Skip to main content

Home Music Music Features

Meet Esme Emerson, the sibling duo with a special musical bond

The duo’s debut EP, ‘Big Leap, No Faith, Small Chancer’, touches on folk, hyper-pop and beyond, and is tied together by vulnerable lyrics and their irreplaceable chemistry.

By Will Richards

Esme Emerson
Esme Emerson (Picture: Nick Ilott & Lydia Cooper)

“We have a shared brain,” Emerson Lee Scott laughs of his bond with his sister Esme. The British-Chinese siblings make music as Esme Emerson with the kind of rare creative alchemy that can only come from blood ties.

Growing up together in Suffolk, their four-year age gap felt insurmountable for creative endeavours in their early teens, but evaporated once they grew older and blossomed into a somewhat inevitable musical collaboration.

Following a debut EP from 2021, the pair truly arrive on forthcoming collection Big Leap, No Faith, Small Chancer, out via Communion Records next month. It travels to multiple different sonic landscapes – the Auto-Tuned soft dance bliss of ‘Afraid of Losing’, the languid folk rock of ‘Show You (Truck Song)’ and beyond – but also sees them develop a signature voice.

In conversation, the siblings’ shared brain is immediately apparent as they excitedly overlap each other when discussing the EP, Emerson handing down his favourite childhood music to his little sister and how they grew up from being siblings into best friends.

Watch the video for new single ‘Afraid of Losing’ and read our Play Next interview with Esme Emerson below.

Having grown up together, at what point did the two of you realise you wanted to make music as a pair?

Emerson: I’m four years older than Esme, and we started writing together when I came back from Uni.

Esme: Lockdown helped, but I feel like I caught up with you age-wise. He was like, ‘She’s cool now!’

Emerson: When I was 16, I didn’t want to be in a band with my 12-year-old sister…

Esme: I wanted to be in your band so bad!

Emerson: It was a me problem.

Esme: But I was a weird kid so I give you grace there.

Emerson: We were always writing music adjacent to each other though.

Esme: We’d do ‘rock schools’ near our house on half-terms, and they’d put you in bands and then you’d write a song and record it in one take before performing it to the parents. Emerson would be in a band with all his friends and I’d get put in one with… the remaining kids.

Emerson, were you handing down the music that you liked to Esme?

Esme: Anything you’d listen to, I’d listen to twofold.

Emerson: A big reason we write together is that when the age gap disappeared, we just felt like we were best friends instead. It’s like we share a brain.

Esme: Eventually we evolved to have very similar musical tastes.

Emerson: We don’t really have to speak about the music we make – we just have a shared vision for it. Esme’s the lyrics person and I exist in more of an instrumental space, and I always struggled with lyrics. It was a nice puzzle piece, and the music could now only exist because we are doing it together.

What were the musical touchpoints when you were starting out?

Emerson: A lot of Bon Iver when we started out. We were indie kids when growing up… Bombay Bicycle Club, Two Door Cinema Club..

Esme: …every club ever. My brain is full of who we’re listening to right now. Lots of Hovvdy, Big Thief. We had a K-pop phase, a lot of hyperpop stuff.

Emerson: Our taste is really varied, and we listen to a lot of country stuff even if it started as a bit of a joke.

Esme: There’s one track that Emerson would only listen to. I’d walk past the shower, at breakfast, and always hear it. It was called something like ‘Cold Beer Is Calling My Name’.

Emerson: Baaaaanger!

Your debut EP, Big Leap, No Faith, Small Chancer, is out next month – do you see it as a marker of your musical progression?

Esme: It was a really long process in growing confidence to write things we like.

Emerson: When we first started writing together, we ended up getting mentored by [producer] Future Cut. We were writing such terrible music but it was important to have that outlet and have people listen to it. It helped us fast track our method.

Esme: I was weird about writing lyrics at the start because it’s so vulnerable, but now whenever I’m writing I want it to be so extremely me.

Emerson: Now, we know a lot more about ourselves as artists and people. ‘Please’, from the EP, is one of the first things we wrote after our first EP, and ‘Truck Song’ has been around for a while as well.

Esme: This EP is the first time we’re releasing something that we really love. These songs are so considered and we spent so much time with them. All of the choices we made had so much attention put into them. It really feels like us for the first time, and it’s an introduction to what we’ll continue to do.

Emerson: It’s a stepping stone but also a statement. I love that first EP but it’s very much a product of the time, and with this one…

Esme: We’ve developed a new skillset and a confidence.

Emerson: I like to think that all the tracks feel quite different, and I hope it shows that going forwards we want to keep experimenting and going further in all directions.

Aside from genre experimentation, what else from the new EP do you want to carry forwards into the future?

Emerson: We’ve tried to make the most sincere stuff possible.

Esme: We’re discovering how wonderful it feels to make music that’s so sincere to us. It’s all I wanna do now.

Emerson: That feels like the way forward for us in everything.

Esme: It came out of learning about ourselves more and working together as siblings in a new way.

Emerson: Being siblings, I am the most myself with Esme, probably to an embarrassing degree. It helps with the music when there’s no filter anymore.

Esme: It’s fun and it’s silly and it’s vulnerable, but it doesn’t feel vulnerable because it’s my brother. It’s so fun that we get to do this together.