We spoke to ‘gender neutral’ popstar Emma Blackery – the Brummie fee who is one to watch


Hailing from Basildon in Essex, indie pop punk singer Emma Blackery now classifies herself as an ‘honorary Brummie’, having moved to the town in November 2019. In an exclusive interview with Birmingham Live, Emma spoke to Lydia Greatrix about the how she fell in love with the city and can’t wait to play her first post-pandemic show here on June 11 at the O2 Institute.

Emma has worked hard at her craft since she was a teenager, having started by making videos on YouTube, sharing anecdotes about her life in 2012. Before we reached the interview record, she said that he Ten years ago, she had taken a risk buying a DSLR camera with a credit card while working in a department store cafe, expecting never to pay it back.

The risk clearly paid off for her – as she recently celebrated her tenth birthday on YouTube with hundreds of thousands of subscribers to her name. She has also released two albums on her own – Bad guys and girl in a box – as well as a plethora of EPs, which cover genres such as rock, punk, pop and acoustic.

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Lydia Greatrix sat down with Emma to chat about what she loves about the city she now calls home and what we can expect on her upcoming ‘Girl In A Box’ tour.

For someone who has never listened to your music before, how would you describe it?

I am a very experimental person. I think it was Paramore who coined the term “gender neutral” – and I certainly did with my last album. Genres cover a wide spectrum.

My music is pop, but it’s not conventional pop, but I have a conventional pop album, which also contains alternative pop. My music is a mixed bag, but with that, there’s bound to be something for everyone.

I write from the heart, I write from my own personal experiences. I wrote about love, I wrote about friendships and fallout. I want my music to inspire people and to help other people go through similar experiences to what I had.

How was it for you not to have been able to perform for the past two years?

I think people are much more aware of the contribution of live music to an artist’s ability to continue making music. The income you get from performing, when gigs are a well-oiled machine, is one of the most financially useful ways an artist makes a living.

When that’s removed, it’s just trying to live on just streaming media (which is a whole different ballgame), so it was tough. There’s also the emotional factor – you can’t visibly connect with people in the same way that we’ve become so used to.

[The way we were accustomed to] is that first you release an album or an EP, and then you go on tour. You’re able to do it in a short time, so the songs are fresh in people’s minds – but this next tour I’m doing is June 2022, but I released the album in August 2021.

There’s definitely a unique disconnect between releasing music and not being able to play until so many months later. I think some artists must have missed the opportunity to play certain albums because they just wanted to move on to their next project.

Are you looking forward to playing Birmingham on June 11 and what can we expect at an Emma Blackery gig?

I am so excited to be returning to the Institute, it has been three and a half years since I attended the Institute, so I love the place. My tour is called the ‘Girl in A Box’ tour so I play a lot of songs from my ‘Girl in A Box’ album.

I can’t wait to play all the singles I’ve released, plus some old favorites from my debut album “Villains”. I will play Third eye, villains part 1, I will open with Brutus I will also be playing my new single which comes out on May 27 and is called cry to your mother – there’s a kind of indie disco, a kind of garage and it sounds amazing live.

I will play too What have you done for me lately which was my previous single and it sounds amazing live. It’s going to be a loud show and I can’t wait.

Emma Blackery will play her first post-pandemic show in Birmingham on June 11 at the o2 Institute

What does a concert crowd look like in Birmingham?

Fun. I’ve had a lot of audiences, I’ve toured across Europe, but there’s something about the Birmingham audience, every time I’ve played, everyone is so enthusiastic.

Birmingham is full of music lovers. I only fully realized this when I moved here – the history of music in Birmingham is just amazing.

I feel like we have this culture of deep music appreciation here and the crowds are always so receptive and always so fun. That’s why I can’t wait to be back at the Institute, it’s so much fun every time and I always look forward to Birmingham.

You moved here in 2019 – how are you finding it so far?

I moved here at the end of November 2019 – which as someone trying to experience Birmingham culture and get to know the city was quite an unfortunate time. We didn’t have the full experience of Birmingham until recently, but now I love this city so much.

Being from the south there is sometimes a running joke and it feels like Birmingham was the butt of the joke. I don’t think people realize how much culture exists here and how developed it is now. It is absolutely beautiful, there is so much to see.

I have never lived in a city before living here, but this is the only city where I would like to live. This is my house now.

Emma Blackery’s new single cry to your mother ‘ is out now. You can buy tickets for his upcoming Birmingham, Manchester and London tour here. Stay tuned to Birmingham Live for a review of Emma’s show in Birmingham.

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