Emily Muli

I was born and raised in Tāmaki Makaurau, Aotearoa – but my family are from the Kingdom of Tonga. Growing up I was always surrounded by music, especially at church. We grew up in a Tongan methodist church, so we were always learning songs for Sunday school, White Sunday etc. My Granddad was also a musician, and a lot of my dad’s friends too, so it was pretty normal for me!

Now, I’m still based in Auckland. I studied a Bachelor of Music in Popular Music at the University of Auckland, and it was definitely one of the best experiences because I was able to make lifelong friends and family, some of whom I now tour and do shows with! Since finishing my degree, I was part of the Parachute Music Artist Development Programme, which really helped me gain a better understanding of the industry, and also helped me to unpack what it meant to be an independent artist. I’ve also been a backing vocalist for Aaradhna for the past two years, which I’ve absolutely loved. Apart from that, I have done a bit of travelling, writing, releasing and collaborating, so all in all, an interesting journey!

One of my favourite moments in this journey was opening the shows for Aaradhna’s NZ Tour back in 2018. I was able to do it with my mates too, which made it that much more fun!

What is your songwriting process?

Usually I play around with some chord progressions and start forming melodies that I can hear over those chords. From there I piece together lyrics, and they’re usually about experiences or thoughts I have. Then I structure the song (make sure I have a chorus/hook, verses, usually a bridge etc.), making sure it feels complete to me. And I almost always record it or voice memo it so I don’t forget. Of course though, there are times when the process just goes out the window!

How do you pick the songs you take into the studio?

Usually I take a song into the studio after I’ve written it, have the structure and chords down and sometimes have even played it/workshopped it with the band (because I can hear what it sounds like with live instruments). If I choose to record a song, it’s because it feels like the right time for that particular song.

What are two things you have learnt along the journey, that you would tell your younger self if you could?

Two things that I’ve learnt throughout my journey, is not to compare myself to other musicians/artists, but to learn from them. The other is that the best thing I can do with my gift is to use it, no matter how uninspired I may be at the time. And if I could go back in time I would tell myself to just release that song!!

What are you waiting for?

You've got to be in it to win it!