Vlogger, writer, pop star. Emma Blackery has achieved a lot in her 26 years on this Earth, and she has big dreams for the future too. Following her hugely successful Magnetized tour last year and with an album due out in the coming months, she’s keeping busy and loving life. Having just released her new single “Dirt”, she spoke to ThisIsTheLatest about ‘Feel Good 101’, social media and what’s on her bucket list.
TITL: Hi Emma, lovely to speak to you. How are you?
Emma Blackery: Hi, I’m good thank you. How are you?
TITL: Glad I’ve got the weekend off.
TITL: It happens every weekend, but the buzz and joy is still the same…
EB: I don’t think I’ve ever talked about myself so much in a week, so I’m looking forward to a weekend of just relaxing, playing video games and being by myself.
TITL: Ah, I’m at a gig tomorrow so I’ve that to look forward to.
EB: That’s great, who are you seeing?
TITL: Thirty Seconds To Mars in Manchester. I’ve seen them something like 15 times so far I think…
EB: Big fan then…
TITL: You could say that yeah…Okay, first of all, thank you so much for taking the time to talk to me today. I really do appreciate it.
EB: Oh not at all, thank you for having me!
TITL: I read your book, ‘Feel Good 101’ last week and I’d like to run a review of that a few days after this feature if that’s alright with you?
EB: I really hope you liked it if you’re reviewing… (laughs)
TITL: For those who might not – yet – know who you are, exactly who is Emma Blackery?
EB: Oh wow. You’d think after twenty-six years I would know that but I’m still getting there. I am a singer-songwriter who has been making music since they were about twelve or thirteen years old, who found success by putting their music, and their life, on YouTube. I’m now trying to extend my reach and head on into the music world and I’m documenting all of it on my channel as well. And I wrote a book…
TITL: It could be argued that individuals who have found fame via the likes of YouTube have and can get a lot of criticism when they branch out into different things such as writing and music. How do you feel about that and do you mind people’s criticisms?
EB: I definitely used to. I think a lot of people like to put people in boxes. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, it’s just what we do as humans – we like to see people as one particular thing. So when people are used to seeing you make and post YouTube videos, they call you a vlogger, and when you try to branch out into other things, they will always try to put YouTube in front of it – because that’s what they know. I’m hoping to try and break that. I’m definitely not ashamed of YouTube; I’m proud of everything I’ve built on there and I’ve been able to connect with people I never would’ve met in my entire life if I hadn’t put my life online – but, right now, I’m putting EVERYTHING into my music and I would love for people to see that as its own thing. I’ve loved music for as long as I can remember, and it’s nice that people are seeing my passion for that through my own music.
TITL: Is your latest single “Dirt”, addressed to anyone in particular or is it just a more generalised pop tale of revenge?
EB: It was inspired by somebody. I don’t think it’s particularly professional to name that person, but it was written in late summer of last year when I had a falling out with somebody that I hadn’t really seen eye to eye with for a couple of years. You know how it is – tweets get thrown around, you make digs at each other; it’s all silly and childish, and we had another falling out, at which point people online started taking sides. It got to the point where I actually left social media for two weeks and, if you’re a millennial, two weeks is like taking a year off from your life. It really got that bad – I just had to leave. I was so angry and upset about what had gone on that I just had to get it out in song form and now I’m actually really grateful for that experience as I got to write “Dirt.” It was worth it in the end.
TITL: I went on holiday to Australia last year with the plan of staying off, or at least reducing my social media use, but I just couldn’t do it….
EB: I say it every time I go on holiday – that I’m not going to go online, that I’ll make time for myself…but as soon as you get somewhere, or see something nice, I’m taking photos and sharing. But at the time prior to writing “Dirt”, I literally took two weeks off social media. I deleted the apps off my phone, I logged out of everything. I just didn’t want to know any of it.
TITL: You released your Magnetized EP last year and embarked on an extensive UK tour. Looking back, do you have any favourite moments or highlights?
EB: I got to play Shepherd’s Bush Empire. It’s such a prestigious venue; it’s been in such high regard since I was a child and being able to play there…to be backstage and see all the names of the bands and artists you look up to that have graced the stage – it was an incredible moment. We had so many great shows – Cardiff was amazing, Manchester was amazing but Shepherd’s Bush really stood out to me. We had special light production and people turned out, even though it was only a few days after a really tragic terror attack in London. Music still proved to be something that united all of us and for people to come out in the face of that, even though they were afraid, was an incredible thing.
TITL: Feel free to come back to Manchester any time then I can come and see you…
EB: That sounds like a great idea…
TITL: Now that you are focusing more on your music, are there any future performance or tour plans in the works?
EB: There is definitely some tour stuff coming up in the future, but not for a little while. I’m focusing on “Dirt” at the moment – it’s only been out a week but it feels like forever (laughs), then I’ll be working on the next single pretty soon, followed by the album and then there will be a tour. There’s already a European tour all set to go and I can’t wait to perform these songs, these new songs, for the first time. I haven’t really thought about it much as I’ve been so busy recording but yeah, that’s going to be scary – and fun! I can’t wait.
TITL: If you could share a stage with three bands or artists that you haven’t already, and who can be living or dead, who would they be and where would you play?
EB: Wow, oh my God – this might take some thought I think! I know where I’d play because my dream venue is Brixton Academy. To headline Brixton is my BIG dream and it has been for about ten years or so. It’s my favourite venue in the world, so yeah, I’d definitely play there. I hope I can do it one day. As for acts I’d like to play alongside…if this is an ideal world, I suppose I would say Taylor Swift, maybe Paramore and, I don’t think it would really fit, but my favourite band in the world is Placebo – I’ve seen them live like eight or nine times – so I’d love to share a stage with them, just so I could see and hear them again. But I’d also like to play with Lorde. It’s all hypothetical of course, but it would be so much fun.
TITL: In your book ‘Feel Good 101’ you openly address your struggles with mental health and speak candidly about your experiences. With that in mind, and especially now that Talinda Bennington has launched the ‘I Am The Change’ campaign, do you wish more individuals in the public eye would speak out about such things?
EB: I think it’s completely up to the individual whether they feel ready for that and whether they or not, they think they can handle the responsibility that can come with it. Ultimately everyone handles their mental health differently, and I think, it can be very easy to say that we should be talking about it more but when it comes to personal experiences, maybe not everyone is ready to do that. If they feel comfortable talking about it, sharing their stories with others then yeah, absolutely – so long as their advice and what they have to say is helpful and can help banish the stigma around depression and other mental health issues.
It shocks me that there is still such a taboo about talking about mental health. We’ve come a long way in ten years when I was thirteen, fourteen, and back then NO celebrity was talking about mental health in the way some do now. The times are changing, but there’s still a long way to go. We’re making progress.
TITL: As long as the conversation keeps moving forward that’s the main thing…
EB: Exactly – baby steps.
TITL: How much of an impact have you seen and heard your book and your story have on others? Do you have any regrets about being as open as you are in the book, or do you maybe wish you’d opened up sooner?
EB: I think, there’s kind of two sides to it, because being open about my own experiences has helped people connect with me as a person, and that I somehow helped them feel less crazy and more normal. When you hear someone sharing a story about how they’ve gone through the same thing that you have or that you’re currently experiencing; it can make a big impact and a difference.
There are however times when I wish I’d held back a little bit because, for instance, when you said you’d read my book, it was like ‘wow, you now know so much about me, but I don’t know much about you at all.’ That can be a little bit intimidating especially when you meet people and they know who you are, and know EVERYTHING about you. It put Tinder out of the question I’ll tell you that and for a 26-year-old, not getting any younger, that sucks, but at the end of the day, sharing my own experiences has helped people overcome serious stuff. I get messages every day from people saying my songs have helped them, my book has helped them and if not being able to go on blind dates is the sacrifice for that, then I’ll gladly make it. I’m glad I’ve been able to help people.
TITL: I’m thirty-two and never been on a date so there you go…
EB: Oh man…well, when I come to Manchester, we’ll hang out, see Thirty Seconds To Mars; it’ll be a great night…
TITL: I’m up for that…I’m going to hold you to that! (laughs)
EB: (laughs) Oh no…oh dear. Okay, good!
TITL: Given that you’ve made a name for yourself across social media, do you think we as a general society are too ‘dependent’ and attached to technology, or is the notion that anyone can find out almost anything about a person, or talk to virtually anyone at any time, simply part and parcel of the world we live in now?
EB: The thing is, you can’t speak for everybody. Some people will feel too connected, some people won’t. I personally do spent A LOT of time on social media because it’s my job, but it’s odd that you can feel and be connected to practically the entire world and yet still feel really lonely and isolated. When you see everyone else having fun times, meeting up and you’re just sitting there scrolling on your phone, it can make you feel so much worse. Having Instagram for example, where you’re comparing yourself to fitness blogs and people who have flawless skin – whether that’s from an app or just good luck – it can make you feel terrible. But ultimately, it’s about taking control of it and saying “It’s time I step away from this for a little bit. This isn’t real life, just me looking at a phone” and seeing it as that. Seeing it as a screen that lights up but that you can turn off at any time.
I think a lot of people do have difficulty with it – myself included – but I have started to see a little bit of a backlash from it. I think some people are noticing that and trying to counteract it. I know a lot of people who have deleted their social media apps or who are only on YouTube and not Instagram or Twitter and stuff. I think people are taking back control. It’s a great way to feel connected to people but I think people are starting to feel more disconnected than ever. It’s going to be interesting to see where it goes in the next couple of years or so.
TITL: I personally have a number of social media pages, which like you I use for work related things, but it’s sometimes hard to pull myself away or not get drawn in my certain things that are posted on sites and the like…
EB: It’s crazy that sometimes, I get a little bit of happiness from the number of likes on a post because if it’s a high number in particular, it makes me feel like I’m doing a good job. It’s unrealistic and a weird way of looking at the world…but I’m working on that.
TITL: You’ve already achieved so much in your life, but what’s left on your bucket list? What would you want or like to achieve/do in order to be able to look back 60 or so years from now and say “I have no regrets”?
EB: As I said before, being able to headline Brixton Academy in London is like, the BIG dream for me. Anything above that, like arenas or stadiums, that’s nice – it’d be a bonus. For me, being able to fill Brixton Academy; I would be able to look back and tell my grandkids: “I did that!” and I’d be happy with that. Just to make an album that people really enjoy. In an ideal world, I’d love to create an album that people will still be talking about ten, twenty years in the future – I’m not saying that will happen, but it’s a nice dream to have. It’s something to work towards; I’ll give it my best shot…I’ll give it a go.
Check out the video for Emma’s new single “Dirt” below and you can keep up to date with her by subscribing to her YouTube channel, following her on Twitter and Instagram or giving her page a like on Facebook.