Emmy the Great

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Emmy the Great
Background information
Birth name Emma-Lee Moss
Born (1984-11-04) 4 November 1984 (age 32)
Hong Kong
Origin London, England
Genres Anti-folk,[1] indie folk
Occupation(s) Singer-songwriter
Years active 2006–present
Labels Drowned in Sound, Fear And Records, Moshi Moshi, Close Harbour
Associated acts Younghusband, So Say So, Pengilly's, Three Trapped Tigers, Noah and the Whale, Jeremy Warmsley, Johnny Flynn, Brighton Port Authority, Lightspeed Champion, Ash
Website www.emmythegreat.com
  • Emma-Lee Moss
  • Euan Hinshelwood
  • Glenn Kerrigan
  • Tom Rogerson
  • Ric Hollingbery
  • Pete Baker

Emma-Lee Moss (born 4 November 1984),[2] known by her stage name Emmy the Great, is a London-based singer-songwriter. She has released three studio albums, First Love, Virtue and Second Love.

Early life and education[edit]

Moss was born in Hong Kong to an English father and a Chinese mother. Interested in music from a young age, she used to go by train to her nearest Tower Records shop so that she could buy the only non-Chinese music they had and, as a result, she developed a liking for bands such as Weezer, The Smashing Pumpkins, and The Lemonheads.[3]

A British citizen through her father and with the ending of Hong Kong's status as a British colony, she returned with her family to London at the age of 12.[4]

Personal life[edit]

During the writing of her second album Virtue, Moss' atheist fiancé underwent a religious conversion, and left her as a result. Her song Trellick Tower is thought to have been inspired by this.[5]

Musical career[edit]

She started making music after encouragement from The Get Up Kids while at Fuji Rock Festival as part of Joe Strummer's entourage.[6] Since then, she has performed with indie folk groups Lightspeed Champion and Noah and the Whale, but is primarily known for her solo work.[7] She first emerged under the name Emmy the Great in 2006, when she released a series of free demos over the internet. She says the moniker came about when "[she] wanted to be a backing singer and [...] 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."[8]

Her debut single, Secret Circus, was released in April 2006.

She began writing her debut album, First Love, in "dilapidated studios" owned by The Earlies in rural Lancashire[9] and was released in February 2009. It spawned the singles We Almost Had A Baby and First Love. The album was received with generally positive reviews, while The New York Times compiled their list of "Best Albums of the Year 2009" and ranked First Love at #7.[10]

Her second album, Virtue, was released on 13 June 2011. The album's lead single "Iris" was released as a digital download on 29 April 2011. Speaking of the album's recording process, Moss said that, "It's been a very strange few months, and I can’t wait to make a record of them".[11]

Both albums are released on Emmy's own label Close Harbour Records.


She has collaborated with several other artists, most notably Dev Hynes and Fatboy Slim (as part of the Brighton Port Authority project).

She has also worked with alternative rock band Ash (for whom she has shown great admiration[12]) on an acoustic studio re-recording of the single "D" – "Tracers" and also performed with them on their A-Z tour. Moss recorded a cover of Ash's song "Burn Baby Burn" which was the B-side to her single "First Love".[13] In 2013, she announced on her Facebook page that she had contributed vocals and lyrics to Gabriel Bruce's debut album.[14]

She is a mentor for The Joe Strummer Foundation for New Music (Strummerville)[15]

In 2011, a portrait of Emmy painted by British artist Joe Simpson was exhibited around the UK including a solo exhibition at The Royal Albert Hall.[16]

In November 2011, Emmy and Tim Wheeler released a Christmas album, entitled This Is Christmas (Infectious, 2011).[17]

In July 2012, Emmy contributed vocals for the track "Memorial" on British producer dan le sac's solo album Space Between the Words.

In May 2012, Emmy collaborated with the Yellow Bird Project to create a charity T-shirt to raise money for Kids Company.[18]

On 31 October 2012, Emmy teamed up with Kate Nash on Halloween in a re-enactment of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer musical episode (Once More with Feeling) with herself as Willow.[19]


Emma has written for The Guardian, Vice Media music channel Noisey and for music magazine The Stool Pigeon. She claimed in an interview that she has no plans to be a music journalist.[citation needed] An article of hers, based on her time in Omaha with Lightspeed Champion, is featured in the Stool Pigeon compilation book Grace Under Pressure.[20] She stated that if she had not been a musician, "I’d be a writer of some sort, in different formats."[8] Her writing styles have been praised as being poetic.[21]

She is childhood friends with feminist and columnist Jazz Mellor, who is referenced in several Emmy the Great songs.


Studio albums[edit]

Collaborative albums[edit]

Live albums[edit]

  • Acoustic Bonus CD – Live at 12 Bar, London (Rough Trade Shops, 2009)


  • Take Me I'm Free self release (2006)
  • My Bad (Moshi Moshi, 2008)
  • Chris Moss EP Internet release (2007)
  • Edward (Close Harbour, 2009)
  • S (Bella Union, 2015) [23]


  • "Secret Circus/ The Hypnotist's Son" (Drowned in Sound, 2007)
  • "Gabriel" 7" (Moshi Moshi, 2007)
  • "We Almost Had A Baby" (Close Harbour, 2008)
  • "First Love" (Close Harbour, 2009)
  • "A Woman, A Woman, A Century of Sleep" complimentary download (2011)
  • "Iris" (Close Harbour, 2011)
  • "Paper Forest (In the Afterglow of Rapture)" (Close Harbour, 2011)
  • "God of Loneliness" (Close Harbour, 2012)
  • "Swimming Pool" (Bella Union, 2014)

Music videos[edit]

  • "Gabriel" 7" (Moshi Moshi, 2007)
  • "The Easter Parade" (2007)
  • "We Almost Had a Baby" (2008)
  • "First Love" (2009)
  • "MIA" (2009)
  • "Iris" (2011)
  • "Paper Forest" (2011)
  • "God of Loneliness" (2012)
  • "Swimming Pool" (2014)


  1. ^ "Emmy the Great: The 'Anti-Folk' Takeover". NPR. Retrieved 2016-03-11. 
  2. ^ "Archived copy". Retrieved 1 November 2015. 
  3. ^ "Emmy the Great to release First Love". Music Remedy. 15 February 2009. Retrieved 2011-01-18. 
  4. ^ Adams, Sean (18 December 2009). "DiScover: Emmy the Great". DrownedinSound.com. Retrieved 2006-05-04. 
  5. ^ Simpson, Dave. "Emmy the Great – review (Sheffield Cathedral)". The Guardian. Retrieved 8 March 2015. 
  6. ^ "Joe Strummer Summer". Pavement Licker. 2014. Retrieved 2016-03-11. 
  7. ^ "Feature – Lightspeed Champion". Rivmixx. Retrieved 2016-03-11. 
  8. ^ a b "Interview: Emmy the Great". StereoKill.net. 14 April 2009. Retrieved 2011-01-18. 
  9. ^ "Talking Shop: Emmy The Great". BBC. 10 February 2009. Retrieved 2016-03-11. 
  10. ^ Caramanica, Jon (18 December 2009). "Sumptuous Hip-Hop, Nashville Punk". NYtimes.com. Retrieved 2009-12-18. 
  11. ^ "Emmy The Great". PledgeMusic. Retrieved 2016-03-11. 
  12. ^ "Emmy the Great's Blog: Ash are Amazing". Myspace. Retrieved 2016-03-11. 
  13. ^ "Emmy the Great defends BBC 6music". For Folk's Sake. Retrieved 2016-03-11. 
  14. ^ "Emmy The Great - Hello, I am so excited that Gabriel Bruce... - Facebook". Facebook.com. Retrieved 2016-03-11. 
  15. ^ "Nimmo and the Gauntletts". Strummerville. Retrieved 2016-03-11. 
  16. ^ "Musician Portraits - Joe Simpson's paintings of rock stars". Nme.com. 2011-10-14. Retrieved 2016-03-11. 
  17. ^ a b "Tim Wheeler & Emmy The Great release 'This Is Christmas' today". Retrieved 21 November 2011. 
  18. ^ https://web.archive.org/web/20120601234216/http://www.emmythegreat.com/details.aspx?id=1.109.MY-NEW-TSHIRT-PROCEEDS-TO-KIDS-COMPANY. Archived from the original on 1 June 2012. Retrieved 18 November 2013.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  19. ^ "Kate Nash marks Halloween by recreating Buffy The Vampire Slayer – watch". New Musical Express. Retrieved 16 August 2013. 
  20. ^ "Grace Under Pressure Book". The Stool Pigeon Shop. Retrieved 2016-03-11. 
  21. ^ DeSantis, Harrison. "Emmy the Great – Virtue". Culture And Technology Review Online. The Culture & Technology Review Online. Retrieved 18 June 2011. 
  22. ^ "NME News Emmy The Great to release second album 'Virtue' in June - NME.COM". Nme.com. 11 April 2011. Retrieved 2016-03-11. 
  23. ^ "EMMY THE GREAT has a new EP coming titled 'S'". Bellaunion.com. Retrieved 2016-03-11. 

External links[edit]