Our interview with talented Emily Warren as she recently premiered her Poking Holes” music video today!
Having written Dua Lipa’s smash “New Rules”, the strong and perfectly timed feminist anthem given today’s landscape…She’s got a lot to say, and you’re just scratching the surface of the incredible woman and talent that is Emily Warren. Just as a quick reminder of her success in 2017, a Grammy for The Chainsmokers’ “Don’t Let Me Down”, Emily was included in Forbes’ 30 Under 30 Music Class of 2018 and she also Co-wrote the Viral Successes: Dua Lipa’s “New Rules” (UK record-breaker) & Charli XCX’s “Boys” & others.
Describe yourself in 3 words:
Empathetic, funny (are you allowed to say this about yourself???), passionate.
We’re sure you have been asked this million times but how did you get in the industry? What is your musical background? Who else in your family sings?
My dad, although a lawyer professionally, is super musical. He has a band, Normal by Day, made up of his childhood friends and always played music around the house. My older brothers were also always blasting rap from their rooms in the 90s when I was a kid, my twin brother sang in the opera, and I was put in piano lessons from a young age. I started writing songs in 5th grade and put an EP out 2 years later. In highschool, I started a band, and when I got to college and the band fell apart I was sort of pushed into a writing session where I wrote with another person for the first time in my life, and 3 years later I signed a publishing deal. That person I had my first writing session with just so happened to be Scott Harris, an amazing writer and friend who I wrote “Don’t Let Me Down” by the Chainsmokers with a couple years later. It’s been an absolute whirlwind and I’m pretty sure I’m the luckiest person on the planet.
How many instruments can you play?
Piano is my strongest, then guitar, bass, and believe it or not, I even took harp lessons for a couple of years.
What inspires you to create new music?
There is endless inspiration in the world. We all have shit going on personally, if it’s not my own shit then it’s a friend’s, or a collaborator’s. I also get a lot from books, I love reading, and current events. But probably the deepest well of inspiration for me comes from travel and experience. I haven’t had a place to live in 3 years, and it keeps me on my toes – I’m constantly changing the backdrop and throwing myself outside of my comfort zone, and that prevents me from falling into any sort of routine that has, in the past, lead to burning myself out. Gotta keep it interesting!!
How is a normal day in your life?
I usually wake up pretty early, I try to read a bit, and give myself some quiet time with no phone or any outside distractions before my day starts. Then most of the time, if I’m in a new city, I like to walk around and explore with whatever time I have before going into a writing session. I really feel so grateful and lucky to be living a life where I get to wake up and do what I love. I often have to pinch myself.
Tell us about your single “Poking Holes?”
I wrote “Poking Holes” with my friends Scott Harris (who I mentioned earlier) and Nick Ruth. We were having a conversation about my relationship in which I actually said the phrase “poking holes” and that’s where the concept came from. The metaphor the song is meant to portray is the idea that if you have a large painting, for example, and you start poking tiny holes in it with a needle, each hole itself could go unnoticed, until over time, when there are several, you step back and realize it ruined the picture. It’s the same as in a relationship. If you’re having small problems, they might not seem like much as isolated issues, so you brush them under the rug, but over time it adds up and can ruin the big picture. We tried to portray this idea in the video as well, created and directed by my friend (and, fun fact: the keyboard player in my high school band), Matt Porter. All of my childhood best friends were in the video (which was fun in and of itself), and they are running around setting up little scenes that over the course of the video begin to fall apart and get messy. Writing, releasing, and making the video for this song has been an absolutely blissful experience.
Emily Warren - Poking Holes
What’s the best and hardest part of being a musician? Do you ever get nervous?
The best part is that I am genuinely waking up and doing something I love every day, and I realize how rare and special that is. It’s an absolute pleasure expressing myself, helping other people express themselves, and in some cases, potentially being a part of something that provides comfort and joy to people around the world. I really can’t think of a worst part, I don’t have many complaints. Just pure fun. And I used to get super nervous performing, but when I learned to focus on having fun myself verses worrying about how I look or sound or anything like that, the nerves mostly disappeared.
How was working with such big names in the industry like The Chainsmokers, Sean Paul and David Guetta?
I used to get super starstruck, like unable to speak, and I won’t lie that still happens sometimes, but what I think is most jarring when you work with celebrities or people you look up to and admire, is that they really are no different from anyone else. They have the same insecurities, same fears, and in many cases heightened anxieties due to the pressure of maintaining their success, being under the microscope, and having to deal with the intricacies of their personal lives broadcast in the media. It really puts things into perspective when you realize that people are just people. Everyone needs someone to talk to, and wants to be heard. Working with people I’ve looked up to my whole life has been a privilege and really quite eye opening.
Now about writing Dua Lipa’s smash “New Rules?”
“New Rules” is genuinely something I’m so proud of that it makes me emotional. My ultimate goal has always been to use pop music as a vessel for social impact. I always have thought that as songwriters, we have a responsibility to make sure we’re saying the right thing, being careful with our words and our message. When I first started writing Pop music, I was told to never write a lyric that made it seem like the guy wasn’t gonna “get it”. “New Rules” is exactly the opposite, and the messages I’ve gotten from so many females who actually used this song to help them brake an unhealthy cycle with someone who didn’t appreciate their worth, have been rewarding beyond explanation. I’m so happy we wrote a song about something, I’m so happy Dua Lipa delivered it, made the video she made, and that this all came out during this incredible feminist moment in history. I seriously couldn’t be more excited and grateful and proud, it makes me VERY emotional.
If you could work with any artist on tour right now who would it be?
Do you have a role model?
Best advice ever given?
To trust myself.
What is your all-time favorite song? And why?
Oh jeez, that’s a hard one! Can I at least pick three? It’s gotta be either “Misty” by Ella Fitzgerald (because she’s the best there ever was or ever will be and this song puts me in a trance), “I Get Along Without You” by Chet Baker (his voice, the lyrics, the melody, the music, the everything), or “I Can’t Make You Love Me” by Bonnie Raitt (this is the pinnacle of an emo lyric, and I love an emo lyric).
Any loves, other than music?
Traveling, reading, walking, my family, my friends, my team, and my boyfriend Phil.
If you could meet someone living or dead, who would it be and why?
Trump so I could punch him in the face. Actually, no. I dont wanna waste my one answer on him, he doesn’t deserve. Probably John Mayer. His music has shaped my writing and my life in so many ways, I’d love to just get a chance to talk to the guy whose mind came up with so many of my favorite songs and lyrics.
Idea of a perfect Sunday?
Being in a beautiful place with good people.
Do you support any charities?
Yup, Planned Parenthood!
Any future plans you want to share with us? What is your next goal as a musician?
I’ve got an album coming out this year, so that will be my next big milestone. As far as goals, I just hope to continue being fortunate enough to continue doing what I love and meeting amazing people along the way.
Where we can follow you?
Name 3 things you can’t live without: Water, conversation, and travel.
Name one of your strengths: I can put my foot behind my head
Favorite healthy food & favorite cheat food?: All fruit, all carbs
Quote: “Wasn’t Me”
Book: The Unbearable Lightness of Being
Movie: Inside Out
Actor/Actress: Greta Gerwig
Tv Series: Mad Men
Restaurant: Verjus in Paris
Sports Team: I’m gonna say the Knicks because I’m from New York but I’d be lying if I said I’ve ever watched a full game of any sport in my life lol