With the release of her self titled EP just days away, we thought it was perfect timing to get to know Emma White a little bit better. Keep on reading to see who her biggest musical influences are, who would be on her dream tour and everything in between! And make sure to keep an eye out for her brand new EP, out this Friday!
Hi! I’m Emma – My artist name is my real name. I live in Nashville, but I was born in Baltimore, MD. I’ve lived in Boston (for college), New York City, and now, Nashville. I have an older brother and sister and I’m the youngest.
Describe your sound for someone who might now have heard it before.
If Justin Timberlake made a country record. I love pop music and r&b production, but connect with country storytelling. So I tried to bring them together.
What are your musical inspirations?
Too many! Justin Timberlake, Michael Jackson, Katy Perry, Patty Griffin
What are your non-musical inspirations?
Everyday life – observing it all the time, and observing situations that may not necessarily be my own. I also find inspiration when I read – books on creativity and spirituality. It just helps free me up sometimes. Travel can also be really inspiring – getting out of a routine. And a lot of times other people inspire me – my friends or people I work with. Some songs wouldn’t exist if certain people hadn’t been in my life at the time.
You just dropped a brand new single, what was the process like for writing and recording that?
Every song is like learning how to write a song all over again in a way because they’re never the same and they never happen the same way. I remember saying to myself specifically for this song, to let go. Letting go is so hard for me but I think it’s why I feel this need to write, because you find freedom in it. So I just told myself like, say something you would say if you thought no one was listening. Say something that’s true but might be taboo – don’t filter anything. It can be hard to let yourself just say what you want sometimes. The world can be so combative when it comes to expression. You get in trouble for saying anything. And sometimes that restriction can filter into your creativity but I think it’s really important to try and create as if there were no rules – no right or wrong. And that’s what I tried to do with “Not That Into You.”
Structurally, I wanted it to be a simple, fun pop song, but also speak to something more universal and kind of capture the zeitgeist of today (and maybe influence it).
I ended up adding one of my best friends as a co-writer. She works in a totally different field, but we had been texting and I was like, “I’m going to lift this entire line you just sent from our text convo, so you’re my co-writer now.” ha.
Recording it was super fun because I had been really inspired by Katy Perry’s first album at the time – I had been listening to it a lot and loved how it felt like California and had this rock vibe. We really tried to put that influence into the production. Brad Hill and Evan Hutchings, my co-producers, really got it and I love how it turned out.
You’re also about to release an EP, what’s something you learned while recording that?
I learned so much about collaboration and when to be open to ideas and how to pick my battles. I keep learning over and over again, the little things I get hung up on (and they can be seriously minuscule, but feel so big at the time) don’t matter much in the end. It’s sort of laughable once I step back for a little while and realize how I agonized over certain phrases or how to get the mix “just right” a thousand times. I’m really into details which can be good, but it can also get you stuck and can kind of be painful for other people you’re working with, so I really learned how to keep it moving in a way I never have before.
What’s your songwriting process like?
It’s never the same. Sometimes I wake up at night with ideas and record them into my phone. I usually make myself get up and record it, even if it’s just a few seconds long. Then other times something will happen in daily life – usually a relationship thing – where I’m just feeling real things and I go to my guitar or the piano and just let the feeling come out. Then after I let it happen, I’ll record it and then re-construct it and to turn it into a more complete song later. I have probably a thousand ideas, voice memos in various places. Before I go into a co-writing session I’ll go through them and pick what to work on or let my co-writer decide what they’re into or if they want to start something new. A lot of times I’ll bring something I really love but the voice in my head is like, “this might be weird, the probably won’t like it.” And then it’s just nice to have a collaborator to be like, “no that’s cool, keep going,” and then it’s sort of like they pull it out of you.
If you could plan your dream tour, who would be on it and why?
I’d bring all my friends that have been playing with me and backing me up over the years. Some of my friends I met the first day of music school – one of them, the first day of our first class – “ear training” (that’s the actual name of the class) and we both ended up in Nashville. A lot of the friends I work with have already been on big tours so it’s been cool to watch them do it.
Artist wise, if it was a dream tour and options were limitless, I’d bring Justin Timberlake. He’s my favorite artist and the reason I wanted to be an artist. 🙂
What’s something you want BTS readers to know about you?
I have a penchant for margs & queso.
What’s next for you in 2017?
I’d really like to tour to support this new project – maybe do a small club tour or play some festivals. Trying to figure out what’s possible/tangible with that at the moment. But I hope to have dates soon 🙂
Coffee or tea?
Favorite place to vacation?
Anywhere warm – sunshine, beach.
Staycation or Vacation?
Vacation for sure.
Favorite Neflix show to watch all of in one day?
Scandal is my new obsession – can’t stop, won’t stop. My addiction to it is sort of embarrassing and well documented.
Favorite song of the moment?
Kehlani, “Piece of Mind,” from her new album.