Singer, songwriter Emma Jayne is a literal ball of queer sunshine. From the moment I met her I could tell that she radiated nothing but positivity, and her songs speak to that truth. Her soulful tone and playfully catchy lyrics make you feel good, even when she’s singing about some really tough stuff. Like in her new song "Morning," a refreshingly comedic critique on hookup culture.
"Morning" tells the quintessential story of a queer, millennial, tired-of-Tinder woman, and it’s painfully relatable. Her performance of the catchy (yet deeply heartfelt) lyrics will have you falling in love with her with each verse of the song. And PRIDE has the exclusive premiere!
We also got the chance to sit down with the up-and-comer to chat more about her latest music video for her song "Morning," hookup culture, and her songwriting.
PRIDE: You’re in New York now, where are you from originally?
Emma Jayne: I’m originally from Chicago, went to school in Boston.
So you came here to pursue your dreams? We love it. What’s the story behind "Morning?"
It all started when I graduated from college and moved back home. I was freelancing during the week and booked my own tour performing on the weekends. I did brief weekend tours around the Midwest, on the East Coast, and in LA. And not gonna lie, I was hooking up.
I realized, though, that I didn’t like hooking up with someone and never talking to them again. It all felt very transactional and weird to me and I didn’t like it, so the song is about that. Maybe you’re out drinking and having fun, and you go home with someone, but when you wake up with them in the morning, it’s a completely different feeling.
I think of it as a modern "Sunday Kind of Love" or "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow" by Carole King. I think hookup culture is really prevalent, and it’s okay to not like it. You can be liberated and not enjoy hooking up. Both can be true.
Another one of my qualms with hooking up was that I was hooking up with a lot of boys—and I’m realizing that I don’t like boys. So there was this whole double whammy of not liking casual sex, but also just not really vibing with the guys I was hooking up with.
So how do you identify?
I like the term queer. I dunno, I just say I’m pretty gay. I love gay as an adjective. I just don’t really see myself dating a guy in the future. At all. Ever, really, haha!
I hooked up with a girl earlier last year, but I was so in denial about it. After we hooked up I actually went back into the closet being really scared and hooking up a bunch (with guys) and being like "Oh, you like this." But don’t worry, I’m living my best gay life now here in New York!
It was weird living at home (after college), living in my old room with my sister in the next room and my parents downstairs. It was just a weird time to have my gay renaissance. So the minute I moved here, I didn’t turn back.
The song is about hooking up, and at the time I wrote it I was only hooking up with men and then I moved here and it became all girls. I wanted the video to represent that. It’s super important to me to have that representation, so we went with it!
There’s a bunch of different characters too. What was casting that like?
It was super fun getting to scout people. It was important to me that the people in the video were queer as well. After we put out the casting call on Instagram, a few straight girls reached out, but I was like, I want to have someone who understands the queer experience, and has lived it, to be in the video.
As far as archetypes go, we have a skater boy, a clingy guy, a girl who’s, like, saging me and cleansing me with crystals. Oh, and of course a girl who’s not really paying attention to me. That one’s the most accurate actually. Turns out I’m so needy that every gender doesn’t give me enough attention.
Are the characters based off your dating experiences?
I've never actually encountered any of the archetypes in the video in real life, but I knew it needed to have that comedic element because something we don’t talk about is how funny and weird sex is. We spend so much energy taking ourselves so seriously, but we gotta talk about when we don’t like it or when it makes us sad. I mean, it’s not fun sometimes! It’s really great when it is fun, but sometimes it’s not. I wanted the video to reflect that.
None of the characters seemed to be a match in the end?
Originally, I was supposed to end up with a girl at the end of the video. At the time when I wrote the song though, I was single. I thought "I’ll just end up in my own bed." And that’s great! I love to sprawl out. Know what I mean?
So I do end up alone in the video, but that’s great. There is an incredible pillow fight with everyone though, which I love. The whole thing is very theatrical and doesn’t take itself too seriously, which is pretty much my response to hookup culture in general.
How do you get your songs to sound so happy, even though the lyrics are about tough stuff?
Well, to be honest with you, as someone who’s struggled with anxiety and depression for a while, I wasn’t always this optimistic. It’s weird, even at my lowest, my songs still sounded really happy. I’m not entirely sure why. One of the saddest songs I’ve ever written is actually called "Happy."
I guess I know that at the end of writing a song I always know I’ll feel better. I’ve always found a lot of healing through writing and performing, so I guess I write knowing I’ll have found some sort of resolution by the time the song is finished.
It’s so nice when someone says to me "I’ve been through that too," and being able to connect like that. I write my songs for me. It’s like therapy. Well, aside from actual therapy, which I also go to and highly recommend to all if you can. But when you write a song for yourself, to heal, and in the process end up helping someone else heal, it’s the best feeling in the world. It’s the luckiest moment.
You’re awesome. Wait, you’re friends with Jordy, right?
Yeah! The both of us were in the same a cappella group. He’s actually from Chicago too! We lived together for a semester in college too. We help each other write a lot, and I’m so proud of him.