Ewan Atkinson sat down with Emily Underhill aka Tusks in the grounds Brighton’s very own palace before her set a The Great Escape to discuss her new EP, touring and living by the sea.
“I wrote this really cheesy song for my mum when I was eleven.” Emily confesses reminiscently explaining where it all began. Now, over a decade later and with haunting vocals, hypnotic rhythms and mesmerising riffs the new EP ‘False’ is her best work yet. The first track on the EP ‘For You’ starts off with soothing piano and Emily’s voice crying out somewhere in the distance; it’s very special. This is followed by title track ‘False’ which has riffs that could’ve been lifted from The XX’s debut album. They’re a band which Emily tells me has been one of her favourites for a while and she feels their influence in her music. “It’s definitely not a conscious thing,” Emily explains “but I have been listening to a lot of Warpaint recently and that grungy guitar has definitely crept into my music lately.” These mixtures of influences make for a very pleasant listen.
As well as releasing one of the year’s standout EP’s, Tusks has been playing packed out venues all over the world. It’s been quite an incredible year for the girl from Hastings. “When I was in Canada someone told me they had found my music online and come out especially to see me” Emily enthuses, “The fact that someone on the other side of the world knows my music is amazing.” However touring isn’t all plain sailing weather, “it’s easy to get stressed about so many things but at the end of the day it is your dream job so you just have to enjoy it.” She talks excitedly about her plans of more shows and an album hopefully to be released next year. Although the music she makes is very somber, when you listen to her talk about it, it’s clear she loves every minute of making the music and playing it live. However, it isn’t just the stress that puts a strain on touring. “My voice is a lot more fragile then I would like it to be” Emily tells me, “if I drink it’s a bit of a problem.”
To any of you lucky enough to have seen Tusks live whether it was at The Great Escape or on tour you will know that as well as having an incredible voice, she plays with some very talented live session musicians. “Not really” answers Emily bluntly when questioned on whether she’s thought about forming a band. “I love just shutting myself away and writing an EP and doing it all myself.” It seems that Tusks is definitely going to be remaining a solo project for the time being. As the conversation moves towards the music industry, Emily sees the benefits of platforms such as Spotify for emerging artists. Contrary to what Thom Yorke might tell you “It’s an incredible tool for people to discover your music” Emily explains, “The royalty rate is low but someone on there probably wouldn’t buy the track but they’d listen to it 10-15 times.”