About six years ago, a friend gave me a mix CD (remember those?) with recordings of SXSW performances, including tracks from a set by Emmy the Great (the stage name of London-based songstress Emma-Lee Moss). Ten seconds into the first song, “We Almost Had a Baby,” I had chills running down my spine. “Well you didn’t stop / When I told you to stop / And there was a month / When I wasn’t sure,” Moss softly crooned over a simple, doo-wop melody. For those of you unfamiliar with the tune, the rest of it is just as catchy, heartbreaking, unsentimental, and beautiful as you can imagine. With a penchant for the literary and a natural gift for storytelling, Moss has crafted a small but formidable discography of songs about love and loss—minus the sickeningly saccharine nostalgia of your standard pop ditty.
Lately, you’ve been writing a lot for various media outlets such as Noisey and The Guardian. How did you go from being an entertainer yourself to writing about entertainment? I started my career interning for Artrocker magazine while I was at university, and both music and music journalism progressed at the same time. I’ve never been able to choose and I think, in today’s world, there’s no point in making a choice. You just express yourself in whatever form you want.
Could you talk about your new book blog? I would love to. Most people switch off when I start talking about it. I just started a silly site for writing about the books I’ve been reading, just because I’ve got to this point where my music is moving away from literary allusions, and I am separating the prosaic, wordy side of me from the more abstract, musical side of me. I realised I would be more satisfied if I literally drew a line drawn between Emma-Lee Moss, the writer, and Emmy the Great, the musician. Also I need to talk more about books, because the older I get the more I realise that they are one of the only constants in my life. But my blog has a lot of glitches. I’m annoyed about that.
What are your top three favorite books at the moment? Last three books I loved: How Does a Single Blade of Grass Thank the Sun by Doretta Lau; On Beauty by Zadie Smith, The Pregnant Widow by Martin Amis.
It’s been over three years since your last album, Virtue, came out. Are you working on any new material? Yes, always!!