Australian singer-songwriter Emma Louise released her debut album Vs Head Vs Heart last April, delving into synth-heavy song structures after releasing an acoustic EP. Emma Louise took the time to answer some questions about what it was like to make such an important genre shift, and her reaction to the praise her album has deservedly received.
Scene Point Blank: You left your hometown of Cairns to get involved with the busking scene in Brisbane and pursue your music career. Clearly this move paid off, but was there ever a point where you were worried that maybe it wouldn't work out?
Emma Louise: I never really thought about a back-up plan so I didn't feel pressure of time. From tenth grade, I knew I wanted to do music and it wasn't really a decision because all I wanted to do was play my guitar in my bedroom and play gigs around my town. I started busking in Brisbane when I didn't have residencies like I had in Cairns. I used to do really well with busking. I feel very lucky to be doing what I love most in the world for my job.
Scene Point Blank: Can you remember the first time you heard one of your songs being played on the radio or in a public place? Where was it? What was it like?
Emma Louise: It was actually really good timing. I was at home in Cairns with my family, and my mum and my Aunty Kerry were in the car with me when "Jungle" starting playing on the radio. My Aunty Kerry rolled down the window and let the babe in his car next to us know. My face turned red.
Scene Point Blank: Your debut album Vs Head Vs Heart got 8 out of 10 on Scene Point Blank and has been getting glowing reviews in the music press. Did you expect the album to be as wide-reaching as it has been?
Emma Louise: I think my perception on the album's success is warped a bit. I find it hard to judge how well it's doing and how people are reacting to it. But I'm excited to tour more overseas and deliver the album live because I like that translation better. I feel very lucky to have the opportunity to do that. It's my favourite thing to do and I want to do it more.
Scene Point Blank: Your debut EP, Empty Hearts and Full Rooms was largely acoustic, while with Vs Head Vs Heart you took a different direction and focused on synthesizers instead. Were you worried that this move might alienate some of your earlier fans or was the switch to synths something you always planned to do?
Emma Louise: I think with each release I'll lose some fans to failed expectations, but I hope people will understand that I am still growing and developing as an artist and I hope they'll stay loyal to what I do.
Scene Point Blank: The music on Vs Head Vs Heart goes together perfectly with the lyrics. Did the music tend to influence the way the lyrics went or vice versa?
Emma Louise: Sometimes the lyrics and melody would happen at the same time in the writing process, but sometimes not. In the studio all of the music around the song was an extension of the song's feelings and emotions and we were always trying to express that.
Scene Point Blank: What was your favourite moment when you were recording Vs Head Vs Heart?
Emma Louise: Probably "Braces." We did it at the end of a long day and I just kind of sang over these sounds with words of what I was feeling at the same [time] and it felt really good. We all kind of quietly finished it and went home like it was always planned and I'm so glad it went on the album.
Scene Point Blank: You said that your album's cover art captured "the beauty that can come out of vulnerability" in an interview with The AU Review. Did it take you long to realise that this was the image you wanted for your album or did you go through a few different prototypes first?
Emma Louise: No, as we were taking the photos I knew it was going to be the one.
Scene Point Blank: "To Keep Me Warm" sounds like an intensely personal song: the lyrics seem to hide nothing. Were you ever worried about releasing such a personal song?
Emma Louise: Not really because I was writing it for myself. That song now means more to me now than when I wrote it.