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Starting their career as a mystery, not showing their faces online, we sat down with Emma and Josh of WESLEE to get to know them better. Whilst songwriting for other artists, Emma and Josh met in New York - and formed WESLEE. With Josh (originally from Kansas) living in London and Emma (originally from London) living in Los Angeles, they work across the globe to create bubbly, engaging and smooth sounding music.

We chatted to them about how they manage to be on different continents, their process of writing and how they’re developing their live show.

Amy MacKenzie: How are you guys? Josh Grant: Good. Are you recording?

A.M: I am, yeah. J.G: Oh my God, the pressure! [laughs]

A.M: I mean, kinda! J.G: No, it’s ok.

A.M: So let’s start with where you both grew up; can you tell me a bit about what your life was like growing up? J.G: I grew up in the Midwest in America, in Lawrence, Kansas. Which is just a little American college town. It’s a little hippy college town and it was a nice place to grow up but also sort of not a lot to do. I was becoming a towny and then I moved to New York to try to pursue music stuff and then we met when I was living in New York. So that’s my short story!

A.M: Cool, and what about you, Emma? Emma DD: I’m from South West London.

A.M: Yeah, whereabouts? E.D: Wandsworth. Growing up in London was good, growing up in the city was nice.

A.M: When did you meet and come into each other’s lives? J.G: We met I guess about 5 years ago... E.D: Longer than that. J.G: About 6 years ago in New York [smiles] while we were writing for other people. We were doing the songwriting along with the production side as well as this. So we met writing for other people, just doing sessions and at one time we were doing a session with this teenage kid. In fact, we ended up canceling the session with him because we both felt we wanted to do our own thing instead of just writing for other people. I think we just had been doing lots of sessions for other people and just didn’t want to do it anymore. There was no intention other than just making a song we liked so we wrote ‘Gassed’ which was the first song of ours, and I guess that led to where we are now but that was how WESLEE first started, it was with that song on that day.

A.M: Had you been in New York for long when that happened? J.G: Err, yeah, a few years. Emma had been there a bit. Not crazy long but long enough that it was home.

A.M: And where do you both live now? J.G: I live here in London. We’ve changed. And Emma is in L.A.

A.M: What are some of the biggest differences that you notice from where you grew up to where you live now? J.G: Oh man! [Smiles] E.D: The weather. J.G: Yeah, that’s true! Weather, people - there are more people! The town I grew up in would be just one neighborhood here. I guess it’s more inspiring as well. There’s more stuff going on so there’s more to draw from, just being with different people from everywhere is different to being with people in Kansas which is all just the same. You’re just surrounded by a bunch of Republicans! And here it’s not that way!

Josh wears t-shirt HUF; 2 piece LEE JEANS

Emma wears shirt BARENA; jeans WEEKDAY

A.M: How does the process work of you guys working together? J.G: I guess we only tend to work together when we are in the same place. There’s occasionally stuff like us sending ideas back and forth but mostly it is when we are in the same place. Starting ideas that way and then from that, I can go and work on stuff and Emma can work on lyrics or melodies and we can send stuff back and forth that way but it all starts from us being in the same room and drawing from however we are feeling on that day. It really does come from whatever mood we are in on that day. Each song represents how we were in that time and place when it was created but it’s not me sending Emma tracks and her sending me back ideas - it always starts when we are together I think this is the key, the process works because of how we start it and then whatever we build after that just works.

A.M: Very much in person. How often are you in the same place? J.G: More and more recently. This year, I’ve been in the States for probably half the year which is nice and then Emma is here a lot. We probably see each other for 6 months out of the year. E.D: I was in London two weeks ago and then went back to America and now I’m back again. [laughs] J.G: Yeah, it’s nice!

A.M: Nice! So why did you decide to call yourselves WESLEE? E.D: It was the name of my pet turtle.

A.M: Oh, when did you get your pet turtle? E.D: Ages ago, before I moved to New York but then it died.

A.M: Oh, that’s sad. J.G: But the memory lives on! [Laughs]

A.M: Why isn’t your logo a turtle then? J.G: That’s a good question. E.D: Too on the nose, maybe? [Laughs]

A.M: Yeah, fair. So what inspires you both to make music? J.G: Hmm, you can go first. E.D: Life, I guess. It’s all real shit that I write about so just that. J.G: Yeah, I would say the same. For me, it’s a lot of subconscious stuff that you don’t realize and then it would come out that way. I guess with this, ideas come from somewhere and if it’s something Emma has suggested, I try and cater to that, or it’s me starting and she will say ‘oh I want to do this with this…’ but I guess it does all come from personal life experience.

A.M: Do you write music or lyrics first? J.G: It’s a mixture, probably both. Sometimes at the same time. E.D: I have a bunch of stuff written on my phone that no one’s allowed to see! J.G: I don’t know what it is and then it comes when we are creating something.

A.M: How would you describe your sound? J.G: I don’t know, I guess it just sounds like us. It’s so hard! Not to sound douchey but it does just sound like us, I don’t know how else to describe it! [Laughs] I listen to all kinds of music, both of us do so we draw from other stuff but I don’t think anything else sounds like us nor do we sound like anyone else and not in a pretentious way, I think that’s just where our heads are at.

Josh wears jacket BRIXTON; t-shirt DICKIES; jeans I AND ME

Emma wears top URBAN OUTFITTERS; dungarees LEE JEANS; shoes CONVERSE; sunglasses TALENT'S OWN

A.M: Yeah, and each song is different, as you said it’s just how you are feeling on the day. J.G: Yeah, exactly, and I think that’s really it. We don’t go in saying we are going to make this today and it’s going to sound like this. It just happens. You have a song like ‘London Love’ which doesn’t feel like anything else we’ve done and then you have all the other ones that are a bit slower and you can just sit with your feelings, it just depends where you are on that day.

A.M: What was the writing and recording process of your EP like? How long did it take considering you were traveling and stuff? J.G: A long time! Not crazy long, maybe about a year. All the songs off the EP were actually done in London. Everything was started in London and then Emma would send me voice memos and all that stuff made it into the song but that was a very London EP. It’s called 9F because of the amount of time Emma spent on an airplane coming to work on music here. But then all this new music that’s coming out after ‘London Love’ has all been created in LA, at least the songs we have planned to come out. So I think it sounds completely different from where we were and I do think the place has a big input on how our stuff sounds because it’s just a different feeling and energy, and we are in a different place. All that stuff goes into it.

A.M: So let’s talk a little bit about ‘London Love’ which I really like. What’s this about and can you expand a little on the lyrics? E.D: I had the idea like I said I have a bunch of shit on my phone and I had the idea for it just stewing and waiting for the right time to use it. Some of the boys are based on real people. My friends listened and were like ‘this is that guy, this is that guy, this is that guy’ like yep! And then some of it is fake just because it rhymes, I haven’t dated that many guys! [laughs] J.G: But they probably exist to somebody. E.D: Oh yeah, I’m sure they do. My friend who does a lot of our artwork, she makes up her own lyrics for her guys! But yeah, it was just a fun idea, a bit different.

A.M: What direction are you taking your music in now? Obviously, you said it feels more LA now. J.G: Yeah, I guess it just feels like Emma’s house and apartment in LA now. ‘Something Bout You’, our next single, is very melancholy but sweet and it feels happy even though it’s not… E.D: It’s not unhappy... J.G: But musically it feels like LA I guess, to me. Emma’s house there has this room upstairs with big windows and it captures that windows open kind of vibe, with Arthur setting up a projector and weird shit going on in the background! E.D: [laughs] J.G: [laughs] I guess that wasn’t that exact day but that was that week, it just feels like that. E.D: The first line of the next song is “we keep waking up the neighbors” and that’s because the neighbor kept telling us to shut up!

Josh wears t-shirt HUF; 2 piece LEE JEANS

Emma wears shirt BARENA; jeans WEEKDAY

A.M: I guess I’ll try and picture that when I listen to it then. J.G: Yeah, just picture us getting shouted at [laughs]. The song is really beautiful and sweet though, so it’s funny it came from that

A.M: You started by being anonymous online, not showing your faces, why did you decide to do this and why did it change? J.G: I think initially it was just, we had these songs we liked and they weren’t going to work for anyone else. They felt like something different than anything else that we were doing so we just wanted to put out our own music but didn’t want it to be like ‘look at us, we are dancing on stage!’ E.D: I also hate being in front of the camera. I did photography for about 10 years so I just prefer to be behind. I think being a songwriter and being a photographer, it’s all very behind the scenes, I never wanted to be in front, it was just never me...but here we are! [laughs] J.G: I think it turned into us wanting to do this and putting stuff out, in this day and age people want to know who you are, which is fair enough. So we give them a little bit [laughs]. But ‘Something About You’ - we are actually in the video, it’s our first ‘here we are!’ so maybe you’ll see more of us now, I don’t know. If it feels right we do it, if not, try not to feel forced.

A.M: So apart from the single, what else have you got coming up for the rest of the year? J.G: We have a bunch of new stuff that we will try to put out every month or two, so there will be another two or three songs that will come out this year. E.D: We’ve got a headline show in London in October and we’ve just done some shows in LA. J.G: Yeah, shows in LA last month and then a headline show in London in October and maybe in LA as well. We are trying to do more of the show thing because that’s actually really fun.

A.M: How would you say your songs translate into a live setting? J.G: That’s been quite hard but also fun to do. We wanted it to feel like a band so it’s hard because the music isn’t a band in a room jamming, so it’s been hard to get the balance. There are so many vocals on all the songs so it’s hard to carry that off with just Emma on stage with a couple of singers and then the band playing, but it still feels like the song. But I think we are getting there, it’s coming together! Once we have the money we will just have 20 people singing on stage [laughs].

Josh wears jacket BRIXTON; t-shirt DICKIES; jeans I AND ME; shoes REEBOK

Emma wears top URBAN OUTFITTERS; dungarees LEE JEANS; shoes CONVERSE; sunglasses TALENT'S OWN

A.M: Is the live side something you’re going to start to consider when writing your songs? J.G: Hmm, I don’t know, I don’t think so. It’s maybe in the back of our minds. I’ve never played live until now so it doesn’t usually cross my mind, you just do whatever feels right that day and then when it comes to playing it live, you’re like ‘this doesn’t work’ [laughs]

A.M: And finally, what is your favourite f word? J.G: Ooh E.D: Fuck. I say it all the time. J.G: Mines Frank [laughs] no it’s not really, that’s just a bad joke because I’m like in love with Frank Ocean. Mine would probably be fuck also because I say it all the time!

Words: Amy MacKenzie

Photography: Kim Jobson

Fashion: Sophie Emmett

MUA: Emilie Louizides


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