Get to know the ris­ing Bri­tish singer-song­writer whose tales of same-sex love are set­ting the stream­ing charts alight.

Gay Times Magazine - - CONTENTS: - Pho­tog­ra­phy Gabriel Mokake Words Lewis Cor­ner

Say hello to Bri­tish pop’s best kept se­cret. As she re­leases her de­but mini al­bum Seven Scenes From the Same Sum­mer, we talk to the singer-song­writer about be­ing an openly gay role model for a new gen­er­a­tion of mu­sic fans.

When we meet up with ris­ing singer-song­writer Emily Burns in East Lon­don one sunny morn­ing, it’s less than a week after the re­lease of her su­perb new mini al­bum Seven Scenes From The Same Sum­mer. Sup­port for the col­lec­tion of seven songs – care­fully con­sid­ered pop full of vul­ner­a­bil­ity, heartache and hon­esty all wrapped up in chewy melodies – has been over­whelm­ingly pos­i­tive.

Two weeks ear­lier, Emily had leav­ing drinks after jack­ing in her 9 to 5 – hav­ing spent years as a re­cep­tion­ist at the world-fa­mous Abbey Road Stu­dios. Now she’s well on the way to liv­ing her own dreams of star­dom like the many fa­mous mu­si­cians she’s seen pass through those doors, head­lin­ing her first ever show in Lon­don in the sum­mer, and with plans for plenty more gigs in the com­ing months.

We caught up with the promis­ing new Bri­tish tal­ent to talk about her ad­dic­tive brand of pop, how Amer­i­can superstar Pink changed her life, and why she feels it’s so im­por­tant to be open about her sex­u­al­ity from the start of her ca­reer.

As a new artist break­ing through, what’s the bi est chal­lenge you find your­self fac­ing?

The bi†est chal­lenge is when you’re re­leas­ing songs that are so per­sonal to you – be­cause I al­ways write about things that are gen­uinely go­ing on in my life – and think­ing, ‘Are peo­ple go­ing to be able to re­late and con­nect with this?’ I’ve just had so many peo­ple reach out to say that, for ex­am­ple with Bitch, that was the break­down of my first re­la­tion­ship, and it was nice that peo­ple were get­ting in touch and say­ing, ‘I was also dat­ing some­one who wasn’t com­fort­able in their selves and I went through the same thing with their par­ents and all these dy­nam­ics.’ That was crazy be­cause it felt like such a per­sonal ex­pe­ri­ence to me, but it’s so nice hear­ing it from other peo­ple who have gone through the ex­act same thing.

I was go­ing to pick up on Bitch. It’s a very pop­u­lar song of yours, so what is the story be­hind it?

It was funny be­cause I just sat in my bed­room and I was just play­ing some chords when that line, ‘So you can live with­out it, but you don’t have to be a bitch about it,’ came to me. It just felt so right for the time. It was a long time ago that re­la­tion­ship, and I’ve fully, well and truly got over it. But I guess it’s kind of my first love, and she was very much not up for be­ing out and loud and proud about it. So when we broke up, she im­me­di­ately got a boyfriend and it felt like I was erad­i­cated from her life en­tirely. Whereas for me, it was a re­ally big part of my life. I mean, she’s def­i­nitely not a bitch! I’ve seen her many times since, and we’re friends. The song was more tongue in cheek than any­thing. She’s ac­tu­ally a re­ally nice girl.

How did the con­cept for Seven Scenes From The Same Sum­mer come about?

I think I just re­alised that I was writ­ing a lot about my re­la­tion­ships that were go­ing on. See, where it says Seven Scenes From The Same Sum­mer, that makes it sound like I’m go­ing around. It’s cer­tainly not all from one sum­mer – I have to just make that clear. But ev­ery­thing I was writ­ing about last sum­mer and up un­til now was about my past re­la­tion­ships and my dat­ing life, and I no­ticed that it was ac­tu­ally quite in­ter­est­ing. I just wanted to get that across. Dat­ing is re­ally hard, and to me, I’m just grate­ful for ev­ery ex­pe­ri­ence I have be­cause it be­comes in­spi­ra­tion. Does that sound re­ally bad?

Not at all. I was ac­tu­ally go­ing to pick up on the whole di­ary con­cept be­cause when you’re writ­ing a song, how do judge be­ing hon­est with your song­writ­ing but not giv­ing too much of your­self away?

There’s not much I won’t re­veal. I wouldn’t say I’ve got any­thing to hide. I’m not go­ing to delve into the gory de­tails of things, but I try to give away as much of what I’m feel­ing as pos­si­ble. The songs will then have more depth to them.

How im­por­tant was it to you that you were very open about your sex­u­al­ity from the start of your ca­reer?

It was very im­por­tant be­cause I didn’t want it to be this big re­veal at any point. When I was 13/14 and grow­ing up lis­ten­ing to mu­sic, I was re­ally want­ing there to be some­body who was putting mu­sic out who was open. I was like, ‘Is this nor­mal, how I’m feel­ing?’ I want to be some­one who those 13/14/15-year-olds now can lis­ten to and look at me and my ca­reer and re­alise that it is nor­mal. I wouldn’t want to make a big deal out of it. It’s just a reg­u­lar thing.

Did you have any LGBTQ role mod­els that you did look up to when you were younger?

I’m not sure how much you’d put her in the LGBTQ camp, but I was the bi†est Pink fan grow­ing up. I went to see Pink four or five times and at all of her con­certs there were just so many gay women. That was def­i­nitely a big thing for me grow­ing up. Look­ing around and just see­ing ev­ery­one be­ing open and com­fort­able in that space is why I went back so many times. Ob­vi­ously it was be­cause Pink is amaz­ing too, but it was also be­cause of the crowd. The en­vi­ron­ment at her con­certs were just so wel­com­ing. I felt re­ally at home – even be­fore I came out and I was only 12.

When it comes to these big pop ladies, they al­ways seem to create safe spa­ces at their shows for young queer kids.

I went to see Pink in Coven­try and it was the only

place my girl­friend at the time would hold my hand in pub­lic. Look­ing back at it now, it’s quite emo­tional ac­tu­ally. She was ob­vi­ously very shy about it and un­com­fort­able, but then in that place she was sud­denly OK. That’s prob­a­bly why I was like, ‘Let’s go again!’

It must feel amaz­ing that you can now start build­ing a ca­reer where you can of­fer that kind of safe space for queer kids to­day?

I’ve ac­tu­ally no­ticed it. I played Dot To Dot ear­lier in the year, which goes from Manch­ester, Bris­tol and then Not­ting­ham, and I no­ticed at each gig there were quite a few gay peo­ple in the au­di­ence. It just made me feel re­ally happy that these peo­ple are con­nect­ing with the mu­sic, and I hope that I can do the same as what Pink did for me and create that en­vi­ron­ment that’s a safe space. I want it to be a happy place for the com­mu­nity.

There’s some in­cred­i­ble mu­sic com­ing through at the mo­ment from queer fe­male singers – why do you think it’s all hap­pen­ing now?

This might be a naive thing to say, but I don’t know if it’s just a gen­er­a­tional thing. As our gen­er­a­tion are grow­ing up... I was very lucky when I was younger and I came out as my fam­ily were com­pletely okay with it. Ev­ery­thing was fine for me. But maybe ten years be­fore that, it wasn’t quite the same sit­u­a­tion. So per­haps in the mu­sic in­dus­try now, peo­ple feel more com­fort­able go­ing into it. Es­pe­cially when you have peo­ple like Sam Smith who have kind of gone ahead be­ing out and proud and be­come a great role model for ev­ery­one mov­ing for­ward. I’m not sure why the women are only just com­ing through now, but it’s an amaz­ing thing to see.

How im­por­tant is queer vis­i­bil­ity for LGBTQ youth?

It’s su­per im­por­tant for young LGBTQ kids grow­ing up to see these peo­ple be­ing given a plat­form just the same as a straight per­son. It will only con­tinue to grow, and that’s in­cred­i­ble. Young peo­ple will start to, from a younger and younger age, feel more com­fort­able with who they are. I hope there will be a time where peo­ple don’t bat an eye­lid.

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