Emma Blackery’s new album Villains out next week

Posted on 26 August 2018
By Khyle Deen
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Emma Blackery can’t remember a time before she wanted to make music. Since picking up her first guitar aged 12, she’s self-released five pop-punk EPs, and performed at London’s Wembley Arena and O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire. Now she is turning her attentions towards pure pop, with the release of her eagerly anticipated debut album, Villains.

Inspired by artists including Paramore, Taylor Swift and Katy Perry, Emma has worked with renowned producers including Toby Scott (Little Mix, Girls Aloud) and Hutch (Goldfrapp, All Saints) to create a sound that’s fresh, bold, and catchy as hell. Lead single ‘Dirt’ has had more than 1.5 million streams and counting, reaching No.5 in the Spotify Viral Chart. “I’ve always written from personal experience”, she says. “I can’t imagine writing about feelings I’ve never had.”

Born in 1991 – the same year that the first internet browser was released to the public – it’s fitting that Emma’s career began online. Since starting to share her music on Youtube, she’s amassed a social media reach of 2.2 million fans, alongside a unique perspective on the pitfalls of internet culture. “I’d had experiences before of people being nasty for a like or a retweet but last year someone I considered a friend really hurt me, publicly”, she says. “I ended up taking all social media off my phone and spent a couple of weeks just trying to get back to reality and not be so caught up in it all.”

Villains was inspired by that period of reflection, and invites listeners on Emma’s journey from “feeling so paranoid that I risked becoming a person I didn’t like, to letting go of all of that hurt”. Atmospheric album opener Villains Pt.1 sees her declare, “I am a nightmare… designed to destroy” over a beat that drips with menace. The mood lifts on Agenda – a sunny slice of synth pop – and Fake Friends, which pairs buoyant production with lyrics about two-faced frenemies to create the perfect kiss-off song. Elsewhere, Petty (“You used to call me pretty, then you took out the “r””) flirts with tropical house, and her restrained vocal on ballad What I Felt With You simmers with longing. By the album’s explosive close, Villains Pt.2, Emma is forced to consider her own part in her downfall, asking, “Am I kidding myself, blaming somebody else, I’m my own biggest villain.”

“Writing the album was so cathartic”, Emma explains. “Music is my therapy.” And inspiration for a song can strike at any time. “Sometimes a song will just come out of nowhere, at the most inconvenient times”, she says. “ I came up with the hook for [second single] Agenda in the car, driving home along the motorway. I couldn’t take my hands of the wheel to make a voice memo, so I had to keep singing it until I got home or else I’d forget it.”

Alongside writing and recording, Emma is a passionate live performer, having previously supported Busted and Pixie Lott on tour, as well as selling out two UK headline tours of her own. “When I’m writing music I always think about how it will sound live”, she says. “The first time I played Shepherd’s Bush, after the sound check, I sat up in the stalls and cried – it just didn’t feel real. There have been so many cool moments already, but my dream is to play Brixton Academy. I love the balcony, the architecture, the sticky floor… it’s my favourite venue.”

Later this year she’ll hit the road again, on her first sixteen date headline European tour, starting in Oslo and finishing with a show at London’s iconic KOKO. “I can’t wait to meet all the people who tell me they’ve been waiting years for me to visit their country”, she says. “I’m excited to see them, and I hope they’re just as excited to see me. It means a lot when people tell me they relate to my songs.”

Having already scored millions of streams, reached No. 1 on the iTunes Rock chart and even released a Sunday Times Best Selling book, Feel Good 101, what’s been Emma’s most ‘pinch me’ moment? ‘Getting my song featured on New Music Friday on Spotify meant a lot, because there’s so much competition’, she says. Then there was seeing the single artwork for her song ‘Magnetised’ featured in the demo for the iPhone 8 and iPhone X. “That was a complete shock, seeing myself slap bang in the middle next to Lorde. I started getting loads of texts and I was like, “What’s going on right now?!””

With so much already achieved, what are her future ambitions? “Music is the only consistent thing in my life that I’ve loved”, she says. “I just want to make music that makes people happy.” Does she have a five-year plan? “Five years ago I was making music, and in five years time, I still want to be making music. It’s as simple as that.”