Diary Of A Songwriter: Emily Phillips
The topliner plots a few busy weeks, taking in London and LA, and judging an Ivor Novello along the way
You may not recognise her name, but Emily Phillips has appeared on the credits across Rizzle Kicks’ two albums (including Top 10 singles Lost Generation and Skip To The Good Bit) as well as several hits for pop-soul singer John Newman and American boy band Big Time Rush. She grew up a classically trained pianist and cellist, but turned her back in music and went to art school. That was until the mid-90s, when she shared a London flat with Damon Albarn, who saw Emily’s potential, showed her a few chords on the guitar and said, “You should be writing, have a go.”
Inspired by his words and the Blur frontman’s work ethic, she persevered with music and a publishing deal with Warner soon followed for Emily and producer-songwriter husband Ant Whiting. Now hers is a life of a successful, jet-setting topliner…
LA LA LAND
I am taken from one extreme to the other. Yesterday I was in with an Instagram sensation, Too Poor, with studded platform boots and tattooed face – she had the sweetest voice. Today I’m writing for US sultry beauty, Madison Beer, with The Salt Wives, a production duo and the excellent Australian co-writer Chiara.
I am driving round LA and it’s like being in a computer game: the grid, the voice telling me where to go, the smooth car, miraculously arriving at every destination on time… Out here for meetings and writing around my latest cut, which is with US band DNCE – their new single, Hands Up.
I need to find a song title. I’m having dinner with Tears For Fears on Monday evening. Will be listening carefully to the conversation for hidden gem song titles. I sat and watched Keeping Up With The Kardashians for the first time last night, looking for song titles. What a load of shite that programme is and no-one said anything remotely interesting, so no song title. Will go back to my high-brow reading; Freud, Les Miserables. Should find a hit song title buried in there if I look hard enough.
FRIDAY NIGHT DINNER
Best song so far. The co-writer was from New York, and I think we nailed the one for Madison. Hopefully she will take the song! If not, I may have another home for it with Disney Records for American Idol. We’ll see…
Friday night dinner in a fantastic restaurant where Paul McCartney and all the film business-types go. The interior dates back to 1880. Eight for dinner; all writers and producers from the camp in LA. Food was excellent, sat next to Too Poor and George from the Invisible Men, and had a great time.
Session with The Salt Wives and an American writer who stormed out after an hour! That’s never happened to me before in a session. He didn’t like having his ideas challenged by the producer, told us he’s written three hits already in an hour and, if we didn’t want those, then he’s out. So off he went. I went to try to talk him round but he had gone already, zoomed off in a cloud of hot dust. He’d been to Coachella that weekend, so maybe he didn’t feel very well? Didn’t stop us finishing the song.