Check out our interview with DC- based alt pop singer/songwriter and popular Twitch influencer Emily Henry who just released her single “How It Feels”, the song is a celebration of falling in love, inspired by the romance between the main characters of the queer pirate rom-com Our Flag Means Death. She confides, “It’s a love story between two middle aged men, both of whom are finding something good and real for the first time in their lives. Their fumbling romance is sweet, awkward, hilarious, and deeply relatable.” The pop track was completely funded by her dedicated Twitch community.
Follow Emily @emilyhenrymusic
Hi Emily, please tell us a little about you?
I’m a singer-songwriter from Virginia who writes emotional pop songs that are often inspired by books and movies I love! I started streaming my music on Twitch.tv in the pandemic and fell in love with the format. Now I stream three times a week and with the help of my amazing online community I’ve been able to release a lot of music in the past two years!
Describe yourself in 3 words?
Optimistic, thoughtful, goofy
We’re sure you have been asked this million times but how did you get in the industry?
My parents are both musical, so music has been part of my life literally since before birth! They were in bands when I was little and my dad taught me guitar very young. I started writing songs in middle school and started playing shows professionally around college, but it wasn’t until I started streaming on Twitch in 2020 that I was able to go full-time as a musician. I think we’re living in a unique age of the music industry where there are a ton of different ways to get into it, and I never would have dreamed that live streaming would be what brought me here!
How has this changed your life?
I’ve always been drawn to making music and it is such a good, hopeful, reassuring feeling to be spending every day doing that thing that my heart wants to do the most. There have been and will always be bumps in the road, because that’s how life works, but knowing that I’m filling my days with work that’s important to me really makes me feel like anything is possible.
Describe your sound in 3 words?
Serious answer: melodic, catchy, emotional
Unserious answer: bummertown sadboi jams
Who influenced you and why did you choose to make music?
I love lots of kinds of writing and when I was in high school I went to a summer camp called The Young Writers Workshop as a fiction writer. I saw the songwriters perform and I was so dazzled by them that I decided I wanted to do that instead the following summer. My years at YWW and my amazing teacher, Tom Prasada-Rao, are the reason I started calling myself a songwriter and thinking of it as something I wanted to be for the rest of my life.
Tell us about your new single “How It Feels?”
“How It Feels” is a pop-rock love song about the romance in pirate romcom Our Flag Means Death, which I absolutely adored. It’s a startling, funny, tender love story between two middle-aged men who don’t know themselves very well at the start of the show, and they find something really beautiful and real with each other. I found their story so joyful and “How It Feels” is my expression of that joy.
What is the most rewarding part of your work?
Connecting with other people, creating art, connecting with art, seeing that they’ve connected with the art – that’s all a big wonderful feedback loop that I find so satisfying and inspiring. I feel like art is a collaborative endeavor between creators, the works themselves, and the audience, and it is consistently, magically rewarding to be involved in that collaborative work at all. It’s a privilege to spend time in the big creative sandbox all together.
What book should every entrepreneur read?
As an extremely baby entrepreneur in that I became fully self-employed just a couple years back, I don’t have any hots tips on this! I have Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert on my list, and I love hearing Jack Conte, the CEO of Patreon, talk about the business of music, if that helps.
What would you say are the greatest lessons you learned so far?
People are good and they want to help. Also, exercise is very good for your mental health and you should do some.
What advice would you give to your younger self and why?
Trust yourself. It’s okay to try things and have them turn out badly, because mistakes help you learn. Failure is a mandatory component of creating the life you want.
How would your best friend describe you?
I threw this into the chat and got back “idealistic, bubbly, and so very authentic. I also always equate you with your middle name, Joy, it makes me smile every time I think about how it’s the perfect fit.” So now I have to go cry about how nice that was, I guess.
If you are a book, what would be the title of the book and why?
This is an especially tough question because there is an Emily Henry who is a popular fiction author!!! I feel like if I answer the question I will really mess up the Google SEO for both of us!!!
What’s next for Emily Henry in 2023?
In between music livestreams on Twitch, I would love to do more touring around the U.S. and maybe even Europe! I’d like to spend a good bit of next year writing new music, and I also want to teach myself home production so I can produce my own demos. I have so many plans!
What is your favorite healthy food?
I spent a year in Korea and I came away with a real love for fermented foods, especially in spicy soups and stews such as doenjang jigae, something we have at home very often!
And your favorite cheat food?
I don’t believe in the idea of “cheat” foods or attaching value judgments to what you put in your body! There’s so much emotion wrapped up in what we eat, let’s be gentle with ourselves and remember that giving your body the energy it needs to do things is good and important and a shared part of the human experience.
What is your own definition of happiness?
It’s ever-evolving! Knowing yourself, caring about yourself and others, spending time with others – there’s a sweet spot in there I think that can carry you through a lot of ups and downs!
Where do you see yourself and your career in 5 years from now?
Five years ago, my career was unrecognizably different from my career today. For example, I didn’t have any idea what Twitch was! So it’s very hard to predict, and I look forward to being flexible and optimistic enough to accept what the next five years have to offer me. I hope I am regularly touring, collaborating with artists I admire, and continuing to celebrate the amazing community support that has brought me here.
Favorite song? Why?
Always the toughest of questions. If you go by how many times I’ve played a song on repeat, “Change” by Patty Griffin might still be top of the list. Patty Griffin is one of my favorite songwriters and one of the only clear influences on my work. I love her delicate, powerful wordplay, and her amazing sense of melody. Although she’s a folk artist, “Change” is from an early album where she was doing kind of a folk-pop-rock thing for a while, and I love the contrast between the energy and drive of the production and the sadness and conflict in the lyrics and melody.
Book: For the past few years it’s been Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke, an amazing historical fantasy novel that starts as a small comedy of manners in the style of Jane Austen and expands into an epic, wild, magical story of power and consequences and fate. It’s fantastic and hits all my particular buttons as a reader.
Quote: I’m one of those people who never remembers specific quotes! If you remind me of one I love, I’ll definitely agree with you that it’s a good one, though!
Movie: Fight Club was the first movie I’d ever seen with an unreliable narrator, and for that reason it was my favorite for a long time. I also think it’s an incredible example of an adapted screenplay that ends up having more to say than its source material. Full disclosure, I spent a pretty fair amount of time here trying to settle on a favorite, so I think I have to give up on that and just give you a selection of movies I’ve loved in the past few years: Everything Everywhere All At Once, Jupiter Ascending, Skyfall, Inception, Mad Max: Fury Road, Pacific Rim, Knives Out.
TV Series: I’m not even going to try to pick a favorite. I love too much television. Here are some shows that mean a lot to me: Our Flag Means Death, Hannibal, due South, The Untamed, Avatar: The Last Airbender, Doctor Who, Community, Arrested Development, She-Ra and the Princesses of Power.
Favorite Food: I discovered Laoganma brand chili crisp during the pandemic and now I eat it almost every single day of my life, so I think that probably counts as a favorite.
Travel Destination: I was about to visit Vietnam before the pandemic, and would still love to go!
Sports Team: I don’t watch a lot of sports! I like when curling is on in the Olympics, if that helps anyone!