“I’ve committed Facebook suicide!” the new leader of the ‘anti-folk’ scene laughs. “It all became too much and all I was doing was wall writing, so I deleted myself.” As Emma Lee Moss admits to a growing social-networking addiction, her alter ego Emmy The Great is generating an online fan base of dizzying heights. On the eve of the release of her EP ‘My Bad’, the pre-orders have rolled in past the 300 mark. As fellow singer songwriters Kate Nash, Jack Penate, Lily Allen and Jamie T adorn magazine covers, life is good for solo British wordsmiths. Owning a guitar has never looked so cool, lyrics have never been so clever, whilst being in charge has never been so empowering. Since our love affair with Lily Allen began over a year ago, we’ve been scouring the internet for another girl-next-door style find that we can identify ourselves with. When Gigwise caught up with Emmy, she proved to be exactly what we’ve been looking for.
As we approach a rainy lunchtime in mid-July, Emmy has just got up. “I’m sooo lazy! It’s terrible isn’t it?” she yawns, blaming her 4am bedtime on the mad British weather. Like any other unsigned artist, Emmy has been using her MySpace profile page as a platform for her songs, which marry timeless literary worlds and Radio 4 with tomboyish mischief. It’s a hard one to categorise, with latest press hailing her as the leading light of new wave singer songwriters otherwise known as ‘nu-folk’ or ‘anti-folk’ despite her getting into anything remotely folky only a year ago. Growing up in Hong Kong as the only Western kid in a Chinese State school, Emmy was different to her classmates. They liked homework and computer games. She liked to seek out the only non-Chinese music that Tower Records stocked.
Unearthing gems like Weezer and The Smashing Pumpkins, she was raised on a diet of American rock. But it wasn’t until Emmy moved to England and experienced her first Glastonbury at 18 that she decided to make music of her own. “I was like, this is amazing! I have got to play this festival!” she exclaims. She finally got her wish this year, when she pitched up at the Acoustic Stage. Did it live up to the dream? “Urgh, it was disgusting! It was so muddy! I keep getting these nightmare flashbacks…” she jokes before adding, “It was still so amazing to play.”
Although Emmy is on a festival roll this summer - with Latitude under her belt and Bestival fast approaching – her most favourable adventures have been on dry land touring with prolific acts from Bright Eyes to Martha Wainwright. Although these have been notable shows, she gained quality friendships from performances with Tilly And The Wall and Semifinalists. Emmy may have started out completely solo, but she has more recently followed the example of Jamie T and got a band together that she feels kinda lost without now.
We talk new music, with Emmy currently digging her latest collaborator Ex-Test Icicles frontman and friend Dev (otherwise known as Lightspeed Champion) as well as Eugene McGuiness. “I think my entire musical adventures have been through MySpace!” she says. She might be seen as the new kid on the block to most of us, but Emmy’s list of recent collaborations read like those of an established artist, with past projects including Jeremy Warmsley, Get Cape Wear Cape Fly and Guillemot Fyfe Dangerfield. With lines about bitches, parties and first love, her track ‘Two Steps Forward’ is attracting intrigue from her page's visitors.
A song about a first - now apparently famous - love and a friend whose mother knows Elton John is attracting some curiosity to who the mystery characters are based upon. Someone has left a comment asking if it’s about Jamie T - an act she’s previously shared a stage with. Is it true? Emmy squeals. “No! It’s not based on anyone in particular. Jamie T… Argh! No! I have no idea where that came from! I haven’t seen him in ages anyway… The girl who’s mum knows Elton John is about a real girl I met at a party though. We were friends when we were young and her mum got famous and then our families didn’t speak anymore. Then I met her at a party and she was, like, such a bitch!”
Despite her gentle melodies, Emmy’s songs are surprisingly dark. She wants to vent her worries by writing songs about bad case scenarios and absence, but its Emmy’s storytelling is what makes her songs so unique from those of her contemporaries. “I didn’t realise they were like stories until people mentioned it,” she explains. “A song for me has to travel somewhere, like a novel. I see them like a cast of characters, like in Adam Sandler films. Like ‘you’ in all of the songs are the same person in different situations, like one would be ‘The Waterboy’ and another one would be ‘Click’ - that would be a b-side or something.” She makes it sound easy, but Emmy’s had her fair share of setbacks.
Empty promises from people who said they’d put her stuff out and failed being amongst them. Having been spurred on by this, her debut release sees Emmy say ‘fuck it’ and take the bull by the horns. ‘My Bad’ is a true introduction to the lady herself, having recorded the four track EP in her own home with contributions from friends Noah & The Whale and Dev (Lightspeed Champion). The quality of the production isn’t perfect, but that was the intention as the simplicity of it speaks volumes about the whole ethos behind Emmy The Great. But does she feel that she’s automatically labelled when people see a girl with a guitar?
Despite the press putting the cat amongst today’s songbirds with twisted quotes and exaggerated stories, we agree that girls are getting an easier ride than they have previously. “I can see how girls get pigeonholed,” Emmy muses before moving onto gossip. “I was reading on Gigwise that Lily Allen said she knew why Kurt Cobain killed himself, like woah… I don’t know where that came from. Her blog? I wouldn’t know what it’s like though, I’m not famous.” So if Emmy The Great had to go down in history for one particular thing? She thinks, after a while saying, “For how well I arrange my Top Friends.” Nice.