Former X Factor semi-finalist, Emily Middlemas, is now ili. With authentic songs from the heart, ili presents credible stories in the purest of pop in an engaging and emotive clarity, with a truly global sensibility.

ili is poised to release her debut EP, Changes, this October with the arrival of first single ‘A Little Bit’. An evocative journey hand-in-hand with faithful instrumentation, accompanied by a seductive and seemingly effortless fragility, ‘A Little Bit’ marks a new chapter and makes for an impressive introduction to a wonderful new artist.

“I wrote ‘A Little Bit’ all about growing up with your first crush,” she says. “When you first discover those feelings for somebody, it’s really clumsy and you never know what to do at the start. You constantly try to play it cool when they are around, but it never works out how you imagine it in your head. Growing up, I never actually had a lot of crushes, only two or three throughout all of high school, that’s even including celebrity crushes. So, it was a pretty unique feeling and a big deal for me when it came around! I think the chorus just explains everything in a nutshell, I would try to play hard to get and say ‘I love ya, but just a little bit’ and give it all away a few seconds after; ‘okay, I love ya a little bit more every day.”

As for her playlist: “Songs I danced to, relaxed to, cried to; from the likes of Queen to Rihanna. Ever since I was little, I connected to music on a whole different level. I would cry listening to songs that I knew were emotional, yet, not understanding the meaning. Or having a full-blown diva show at songs with a real attitude. My mum tells me I would always dance in her tummy as soon as the music was on. These are songs I have grown up listening to from then, ‘til now.”

1. Lily Allen – ‘Smile’

“This song brings back so many memories for me. I used to dance to this in my room with so much attitude not even knowing what I was singing about. I think this track and Lily Allen in general was just so cool. She really doesn’t have a care in the world what people think of her and I think that’s so powerful.”

2. Electric Light Orchestra – ‘Mr. Blue Sky’

“This is such a classic. I love and always will love this song. Jeff Lynne is a huge inspiration to me; you can hear the passion ooze out of every single song he does. He is such a creative producer and artist and I think he really shifted musical direction in the ‘80s, he was well beyond his time.”

3. Eliza Doolittle – ‘Pack Up’

“This song was actually one of my very first covers and even to this day, I still love to sing. I have always been a big lover of ‘quirky’ and fun songs which i think really shines through in my debut single ‘a little bit’.”

4. Queen – ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’

“All-time favourite song in the world. This is genius. A six-minute musical masterpiece, consisting of several sections without a chorus: an intro, a ballad segment, an operatic passage, a hard rock part and a reflective coda. I love that queen truly believed in this song and rebelled against their label at the time to go on to release it. Thank god they did.”

5. Corinne Bailey Rae – ‘Put Your Records On’

“When I first heard this song, I fell in love with it automatically and ever since I have always loved this soulful pop vibe. Listening to this really allows me to just let my hair down and chill, although I haven’t released anything like this, I really love writing and exploring more soul.”

6. Shania Twain – ‘Man! I Feel Like A Woman!’

“The ultimate female empowerment song. The attitude, the lyrics, the vocals, the hooks, this is everything! I grew up listening to this song from the age of one and yet today still love it.”

7. Estelle – ‘American Boy (Feat. Kanye West)’

“This is such a cool song, Estelle brings her sweet jazzy voice into a R&B, funk/disco song and to top it off Kanye raps over this, I had never heard anything like it.”

8. Agnes – ‘Release Me’

“I actually recently rediscovered this classic. I love how free and dreamy the chorus sound with being a dance-pop anthem. I remember having goose bumps when I listened to this back in the day!”

9. Amy Winehouse – ‘Tears Dry On Their Own’

“Anything Amy Winehouse. But this was one of my favourites when I was younger – one of the best songs of the ‘00s. With Amy’s voice and style of writing you can really hear every single emotion that she went through, everybody can really relate to her and feel every touch of emotion she put out to the world.”

10. Rihanna – ‘Take A Bow’

“Last but now least, number 10, which was actually released when I was 10 years old. I remember the first time listening to this, I was a collector of the Now That’s What I Call Music! CD’s and this track was on Volume 70 – the memory is so clear in my head. I was in the car listening to the CD and as soon as I heard ‘Take A Bow’. I had it on repeat ‘til i knew every single word.”

Changes is set for release in October. ‘A Little Bit’ is out now. Listen to it HERE.

You can listen to all Ask the DJ playlists on the FMS Magazine Spotify CHANNEL.

Find ili’s playlist below and HERE.

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