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TUSKS talks new EP, songwriting and learning the guitar

Tusks. Plural noun. Def: a long pointed tooth, especially one which protrudes from the closed mouth, as in the elephant, walrus, or wild boar.

For killer songstress Emily Underhill, Tusks are her weapon. Or maybe the name comes from Fleetwood Mac’s album, ‘Rumours’, as it was the first record our multi-instrumentalist fell in love with.

Having just released new EP, False (via One Little Indian) she casts a spell. Under which, you’re subject to bare all lyricism, scattered synth and angelic harmony. The wonderful consequence having gone into recording the EP with quite an open, experimental mind set, so everything was quite unexpected and unplanned.”

Following the two years since her debut, self-produced EP, ‘Ink’, Tusks found sanctum with her friend, Brett Cox. As a co-producer and mixer of glacially sleek, False, soul baring, Torn, and dramatic, Ivy, the dynamic duo adapted to new surroundings. “I started writing more on guitar” she begins, “the new EP was recorded in an actual studio, rather than my bedroom so that’s changed the sound quite a bit!”

Protecting an emotive core with an icy shell exterior, the False EP is a slice of crystallised electro-pop. Soulful vocals dip and soar in pitch, as percussion clicks and piano keys turmoil from hopeful to mournful. With more shows under her belt, confidence weaves through as tracks have “definitely gotten louder with more live instrumentation.” Crisp production hits the ears like the cold of brisk winter.

Though, the Londoner lets us into a secret. “There’s a slowed down bit of audio we had from a door closing. I’m not going to tell you where though…”

Dubbed as being the soundtrack to the big smoke after dark, the words she scribes light up like city billboards. Once in the distance, they become clear and forefront. One relationship was just an idea, the other was as suffocating as a poison ivy reaction. Undeniably wise beyond her years, the EP glosses a youth perspective of ‘22, feeling blue’. “The end of Ivy is actually an old bit of audio we found from when I was writing and learning the guitar chords in the studio, recorded on this old guitar through a strange pedal.” Looking back with nostalgia, the minimalist track swirls tension before splattering it across the walls. “It’s probably one of my favourite parts.” She lushes.

Discussing how latest single, “False was written pretty quickly” Tusks explains, “I always knew the style of production I wanted it to evolve with.” Layering drums and guitar, a post-punk lashing and eerie echoes are enticing. It fights against vulnerability, finding strength in harmony. Finding the armour in production, the two found themselves “detuning the guitar line in the build at the end” in order “to make it feel almost uneasy.”

Revealing everything, but at the same time, nothing at all. Tusks lets down her barriers in fleeting seconds to pull them back up. Lathered in purity, bathed in honesty, finished with elegance. She stirs unresolved emotions that sit in the pit of your stomach, but reassures with a quick look in the eye.

The False EP is available now. Tusks also put together a playlist of her EP influences  exclusively for TMRW, listen below:

Words by Tanyel Gumushan

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