Growing up in a relatively unmusical family, Melbourne singer-songwriter Emily Soon admits, “this is not what I imagined myself doing with my life if you’d asked me a few years ago”. Originally studying business at university, Emily now has a degree in music and recently released her second EP, ‘Paper Walls’.
Drawn to the music of Carole King, Norah Jones and Missy Higgins at an early age, Emily started to teach herself how to play guitar as an 11 year old. “I always loved acoustic music, because to me it felt tangible – if I heard it on a recording, I could play it myself and it would sound fairly similar”. However, it was at age 17, when she began writing her own songs that something truly clicked. Finding her own voice instead of copying someone else’s meant that she was no longer just “filling in blanks”. She crafted her own stories, writing about her experiences of growing up.
Aware of this developing interest, her friends arranged recording time in a studio as a birthday present. The result – a collection of stripped back songs better known as ‘Once’, her first EP. She humbly played her way through Melbourne’s music scene as she completed her new degree, majoring in composition. It was at university that Emily met Gene Shill and Tommy Rando, her two mentors on ‘Paper Walls’.
This series of songs marks a change in Emily’s writing. While her last release’s lyrics remind her a lot of her own life, the stories on this latest EP have mostly been inspired by the lives of imaginary characters. She says, “it’s funny – production occurred over an extended period of time... I’ve been able to see elements of the songs come to life through the people around me. In a way, I’ve lived it out and it is personal – just a little different this time”.
Also different is the band that Emily now has backing her unmistakable vocals and acoustic guitar. The collaboration with Gene and Tommy has culminated in an acoustic-pop style similar to that of John Mayer, Corinne Bailey Rae and her childhood favourites.
That being said, Emily isn’t abandoning her acoustic roots just yet. “For me, it’s about the song. I love playing with a band, but there’s something really special about one person pouring their heart out on stage to a quiet room. I’d like to do more of that”.
Photography by Amanda Tang.