If you are unlucky enough to be unfamiliar with Emmy The Great, or Emma Lee Moss’s music then boy are you in for a treat. With her second album ‘Virtue’ out earlier this year and being described as ‘accomplished’, ‘breathtakingly intimate’ and ‘finely crafted’, Emmy The Great, or Emma Lee Moss, has certainly bounced back from ‘First Love’ with a vengeance. With beautifully brave songs and intensely poetic lyrics it’s not one to disappoint. I caught up with Emma to talk growing up in Hong Kong, inspiration and writing on the back of cereal packets…
Where did the name ‘Emmy The Great’ stem from?
It came from a University project. I made a demo for it, and used one of the names we’d been playing around with at our University gig nights, not thinking it would go anywhere. The demo got around the Internet and here I am.
You grew up in both Hong Kong and in the U.K, how do you think growing up in these places has inspired your music?
I have an American cultural background, because I grew up in Hong Kong with American TV, American bands etc. My entire upbringing was built on MTV, Nirvana and Seventeen magazine. Because I spent happy summers in England, I was always in love with the idea of the perfect English scene – like a William Blake, Jerusalem type thing – but when I went to execute that in my first album, I still had this strong, semi-ironic foundation that I’d learned from US slacker rock of the 90’s.
When and why did you start playing music, what inspired you to begin?
I got involved in the music world when i was at school, through my best friend whose dad was in it, and then through guys that I met while hanging around. When I hit 18, I decided that I didn’t want to be one of the people who hung around, I wanted to make the actual music.
Which artists would you say inspire your music most?
Over the years I’d say Suzanne Vega, The Shangri-Las, Nick Cave, Diane Cluck.
Apart from other artists and music, where else do you gather inspiration from?
Photographs and loose concepts that I’ve written down in my notebook. I get a lot of headspace to come up with stuff when I’m either driving or running.
Both First Love and Virtue are both somewhat personal albums, how did your engagement and following break up affect the writing of Virtue?
It just happened that I was writing an album over this incredibly curious period, and if I didn’t address that in the songs, it would have been a wasted opportunity to deal with and make a record of my experience. It’s so strange because a lot of things came out in the songs which I didn’t even know I was feeling, and I sometimes felt like my subconscious was sending me messages. It was an effective form of therapy as much as anything else.
What do you think you’d be doing if you weren’t making music?
Writing stuff. Maybe the back of cereal packets. Something like ‘We at Good Honest Cereals believe that fresh air is the key to all health, and cereal. Smile! Win a bike!;
What can we expect to see in the future of Emmy The Great?
Christmas album. Christmas 2011. Mayan Apocalypse. Christmas 2012.
‘Virtue’ is available now to buy, as well as tickets for her upcoming U.K tour here.