Interview: Climate Change Advocate Emily Magpie Talks World Crisis & New Album ‘Let’s Talk About the Weather’ Muses

Dream-pop songstress and climate change advocate Emily Magpie helps listeners rediscover their relationship to nature on ‘Let’s Talk About the Weather.’

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Let's Talk About the Weather - Emily Magpie
Let’s Talk About the Weather – Emily Magpie

A truly alluring release bringing you closer to earth and Mother Nature, Emily Magpie’s Let’s Talk About the Weather examines our connection to the environment in a time of climate crisis. Embedded with soothing sounds of nature and the world around us, the album takes listeners on a journey of self-discovery while also connecting with something deeper than ourselves.  Let’s Talk About the Weather conveys a profound message of hope, but is also laced with dark undercurrents. Magpie is optimistic things can improve, but also shows the grim reality of what life can be like if we don’t wake up and make a change.

Known for her radiant, wistful vocals and atmospheric soundscapes, Magpie’s distinctive style is truly hypnotic. Each track off the album has it’s own uniquely powerful message and sonic smartness, creating a listening experience different from anything you’ve heard before.

Atwood Magazine spoke with Emily Magpie, chatting about album inspirations, activists she looks up to, and more!

Listen: ‘Let’s Talk About the Weather’ – Emily Magpie


Atwood Magazine: Your mesmerizing release Let’s Talk About the Weather explores our deep connection to each other and mother nature in a time of climate crisis. And now we’ve also had another major crisis befall us, COVID-19. Are there any words of encouragement and hope you can share with our readers in this difficult time?

Emily Magpie: The human spirit is an amazing thing. Although this is an incredibly sad and tough time I’ve seen so many people looking for the light within it, and really connecting with community, kindness, and nature. It seems to be affecting all of us, in one way or another. So although we are physically distanced, we’re the opposite of alone- we’re all together in the shit, trying to help each other out.

On the topic of climate change, what first got you interested in being an advocate for the cause, and how can others make a difference?

Emily Magpie: I think through hearing so much in the news, on social media, and through activists and scientists. Feeling worried about it, feeling a bit helpless. For a long time, I was listening and reading and wanting to do something, which I feel is relatable for a lot of people. I write about what my brain is stuck on, so I found I’d written a whole load of songs about our connection to nature, each other and ourselves, and the idea came together to create a piece of work about it, and to use my music to join and share the conversation.

Your album begins with a powerful statement by environmental activist Greta Thunberg. What made you choose her words to use as your opening?

Emily Magpie: She’s an incredible advocate. I actually got to see her speak in Bristol recently when she came over which was amazing. I was listening to her speech and knew I wanted to use it as she’s such a figurehead that’s captured public attention. This album is all about the experience of living in this time of climate crisis so she felt like the perfect voice to open an album exploring it.

The tracks off your album are so sonically unique and make your dreamy pop vocals shine. Can you tell us more about how the music was crafted and what inspired such distinctive sounds, arrangements, and instrumentation?

Emily Magpie: Thank you, that’s lovely to hear! I wanted the album to be a time capsule of sounds of now. I was imagining it getting found in a dystopian future, where perhaps the things we take for granted no longer exist and people thinking ‘What was it like to be alive then? What did bats sound like? How did people react to the situation?’ (I had been reading a lot of Margaret Atwood)… So I found a load of sounds of birds, deepsea bloop noises, tectonic plates, Tibetan singing bowls from my own recordings and online and played with how the textures could be woven into the album. As I created each track, it began to feel like it had a setting (the bottom of the sea, by the fireside in Autumn) so I ran with that and had a load of fun playing with how I could make the sound an immersive world.

Watch: “All is Silence” – Emily Magpie

Your song “Sounds of Reilanne” has a very tranquil feel with birds chirping and static noise. Reillanne is a commune in the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence department in southeastern France. Can you tell us more about the message behind the song?

Emily Magpie: I started writing it there, it’s a beautiful village where you feel you’re high up in the mountains, a birdseye view on your own life and the world. I had been touring in France and stayed in Reillanne with my Uncle for a few days. I ended up staying with an amazing woman and her kids near Hossegor after that and met so many big-hearted people along the way. I was feeling emotional about the brief and beautiful connections I made out there, the transient nature and the interconnectedness I felt. And I felt like that applied to life in general, just traveling in that way helped me see it clearly.

Sheikh Zayed is most recognized for being “the man who turned the desert green” because he invested oil revenue into projects that would help transform dessert environments into a lush green land. “Make The Trade” features his voice at the start of the track, can you tell us more about Zayed and how he inspired the song?

Emily Magpie: I lifted his quote from Arid Land Development Co’s advert. It got my imagination going as it felt like an advert that could come from a future full of deserts (a’la Mad Max) and companies that then build businesses around turning these back into the green space which we’d already lost.  It was more so a moment which fired up an image I liked.

Your album concludes with “Changing Winds” which features your stunning velvety vocals atop wind chime soundscapes. What does this song mean to you and why did you end Let’s Talk About The Weather with this compelling track?

Emily Magpie: That song to me is a tropical storm. The feeling of the power of nature and how when she wants she can change things, so to be careful what you wish for and the choices you’ve made. I feel like I’ve bought into a lot of things which I don’t really need, and that song is about questioning that and a warning.

Emily Magpie © Hannah Lisa

So in the album, you’ve referenced Greta Thunberg and Sheikh Zayed, as was mentioned, are there any other significant activists you look up to that are working towards environmental change?

Emily Magpie: George Monbiot- I’ve read a few of his books which influenced me a lot before I created this album. The power of the narrative in creating change. I’ve been working on my launch event with The Woodland Trust, One Tree Per Child and More Trees BANES who are all doing amazing things to get more trees planted- a simple and beautiful way to be active in this. November is tree planting season so there will be so much to get involved in then once we are able to be outside again.

Who are some artists you've been listening to that you can recommend to our readers?

Emily Magpie: I love Sudan Archives, she’s a big inspiration. Also right now I’m really into Rosie Lowe, Hiatus Kayote, and Hayley Heynderickx.

Lastly, what’s next for Emily Magpie?

Emily Magpie: Lot’s of re-jigging of tour dates! Hopefully, a couple of festivals for end of August if still going ahead (Green Man and Boomtown), and I’ve moved my immersive album launch and some other dates to October (An immersive full-band gig in an indoor forest of 200 trees. To be planted post-event). I’m excited to get out with the band as soon as gigs can begin again, and in the meantime, I am building a home studio to get making new sounds. I hope everyone else is keeping well in these uncertain times and getting the support they need.

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