Unfortunately, overcoming trauma is not the same as becoming immune. It’s a lesson Emma has had to come to grips with, as her rising profile has seen political adversaries and online trolls using the ethics and emotion of her music to stockpile ammunition and take aim – often, right now, due to her vocal opposition to Israeli occupation in Palestine. It’s an experience manifested in the self-doubt and fear pulsing through smashing single Watch My Promise Die.
“I have made myself very visible and very vulnerable," she sighs. “That’s very important because it’s what I love. It’s how I relate to what I do. But it’s also terrifying to see your vulnerability being thrown back to belittle or insult you. It can lead to feeling like I’m not good enough, that I shouldn’t be here, or that I don’t deserve this. This band started as a passion-project. We never really thought we’d be signed or doing tours or on the cover of Kerrang!. It’s a lot of pressure. That pressure can be crippling. It can be a reminder to myself that I am very human. Publicly, it probably looks like I’m handling that really well but, privately, sometimes, I’m not. Visibility weighs on my mental health. But failing or sabotaging it intentionally is not how I deserve to see this play out.”
Of course, it’d all be easier if they didn’t care so damn much. Emma sees the irony that bands who operate at a shallow surface level – without the same ethical or artistic substance – can more easily deal with being slingshotted into the limelight. But neither Dying Wish nor the team around them (trusted producer Randy LeBoeuf, manager Tom Williams) are the types to sacrifice one ounce integrity for an easy ride. With increased exposure, greater self-examination is inevitable. Emma tells of her continued grappling with gender dysphoria, for example, and the trials of owning her femininity without being reduced to the stereotypical ‘pretty girl in a band’. But with a vocally supportive majority of fans in her corner, these are challenges she’s learning to embrace.
“I’ve never wanted to be this inspirational icon, and that’s a lot of pressure to take on, but I’m trying my best to own that role rather than being afraid of it, because I think it’s happening regardless,” Emma shrugs. “I am a complex person with a broad set of beliefs. Since we made this record, I’ve been dealing with things that I’m sure we’ll probably write about on the next one. I just get more complex every day.”