Refusing to be defined, Emily West is a musical artist in a category of her own. She continues to push back against the music industry’s need to box artists in, forging her own path. From debuting on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs to finishing runner-up on America’s Got Talent, West combines pure talent with her own individuality and creative vision. West is an inspiration for both women and artists alike.
When did you first become interested in music?
I started singing when I was 8 years old. I really started when I was in a pageant in Iowa where I sang a Patsy Cline song. Nobody knew I could sing before this. After the pageant, I started taking voice lessons. I sang at the Waterloo Mall and in Karaoke Contests.
You found success with your song “Rocks in Your Shoes” which landed in the top 40 on Billboard’s Hot Country charts. Can you describe what that experience was like for you?
It was a song that I wrote a while back. Country music is something I’ve always loved so I wanted to do that. It was great! I also sang with Keith Urban which was amazing. It’s all led to here.
What made you decide to move from Nashville to New York?
It was right after I signed to Capitol Records. I was doing a lot of soul-searching. I didn’t want to be boxed in as just a country singer, and I was always told I would be good on Broadway. I imagined myself as Bette Midler in Big Business. So when I came to New York to visit I packed a bag bigger than what I needed and ended up never leaving. I lived in Brooklyn for a while. Then I had the opportunity to audition for America’s Got Talent where I came in runner up.
What was the inspiration behind the creation of your EP Symphonies?
With this record, I wanted to make something with a really dark, Disney vibe. I love old Disney movies like Sleeping Beauty, so I wanted to capture that. I was into making something that could be played at a dinner party, or alone, or in a car making out. Something with a romantic, noir feeling.
Is there a particular song from the new EP that you find to be most powerful?
“Symphonies” is the title track and I’m really looking forward to everyone hearing it. It’s a song about the reality vs fantasy part of my life last couple of years. A lot of my dreams have come true. Also, it’s really a singer’s song. I just love to sing big, huge torch ballads and that’s what this song is.
Regarding the release of Symphonies, what are you most excited for?
The whole record is pretty great. It has an interesting, pop-noir feeling. For the song, “Don’t Ever Go to Paris (When You’re Lonely),” we were shooting the video in Paris, Tennessee, so it’s a mixture of sad and comedy. But it’s just a really amazing EP.
It’s been said that you defy easy categorization. How do you see yourself as an artist?
Well in a world where everyone is being boxed in, I just feel like a lot of people need labels. Labels seem to make people easier to understand, but I’ve always experimented with different sounds. It’s hard being a commercial artist. I’m not a fan of everyone liking me; I don’t need that. I find the bizarre more interesting than a commercial situation.
What advice do you have for up-and-coming female artists trying to make it in the industry?
I’m finding it hard myself and that I could use advice right now, in a positive way. I would say ask questions. Also, the best artists are the ones who don’t let anyone tell who they are. Be authentic and tell your own truth.I’m not trying to fit in anywhere which is why I feel this is my freedom record. As an artist, I just believe it’s so important to be free, not overthink it, and be your authentic self.