Emily Warren Writes Pop Hits For The Chainsmokers and Dua Lipa. Now She's Getting Real On Her Own Album
The singer-songwriter's debut LP, 'Quiet Your Mind,' is out now.
Even if you aren’t familiar with Emily Warren by name, you’ve certainly heard her work before. The 26-year-old singer-songwriter is a close and frequent collaborator of The Chainsmokers -- that's her on the duo's club-ready “Side Effects” -- and she's written songs for other pop superstars, including Dua Lipa’s “New Rules” and Charli XCX's "Boys."
Now, after years of working behind-the-scenes, the New York City native recently unveiled a full album of her own songs, an evocative 11-song collection titled Quiet Your Mind that she released independently. Yet Warren isn't hoping to duplicate the chart success of her smashes for other artists: For starters, she focuses less on beat drops and more on heartfelt down-tempo melodies, which let her whispery tone and poignant lyrics (like "Don't blame the liquor/ For the things you say that you don't mean" on "Poking Holes") to shine. But she also wanted to put out an album -- which deals with the ups and downs of a real-life relationship -- for her own sanity.
“This album just as an expression of myself lyrically, sonically just where I'm at as a person,” Warren says. “The goal for my album was not radio and huge pop songs -- it kind of doesn't matter so much to me what happens with it. It’s just an outlet.”
Growing up in New York City, Warren always envisioned making music for herself. But once she started writing with and for other artists, she put her own artistic ambitions aside for the sake of securing more opportunities. "I really thought it was going to help me get into more rooms if it seemed like there was no threat of me wanting to have the song and do it myself," she says.
As her friendship with The Chainsmokers was blossoming in 2015, Warren worked with another producer duo, Frenship, on a track called “Capsize.” The group kept her vocals on the song and released it as a single in 2016, giving Warren her first taste of seeing people react to her voice, not just her writing.
Around the same time, Warren wrote a couple songs to pitch to other artists that she realized were too personal to share. (“I was like, ‘This feels too special to give away and get buried on someone's EP,” she recalls). Now, those tracks, “Click” and “Not Ready To Dance,” are both featured on Quiet Your Mind.
Still, embracing her own vulnerability proved to be more of a challenge than she was expecting.
“I always push people in sessions to be honest and say things they're not comfortable saying -- whenever artists are resistant, I'm like, 'C'mon open up,'” Warren says. “But once I had to flip the light on myself, I was like, 'Holy shit, I'm uncomfortable.' I definitely have a newfound relationship for how brave and how hard that is to do.”
Warren touches on her most recent relationship, with fellow songwriter Philip Leigh, which she says was "on the outs" by the time the album was in its final stages, in all 11 songs on Quiet Your Mind. Leigh is also credited on several of the album's tracks as one half of producer do Mac & Phil, which makes revisiting the album an emotional experience for Warren.
She listened to the LP in full for the first time about a week before its release, which resulted in Warren “crying my eyes out” -- though not only because it documents the entire lifespan of a relationship. “It's kind of just been this crazy moment of seeing how life works and timing,” she says. “[The album] is really a snapshot of this year of my life.”
Between Frenship and The Chainsmokers, Warren has had the chance to feel the high that comes from actually performing songs you wrote, a feeling she’s looking forward to experiencing solely on her own with her first two headlining shows (one in L.A. and one in New York) next month. As far as the other side of being an artist, though, Warren is fine if no songs from Quiet Your Mind take off – she’s just happy she’s no longer keeping her feelings to herself.
“If something connects, then that's amazing, but I still kind of want to keep my life as it is intact,” Warren says. “These songs that I've cared so much about finally have their purpose and place in the world, it's surreal. I know how worth it it is to say the things you don't want to say. I had to do this. This is the payoff.”