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Tusks Walks Us Through Her New Album, ‘Gold’

Following two revered albums, ‘Dissolve’ in 2017 and ‘Avalanche’ in 2019, London-based electronic songwriter and producer Tusks, aka Emily Underhill, has returned with her third. ‘Gold’ is out on April 12th 2024 via One Little Independent.

She shares with AAA Backstage below, a track-by-track breakdown of the album:

Tusks ‘Gold’ Track By Track 


“It’s funny, because of the pandemic, the album got rewritten and rewritten and rewritten and I think Wake, Cold Storm and Read The Room are the only ones that ended up staying pretty much the same all the way through. All three were written in the middle of nowhere down in Devon. I think it was maybe the first time I’d been properly alone since the start of the pandemic because I’d been locked down in a house of five people in the middle of London and was just never alone- which was something completely new to me. This song just kinda came out all at once, like I’d been writing it subconsciously over all those months. The demo sounded like this folk song sung over a synth drone, which we then used as a skeleton for the track and built it up with so many layers of textures and synths. That’s kinda what the song’s about for me – the journey of the synths & playing with as much texture and sound as possible; we did stuff like include samples from the Nasa website of audio recordings of the Mars Rover. I like the idea of Wake feeling like the orchestra tuning up, like a big mishmash that grows and grows, that’s how I pictured it. It’s very exploratory, I think it’s about discovery, and about trying to figure out what’s going on in your head.” 


“Adore almost didn’t make it on to the album about 20 times. It started off as this slow jam in 7/8 on piano and drums and had this polyrhythmic clap over the top which I think I was so obsessed with that it stopped me seeing what the track actually needed. More than any of my songs so far, this one got reinvented and reinvented and it actually wasn’t until we started recording the album in SS2 in Southend that we cracked it. My drummer started to play this really sick shuffly beat and Tom immediately was like ‘Oh my god what is that’ and started recording, then we built Adore up again around the new beat. The whole song is about falling in love with someone at the start of a relationship when you’re asking yourself if it’s a good idea, if you should fall for that person or whether you should keep yourself guarded”

Artificial Flame 

“I went down to Devon alone again 6 months after writing Wake to try and finish writing the album. At that point I’d also realised I was no longer in love with my partner at the time and Artificial Flame is all about coming to that realisation and processing it. It was really intense. I didn’t really speak to anyone for days and there was this insane storm which came over. Weirdly though, that actually ended up inspiring the chorus hook because I couldn’t light a fire without using a load of firelighters, which then made this massive green flame. I was kinda staring at it then the phrase Artificial Flame popped into my head and seemed to sum up everything I was feeling about the relationship.”

Tainted Plates 

“This was written with Tom halfway through recording the album. Originally it was all on an Omnichord and had this Beach House vibe but we just couldn’t get it to sit right in the flow of the album so about a week before we sent everything off to master, we decided to just rip it apart and start the production again. We wanted it to sound really lo-fi and kind of a bit more interludy than the other tracks & so recorded the drums then heavily processed them and sampled and resampled them and ended up with the drum loop you can hear. We put loads of stuff through tape and a 404 & ended up sampling a discarded brass recording from Read The Room and putting it all over the end. The song itself is about struggling to communicate clearly about how you feel and the frustration that that brings ”

The Way 

“This was written at the same time as Artificial Flame. I’d been out in that storm for a couple of hours in these mental 45 mile an hour winds listening to Porridge Radio and came home and instantly sketched out this whole song on bass guitar. It was another one where it just kinda came out in one go from somewhere within me, like it had been building up over time. It’s addressed to anxiety. It’s about realising that whatever is going to happen, is going to happen anyway – that’s just the way it is. I find that very calming. Production wise, there was loads of interesting stuff Tom did to create the drum sound. We put drum machines through bass amps and stuck mics in back rooms and in the ceilings of the studio to create the sense of space and size which we then massively compressed. We were recording right next to a really intense gym too so you can hear that bleeding into the drum stems sometimes”

Read The Room 

“This is a one-take piano and vocal recording which we recorded in this amazing studio in the middle of nowhere in Wales. We played around with adding bits like brass (which ended up being resampled for Tainted Plates) but then we did this take where I was playing a Yamaha CS through a Copicat tape machine over the piano and vocal recording and Tom said it reminded him of the Blade Runner soundtrack. As soon as he said that I thought that’s all that it needed to be. Lyrically it’s about reminiscing on a failed relationship.” 


“Strangers is another track I wrote whilst processing the break up I was going through. It’s about how you feel when you decide to end a relationship and realise what you’re about to lose – that person who you’ve shared so much with and been so close to for so long is just going to become a stranger. I found it so hard to come to terms with that fact. It’s a pretty angry song anyway because of the emotion that comes with that but also just before we went in to start recording the album I got COVID & was stuck in a tiny bedroom for 10 days. Tom was pushing me to write a middle 8 for the song and that’s how the synth section after the second chorus was written. It was a good catharsis.The sound of the bass was definitely inspired by The Cure on this one. We also wanted the listeners to feel like they were being led on a journey by the track so used loads of different length loops of polyrhythms on electronic drum kits and modular synthesis over the 5/4 drum beat to create this feeling of movement and the unknown.” 


“Gold is a political one. It was written in response to seeing how the Tories acted during the pandemic and realising if you have a certain amount of money and status, nothing else seems to matter – you can get away with anything. I felt like we were watching in real time how they just didn’t seem to care if people died or if any of this horrific stuff happened so long as they weren’t going to get in trouble for it or their friends got rich. Somehow they just seem to be immune to any kind of punishment and let off the hook. It’s more joyous at the end because that’s supposed to be about their downfall. I feel like I was hoping that would come by the time this came out…The feeling behind the song was echoed in the production too – the first half of the song is fueled by these sampled drum loops we made and processed them through a 501 and 404 for that super lofi feel then went full hifi at the end. I love the payoff that gives.”

Body Ache

“This was another track that was written really quickly – probably the quickest on the album. I’d just got home from being out with friends, and my partner was later than he said he was going to be coming home, so I started jamming around with a track about him and it ended up being Body Ache. It just came together super quick which was a nice change from the rest of the album – we even ended up using the demo vocals recorded in my living room. It was nice to allow myself to move into a more upbeat kind of song and let myself be inspired by more RnB – I was listening to a lot of Eliza at the time which I definitely think inspired this one.”

Cold Storm 

“As the name suggests, this was also written during a crazy storm down in Devon. It was also another one that kinda just came out of me and then I had to figure out what the hell I was singing about. I think it’s another one of self discovery. It’s kind of the darker side of Wake – Wake is optimistic and this one is way more uncertain and raw and angry, especially towards the end. They’re like the Dawn and Dusk of the album.” 

Written by John Zebra