Q&A with courageous alt-pop singer Emma McGann

Pop meets alternative singer Emma McGann shares her deepest thoughts with new single ‘Teary Eyed’. After an intense panic attack a few months ago, Emma used this as creative fuel to write this electric pop track. The lyrics of the song shine a light on the emotional isolation the songwriter felt at the time, and how sometimes it is better to rather communicate what is wrong instead of letting dark thoughts fester for too long. The singer would then submit the track to Linkin Park’s Mike Shinoda via his initiative Shinoda Produce Me. Shinoda added his electronic mastery to the track, and the result is an alternative gem with longevity.

We chatted with remarkable singer and songwriter Emma McGann who shares her favourite musical memories thus far.

Please describe your sound for us.

Anthemic guitar pop.

How did it all start for you?

When I was younger I towed home an old electric guitar and box amp I’d bought without telling my mum a thing about. That was it from then on. I knew exactly what I wanted to do. As a kid I just wanted to write and make as much noise as possible. I grew up listening to a lot of pop, rock, country… so I had a mixed bag of inspirations early on. Eventually I worked up some courage and started testing out original songs at local showcases. I grinded pretty hard from then on. It was evident to me back then that making my music my livelihood as a fully independent artist would be tough. I just knew I wanted to do it full-time. That’s when I started going against the grain to what every other artist was doing. I started exploring non-traditional and alternative avenues. Livestreaming was such a small corner of the internet when I started in 2014. And hardly anyone was using it for their own music. So I adopted the format and used it to build a community around the songs I released and my life as an artist. It’s still an integral part of how I interact with my audience today. I’m happy I kept the grind up over the years both online and IRL. And I still have that old electric guitar I bought on day one.

Which three artists would you say made you want to create your own music?

Alanis Morissette filled me with a lot of writing fuel and was an early inspiration. The entire Jagged Little Pill record stuck with me from the get go and made me want to become a better lyricist.

Linkin Park – Their music has been a companion for me since Hybrid Theory. I still have my original copy at home framed in my studio. I saw a lot of myself in what they were writing about. The songs never tire. They’re crafted so well and are relevant to so many of us. 

Foo Fighters – I remember standing in a muddy field at my first festival when I was 15 and just being in awe of Dave Grohl on stage. I got so emotional! I’d never experienced a live performance like that and the way they kicked out ‘Times Like These’ that night changed my perspective on what it meant to be a performer.

What is your go-to gear/equipment when creating?

My Taylor GS Mini never leaves my side. Most songs start there. In our studio, we have a Culture Vulture valve distortion unit. Huge fan of it. Use it on everything. Have a BOSS RC-300 loop pedal that I sometimes use to build on ideas when at home too.

What are some of your key influences in your music? Whether it be the sound created by others, imagery, films or any kind of art form.

I’m quite visual in the writing process. I’ll sometimes create visual mood boards to inspire me lyrically and to focus the theme of what exactly I’m writing about. Those mood boards are often used for music videos and imagery surrounding a release. In the studio we usually throw on classic movies or anime in the background with the sound off so we’re not just standing there staring at Pro Tools the whole time. It sometimes lends a little inspiration if I’m sitting there twiddling around with melody or lyrics ideas.

What is one sub-genre you think doesn’t get the attention it deserves?

Riot grrrl (more a movement than a subgenre).

Any new or upcoming artists on your radar?

Noga Erez – Electro-pop

Venus Grrrls – All girl alt rock

What single night out has been the most memorable for you? As a performer? As an attendee?

As a performer, my album release show a few years back. Me and the band performed the whole record live to a room filled with my favourite people. We had fans and friends fly in for the occasion from all over so it was a really special night.

As an attendee, Beth Hart in Brighton. She was performing a solo show in this big beautiful church. She asked me to come up on stage and perform a couple of songs with her. The power in Beth’s voice is unreal. Beautiful songs too. Jeff Beck sat in the audience that night as well and we all had a chat after the show. Pretty unforgettable night.

What can we expect from you in the near future? Any upcoming projects in the pipeline that you would like to tell us about?

I’m writing my next EP right now, it’s due for release in 2022. I’ll also be touring next year in the US.

Famous last words?

I’m sure I packed my guitar lead.

‘Teary Eyed’ features on the Spotify playlist POP_GROUND.fm

Follow Emma McGann:

Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / YouTube / Soundcloud / Spotify

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