Unrequited Love and Lockdown: An Interview with Emily Burns

Emily Burns © Ayshe Zaifoglu
British singer/songwriter (and Atwood artist-to-watch) Emily Burns speaks with us about information overload, embracing recent challenges, unrequited love, her latest EP ‘I Love You, You’re The Worst’ and more!
Stream: “I Love You, You’re The Worst” – Emily Burns




When Atwood Magazine first signaled out Emily Burns as an artist to watch back in January, she was on the cusp of an incredible year, which would have seen her embark on her own headline tour in April and take up coveted support slots. Even though her best-laid plans haven’t come to fruition yet, the talented 25-year-old is still releasing music, with her latest EP entitled I Love You, You’re The Worst (released July 24, 2020 via Island Records) seeing her deliver some of her best work to date.

I Love You, You're the Worst - Emily Burns

I Love You, You’re the Worst – Emily Burns

The title is taken from the EP’s closer, which sees Burns delve into the all too relatable feeling of unrequited love. Sonically, “I Love You, You’re the Worst” is breezy and practically crammed with effervescent energy, but lyrically the track poignantly tackles the rollercoaster of emotions that accompanies falling for someone who doesn’t feel the same way. Speaking of the track on Twitter, Emily Burns shared, “I Love You, You’re The Worst is about chasing after someone who doesn’t want you back… It was so fun to play all the different characters in this video, I might actually keep the pink gloves. I’m so grateful to the team who pulled this together.”

I Love You, You’re The Worst serves as a shining example of Burns’ unparalleled ability to distill her own multifaceted emotions into accessible music, without ever tainting the authenticity or relatability of her art. Preceding the song “I Love You, You’re the Worst” is the phenomenally beautiful “Curse,” which through subdued but atmospheric production and exceptional lyricism exposes Burns’ vulnerability. Reflecting on the feeling that everyone around her is falling in love expect her, Burns utilizes intelligent songwriting to convey how everyone else’s romantic entanglement is heightening her own harrowing emotions.

Emily Burns © Ayshe Zaifoglu

Emily Burns © Ayshe Zaifoglu



The EP’s first two tracks “Hello” and “Terrified” act as marvelous showcases of Burns’ pop sensibility. While both are intriguingly catchy, they still feel delightfully innovative in their own right. As a songwriter, she’s frightfully incredible at pinpointing of the root of emotions and she then presents the frank reality of those emotions in a way encapsulates uneasy vulnerability and unfiltered truth. On one hand, she’s a timeless songwriter – but she’s also managed to capture the relatable details of modern-day dating.

Atwood Magazine spoke with Emily Burns about information overload, embracing recent challenges, unrequited love, her latest EP I Love You, You’re The Worst and more!

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:: stream/purchase Emily Burns here ::



 

A CONVERSATION WITH EMILY BURNS

I Love You, You're the Worst - Emily Burns

Atwood Magazine: The EP’s final track ‘I Love You, You’re The Worst’ is one of my favourites on the EP. At what point did you know you wanted to name the EP after that track?

Writing this song was one of the best moments I’ve ever had in the studio. I remember literally jumping out of my chair because I was so excited, so I knew straight away that I wanted to release it. There’s a bit of a theme of unrequited love in the EP so I thought this title tied it all together nicely. 

Lyrically, ‘Curse’ is absolutely phenomenal. What was the writing process like for that track?

Thank you! I wrote it with Jonny Lattimer, who is one of my favourite people to work with because I feel super comfortable with him, so it was easy to open up and speak very freely. I was in a place at the time, where I felt like everyone around me was falling in love and only I wasn’t able to. As if love was this world that was inaccessible to me. I decided to use the word “Curse” as a metaphor… making out that love is evil and that I don’t actually want to find it. We started talking about relationships and listing off all of the positive things about them, then twisting them to make them sound negative – “Don’t try to pull me in, to your world of movie scripts and violins.” The irony of the song is that I’m just saying all of these things to save pride and in actual fact, everyone wants to be in love, right?



All of your EPs thus far are really distinctive and incredible in their own unique way. In terms of track selection, how hard is it to pick the final 4 or so songs that’ll make up the EP?

It’s never really a hard decision when it comes to what songs will go on an EP, because usually they just fit together really naturally. For example, with I Love You, You’re The Worst, I wrote those 4 tracks in pretty quick succession and they feel quite representative of a particular chapter in my life.

The production across this EP, and throughout your entire discography, is phenomenal. How do you work with a producer to find the perfect sound to complement a track’s lyricism?

I’m fortunate that I’ve found a few key people that I really love to work with, so I trust that they’re always going to smash the production. We’ve worked together so much that they know my sound really well now, and know just what to do to bring the songs to life.

Emily Burns © Ayshe Zaifoglu

Emily Burns © Ayshe Zaifoglu

Your song ‘Is It Just Me?’ is absolutely beautiful and unsurprisingly seems to have really resonated with so many people. Why do you think so many people have connected with it?

It’s kind of sad that this is the one people have resonated with the most, because it’s a pretty tragic story! I think it’s just a very honest song about heartbreak, and everyone has been through that right? Everyone has that one person that, no matter how long you’ve been apart, you still wince a little every time you hear their name.



I love the artwork concept that you had for the singles and how you have continued that theme on the EP’s artwork. What was the creative process behind that?

This was super fun to do! We took SO many polaroids for it. Because the songs on the EP are both painful and happy in equal measures, we deliberately pieced the pictures together a bit haphazardly, because we wanted to represent distortion.

Obviously, everything that has been going on has impacted a bunch of plans you had coming up. How have you come to terms with that over the course of the lockdown?

I have had to change plans and rethink a lot of things over lockdown but I’ve actually quite enjoyed the challenge. Finding new ways to engage with my audience and promote my songs whilst in isolation has been a real learning curve. The hardest part has been cancelling shows… I miss playing live so madly and can’t wait to get back out on tour again.

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Are there any underrated or emerging artists that you think people should check out?

I’ve been on tour recently with an artist called Nick Wilson, who just has the most beautiful voice you will ever hear. And also a girl called Winnie Raeder, who I went to see play at the end of last year – she will genuinely give your goosebumps, goosebumps.

UK Singer/Songwriter Winnie Raeder Stuns with “She”

:: PREMIERE ::

Finally, looking forward to the future, what are you most excited about?

Most immediately, I’m looking forward to playing a live-streamed show from Abbey Road Studios on July 30th. It’s gonna be super special and pretty emotional for me, because I used to work behind the front desk there for 4.5 years! And after that, I’ve got a few more releases lined up that I’m super excited about… including a few collaborations that I can’t wait to share with you.

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:: stream/purchase Emily Burns here ::



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I Love You, You're the Worst - Emily Burns

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Luke Pettican

Luke Pettican is a Staff Writer at Atwood Magazine and 2019 graduate from the University of Lancaster. Having already lived in both England and America, Luke never seems to stay in one place for long but wherever he is, he always tries to seek out both the best eateries and music. While studying abroad at the University of Iowa, Luke worked as the Director of Public Relations for Scope Productions, working with artists such as Billie Eilish, Portugal. The Man and Coin. The best way to get in touch with Luke is at lukepettican.music@gmail.com