In the past three years, Emily Weisband has emerged as a talented songwriter & artist to watch. Based in Nashville, she has already co-written a Top 10 worldwide hit (“Boy with Luv” for K-pop group BTS feat. Halsey), and won a Grammy Award (for co-writing the Christian & country hit “Thy Will” for Hillary Scott & the Scott Family). She also co-wrote the chart single “Consequences” for pop star Camila Cabello.
On top of this, Weisband is a promising artist who has signed a label deal with Warner Records. She has just released her first song “Identity Crisis,” and she will be releasing more songs in the coming months.
Originally from Virginia, Weisband began writing songs at a young age, and she attended Belmont University in Nashville. She subsequently graduated from Belmont with a Bachelor’s degree, majoring in songwriting. Impressively, she became a professional songwriter and signed a publishing deal with THIS Music while attending Belmont. THIS Music is a joint venture with Warner/Chappell Music.
It was in 2016 that Weisband collaborated with Hillary Scott (of Lady Antebellum) and songwriter/producer Bernie Herms on the heartfelt ballad, “Thy Will.” This song was released as a single, and reached number one on the Billboard Hot Christian Songs chart and went Top 30 on the Hot Country Songs chart. Then in 2017, Weisband received a Grammy Award when “Thy Will” won for Best Contemporary Christian Music Performance/Song.
Last year (2018), Weisband got her first writing credit on a Billboard Hot 100 pop single, when she co-wrote the song “Consequences” for Camila Cabello (formerly of the group Fifth Harmony). This song provided a showcase for Cabello to sing a powerful, dramatic ballad.
In recent months, Weisband displayed her versatility as a songwriter, when she co-wrote the pop/dance hit “Boy with Luv” for BTS feat. Halsey. This single immediately became a worldwide hit following its release in April 2019. It reached #8 on the Billboard Hot 100, and it’s become a hit in many countries including South Korea, Japan, Australia, Brazil, Mexico, Canada and Israel.
Weisband has also co-written songs that have been recorded by Keith Urban, Dan + Shay, Darius Rucker, Lady Antebellum, Pink, Thomas Rhett, Selena Gomez, Lauren Alaina, Hunter Hayes, Natalie Grant, Tim McGraw, Faith Hill, Raelynn, Danny Gokey, Cassadee Pope and Danielle Bradbery.
Weisband is managed by her sister Anna Weisband, who is Vice President at THIS Music. As an artist, she works closely with hit writer/producer Mike Elizondo, who is Senior Vice President of A&R at Warner Records.
Here’s the video of Emily Weisband’s new song, “Identity Crisis.”
We are pleased to do this new Q&A interview with Emily Weisband. She tells how she got started with music, and how she co-wrote the hits “Boy with Luv” and “Consequences.” She also discusses her new songs as an artist.
DK: I read that you’re from Virginia. How did you get started as a songwriter and artist?
Emily Weisband: I got started because I’m one of five kids, and my dad is a songwriter and loves music. And so growing up, it was kind of my way to bond with him. When I was 10, he bought us a guitar and drum set. His dream was for us to start a family band with my siblings, and I’m the only one who picked it up. When I started writing songs when I was 10 or 11, he just freaked out. And so I just kept doing it; every day I’d come home and do my homework, and then I would write some songs in my basement.
When I was 18, my songwriting hobby turned into a passion. I thought…Man, I’d love to learn more about it and see what could happen. So I moved to Nashville and majored in songwriting at Belmont University.
When I was at Belmont, my best friend said, “Hey Emily, Belmont has these ASCAP showcases, where you can submit songs and if you make it, you get to be in this showcase. A music publisher comes, plus people from ASCAP, and they judge it. And you should do it.” At the time, I was a freshman and just a little fish in a big pond. So I said, “No, that’s not my thing.” But then she signed me up anyway, and I ended up making it in (laughs).
DK: Is that showcase where you got a big break?
Weisband: Yes—Rusty Gaston from the publisher THIS Music came to the showcase and saw me play, and I ended up signing my publishing deal with THIS Music (which has a joint venture with Warner/Chappell).
When I was a junior in college, before I was offered a deal, Rusty called me in and said, “I love your songwriting—I think you could be a commercial songwriter. I don’t think you’re ready for a deal yet, but I want to give you a songwriter internship.” This hadn’t been done before. Rusty called Belmont and said, “I’ll treat her like a staff writer, and by the end of summer, we’ll pay for her demos and we’ll manage her calendar. She’ll get experience as a staff writer for school credit.”
Here’s the video of BTS’s hit “Boy with Luv,” which was co-written
by Emily Weisband.
So I ended up doing that, and the expectation wasn’t to sign a deal. But by the end of summer (in 2014), I had written a song that Lady Antebellum was going to cut. As it turned out, it didn’t make their record, but it later became a single for somebody else. So when Rusty saw that people wanted to record my songs, he signed me to an actual deal. And from there, I’ve since been surrounded by incredible people, who have helped put me in writing sessions that made me better.
Then in 2015, (country artist) Lauren Alaina tweeted at me one day. She said, “Hey, somebody pitched me some of your songs—I would love to write with you for my record.” And that’s when I got into writing with artists, because I started writing with Lauren and she really let me into her world…I’m so grateful to her for that. She would also tell other artists about me. Before I knew it, I spent most of my days in rooms writing with artists rather than with songwriters. I definitely went through a crash course of working with artists for their records. And I see songwriting as a service industry—to be able to help other artists tell their truths and say what they wanted to say. I would write directly with artists, and try to dig into their personal lives and hearts and feelings and thoughts, and help put this into words in the songs we wrote.
DK: You’ve already won a Grammy Award, for co-writing the ballad “Thy Will” for Hillary Scott and the Scott Family. How did this song happen?
Weisband: Although I hadn’t worked with Lady Antebellum yet, I guess they knew of me. So when Hillary decided to make a Christian record, they called me and said, “We want you to write with Hillary Scott for a Christian record she’s making.” Then they put us in a room with a (hit writer/producer) Bernie Herms, who is married to (Christian/pop artist) Natalie Grant. So it was me, Bernie and Hillary in a room writing together. Hillary shared the story of her miscarriage with her husband. She was just very straight up, and although I was raised in the church, at the time my faith wasn’t super important to me. But I felt like I could write it because of my knowledge of the church. So we ended up writing her song, and it was very personal to her. She said, “I don’t know why…I felt like God was telling me to have another child, and then we lose it. And every time I try to pray, I don’t understand why he would do this. So I have nothing to say to Him, and all I can say is ‘Thy will be done.’ So I want to write that song.”
So we wrote the song, and we got a call a few months later that it was going to be on Hillary’s record, and it was going to be her first single. And it ended up being number one on the Christian music chart, and the next year, we ended up winning a Grammy for it. I was so grateful for this honor, and I realized how lucky I was to receive this award.
Here’s the video of Camila Cabello’s single “Consequences,”
which was co-written by Emily Weisband.
DK: Last year, you had a pop hit with “Consequences” by Camila Cabello. What’s the story behind this song? I read that you were going through a dark time when you wrote it.
Weisband: I was going through a dark time…I was heartbroken over this guy. You know, there are consequences to being with someone that maybe you shouldn’t be with. To make a long story short, I was in a writing session with (hit songwriters) Amy Wadge and Nicolle Galyon, but I did not want to write that day. I didn’t want to tell them what I was going through, because I was down on myself about it. I wanted to leave the session, but then I thought…“Be a writer” and stick with it. I had to sacrifice my pride and my privacy, to say in a song what many people would be able to relate to. And so I said to Amy and Nicolle (getting very emotional), “I have this idea…I’d like to write about Consequences.”
We ended up writing this song in about 45 minutes. I told them, “I really appreciate you guys helping me get this off my chest.” We recorded a piano/vocal version of the song and we turned it in. Then a couple weeks later, Amy said that she had played the song for Ed Sheeran; Amy & Ed had written his hit “Thinking Out Loud.” Ed said that he loved our song, and thought his friend Camila Cabello would really connect with it. So Ed sent it to Camila and she loved it and wrote on it, totally making it her own. It was just one of those moments where I thought…Man, it really does pay off to be brave and share what you’re feeling (in a song).
DK: You’ve recently had a big pop hit—“Boy with Luv” for BTS—that’s quite different from “Consequences.” How did you connect with BTS?
Weisband: The BTS thing was so funny. Someone who works with BTS reached out to me through my publishing company. They said, “We have tracks for this group, BTS. Would Emily be willing to topline on it, and put some melodies on it?” And I said, “Of course…I would love to.” A few months before, I found BTS on YouTube, and it was like…Who are these dope-looking dudes who could dance their asses off? These songs are catchy as hell and people love them.
So in January (2019), I went into a studio. They sent me a track and I threw the track up on the computer, and I started singing some stuff. And I kind of pieced it together and sent it back to them, and they said, “Thanks so much, have a good day.” Then I didn’t hear back from them. And to be honest, I kind of forgot about it.
Here’s the video of Hillary Scott & the Scott Family’s hit “Thy
Will,” which was co-written by Emily Weisband.
Then in March, I got this text that said, “Hey congratulations on the BTS single.” And I’m like, “What? You’re kidding.” They were like, “No no no, you’re totally on it.” I couldn’t believe it…there’s no way. But my publisher did some research and found out that I was actually part of this BTS single. Then I found out on Instagram that Halsey was on it too!
The next day I listened to “Boy with Luv,” and there it was…some of the stuff I’d sent them was right there in the song. The part I wrote was in the first 50 seconds of the song.
DK: You are now an artist who’s signed to Warner Records. Can you talk about your artist side and your new music?
Weisband: Well, I hadn’t wanted to be an artist…I wanted to be a badass songwriter. But in 2015, three things happened to me. First, I got a record deal offer from a country label here in Nashville. They said, “We’ve been hearing your voice on demos, and we’d love to make a country record with you and sign you to our label.” I said, “I’m really flattered, but I don’t want to be an artist.” Then a few days later, I got an offer from a Christian record label, but I said, “No thank you.”
The third thing that happened, was that I got a call from (hit writer/producer) Mike Elizondo in Los Angeles. He said, “Hi, my name is Mike and I’m in A&R at Warner Bros. Records. I heard a song that you were singing on come through my office, and I just got this gut feeling that I needed to make a record with the girl who’s singing this song.”
Mike ended up calling some other people at Warner/Chappell here in Nashville, and all these people who had been telling me to just be a writer, were now saying, “Emily, we have a gut feeling that you should go and just see—just write and see if there’s anything there.” So I showed up at this studio in LA., and we spent a week writing songs. Then we did that about every six weeks for a year.
After a year of doing that, I’d written songs that I liked, but they weren’t necessarily ones that made me feel fulfilled and purposeful to [be an artist]. Then on a Saturday night in Nashville, I called up one of my friends, and we wrote this song called “Things I’m Over.” Then I stuck the song in my email and kind of forgot about it. And my sister Anna, who’s my manager, has access to my email because she knows I don’t turn things in if I don’t like them. So she hears the song and asks me, “What’s this song that I found in your email?” I said, “I didn’t turn it in because nobody would be cutting this song.” And she said, “Yeah, nobody will be cutting this song because it’s an Emily song.”
Anna sent it to Mike Elizondo, and he said, “That’s the girl I knew that was in there. This is Emily (as an artist).” And that started the journey of me writing songs for myself. After a couple more years of writing, I was sitting on a stack of songs that naturally kind of fell into this concept of Identity Crisis (which will be the title of her album). Because as I was going through all this, I felt there were many different sides of me. A part of me was the girl who was raised in church, and a part of me was the girl who’s drinking and smoking in a bar. And when I get home, I’m also calling my dad, hoping he’s proud of me. I just feel that I’m like so many different people, and they all feel like me, but none of them feel like me. And I’m confident but also insecure, and I’m a grownup, but sometimes I still feel like a 10-year-old. So I feel like I have a purpose as an artist now, to express the different sides of me with my songs. Because all of us have our different sides.