Los Angeles-based pop singer Emlyn is set to have a big year; with two singles (“Had Me At Hello” and “cruel world“) under her belt, she’s prepping an EP to be released this Spring. There’s just one problem: the 24-year-old Nashville native needed a love song to really complete the EP, and she’s never been in love. “A piece of the project that felt like it was missing was a love story. I have never been in love, so it’s like ‘how am I going to accomplish this?’ I want to have this element of love in the whole project,” Emlyn tells Audiofemme.
Luckily, Emlyn’s a practiced songwriter who’s had a hand in co-writes with Kiiara, Stela Cole, Hailey Knox, Eben, and more. And for her latest single, “a thousand parties,” she took a cue from none other than Taylor Swift; after seeing an interview in which Swift discusses her chart-topping album evermore and how she was creatively challenged by writing from other people’s perspectives, Emlyn felt inspired to do the same, though she writes solely first-person narratives.
To that end, Emlyn has crafted her version of a love story with “a thousand parties” (premiering today exclusively on Audiofemme) by drawing from several sources. For one thing, she’s made a habit of putting pen to paper when friends and family share their love stories with her; one that stood out in particular is that of a close friend who told his story of meeting the love of his life, which Emlyn transformed into a rock-infused pop banger.
Additionally, Emlyn became obsessed with the grandiose galas in The Great Gatsby, which the title character would throw at his lavish mansion each night in hopes that his long lost love Daisy would return. Co-written with producer Mike Robinson over Zoom, Emlyn combined elements of the classic F. Scott Fitzgerald novel with the reality of her friend’s love story. “The feeling of being in love, from what I’ve heard, feels like magic, and I’ve never felt [that] magic before,” she says. “[But] there’s something that I feel is really special about this song and this love – there was something when we were writing this song that felt really magical.”
Though writing from a different viewpoint, Emlyn still manages to infuse her personality into the song by artfully blending wailing electric guitar and slick drums to establish an infectious pop beat that slowly builds to a catchy chorus, the melody juxtaposing the sweetness of the lyrics with the singer’s internal angst. “In any regard, when I’m writing a song, I’m going to implement my own personal touches into it,” Emlyn says. “I think the angst comes from me, because while I’m trying to write from someone else’s perspective, I’m also imagining my own feelings about this. Love is so scary and I’m kind of a tough girl, I have a tough edge to me. I feel like there’s a little bit of fear surrounding love. I have to grunge it up so it’s not too vulnerable.”
The singer embraces vulnerability by confronting the root of that fear in the song’s haunting third verse, recalling a moment of strife in her friend’s relationship as she sings with smoldering vocals, “I’ll never forget/The night that you cried/Your tears fell too softly to hide/You didn’t need to tell me I hurt you love/‘Cause hearing that hurt me enough.”
The lyrics establish the same pattern Emlyn has noticed in on-screen love stories: the couple meets and falls in love, as told through a series of joyful, laughter-filled sequences. “But then you get to the part in the movie or the TV show where you have to overcome an obstacle, which makes the main characters’ love even stronger, because that’s what life is,” Emlyn analyzes.
She wanted to be intentional about capturing the whole experience of being in a relationship. “The truth of my friend’s love story is that there’s been moments that have not been great. But those moments… stuck out to him, and to me, as moments that were really pivotal in their relationship and building to what they have now,” she observes. “I wanted that moment, both sonically, musically and lyrically to take you out of ‘it’s so great and it’s joyful and it’s love’ to ‘sometimes it’s hard.’ But those moments are when you choose to show up for this person and love them and tell them that you’ve got their back, or run away from it.”
For Emlyn, the second verse is where she feels most connected to the story, as she admits to not being a fan of crowds nor the type to “lose my mind,” yet would “throw a thousands parties if you’d go” in an effort to “try to love you like hell.” The lyrics capture Emlyn’s personal fantasy of what falling in love will be like for her: letting her guard down, doing “all these stupid, mushy things – spinning me under street lights and locking eyes and just feeling at home with somebody, just having somebody there to be like ‘I’m right here.’” she says. “It’s being able to soften some of the parts of me that are a little tough and hard.”
The bright-spirited artist is confident that she’ll find that kind of love when the time is right, and she knows exactly what she wants. “I used to think that love was about comfortability in a sense, and I realized over time that some of the things that I am familiar and comfortable with are actually not necessarily what I want,” she says. “I’ve had to really challenge myself to look for relationships that are not necessarily settling into things that I’m familiar with. True love to me is about every day, the consistency of showing up for the person that you’re with, even on the worst days, and vice versa.”
Emlyn theorizes that she’s never been in love because she’s extremely independent, and extra careful about who she lets into her life or shows vulnerability with. She’s looking for someone who will challenge her, and she’s content to wait for it. “I want to feel not just supported, but uplifted. I’ve never wanted to settle because I feel like I’ve learned how to be by myself and thrive by myself. If somebody is going to come into my life, I want to feel like they’re actually making me better, adding something that I can’t provide for myself in some way,” she reflects, while looking toward a hopeful future. “I’m definitely still looking. I definitely am a hopeless romantic – you can hear it through all my songs.”