in New York now. Why the move?
I heard Julian Casablancas had left and there was more brunch for me.