Emma Higgins has built an outstanding career directing music videos, working with artists like Tegan and Sara, Marianas Trench, and Dear Rouge. This week, Emma will be honoured at the JUNOS for her video for Jessie Reyez’s “No One’s in the Room“, nominated for Music Video of the Year. Visually stunning and with a strong narrative, the video is nearing 2.5M views on YouTube so far.
“This video is very personal to me,” says Emma, who collaborated closely with Jessie to bring her vision to life. “To have it be recognized at the JUNOS, is a validating moment. You pour your heart into something and it doesn’t always get recognized. It’s really nice to be recognized with something as prestigious as the JUNOS.”
Having been nominated for a JUNO in 2018 for Mother Mother’s “The Drugs” Emma understands the impact that a JUNOS nomination has for an artist. “It changed the trajectory of my career. It gets you to another level and propels you forward,” she says.
In the fall of 2021, Emma will begin production on her highly anticipated debut feature film The Northwoods, starring Sarah Gadon (Alias Grace, True Detective). “It was always the goal, to move to feature film,” she tells me, sharing her excitement to return home to British Columbia for shooting. “It’s a horror film that takes place in the woods. BC is where we get that super dark old-growth forest.”
We connected with Emma, who is currently living in LA, to get to know her a little better, and get a glimpse of the path that led her to where she is today.
Please share something from your recent search history and explain in four words why you were searching.
“New Balance running shoes” because I ran through my old ones.
List three things on your bedside table.
Currently – A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle, water bottle, my retainer.
What have you recently read and can’t stop thinking about?
Buffy Sainte-Marie’s biography by Andrea Warner. Andrea is a great writer and Buffy’s story is absolutely incredible.
What childhood toy do you still own?
My Soapbox derby car. Not exactly a toy but my dad and I built this little wooden car that I would race in local competitions to see who could roll down a hill fastest. During quarantine my mom got on a Marie Kondo kick and I had to go over there and saw the car apart and take it to the dump. Power sawing while crying is peak pandemic vibes.
Do you recall the first song you slow danced to? Or a best guess?
The song was “I’m With You” by Avril Lavigne and the boy was Jackson Lovette. Our romance lasted only the length of one song then he started going out with my friend Nicole.
What posters hung on the wall of your teenage bedroom?
Kurt Cobain, Karen O and posters of places I wanted to travel.
What does breakfast normally look like?
What inanimate object has brought you comfort during the pandemic? Or maybe a couple, if you have time to share.
My TV for movies and phone for FaceTimes with loved ones I couldn’t see.
Tell us about a subject that you want to explore more deeply.
Screenwriting and filmmaking. I feel as though I’ve barely started to scratch the surface of what there is to know about these subjects and they’re endlessly fascinating to me.
What skill would you love to have?
Fearless public speaking
Please share a place you think about often.
Jericho Beach in Vancouver. I think it’s the most beautiful place on earth and I have a lot of great memories there including my first job.
What does comfort food look like to you?
A grilled veggie dog with banana peppers, sauerkraut, onions and alllll the ketchup and mustard.
Which song could you listen to 20 times in a row?
“Shangri-Lost” by The Darcys
A film you saw in your childhood or youth that left a deep impact?
Point Break. Beyond the impression left by Patrick Swayze’s beautiful feathered hair, it was the first movie I can remember seeing that had a woman director. I don’t think I even knew that women could direct before then (which goes to show the importance of representation) and it was a real lightbulb moment for me.
What show or film have you watched lately that you can’t stop thinking about?
The Morning Show. Smart writing with complex characters that I think did a great job of exploring a social movement. I hadn’t seen anything exactly like it before.
Please tell us about a hidden talent.
I can juggle.
What’s a cherished item in your closet right now that you feel good wearing?
My Pamela Anderson Baywatch T-shirt. I grew up watching Pam on TV knowing she was from BC where I’m from and I thought she was the absolute coolest. I still do.
What has calmed you in the past year?
Running, audiobooks, and gardening.
Who inspires you on social media?
What do you most want to do when the era of social distancing is behind us? What post-pandemic experience are you craving?
Seeing a movie in the theatre and big dinners with friends and family.
What nonprofit would you like to give a shoutout to?
The Tegan and Sara Foundation.
The 2021 JUNO Awards will be live streamed on June 4 at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT on CBCMusic.ca/junos, the free CBC Gem streaming service and CBC Music’s Facebook, Twitter and YouTube pages. The 2021 JUNO Awards will be broadcast nationwide Sunday, June 6 at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT on CBC TV, CBC Gem, CBC Radio One, CBC Music, CBC Listen, globally on cbcmusic.ca/junos and livestreamed on CBC Music’s TikTok, Facebook, YouTube and Twitter pages.