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The Honest Words of Emily Warren

The lyricist behind The Chainsmokers’s “Don’t Let Me Down” is ready to pen her own story

The cloud of mystery that shrouds songwriter Emily Warren has cleared with the release of her most recent single, “Poking Holes.” Warren, a Grammy-winning songwriter, has helped craft songs like Charli XCX’s “Boys,” Fifth Harmony’s “Them Girls Be Like,” and the majority of The Chainsmokers’s debut album Memories…Do Not Open. A resident New Yorker, Warren started her music career in New York City with a band, Emily Warren & the Betters, comprised of two members of pop band MisterWives. When the group disbanded, Warren was left at a standstill.

“I always used to say I would never write songs for other people,” the 25-year-old wordsmith tells me. “It was a world that I wasn’t fully aware of until Benny Blanco (Bruno Mars, Rihanna, Maroon 5) came to my school to speak to us. I started writing to have something going on and it became a real turning point,” Warren says. Although her goal had always been to be an artist in her own right, she quickly learned that other artists were turned off by this notion and that they wanted to hear that she was strictly a writer. “I sort of convinced myself after saying it so many times that I didn’t want to be an artist,” she says. For a couple of years, Warren remained behind the scenes, writing for various artists until eventually she naturally transitioned into her own spotlight. “It happened organically where people would want to leave my voice on tracks or actually wanted to work on my stuff, instead of me asking them to,” she says of her progression.

Emily Warren
Photo Credit: David O’Donohue

Although making her first appearance as a featured vocalist came in 2016 with Frenship’s “Capsize,” Warren’s debut single arrived in May 2017 with “Hurt By You.” Her most recent single, “Poking Holes” is an emotional story told through Warren’s ethereal voice and vulnerable lyrics. “It’s definitely uncomfortable,” she says of the songwriting process. “But, it’s what I have artists do when I’m writing with them. I always want to get to the most uncomfortable and vulnerable spot, that’s where I feel you can hit on something that people can relate to.” The song was born from a conversation Warren was having with songwriters/producers Scott Harris and Nick Ruth about her current boyfriend. “I was telling this long story and I said that [my boyfriend] was poking holes in the situation,” she says of the song’s inception. She adds that her boyfriend, a music producer himself, may have been upset for a moment when hearing the song, but is more intent on Warren expressing herself and being honest than anything.

“I’m really proud that the emotion I felt in those moments lives in the music, chords and melody of that song,” she adds. It helped that Warren has worked with Harris and Ruth on many other projects in the past, building a solid foundation of trust that she believes is the key to great songwriting. “A lot of artists are finding their squad and writing with them, which is really smart. It means your second album isn’t going to sound like everyone’s second album,” she says. After joining The Chainsmokers on tour this past summer, Warren developed a bond with the pair that contributed to them writing several songs for the duo’s sophomore album. “You reach another level when you’re able to be that close with an artist and write. You’re not asking about their life in general, you’re asking about their specific girlfriend or whatever it is,” she adds.

Between writing sessions and studio time, Warren says she’s ready for her own album to be released in early 2018. “Every song comes from that uncomfortable place,” she says of her music. “My album is going to be like a moment in time for me, which is why I want to put them all out at once.” Since being listed on Forbes’ 30 Under 30 2018 List, fans can expect her album to be released in the first few months of 2018 followed by another year of honest songwriting.

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