Emily Warren was once the pop industry’s secret weapon. Even her first top ten chart appearance as a singer, on The Chainsmokers’ 2017 single ‘Paris’, was uncredited. The secret, however, is now very much out. The Grammy award-winning singer, songwriter and producer has not only co-written huge singles for the likes of Dua Lipa, Shawn Mendes, David Guetta and Charli XCX, but she also released her debut album Quiet Your Mind late last year.
Emily’s also continued her collaborative work with The Chainsmokers, appearing on three more singles and being described by them as one of the best songwriters and vocalists they’ve ever worked with. No wonder she’s appeared on Forbes prestigious ‘30 under 30’ music industry list, where judge Skylar Grey enthused that “her sound and style of writing is so fresh... I find a lot of other writers trying to emulate it.”
This is why Emily was one of the first names on our list when we were planning our mentor team at Limpi. Having her come to Lillehammer and share her knowledge and experience with our students was initially just a big dream of ours, so we were ecstatic when that dream came true. It must have been a positive experience for her too, as we’re happy to say she’ll be returning next year!
While Emily was with us just before Christmas, we took the opportunity to ask her if she’d share some general thoughts on the music industry and how young talents can navigate their way around it. Luckily for you, we can share some of those tips today. This is something we’re planning to repeat with some of our other legendary mentors throughout this semester, so stay tuned for more instalments soon...
So, what are Emily Warren thoughts on …
… the best way to learn songwriting?
The way it’s done at Limpi! Creating an environment where so many songs are being written over the course of a year, with such experienced mentors coming in, is invaluable.
Also, having your peers critiquing your work and saying what’s working and what’s not, is the best way to learn. You can read about songwriting and you can study songs, and that’s all really helpful, but nothing compares to just getting in a room and doing it. And that is what’s happening here.
I think the best way to learn songwriting is to write a million songs. I’ve probably created a thousand songs, and not every one of them will get cut. Not all of them are supposed to, and 90% are practice for the songs that do eventually get cut. Every song I’ve created that has actually done well, is a song I’ve written 10 times or more. And by that time, you’ve made so many versions that something just clicks and feels right.
"Even if what you’re writing might come across as basic, if it’s coming from a place that’s different from everybody else, that is what will make you stand out."
… learning from others while finding your own voice?
My greatest learning is a combination of two things.
One is learning from other people. When you’re working in a room with other creatives, you’ll end up adapting some of their tactics and making them your own. Like how they figure out a lyric or change a melody to make the chorus suddenly pop.
That, paired with finding our own voice, is the key for me. There are a lot of talents who might not have an amazingvoice, but their voice is so unique you’ll always recognise when it’s them on a song. The same goes for writers and producers. Even if what you’re writing might come across as basic, if it’s coming from a place that’s different from everybody else, that is what will make you stand out.
“That’s what’s so amazing with music. Sharing emotions and making people feel less alone.”
… the magic of great songwriting?
Whenever you’re writing something you don’t feel comfortable saying, because it’s too personal or it feels like someone is reading your diary, that is when the magic is happening. When I figured this out, it really changed songwriting for me. If what you’re writing makes you feel like that, it probably means you’re writing about something that most people don’t feel comfortable sharing either.
That’s what’s so amazing with music. Sharing emotions and making people feel less alone by writing something vulnerable and honest that they can connect with. It’s like when you’re listening to an Adele song and you go, “Wow, how do you even know that? I have the same problem as you!”
Want more insights? We also put Emily in front of a camera to catch her thoughts on video...
The Limpi Crew