Nashville singer-songwriter EMILY HACKETT sets the bar high for her upcoming EP with her latest single, Can’t Help Myself, out everywhere today. Reminiscent of Michelle Branch’s The Spirit Room, Can’t Help Myself is the perfect blend of pop, rock and country, proving that Hackett can’t be pinned into one specific genre. Read about the track, Emily’s experience working with Hardcastle and more in our latest CROOKES Magazine interview, and listen to Can’t Help Myself here.
AC: Let’s talk about your new single Can’t Help Myself. What does this track mean to you?
EMILY HACKETT – The thing I hate most about myself is the fact that I can’t seem to consistently let go of the things that make me crazy. Maybe I will for a minute by reading the self-help books stacked on my bedside table or listening to the Oprah podcast or whatever, because that’s our innate desire, right? To be better versions of ourselves. But I’ll be damned if I don’t keep going for the rope. So it has a double meaning. I literally can’t help myself, I have to give up control, but also, I can’t help myself in a gluttonous way.
AC: In the studio, do you have a fear you’d like to conquer?
EMILY HACKETT – I am often afraid to speak up when something doesn’t feel quite right because I’m afraid I’m going to say something musically incorrect, but I go off feeling anyway, even when I’m writing, so why can’t I express what I want to change in the same ways? I’m getting better at it. I use references and urge the musicians to express themselves a little more. Usually, when you have the right people in the room and get them comfortable, they just do what they do and it brings the song to life.
AC: What about outside of the studio?
EMILY HACKETT – Just nerves. I always get the jitters before shows, and that’s a good thing, but I want to be able to get out of my head and into the music quicker. That will especially be a challenge coming back from the pandemic, probably for a lot of us.
AC: Where does the creation of a song begin for you?
EMILY HACKETT – In the shower. I’m kidding, but only kind of. I genuinely do my best thinking just zoning out in the hot water. I often write down quotes as I hear them too–from movies, podcasts, friends. A lot of times they don’t become anything, but if I keep coming back to it, usually it does.
AC: Who do you feel inspired by in the music industry?
EMILY HACKETT – I’m inspired by different people for different reasons. Taylor Swift will always be someone I’m learning from lyrically and melodically. Katy Perry, I respect for always coming back strong in the harsh face of criticism and just being a boss. Sheryl Crow for her musicianship. Brandi Carlile for her vocal control. Billie Eilish for her innovation and production work. It’s no coincidence I’m listing females by the way, either. Then a lot of my friends and peers inspire me every time they put out new music. Fresh perspective and healthy competition.
AC: What was it like working with Hardcastle?
EMILY HACKETT – Those boys have such raw talent together. This song wasn’t theirs, but within a couple takes in the studio, they made it theirs, which is exactly why I brought them in. I knew I wanted this song to have the same edge sonically as it did lyrically. I had become a fan and friend of theirs over the last year so when I brought up the idea I was thrilled they were down for the ride. It was also very cool for all of us, with that being the first time any of us had been back in a real studio since the beginning of the pandemic. We all wore our masks and worked efficiently, but it was just fun to be back in that atmosphere.
AC: As a music artist, what are you still trying to learn?
EMILY HACKETT – Everything. All the time. I don’t even think I’m exaggerating. We have to wear a lot of hats these days, especially as indie artists. From social media to writing a song better than the last song, it’s constant.
AC: How important is social media to you right now?
EMILY HACKETT – It’s a love-hate relationship. It is great for staying connected and I love photography, so Instagram is fun for me in that sense. I think we all would be healthier without what it has become, but it is necessary for what I do. So I try to enjoy it, but I also try to remain as authentic as possible when it comes to my own posts and comments.
AC: Ahead of a gig, do you have any pre-show rituals?
EMILY HACKETT – I just ask for about ten minutes of time completely to myself. If I can’t have the room to myself, I step outside and just breathe. Sounds lame in comparison to Kacey Musgraves’ nightly tequila shots, but it works for me. I’m sure tequila wouldn’t hurt though…
AC: What’s the biggest realization you’ve had this past year?
EMILY HACKETT – Nothing lasts so everything matters. Must be present to win.
AC: What makes you feel nostalgic?
EMILY HACKETT – Do you want the novel or…? No, but consistently, fall. Halloween was a big deal in my house, growing up. We turned the entire house into a haunted house for one night only and all my friends were involved. We would have a line down the street. Hackett Haunted House for life.
AC: What do you want the world to look like in 10 years?
EMILY HACKETT – A vibrant green and blue, thanks to renewable energy.
AC: If you had the chance to put something on billboards worldwide next week, what would it be? Or what would it say?
EMILY HACKETT – Don’t take life too seriously. You’ll never make it out alive.
PHOTOGRAPHY: SARAH BARLOW
INTERVIEW: ADAM CROOKES