Emmy the Great: Anti-Folk & Gal Talk

Emmy-Lee Moss, aka Emmy the Great, was born and raised in Shanghai until she was 12, when she moved to London – the homeland of her English father. I stumbled upon her music in pure luck, and am so completely glad I did. She is folksy and cute, her lyrics are creative and sweet, and often laced with delicious, scrumptious sarcasm. I discovered that she used to sing for the group, Lightspeed Champion (whose song  “Stay the Fuck Away From Me” [caution: questionable and potentially obviously offensive lyrics] was a bit of an anthem for me last year…) which bodes well for both her sense of humor and the company she keeps.

Last night I dreamed of paper trails
Dolls without faces joined infinitely with fingerless arms
Blank as the air was dead and sound is chasing the stillness all around
Is choking the vibrations
Beady little tales of sewing needles and ball of string
Tear them apart and make them sing
Of sewing needles and ball of string
My useless heart, a wedding ring
Apologies are boring and they’re trite
But if desired, I will see what I can find

Emmy the Great, Paper Trails

“I wanted to be a backing singer and I wanted to have something to hand to people… ‘Emmy’ is a name they called me at university, which I hated, and ‘the Great’ I added on because I hated ‘Emmy’ so much.”

After some inspection and a little (only a little) stalking, I discovered that not only is she charismatic and talented, but also absolutely adorable.

Her face makes me want bangs, her style makes me want cowboy clothes, and her songs make me want a billion boyfriends to break up with and write about.

I’ve been listening to her for only about a week (I only discovered she existed last Wednesday!), but I know I am hooked. NPR calls Emmy “anti-folk”, which has long since been a genre I have followed… but could never describe. Regina Spektor falls under the same category, which I think I understand, but it still will never give me a clear idea of the concept of “anti-folk.”

Then again, I recently heard a quote (I wish I could remember where from) that said something along the lines of, “Folk music is not about the content, nor the sound, but how it is learned.” I like that better than the idea of whatever “anti-folk” is supposed to mean. And I like Emmy the Great even more than that.

Emmy the Great on:

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Emmy the Great - First Love
Emmy the Great – First Love
Get it: Amazon | iTunes

Emmy the Great Virtue

Emmy the Great – Virtue
Get it: Amazon | iTunes

  • Rose

    I love Emmy the Great, big time! She’s so talented and her music is just… words can’t describe it. It’s lyrical and beautiful and… genius. Incredible. I could gush over Emmy all day every day and never tire of her. If I could be Emmy the Great when I grow up, I would be happy for the rest of my life. She makes me wish I could pull of the grungy-comfy style without looking like I just crawled out of a dumpster. Also, I really really love the sweater that she wears in the First Love video.

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  • Daniel Traverso

    I am a 66 year old college professor in Austin, Texas, who discovered Emmy the Great on the Guardian website that I read everyday.
    ( It is surprising but 30% of the population of the most regressive U. S. state aren’t either Republican or totally insane – unfortunately
    the other 70% mostly are and some of us read the Guardian. ) I, too, think Emmy is adorable and so talented and she gives me hope for the future that there are some young people like her still out there. The song about her first experience with a boy breaks my heart ( I have a daughter Emmy’s age ) and makes me feel so guilty recalling how I must have treated young girls when I was a young man. Thanks for your website and god bless (if there is one) Emmy the Great. As it is said in Texas, I hope she “keeps on keeping on” and hope she comes to Austin, TX sometime so I can be one of the older people in her audience.