Behind the Music: Interview with Emma Moore

‘You’ll get to hear me vulnerable, cheeky, self-assured, loud, quiet, and super opinionated. ‘the table’ covers a lot!’

Ahead of her new 6-track release ‘the table’ arriving 7th May 2021, we chatted to Emma Moore about her the journey of the EP, the importance of lyrical metaphors, and how her musical versatility influences her songwriting process.

Hi Emma, thanks for taking the time to chat with us. What first drew you to becoming a country singer-songwriter? You’re so welcome, thank you for having me. It was all a happy and beautiful accident. I’ve always wanted to be a singer and have worked towards a performing career since my teens, but was later to writing than a lot of my peers. I was in my mid-twenties, had ended a long-term relationship, quit my job, and moved cities back to my family home, so I found myself in this huge adjustment period. I began writing to hide my terrible guitar playing (because who knows if you played your own song wrong, right?) and it instantly became my diary, my confidant, the way I could figure out how I was feeling, and what I wanted. I fell completely in love with writing songs and have never looked back. Fitting in the country genre was a completely subconscious decision too. I’ve listened to it for as long as I can remember, and it’s always a sound that feels like home, so without realising it, from writing whatever came to mind I was writing Country. 

What are your biggest musical/non-musical influences? I love that you said non-musical influences too, they can be just as, if not more important as our musical heroes. My childhood heroes were The Chicks and Shania Twain – I wanted to be Natalie Maines when I grew up. Since I started writing and performing there have been four main artists that inspire me in everything they do – their writing, their performing, how they run their business; Miranda Lambert, Brandi Carlile, Ashley McBryde, and Brandy Clark. Brandy was my gateway into songwriting and I couldn’t be more grateful for that.
 
Outside of music, I love listening to people, their life stories, and their dramas. Family, friends, strangers – no one is off limits haha! I also can’t leave out my beloved Grey’s Anatomy, affectionately known as the ‘longest-running love of my life’. I am so deeply invested in its characters and stories, and its creator Shonda Rhimes is always in the back of my mind. She’s fearless when it comes to complexity and likability in her characters and that always inspires me to dig deeper.
 
The release of your new EP ‘the table’ is just around the corner. What is the story behind it? ‘the table’ is another thing that came to me completely organically. The songs were curated from everything I’d written over the past two years, rather than written to go together. When I was thinking about the record I was also counting down to my 30th birthday and getting very excited about a new decade and starting to feel like, at the very least, a partial grown-up. I think those decade birthdays have a way of making us evaluate the last one and make plans for the next. In the quiet of lockdown spent a lot of time thinking about my twenties and getting okay with the person I’m becoming, and without even realising that became a central theme in the EP. It also directly inspired ‘Late To The Table’ and when that song was finished it became my anchor for the project. For me, these songs are grounded in reality. There are no fairytale endings, and certainly some difficult conversations, but there’s satire and seriousness, questioning and self-assuredness too. It’s all of life out on the table. 
 
Who was involved in the creation of the EP and what did they bring to it? I got very lucky with my team! I wrote most of it on my own, but co-wrote ‘Late To The Table’ with Emily Faye. That track tried to tell too many stories at one point so it was great to have Emily to bounce back ideas with and have another perspective. She also brought in a new point of view that the song absolutely needed. Dakota Jay at RAD Records in Nashville, who I’d worked with previously on ‘Good Girl’ produced it, but also played drums, rhythm guitars, piano, and banjo on the track. It’s the glue that holds the record together. We spent months emailing parts back and forth to build the tracks and he did a great job of letting me explore my ideas and stepping out my musical comfort zone.
 
The basslines were recorded by one of my best friends, Aubrey Harris, who is a phenomenal player. Her ear for melody is fantastic and with having to work remotely her L.A base was no trouble at all. Garry Wood is a friend of Dakota’s based in Columbia, TN, and plays mandolin, pedal steel, slide guitar, and electric guitar throughout the record. He’s a wicked musician and did the most beautiful job of complimenting the songs without overpowering them.
 
Turning to the vocals, they were recorded at Evoke Studios in Leeds with a fab team! We ran out of time for comping the vocals at the end of the day, so they taught me to do it myself at home. That was such a boost for me as I always say I can’t do any of the technical bits, and so many women are made to feel like they can’t. It was a very welcome change, to be treated completely as an equal and encouraged to be a part of the editing process. My long-time guitarist and harmony singer Tom Martin put down some vocals too. I love having an element of our live show on the record, especially a voice as magical as Tom’s.
 
Lastly, and the crème de la crème is mixing and mastering engineer Eric Torres. I am so proud of what Dakota made with us all and his work is undeniable, but once Eric got his hands on the tracks they leapt out of the speakers. It’s no surprise he’s working with big label artists.

‘On stage, I give everything I have, but off stage I’m an introvert – it’s important to me that I have music for both parts of my personality.’

If someone was watching one of your recording sessions, what would they be most likely to notice first? I love this question! I think it would be how much my mistakes make me laugh. If I hit a bum note or come in at the completely wrong time or whatever, I always get the giggles. Oh, and the absolute garbage I come out with when I can’t remember the words, that’s definitely another one.
 
There’s a gorgeous use of metaphors within your lyricism. How did this approach come about? It’s relatively new to me as I feel much more at home laying everything out in a direct or literal way. Sometimes though, it’s nice to leave space for the listeners to fill in with their own stories and a metaphor allows that. I tend to see my songs as mini movies or music videos in my mind as I’m writing, so that sometimes informs the song. It sometimes shows me details that I might not have thought about and I think the more metaphorical ideas come from that space.
 
The EP features both of your stunning 2021 singles. What led to these being the chosen pre-release tracks? ‘Husbands or Kids’ was the real surprise for me from this EP as when it was being recorded it was never in my plan for it to be released… until I heard the master. It was the first track I got back from Eric and it honest-to-God blew me away. My heart was racing and even though it was past midnight I wanted to run to my car and blast it out of the windows. (I’m kinda sad I didn’t but I’m sure the neighbours aren’t!) After the record was made, I released it to my mailing list through a secret release website full of behind-the-scenes content for each song. The reaction to the track was palpable, so, in all honesty, my best fans chose the first single. ‘Blinded’ came a month later, as I wanted to try releasing an instant gratification track with the pre-orders for the EP, and it’s just so much fun. I’d been playing it live pre-lockdown so there was a small sense of familiarity and I love the brooding banjo. 
 
Similarly, how did you decide the overall order of tracks? I thought I had the order all planned out in the run up to the release, but unsurprisingly it changed completely once it was finished. I always knew it would end with ‘Match Made in Hell’, but ‘Blinded’ was originally the opening track. The a capella opening to ‘Husbands or Kids’ just felt right though to introduce the record. I listened to it in varying orders with those starting and ending it each time and eventually settled on how it is now. I also love vinyl, and though I’m not quite in a place to have this on vinyl yet I was definitely thinking in terms of half a record per side. I like that you get a minute after ‘Waiting For You’ to just kind of sit in the moment, then come back fighting with ‘Blinded’ to open up side B.
 
There is a real sense of you being completely at home regardless of the atmosphere within a track. How does this musical versatility affect your song writing process? Thank you! I’ve never thought about it, but I guess that’s the answer. It takes away so many barriers. My favourite artists take you on a real journey in their catalogues, from ballads that make you think and cry hard, to anthems you want to belt out from the front row. That’s what I want to be and the music I want to make. It’s also an honest portrayal of who I am. On stage, I give everything I have loud and proud, but off stage I’m an introvert and like a lot of quiet time to myself, so it’s important to me that I have music for both parts of my personality.
 
And linked with this, does the music or the lyrics tend to come first? It’s usually a lyric, or most likely a line or two. I like to write as much of the song together as I can, as I find they influence each other a lot. I have a lot of late night lyrics though – from the early hours of the morning – so I have to scribble them down before I can sleep. Then I go back to them the next morning and play with them until I have my melody. 
 
For those who may not have heard your music before, why should this be their introduction to you? It’s the best representation of me… for now. You’ll get to hear me vulnerable, cheeky, self-assured, loud, quiet, and super opinionated, so it covers a lot! There are some carefree moments perfect for a windows-down drive sing-a-long and songs that will hopefully make you feel heard and not alone in whatever your troubles may be. 
 
Which of your tracks to date took you on the most unexpectedly personal/musical journey and why? ‘Pilot’ was a huge song for me. It was the first time I wrote something that made me think I could become a good writer, and that I’d found a concept all of my own. It gave me the confidence to pursue writing more intensely and became the title of my debut album. I still love it now. 
 
And finally, you get to play one track at your dream venue. Which track do you choose, and where is the performance? I think I’m gonna need a cup of tea to answer this one haha! I would love to be invited into a Writers Round at the Bluebird, it symbolises so much and there’s a genuine magic in the air there. I would deliberate over songs probably until I played the first chord, constantly doubting my decision but I think I’d land on ‘Waiting For You’. It has the rawness that I think makes The Bluebird so special. 
 
 
Thanks Emma Moore for chatting with Listen to Discover
 
Photography by Rosie Hardy and Katie Hennessey
 

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