Emily Hackett is the rare songwriter who doesn’t just pour her heart into her lyrics. She inspires every listener to reach a deeper honesty in their own lives. With her easy candor and stunningly detailed storytelling, the Nashville-based artist bravely sheds light on the countless liabilities of being human: all the insecurities and secret longings, fears and frustrations and irrepressible dreams. And as her radiant voice captures the most nuanced of emotions, Hackett ultimately transforms even the most painful feelings into something glorious.
You were writing songs in the sixth grade. Graduated from Belmont University. How did your father, a former rock critic, inspire your career choice?
Subconsciously. Him feeding me music all day everyday and being the one to first teach me guitar and by singing harmonies together, it all became instinctive.
Breakout song, “Take My Hand (The Wedding Song)”, written for a friend. Now to your new EP, spotlighting different forms of love. Is there any kind of love you haven’t yet, but hope to soon, write about?
Well I would say the love of your kids, but I even touched on that on the EP with the song, “Expecting”. Though, I can’t comment on that really, seeing as I don’t have any of my own kids and I’m not with child….yet. Though, I’m really excited to write about all the things I know I’ll learn from them.
In March you wrote, “I figure, if we are staying in, then we are gonna need SOMETHING new to listen to.” How difficult was it to release new music at the start of the pandemic?
It was awful. I kept getting sucker-punched by what was going on in the world. I released “My Version of a Love Song”, the song, two days before the world shut down. Then I waited, gave space for people to deal and heal and all that and finally put out “Handle”…the day before the Black Lives Matter blackout weekend. Something I totally stand for and with, by the way, but it was really hard to compete with from a promotional standpoint — of just making sure that people knew it was out to even be heard.
“My Version of a Love Song”. Technically six years in the making. Have the lyrics, and/or your vocals, been a work in progress over that time span on this song?
Well the building of that love and the understanding of that love, definitely 6-years in the making! The song happened very quickly, once I started talking. I even told Davis (Naish), my producer, that I just wanted to write “my version of a love song,” and just smiled at me because he knew that was gonna be the title.
I would kill to be what you are for me. I’m ungracefully getting used to a man…a man who can handle me. #Handle You said the song is about saying the wrong thing and it causing a fight with someone you love. How do you see this song being a reminder to truly listen, process, before speaking?
It’s a humbling lyric. I think everyone is guilty of allowing fights to unravel because you are more concerned with your pride than you are with solving the problem. I tend to make assumptions too, which are the quickest way to a misunderstanding. Something I’m working on.
The “Handle” video. From filming to direction to printing and painting, all socially distanced. Behind the scenes — what was the most rewarding part of creating the unprecedented art?
The other day, when I went over to Bo’s (Rinehart) house for dinner and he let me take home two boxes filled with frame-by-frame paintings. He wanted me to pick out my favorites for keeps. It was overwhelming, seeing all that gorgeous work of his in my hands. It put it all in perspective for me how much time and effort he put in. It was truly humbling.
To not be able to handle the end of the unemployment checks. The realities. Politics and pandemic have been the news stories for months, and, now days before the election — what role can artists play in getting people out to vote?
Using the voice you’ve been given and the platform that you have created. Now is your time to say something that matters. Yes, our art matters, but this is not just about getting someone through a break-up or giving them a song to walk down the aisle to, this is about their future and their children’s future. Encouragement and understanding is what we all are seeking.
“Rachel”. You compared your ‘Rachel’ song with Taylor Swift’s “Cardigan”. “How The Hell (Michael’s Song)”. “Sometimes it takes me a minute to convince myself I deserve something. Or someone.” Writing songs about the important people in your life. Is it sometimes harder to put into words how you feel about something or someone so close to you?
Yes, because you know they are going to hear it and make what they want to of it, so I’m much more careful and considerate with my words. I want to be honest, but not hurtful or not baring too much of them that it’s embarrassing, but also stay real and meaningful. It’s like trying to get up on a surfboard for the first time. Up, down, up, down. It’s especially hard when I’m writing on behalf of someone. Then I have to be incredibly cautious.
“I should let go of things I can’t control”. “Can’t Help Myself”. Redesigned website, online shows, pandemic inspired collage art to represent the songs on your new EP. As we can’t control the cancellation of live shows with meet & greets, how will you be connecting with fans to promote the new music?
Good question. I have loved the collage art and plan on doing more of that. Maybe even giving some away! I’m doing my best to try and utilize the beautiful thing we call technology as much as possible, but I also want to be genuine in that connection, and I miss that greatly in my live shows. So, I thought about what’s real in my world and my book-nerd-self was like, “Oh, I could connect with people through reading!” So I started the “‘Can’t Help Myself’ Self-Help Book Club” the other night on IG Live. I’m figuring it out as I go, but aren’t we all? Tune in on Monday nights and we’ll get to know each other on a deep level.
Taking advantage of safe self-care, like your family trip to the Grand Canyon National Park and, and in turn, being able to offer more for others. A positive memory from your trip that continues to help you through 2020?
It was just such a reminder how important family is. I got really used to seeing them often last year and then you go months without — it’s hard! I really just loved staring into the great wide open that is the Grand Canyon and being reminded how much of the little shit doesn’t matter. We all got to have that wow moment together.
‘going bananas’ but then making them into muffins. Any new go-to pandemic inspired recipes?
I think my husband and I made this one mushroom, spinach & goat-cheese pasta once every other week this year. It was inspired from a recipe I found on Pinterest, but I always made it my own. I like to cook the mushrooms down in red wine. Gives it a little bit of zest. I also prefer to use the GF Banza pastas when I make it, you know, just to feel a tiny bit better about myself.
Celebrating birthdays and other events the past few months. Hood walks. Working on your green thumb. Any new quarantine inspired hobbies?
I loved starting my first garden this year. It was really rewarding to see the fruits of something you put into the earth and nourished. I talk to my plants too, which is good for us both I think! We also had way more bonfires in our backyard than we ever used to and set up the projector a few times to watch movies by the fire. The outside has been my bff.
Starting a ‘Can’t Help Myself Book Club’. First book, “It Didn’t Start With You”. What advice can you share for others struggling through similar concerns?
Oh, you already knew about this, I see! Yes, this book I have found very interesting. My therapist recommended it to me when I started talking about a narrative that I’ve realized I’ve been carrying for a very long time. Despite what beautiful things therapy can do for people, many still are insecure about seeking it out or maybe just insecure about going there with someone, but the more you keep things in, the deeper they sink into your body and your subconscious — places that will come back to haunt you. There’s no better time to talk about it than the present.