Emily Hackett speaks the truth. The singer/songwriter raised in Atlanta, GA pulls these emotions into her music, stirring in an authentic blend of self-deprecation that is both unique and refreshing. What poises her against the rest of the soul of fiery artist ready to light up the stage, all the while still as honest as her southern roots.
The result of Emily’s insatiable passion is undeniable. In the last few years, Emily has made a splash in the music scene releasing two EPs – ‘As It Comes and Fury,’ ‘Fear and Heartbreak.’ In 2013, Emily released an acoustic cover with Megan Davies of Lorde’s hit “Royals.” The response has brought in over half-a-million views on Youtube, was featured on Buzzfeed, won “Best Coffeehouse Cover of 2013” on Sirius XM and reached the final round of “Best Royals Covers” on Ryan Seacrest. In 2014 Emily won the national Belk’s Modern Southern Music Showcase where she played tour dates with artists like Lady Antebellum, Jason Aldean, Luke Bryan and Rascal Flatts. In the same line, her duet with Parachute frontman Will Anderson, “Take My Hand (The Wedding Song)” reached over 50k streams on Soundcloud in less than two months and peaked at the No. 4 spot on the iTunes Singer/Songwriter chart. The music video for the single currently sits at over 15 million views.
There’s a compatibility between the novelty and depth found in Emily’s artistry. Her music has the power to transform listeners in a direction where many songwriters fear to tread. With her organic honesty and raw-honey vocals, it’s no wonder that the possibilities continue to unfurl for Emily Hackett. Icon Vs. Icon recently caught up with the artist on the rise to discuss her musical roots, the challenges she has faced along the way, her creative evolution and much more!
Going all the way back to the beginning, how did music first come into your life?
I was introduced to great music very early on because of my dad. Both my parents were music lovers but my dad was a rock and roll critic in Cleveland and also played guitar around the house and with friend as a hobby so I knew all the words to “American Pie” by the time I was ten probably!
At what point did you realize music was something you wanted to pursue professionally?
When I figured out that I was actually good at it, probably. When I discovered that just by singing my favorite songs I could get people’s attention, there was some lightbulb moment that happened in my soul that realized I was meant to do that. It wasn’t until high school though that I knew anything about Nashville and the professional life waiting there.
Dedicating yourself fully to your art is a big step. Did you ever have any reservations about taking the plunge?
Absolutely! I think only the people who are following their dreams are the ones who have reservations at all. Fear is a truth-teller. If you are scared of failing but the desire still keeps you up at night, then you’re on the right road. You’ve just got to surround yourself with the right support system, and my family and friends were that times ten.
What can you tell us about the process of finding your creative voice as a young artist and finding your current creative direction?
It comes with finding out who you are. Who are you with your family? Who are you with the boy you have a crush on? Who are you after you break his heart? The more in-touch with yourself you are, the more authentic your creative voice will be. Don’t be scared to be honest.
Who were some of the performers and people behind the scenes who helped to shape the artist we see today?
I was always infatuated with the female artists growing up, probably because I wanted to learn from them and follow in their footsteps. They impressed me most. Everyone from Joni Mitchell to Aretha Franklin to Michelle Branch and Spice Girls. It was especially the girls who I discovered wrote their own music too though. My parents were amazing about introducing me to new music too, via albums played around the house as well as a bunch of different concerts. I saw a lot of live music by the time I was 15.
You are clearly very driven when it comes to your career. Your passion is truly inspiring. What has kept you inspired throughout the years as an artist and fueled your creative fire?
It’s a little bit of the, “Well what else are you gonna do that’s gonna make you this happy? So have some coffee and get to work!” It’s also a lot of the feeling that you get when you know you have created something good. It’s magic. Who doesn’t want to feel magic?
Last year, you released single titled “Nostalgia.” Tell us a little about what inspired this song and what it means to you?
A very intricate guitar loop that Mikey Reaves created. He played it for me and for some reason I went right back to my hometown. I was having these flashbacks of growing up with my friends and writing poetry in my room. I couldn’t describe it any other way than “Nostalgia,” so after attempting to figure out how to rephrase it, I instead accepted it and said, “What if we just bring that feeling to life?”
The video for the song is great and captures the spirit of the song perfectly. It looks like you had a blast! What was that experience like for you and what memories spring to mind when you think of bringing it to life?
I don’t know if I’ll ever have another video experience quite like that one. It was all by the seat of our pants. What you see is what you get—candid laughter, real moments. I hired my videographer, Craig Hill, based off of the question, “Are you more of an ask for permission or beg for forgiveness kind of guy?” I knew we were in for a good time when he answered the latter.
In early 2018, you released “Once In A While.” Another beautiful song and video. Tell us a little about how this one came about.
Thank you. I wrote that song with Austin Taylor Smith a few years ago and knew it was a special one. I was just honest with him one day when I started telling him about how hard it can be when you think about an ex that you’ve hurt and you just want to know how they are doing—for your own sake! To feel better about what you did or whatever. But you know that it’s better to just let them be. So it became more of a letter that I never sent.
What I love about your songs is they come from a very real place. Was it a difficult process to get to a point where you were able to bare your soul?
Actually, no! That is funny to admit to, but I think I had a harder time baring my soul in real life so doing it in my songs was my outlet. I even performed some at a really young age in front of guys I wanted to date or that I wanted to apologize to for hurting, because it was easier to sing it to them then it would have been to say it to their face.
What can you tell us about the songwriting process for your music?
It’s never the same every time. Sometimes it starts with a bunch of words and no music. Sometimes it’s mumbling nothing to a cool melody idea. I just chase what feels right.
What was the first song you ever wrote?
“Dreams Come True.” I wrote it for the 6th grade talent show. My parents definitely have incriminating footage of it somewhere.
You brushed elbows and worked with some amazing artists along the way. How has had the biggest impact on you artistically?
I think I’m impacted, daily by the fantastic musicians and songwriters I get to write and perform with. I’ve been lucky to work with people who I’d also consider my closest friends. Will Anderson and the Parachute boys have all been crazy supportive of my artistry and have taught me a lot along the way. I also had the chance to watch and learn from the guys of Needtobreathe in the studio when they worked on their acoustic version of “Brother.” Talk about some crazy creativity and persistence. I was also super humbled (and thrilled) when they asked me to sing BGV’s on the track.
The majority of music fans don’t give much thought to the business side of the music industry. What are some of the major challenges you find yourself facing as a working musician?
The lack of equality in the field is definitely something that gets cast in the shadows. Females have had such a tough time in the music industry in general over the last decade or so and especially in the country genre. I think it stems from uncertainty about what the females are going to do or say in our music–God forbid we give a different perspective. I love watching more and more of these girls coming up, like myself, have the same attitude about it and decide to push those boundaries out because we’re tired of the scale weighing so heavy on what the guys have to say. No offense boys, we love you, but we want some time on the mic.
As an artist, so many things can be said about the current state of the music industry. What excites about the business in this day and age?
It’s tough that artists, and I mean that in the sense of creators in all aspects of the industry, don’t get paid what they deserve because of outdated laws and the global desire for free art. You could even say entitlement, and I have to include myself in that because I’m a Spotify and Apple Music user too. What’s exciting is that the accessibility to a ridiculous amount of music—new music—gives independent artists like myself an opportunity to find fans that we perhaps never would have found us.
How do you feel you have most evolved as an artist since you first started professionally?
I think I just discovered production and how it could change the sound of a song of mine so drastically. It took time and a little experimenting with recording and performing for a few years before I really felt confident about vocalizing how I wanted to hear something. Now I know. Even if I don’t know the music-theoretical way to communicate it to a roomful of session players, I know how to describe it and reference it and most importantly, know when we get it or if we need to try something else.
What do you consider your biggest milestones along the way?
Choosing to be a performing artist and not just a songwriter. Making my first full-length record. Making my first music video. This is just the beginning for me and I’m so excited.
You have a lot of productive years ahead of you. Where do you see yourself headed musically in the future — with short and long term?
I think it’s too soon to tell! I like a lot of different kinds of music and I’m influenced by it all. I hope to get a chance to collaborate with inspiring artists.
What is the best way for fans to help support you at this stage in your career?
Listen to the music. Come to the shows. Just be a fan! That’s why I love you.
We would love to help spread the word on any causes or organizes you support. What is closest to your heart at this point in time that we can help shine a light on?
It’s honestly hard to choose one charitable organization I recommend more than another right now. My heart is pulled in a lot of directions when it comes to what the world needs. I think my best answer would be to just choose the one that strikes you as important and act on it—give blood to the Red Cross, adopt an animal instead of breeding one, donate old clothes to a bettered women’s shelter. It doesn’t have to be about the money. Time is money too.
You can serve as a great inspiration for so many aspiring artists and young people. What is the best lesson we can take away from your journey so far?
Be yourself, no matter what!
For the latest on Emily Hackett and everything she has going on, visit these locations:
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/emilyhackettmusic
Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/ms_emilyhackett/
Twitter – https://twitter.com/ms_emilyhackett
YouTube – https://www.youtube.com/user/missemilyhackett
Jason Price founded the mighty Icon Vs. Icon more than a decade ago. Along the way, he’s assembled an amazing group of like-minded individuals to spread the word on some of the most unique people and projects on the pop culture landscape.