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The Grammy-winner goes solo.
Emily Warren debuted her first full-length album this month, but she’s no novice in pop music. In fact, you’ve probably already heard her lyrics on some of your favorite songs—and her voice.
A prominent songwriter in the pop world, Warren has had two Billboard singles and averages two million monthly listeners on Spotify. She won a Grammy before releasing her own music. Yet Warren doesn’t want her accolades to have any bearing on her first solo album, Quiet Your Mind, which she released independently.
“I’ve actually been trying not to hold the same expectations for my album as I do for other writing for other people because, for me, I’m looking at it more as a creative outlet,” she said. “That’s really the whole goal: to express myself.”
The 26-year-old New York native is most recently featured in “Side Effects” by the Chainsmokers. But been an active musician for years, working with the likes of Dua Lipa, Jason Mraz, Alessia Cara, and Shawn Mendes. Now she’s found her voice.
“There was a song I did a couple years ago with Frenship called ‘Capsize.’ When that song started blowing up, it made me realize that whatever I had in my head about being an artist and having the whole package together was maybe not so true anymore,” Warren said. “I just got to a point where I was like, ‘If we’re gonna do this, let’s do it now.'”
She’s gotten this far thanks to how well she crafts and understands pop. Her solo album is confessional and full of quirky, smoky-voiced songs.
“Good pop music is a combination of this: It’s a catchy enough melody that it draws people in and then the lyrics have to be good enough for the song to stick around,” Warren said. “I’ve gotten in the habit of prioritizing those things.”
By writing for other artists, sometimes providing vocals on their tracks, Warren began solidifying her own sound. Her euphonious alto and practiced lyricism led to two songs, “Just Click” and “Not Ready to Dance,” that she couldn’t part with.
“Any time an artist was interested in them I was really resistant,” Warren said. “That made me realize for the first time that I still had it in my head. I wanted to put my own music out.”
They both appear on Quiet Your Mind. The record, which is 11 songs in total, is what Warren calls her personal diary. It includes skilled lyricism and storytelling that explores a recent, real-life relationship.
“I was very, very honest with myself on this record and told exactly what I was going through this past year,” Warren said. “The goal is to just be brutally honest throughout the whole thing and hope it’s connecting with people who need it.”
The project landed on Billboard‘s 40 most anticipated albums of fall 2018, crediting Warren with more “stripped-back, soulful tunes as a solo artist.” Salute magazine called the album “innovative and authentic,” and Atwood magazine said it was “a combination of feel-good pop and lyrics that comfort.”
But regardless of what is to comes of the solo record, she’s not quitting her day job.
“I would never want to have one without the other,” Warren said. “I think writing for myself and writing for other people really balance each other out because they’re so different. It makes them both fresh and exciting every time I sit down to do either one.”
Alexis Tatum studies journalism at the University of Texas at Austin. She's an editorial intern with the Daily Dot. Her work has appeared in Orange magazine and the Daily Texan.