Emily Li, also known as Emili, is a sprouting 20-year-old artist from New Jersey. Her new song “When” is a breath of fresh air in this difficult time. It was released on Soundcloud, Spotify, Apple Music, and Amazon Music on May 8.
Emili is currently a student at Yale University. She has always loved music and singing, and has competed in several different vocal competitions, including coming in third place on “Chinese Idol”, China’s equivalent to “American Idol”. Although she was originally a cover artist, Emili was ready to take her own creative steps forward.
“I realized that I didn’t feel very fulfilled just singing covers and having people tell me what to sing. Rather, I really wanted to learn how to write my own music and express myself in a different way,” Emili said in a phone interview.
She started writing music when she was 16. She says that releasing her own music is a scary thing and that she is a perfectionist who’s sometimes scared to jump into the deep end. However, her meticulous work definitely paid off with her new release.
“When” was written in the beginning of April as the current pandemic was gaining traction. The song was meant to encapture the pandemic while also giving listeners a sense of hope while they are stuck at home.
“[“When”] is like, a little hopeful in a sense, because it’s wondering when this will all be over, but also that we’ll get through this together,” Emili said.
There is no better way to describe the song. There is an undertone of hopefulness while also seeming inquisitive. It is emotional, as many of us are feeling during this difficult time. Emili’s voice is soft and comforting, while also holding power and emotion that is not always easy to convey. When it comes to music, sometimes simple is best and this song is a perfect example of that. A simple, beautiful melody laid over backing guitar is all Emili needed to create an amazing piece of music, which is a true showcase of talent.
“When” is a song that you would want to listen to in your bedroom at night with your eyes closed. It is a song to be felt along with being heard. The lyrics hold a deeper meaning than the surface shows. The chorus holds the obvious questions we all ask ourselves during times of trouble. It feels like talking to a friend, which is exactly what we all need right now. I highly recommend the song, it will make a great addition to your playlist.
If you are interested in seeing more from Emily, you can follow her on Instagram (@emilimusic), subscribe to her YouTube channel, or follow her profile on any streaming site. If you would like to support a cause that she and her friend are affiliated with, you can donate to Invisible Hands Deliver, a volunteer organization centered in New York City. If you are in the area, you can feel free to volunteer as well. She also has a new single titled “Nothing” releasing on June 5.