After the success of her single Jungle in Australia, the UK, France and Italy, Emma Louise took time out and in the interim nursed an aching heart. For a moment, she’d given up on music – she knew how hard it was making her first album and wasn’t sure she was emotionally ready for a second. It was however Belgian producer Pascal Gabriel who reignited Emma Louise’s passion for songwriting and together they produced one of the best albums you will hear this year. “I put so much pressure on myself and everybody who worked on my first album Vs Head Vs Heart,” explains the singer. “There was a lot more delicate layering. It was kind of a painful thing because every time I was handing over my music, they were – what I thought – mutilating it. I wasn’t used to that. Whereas now, I know that you have to let go of what you’ve written gradually. I think this next album was braver in a way. I was more confident and the elements are bolder.”
A sensitive heart and an inner turmoil fuels this second offering, Supercry, making it just as memorable as her first. And one play of West End Kids and you might even think its better.
Firstly, welcome back. It’s been a little while since we have heard from you and finally we not only get new music but a little insight into your hiatus. Tell me, what inspired your second album?
“It was written over a two year period and I wasn’t really writing for an album or anything, I was basically just writing because I needed to. I was going through a lot of changes and learning a lot of different things and I guess it was inspired by all of those things.”
And I’ve read you went through a break-up. Did you find the song-writing process cathartic in this sense?
“I think it always is in a way, just to express yourself and get it out of your body and your head so it’s not in there anymore. And it’s really rewarding, being able to have something to look at or listen to outside of yourself that represents how you feel on the inside. It’s a very good feeling.”
Was there any particular track that was the hardest to write or perform or even to revisit its theme?
“West End Kids went though the mixer a lot. We recorded it three times and it got remixed and remastered a few times.
“That song means so much to me because it basically captures a lot from the relationship that I was in that ended. I wanted to make it perfect. I later learnt, it’s not about being perfect.”
I guess you probably felt a lot of pressure to write something that accurately represented your time together…
“Yeah! I mean I felt pressure from myself. Externally, I actually didn’t have any pressure was good. I kind of said to my team ‘hey guys, I don’t know if I’m going to do music again’ and they were all like, ‘what? But ok…’. There’s always that internal pressure that’s being like, ‘I want it to be as good as I can make it kind of thing.’”
I read that when writing West End Kids, everything reminded you of “him” which makes this album – from the first song to the eleventh – so relatable. But t almost never got made. Why was that?
“I think I was pretty sure I wasn’t going to do music again. I thought that music was hurting me and stuff. But I realised, no. Before anything happened with my music – before [my hit single] Jungle happened, it was just me and my guitar and my music and it was so innocent and pure. I would just busk and play at cafes and write in my room. I was kind of untouched. And then, when I started to do music more professionally, it got mixed in with a lot of other feelings and with other people who weren’t necessarily good for my music and I had to re-adjust. I had two and a half years of not doing anything…”
But it was a learning experience perhaps?
Making a decision to record a second album then, how did you learn to relinquish that control?
“After giving up – which is terrible, I don’t encourage anyone to give up – I was just like, ‘actually, this is the way it should be.’ I love writing so much. I don’t have to be in control of everything. I learnt to collaborate and that was good.”
Talk Baby Talk is a stand-out on the album. Tell me about this track…
“I couldn’t say things that I wanted to say to someone. That’s always hard. Especially when it’s someone you really care about. But all of a sudden you cant talk to them and I guess a lot of tension builds up and I had to put it in a song.”
There was a time there – within the two and half years – that you went away for a week on a motorbike, exploring…
“That was incredible. I kind of did a lot of random adventures like that. There was a time where I just could not stay still and ended up on these different adventures with different people. That one was with my good friend, George. I met him at a café in the morning and was like, ‘Is that your bike?’ and he’s like, ‘yeah’ and I was like, ‘Can I have a go?’ and then we ended up riding around northern New South Wales for a few days. It was pretty cool. I told my friend was a biker!”
When you were younger, you would release music on your YouTube channel. There was an earlier version of Jungle on that channel amongst other original songs. Have all these songs made it to the studio for reworking or do you think you’d release any of the again?
“I don’t think so. It’s of sad, really. I think any songwriter just has so many songs that never get to see the studio. But maybe one day, I’ll do something with all of them!”
You were also involved in the album artwork – does painting come and naturally to you as songwriting?
“I would never call myself a painter. I can say that I’m a songwriter because I’ve worked at it for so many years and put so many hours into it. But painting at the moment is just a little extension of what the songs mean. I really like painting. If I can’t write a song well, I’ll probably start painting!”
What was famed Belgian producer Pascal Gabriel like to work with in his studio?
“He is incredible. I kind of went to him very limp and with not much confidence. And then, in two months, he just totally inflated me. He was just very nurturing and encouraging and showed me what music should be like again.”
What was one of the biggest lessons you took away from that time?
“Musically, you’ve just got to be a bit loose with it and not take everything so seriously you know? T’s so crazy. I feel like from now on, I’m just going to make music and release it. And it’s no big deal. This pretty bleak but your music is always going to be listened to more after you die. So it’s like, while I’m alive, I’m just going to keep writing as much as I can and not worry too much about the outcome like I used to.”
Emma Louise’s Supercry is out now. Click here to stream.
Fri 22 Jul Splendour In The Grass, Byron Bay
Fri 07 Oct The Workers Club | Geelong, VIC (18+)
Sat 08 Oct Corner Hotel | Melbourne, VIC (18+)
Thu 13 Oct Street Theatre | Canberra, ACT (All Ages)
Fri 14 Oct Uni Bar | Wollongong, NSW (18+)
Sat 15 Oct Cambridge Hotel | Newcastle, NSW (18+)
Thu 20 Oct Miami Marketta | Gold Coast, QLD (18+)
Fri 21 Oct Sol Bar | Maroochydore, QLD (18+)
Sat 22 Oct The Triffid | Brisbane, QLD (18+)
Thu 27 Oct Adelaide Uni | Adelaide, SA (18+)
Fri 28 Oct Fly By Night | Fremantle, WA (18+)
Sat 29 Oct Capitol | Perth, WA (18+)
Sun 30 Oct Prince of Wales | Bunbury, WA (18+)
Fri 4 Nov Metro Theatre | Sydney, NSW (All Ages)