Every romantic relationship is different. There are the ones when you’re a teenager, which feel like the most important thing in the world. There are the casual ones, which gradually peter out, or never get properly started to begin with. There are the fiery ones, which are full of arguments and burn out quickly. And then there are the… just healthy ones. The ones that are slow and steady and devoid of toxic behaviours. And when you’ve experienced a lot of the former, it can be hard to know what to do when you’re faced with the latter.
Emily Burns – a 24-year-old UK artist who you miiight know from a bunch of pop tracks like “Damn Good Liar” and “Girlfriend At the Time” – has written a song about this exact problem (if you can call it a problem at all.) “Too Cool” – which we’re premiering below alongside a colourful video – is about when you're trying to fuck things up just to see if someone cares, but they won't bite. “I need you to scream and then hang up on me / Call up all your friends go telling everybody,” Emily sings, her honey-sweet voice floating above glossy, minimal production. “I need you to say you don’t wanna see me / Loving you is harder when you make it easy.” It's a weird sentiment, sure, but one some of us will be able to relate to.
“I was dating this girl and she was so nice and I was just… trying to sabotage it,” Emily tells me, shaking her head in disbelief. We’re having a coffee at Strongroom bar in Shoreditch, east London, and both of us are rolling our eyes at our ability to be dysfunctional and obstructive because of our own issues. She continues: “I kept coming in and out of it, and she’d be like ‘welcome back’, but I wanted her to be like ‘fuck off Emily’. She’s obviously got her head screwed on massively,” she pauses for a second, remembering. “The irony of it is... a year later I decided I was madly in love with her and she had a girlfriend and had massively moved on, so.”
The subject of the song might be frustrating, bittersweet, even painful, but the video itself is bright and synthetic, almost like a kid's TV show. Emily tells me she had this idea, which she brought up with director Luke Bather. “I was pushing this person's buttons constantly... so I wanted the video to be revolving around these objects – like a champagne bottle, a balloon – things that build tension throughout,” she explains. “Then at the end, she does snap, and I get the reaction I wanted the whole time. Then I'm celebrating, like 'thank god she got pissed off'. Which is, I know, weird. But you want to know that someone's human.”
Eventually me and Emily stop rehashing all our relationship dramas / regrets and start chatting about more positive things, such as the future. She hasn't released a proper full-length yet, although she did release a mini-album last summer, incidentally called Seven Scenes From The Same Summer, about seven different instances of heartbreak. She's got more tracks coming out in the next few weeks, too, and she tells me they're some of her favourites.
“I'm going on my first UK tour next month,” she adds, draining the rest of her coffee, doing up the buttons on her coat. “Then I'm touring Asia – 8 dates over 11 days – it's going to be crazy. China. Singapore. Japan. Vietnam. I'm just excited to get out and play my music... I hope people like it.”
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