London-based artist and producer Emily Underhill is a force to be reckoned with. With a captivating voice and beautiful melodies to match, Tusks (her stage name comes from Fleetwood Mac’s album) is the most wonderful love child of Daughter and The xx. Her debut EP ‘Ink’ was a viral success, and her follow-up EP ‘False’, released in June, is no different. Her track ‘Torn’ is the perfect example of her talent: ethereal vocals layer over waves of bold percussion and ambient sounds, drawing you in and making you feel as if she’s singing just to you.
A fan of experimental production, Tusks music evolves over time, starting with sampled chords to a progressive dream-like sound, ambient and slightly romantic. The video for the title track of her EP “False”, directed by Jamie Muir, matches the cinematic elements that are so prevalent in her sound. Wanting to take elements of the track, the video is subtle, emotive and visceral, just like her sound. Watch out for Tusks.
Where did the name Tusks come from?
From Fleetwood Mac’s album. It stuck with me when I was looking for a moniker to use for my music.
How would you describe your sound in three words?
Evolving, dark, alt-pop.
What’s your writing process like?
It’s different for each song- some tracks are written on guitar or piano and then produced later and for others its more experimental- the production and beats are done first then everything else fits around it. At the moment I feel like each song is exploring slightly different genres and styles which keeps it interesting for me. I feel like I haven’t totally found my sound yet.
Your new EP “False” was just released – and we love it! What was the starting point for writing it and what can listeners expect?
Thank you! Torn and For You were created first, then Ivy and False took a bit of time to create in the studio – they’re kinda different from my previous releases so I spent a bit of time experimenting with the production and style. Someone described the EP as dark pop which I think fits.
How does “False” differ from your last EP “Ink” which was such a viral success?
The way it was written and produced was really different – Ink was created over a couple of months on my own in my bedroom in London, which I think shaped the sound quite a lot- it’s very chilled and atmospheric and personal. False was written over a couple of years and most of it was co produced in a studio in Brixton with my friend Brett Cox- it has way more live instrumentation, it’s louder and the production is a bit less ‘bedroomy’.
You worked with Jamie Muir on the video for title track “False” – why did you chose him to direct it and what’s the story of the video?
Jamie’s productions all have quite a mysterious quality to them which I really like so we took that and created a story about someone battling with themselves and slowly losing it in a club – Danu Sunth who played the lead captures it amazingly.
How do you feel the London music scene feeds into your sound?
London has such a great music scene – I especially love everything that’s coming out of Goldsmiths at the moment. I think that ambient, electronic jazz vibe is really infectious – I hope it’s feeding into my sound slightly.
What do you want to make people feel with your music?
Things they don’t realise they’re feeling maybe..
You recently played The Great Escape in Brighton – what was that like?
I love The Great Escape – Brighton is really close to where I grew up so it’s great to come back and play there & there’s such a good vibe to the whole weekend – everyone’s gigs are packed and it feels like everyone that goes there is a true music fan.
Who are some of the artists who influence you most?
James Blake, Daughter, Sigur Ros, Bonobo, Bon Iver & Nils Frahm. There’s some smaller artists too that I’ve been a bit obsessed with recently and have fed my guitar addiction – Eliza Shaddad, Bryde & Mt Wolf. Also Bjork and Grimes, more so for their attitude towards music – I love that they’re so in control of all aspects of their creations & production.
What makes you want to create music?
Loads of things – I guess I use it as an outlet for when I’m feeling shit or angry about something, which is probably why the music has a slightly more emotional vibe, but I also get really inspired when I’m watching amazing musicians live. I also love just playing around and experimenting with sounds and noises – I got a bit obsessed with glitch and noise music a few years ago, I’d like to get more into that again.
What’s next – tour? An album?
Both! Hopefully.. But not any time soon. I’m just writing and planning at the moment- my next live show is on the 21st July at The Islington, London.
Tusks False EP is out now via One Little Indian.