Search The Line of Best Fit
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Esme Emerson Credit Nick Ilott Lydia Cooper

On the Rise
Esme Emerson

02 July 2024, 09:00
Words by Jen Long
Original Photography by Nick Ilott

Styling by Lydia Cooper

Brother-sister duo Esme Emerson are growing their artistic talents – and an expansive pop sound – in a mutually created safe space.

“We really come as a pair,” laughs Emerson Lee-Scott from his home in Suffolk. Joined by his sister Esme, the pair bounce off each other, giggling and interrupting, finishing each other’s sentences for the duration of our call. Their rapport is endearing, open and clear evidence as to why they work together so well as artists.

As Esme Emerson, the duo just released their second EP, Big Leap, No Faith, Small Chancertheir first through Communion Records, the label founded by Kevin Jones from Bears Den, Ben Lovett from Mumford and Sons and producer Ian Grimble. It’s a textured, warm and joyfully escapist collection of subtle and intimate songwriting. Having recently toured supporting the likes of Jasmine Jethwa and The Japanese House, the pair also starred in Dr. Martens’ Lunar New Year campaign, an ever-growing appeal testament to their innate authenticity.

Born and raised in Suffolk, their parents had met in Ipswich when they were teenagers. “I feel like our parents were proper indie kids growing up,” smiles Esme. Brought up on a mix of classic and contemporary guitar music, from The Cure to The Killers, the pair absorbed their informative soundtrack, as well as influencing each other. “It definitely was because of our parents’ listening that I ended up going in more of an indie direction,” says Emerson. “I think the first band that I felt like I found myself and fell in love with was probably Bombay Bicycle Club. I feel like they’re a band that I go back to quite often.”

“As the younger sibling, anything he'd listen to, I'd listen to twofold,” Esme laughs. “You were an indie kid.”


Growing up between Colchester and Ipswich, “Ed Sheeran country,” as Emerson puts it, the pair spent their half-term breaks at a local studio for what they knew as ‘rock school.’ Together with a group of other kids, they would split into bands and spend a week working on one song. On Thursday they’d record, and by Friday it was time to perform it for their parents. “I think it always was this abstract, ‘How do you make a song?’ But that helped us realise that it can be silly and fun and kind of easy,” Emerson continues.

“I put my heart and soul into those things,” jabs Esme.

After college, Emerson went on to study music in Sheffield, focusing on jazz drumming and film composition. In the middle of his final year, Covid hit and he was sent home to finish his degree. Esme, four years younger, was in the middle of her A Levels. The two spent their spring and summer working opposite one another. “I just have memories of us sat at our kitchen table and just losing it. I don't think I did any work,” smiles Esme. “The age gap had closed a lot so suddenly we were like best friends. I think it’s only grown from there. We do everything together.”

Esme Emerson Credit Nick Ilott Lydia Cooper1

That sentiment was only strengthened after Emse posted on TikTok, dueting with another act’s clip. She was contacted by Infinite Future Management and production duo Future Cut, both enquiring if she had any music of her own. Whether it was down to covid claustrophobia or their newly inspired camaraderie, Esme and Emerson began to make music together.

Future Cut challenged them to write a song a week, an exercise that not only forced them to push their comfort zone, but to share their efforts. The final product was their debut EP, S for Sugar, D for Dog. “It was a lot of learning, that EP. A lot of trying to do things for the first time and being unsure and trying to make sounds that we were just building the skills for,” Esme says. “I think you had a breaking point. You're like, ‘I'm just gonna write what I'm feeling right now. I'm gonna write what I'm feeling,’ and who would have thought…”

“...They were like, ‘Guys, this is your best one,’” finishes Emerson, laughing.


The heart of that revelation plays out through all of Esme Emerson’s music. It’s unpretentious, tender, and steeped in the kind of charm that only comes from something genuinely authentic. “You’re just meant to write what you feel and be honest and sincere,” says Esme. “Writing things that are sincere and honest is so rewarding and I feel like I’ve really fallen in love with that part of the songwriting process. I've just really dived head first into it.”

New EP Big Leap, No Faith, Small Chancer explores their growing creativity and skill with a warm care. Having signed with Communion after playing an early show for the label’s live arm, they worked with co-producer Hugo M. Hardy. “He really elevates everything. It's hard to explain how much of an impact he has on the songs,” says Emerson. “I literally just say, they sound like songs. We go in with demos and I love the demos and they feel really good, and then we come out with songs.”

Tracks like “Please” balance delicate melodies with heart-swell choruses, the sonics overspilling into polite chaos, while recent single “Show You” places Esme’s light vocal against a buoyant pulse of soft indie drive. Across the EP, their ideas interweave to create songs that feel inherently nostalgic with a hint of modern production play. Probably owing a debt to mum and dad’s indie upbringing, it sounds like Mazzy Star watercolouring with The Japanese House.

Esme Emerson Credit Nick Ilott Lydia Cooper2

Even as a collaborative project, Esme and Emerson are often pulling together in the same direction. “I think we fill each other's gaps a bit,” says Emerson. “Esme is much better with lyrics than I am and has quite an amazing lyrical mind and a visual mind. I really enjoy the process of building a world and getting my feelings out in that way. In the process of arranging or producing or melody writing, it does really feel like we share a brain. It feels better than ever to make music together, which is really nice.”

“I feel like we're always on the same wavelength,” Esme continues. “The more we make music, the more fun it is, which feels kind of impossible. It's like we are a safe space for each other, but just because it's one space.”

The Big Leap, No Faith, Small Chancer EP is out now via Communion Records

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