Emily Muli. A multi-talented and humble singer/songwriter from New Zealand. I discovered her five years ago with her ‘One In A Million’ cover by Ne-Yo. I was already fascinated by her crazy musicality, effortless vocals and guitar skills. Many years have passed and she is still that same passionate girl. You can tell she loves what she does just by watching a few seconds of one of her videos. That kind of talent is rare. Her love for rhythm is undeniable, and it truly amazes me to hear what she’s capable of doing when she covers songs or create songs; She would always make the rhythm stand out along with the guitar melodies. And I guess this is why I respect her so much. She’s not just another regular singer/songwriter. She’s an artist.
Mālō e lelei! I’m Emily.
When did you know you wanted to make music?
I knew I wanted to make music from a very young age. I was constantly blasting whichever tapes I could find in the car, making up random songs in my head, singing at the top of my lungs in church… I guess it all stemmed from there.
When did you start learning an instrument? Which instruments can you play? When did you realize you could sing?
When I was 11 my teacher had an acoustic guitar and would leave it in the classroom. I had no idea how to play but I would occasionally pick it up and try and teach myself (meaning playing around until something sounded okay!) My uncles were also guitarists and when they’d come over they’d teach me a thing or two.
I play mostly guitar, but attempt keys when no one’s watching! Oh, and I love percussion.
It took me a while to believe that I could actually sing! I grew up around a lot of singing so I thought I was pretty average compared to what I had heard. I must’ve been about 12 or 13 when I was told I had a nice voice.
What made you upload your first video on Youtube?
My best friend had moved to Australia and so I decided to dedicate a video to her on YouTube.
Do you get influenced by people’s comments on your Youtube channel? Does it have an impact on your videos?
Most of the comments I get are really positive and I’m so thankful for that! There are the few that aren’t so great, but I just enjoy making music and at the end of the day, what I upload is what I feel like jamming. Luckily some people enjoy it too!
How often do you write songs? How long does it take for you to write a song?
I’m currently studying music (as well as business) at university and part of my degree is all about songwriting, so I write songs often! But even in our breaks I try to write too, about anything and everything.
It differs every time… sometimes it can take me an hour to write a song, other times it could take me 2 to 3 weeks to finish one.
Do you remember the first song you ever wrote? What was it about?
The first song that I can remember writing was a song for my great aunty who had recently passed away. She played a massive part in raising my siblings and I, and also my Mum’s family when she was a kid.
Which song are you the most proud of?
Hmmm… I wrote a song last year after visiting a flood relief camp in Malawi, Africa and I hold it really close to my heart. As soon as we got back to where we were staying, I started writing and every lyric flowed from such a raw and vulnerable space.
What type of music are you listening to these days? Which artists would you recommend?
I love listening to all sorts of music! Lately I’ve been listening to Jordan Rakei, Tom Misch, Allen Stone, Nick Hakim and some band arrangements by Snarky Puppy, Hiatus Kaiyote etc. Guess you could say soul/jazz-influenced music! Also a lot of gospel music, and recently music by producers/DJs like FKJ.
What does music mean to you?
It means more to me than even I can comprehend sometimes. It’s been such a saving grace, an escape, a space where I could be completely me, a language that has brought so many of us together… It’s just such a divine appointment between man and heaven!
What is the best thing about music?
That it’s so universal. That wherever you are in the world, music can be felt in order to be understood, language barrier or not.
Creating music is not always an easy task. How do you go through it?
It can definitely feel like a “blood, sweat and tears” situation at times! It can get frustrating when you just can’t figure out what to write for a chorus or if your chord progression sounds off, or if you just can’t put your finger on the sound that you want. But at the end of the day you just have to strip it back to why you make music, why you love it and that you are your biggest critic!
Where do you get your inspiration from?
It comes from different places; family, faith, experiences, observations.
Tell us about New Zealand. How’s the music scene out there?
New Zealand is the most beautiful place in the world! Please come through and visit us!
The music scene is cool. Even though we’re known for having a relaxed and chilled out culture, everyone is super supportive of each other.
What makes you happy?
I feel like everything makes me happy haha! Making other people happy too.
What motivates you?
Definitely those close to me like my family and friends. I’m really cause-driven too - things that I want to change motivate me to do something about it.
If you had to change one thing in this world, what would it be?
What would make this world a better place?
Ahh I could write a whole novel on this question alone! But to sum it up briefly - I would change (completely wipe out) poverty.
The absence of poverty isn’t wealth, but opportunity. If everyone got a fair shot at life, equal opportunities, I’d be happy.
What advices would you give to young artists out there?
Pursue what YOU want to do. Don’t try to fit any mould or tag onto a trend! Be yourself, be humble but confident in your craft, and be on the grind because it’s what you love.
What do you want to be remembered for?
I want to be remembered for what I stood for, what I fought for, what and who I wrote for - all those things. I think it’s so important to understand that there is purpose in everything you do, and you get a glimpse of that when people remember you for the bigger picture - not just a cool hook or catchy melody.
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