Interview: Emma Moore

Our MA in Songwriting alumna tells all about the secrets behind her country music success...


Since her debut release back in 2016, rising country star and ICMP MA in Songwriting alumna Emma Moore has been one of the most talked of new songwriting talents. 

Emma has been supported by BBC Music Introducing as well as country expert and friend of ICMP, Bob Harris. He was so impressed by her abilities that he chose Emma to perform at his Under The Apple Tree stage at the inaugural Long Road Festival in 2018. 

Now with new music being lined up for 2021 including new single 'Husband or Kids', we caught up with Emma to find out more about her songwriting journey so far... 

What are your first musical memories? Were there any records or artists you remember growing up?

I loved musicals as a kid - 'Annie', 'Oliver' and 'The Sound of Music' were my introductory films and I watched them on repeat.

Breaking into song and dance at a whim seemed completely normal to me and it grew from there. My mum loves all kinds of music but she played a lot of Tammy Wynette and Dolly around the house, and being born in 1991, I grew up listening to a lot of the country released in the nineties from the likes of Lorrie Morgan, Faith Hill, The Judos, Shania Twain and The (Dixie) Chicks. 

What led you to want your own music? 

It was a happy accident in all honesty. I was singing covers and trying to grow in that scene, and working as an Adele tribute while I refined my own sets, though all I wanted to sing was country music. When I got my first gig opening up for a country band I sang all covers to tracks (mortifying now!) and they encouraged me to write and introduced me to the country music scene. I then started writing to practice guitar, making up my own (terrible) songs so I could at least play them, but fell in love with writing almost immediately. 

Was there a breakthrough moment when it comes to your music? 

About a year into writing music, I wrote what would become the title track of my debut album - 'Pilot'. It likens a new relationship to creating a pilot episode of a show, with that feeling of having no idea of where something will go and just hoping it is something real.

'Pilot' is not the best song in my catalogue, but it was the first idea that seemed uniquely me, and the one that made me believe I could become a good writer."

What introduced you to country music? What appealed to you about working within this musical world? 

I carried on listening to my childhood idols of country music all through my adult life, but pre-internet and post losing the CMT channel here in the UK, I lost touch with new country acts and artists.

It was only through stumbling across Miranda Lamberts video for ‘Mama’s Broken Heart’ on YouTube that I found my way into the new music being made. 

When I started writing I had no idea it was country music, they were just my stories set to whatever melodies came to mind, but it made sense once I realised that’s what I was writing. All those early memories of music were still with me. As I dived headfirst into the contemporary country world I knew it was where I should be. The focus is always on the story and both giving an audience your emotion, and giving them the space to embrace their own. That’s become my personal barometer for writing now; does it make me feel something? And when it gets in front of a crowd, does it make them feel too? 

Could you talk a little about ICMP? What led you to the college and how did you find your time with us? 

I loved my year at ICMP. To be able to focus solely on songwriting for a year was the best experience, and to be able to round out my knowledge with writers from all genres and corners of the world was completely priceless. I found the course when I was looking for ways to improve my writing, and for ways to grow my confidence. I devoured the website and felt so inspired, so I booked an open day there and that was it.

How did the MA help enhance your songwriting and artistry? 

After a year away from the course the thing I am going back to the most is re-drafting, which is something I actively avoided before the MA. After learning about it, resisting it, and finally embracing it, it has become my most valued tool and lead me to undoubtedly better songs. I also learnt to trust in my instincts and the value of working outside your usual methods/styles/processes. 

What was the most important thing you learned while you were with us? 

I think it can all be tied back to openness. To not be afraid of new things and how to embrace them whilst retaining my own identity. 

How have you evolved as an artist since the release of your debut record?

I have finally found my voice and the stories I want to use it for. I’m learning to use the weird and wonderful ways I look at situations to my advantage and to push myself to find the best ways to say them. 

Could you talk about your new release? What is the track all about?

The track is called ‘Husbands or Kids’ and is the opening track to my upcoming EP. It’s one of the lighter songs in terms of story on the record, detailing some less-than-ideal romantic choices and is me simply throwing my hands up and asking “is this all there is?”. It was one of those situations you can laugh or cry about, and I chose to laugh. 

Have you any advice for any aspiring artists looking to build a fanbase? 

Don’t get lost in the vanity metrics, and never forget that all those numbers are people.

20 people on your mailing list who love your music are worth infinitely more than 2,000 followers on Instagram who don’t know your music and like the occasional post."

What is the country music scene like in 2021? Covid-19 aside, is it in good health with opportunities for new artists and songwriters? 

Here in the UK it’s a very welcoming scene, with plenty of opportunities for emerging artists as well as those established, and a truly dedicated fanbase. It’s predominantly independent artists still but there is some incredible music being made and fantastic stories being told. 

What does your musical future have in store?

Hopefully a lot of live shows! With the record coming out in May I really want to focus on getting back in front of live crowds again, and taking the live show to places we’ve not been able to visit yet. 

Listen to Emma's latest single below and visit for more information. 

Write songs that last for generations

A great song can become truly timeless, remembered for generations as part of the world’s cultural legacy. Whether you want to craft a killer melody or pen poetic lyrics, our tutors will teach you everything you want to know, including all the production, performance, professional and entrepreneurial skills needed to ensure that your unique creations get the recognition they deserve. You’ll also benefit from A&R-style critique sessions, collaborative opportunities, access to fully equipped live rooms, recording studios and tech suites, and a community of inspiring contacts and friends.

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Songwriting courses
by Jim Ottewill
March 30, 2021
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