MEAN MUSINGS: An interview with Emily Vu

MEAN MUSINGS: An interview with Emily Vu
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Photo credit: Brian Tampol

In an industry saturated with upbeat bubblegum pop beats, it’s difficult to stand out or add any layer of depth: but Emily Vu does just that. You may know her as a teen Tik Tok sensation, having amassed over 1.4 million followers on the platform, accompanied by a fervent 386k on Instagram, but the California-native proves she’s more than just a viral star in the latest of her recent string of releases, ‘Just Wait’.

Having already achieved huge success with her first original single debuted back in October 2019 and now boasting an intimidating 1.3 million streams on Spotify, Emily has been busy at work, in a time where most of us our stuck in a productivity rut, with the release of her 4th track in just a couple of months. Overlaying a breezy summer beat, the singer songwriter laments on past relationships through a reel of introspective lyricism and youthful vocals. I spoke to Emily following the release of ‘Just Wait’ to explore the approach behind it:

‘Just Wait’ has been described as exploring the vulnerability of falling in love – a common theme throughout your music. Where do you draw your inspiration from here?

I only write songs from my own experience so I guess you could say my inspiration comes from myself and all the different relationships I’ve been in.

The song itself is lighthearted and airy, whereas the lyrics are slightly more somber in contrast. What was the songwriting process behind this?

I was in a session with my producer SZNS and usually when we work together he’ll take some time to produce the instrumental before we start writing. While he was producing it out, I had a chorus melody stuck in my head, so I just sat down and started writing it. We both loved it and continued to work on it from there.

What’s been the biggest step change for you as an artist since your first release last year in comparison to ‘Just Wait’?

I think my voice has evolved since my first ever release. Part of that stems from my voice getting better over time, but I also think a big portion of it is learning to sing with the sound I want and how I want listeners to connect with my music.

Do you have any plans to release an EP with your recent body of work?

Yes, very soon! I’m currently working on some big projects!

Being a young person in music is undoubtedly an enormous challenge. What motivated you to pursue music? What challenges have you faced in navigating the industry?

The thing that motivates me to pursue music is my love for it. I love music and I can never really see myself doing anything else. As a young artist, I’ve definitely faced the challenge of getting other people in the industry to take me seriously.

How has the response to your music been in your view?

The response has been amazing! I get tons of messages from fans telling me how a song has helped them through a tough time and it truly warms my heart.

Who or what are your main inspirations musically, and how has this influenced your own style?

Lauv is an artist that I really look up to. I’ve been listening to his music for years.

In a previous interview you mentioned hating having to play the piano when you were younger, but regaining a love for it after playing it your way. How has your experience with music when you were younger shaped your artistry today?

I think that having prior knowledge of music and playing instruments has helped me pick things up quicker in the studio. I recognize keys and tempos so much more easily.

Mean Muse Magazine is a platform dedicated to women & non-binary people in music to showcase their talent where they’re often underrepresented. When was the first time you saw someone in music you identified with or who resonated with you?

The first artist I really resonated with was Hayley Kiyoko. I remember stumbling across her music video for “Girls Like Girls” and falling in love with her music.

You’re of course very active on social media, with a strong following across major platforms, particularly Tik Tok. Would you say that social media has been more of a help or hindrance in your career to date given the misrepresentative labels that can come with being seen as just a ‘TikTok artist’? 

I can say it’s been both helpful and a burden, but nevertheless I’ll always be thankful for the platform I’ve been given.

Final question: we always love being put onto new music – who are you listening to right now?

My favorite artist right now is SAINt JHN. You should definitely listen to “Selfish” and “Monica Lewinsky”! 

Listen to ‘Just Wait’ here:

Follow Emily Vu on social media:

Lucinda