In our extended interview with Emmy the Great
, we learn a variety of fun facts about the 27 year old British songwriter. 1) She was born in Hong Kong. 2) She possibly, maybe, almost certainly once dubbed herself DJ Ballbag. We like Emmy The Great much better. 3) Certain subjects are definitely taboo when it comes to songwriting...specifically, sibling sex. That's weird. 4) She was one of the top five rappers at the 2011 edition of the CMJ Music Marathon. See? There's a reason why she's called Emmy The Great. This interview is just that...
Emmy the Great is both a solo and collaborative project. Based around the words and music of singer-songwriter Emma-Lee Moss, it developed sonically with Euan Hinshelwood, guitarist in East London's Younghusband. The two are often joined by a a collective of musicians including Tom Rogerson of Three Trapped Tigers, Jenny Lau of the Mules, Ric Hollingbery of Pengilly's and Younghusband members Pete Baker and Joe Chilton.
Emma was born in Hong Kong to an English father and a Chinese mother. The family moved to the UK when she was 12, swapping the world's most densely populated city for a rural village between a Mormon temple, a Steiner community and the centre of British Scientology. The family went with the 'lesser of three weirdos' and sent the kids to Steiner school. A fascination with the freedom of the British countryside was developed in these surroundings and emerged in the often pastoral nature of the band's first album, "First Love".
First Love, released in 2009, was recorded in the Lancashire moors, outside Manchester, where Emma and Euan first came together as a band. The album was album of the week in the Sunday Times Culture, and ranked as one of the New York Times' Albums of the Year for 2009, while Clash Magazine described Emma as 'Quite simply the female counterpart to Bon Iver'. The NME took a more critical view, asking 'Who calls themselves Emmy anyway?" Poignantly, the album had two top ten singles in Hong Kong, bringing Emma home for the first time in years to play a widely-publicised 'homecoming' gig.
The band's second album, Virtue, will be released in 2011. Mixing themes from myths, fairy tales and saints' lives, using the voices of archetypal female protagonists, and mixing classical images with the modern industrial images that have replaced them, the album started out as a purely third person project, but took on a personal tinge when Emma got caught up in her fiance's sudden religious conversion and the break-up of their relationship. The album was recorded very quickly after the summer of her cancelled wedding, with chief bridesmaid Euan, and legendary producer Gareth Jones (Depeche Mode, Grizzly Bear, These New Puritans).