Photo: Simone Beyene

Emily Burns

Emily Burns unpacks the paranoia of infidelity in her new single “Cheating On Her,” but not in the way one might expect. 

“I just wanted to tell an honest story, from a viewpoint that perhaps hasn’t been looked at that much before,” Burns tells EUPHORIA. “We’ve all seen the way cheating can ruin current relationships, but no one often thinks about how it can affect future relationships too. My main goal was to highlight that.”

The British singer-songwriter is no stranger to making authentic music. Since realizing music as a career goal when she was 15 years old, Burns has “grown a lot more confident” in embedding herself in her songs. 

“When I first started out writing music, I was very much trying to fit in and make the kind of music that other people were making. I distinctly remember a conversation with a producer I was working with who said, ‘Just be unashamedly yourself because no one else can be that, only you,’” she says. 

In “Cheating On Her,” the singer explores what happens when two people start an exclusive relationship after having an affair together. After the secret passion has faded, the narrator worries that her partner is cheating on her in the same way. 

I know you cheated on her / But you cheated with me / And they say ‘what goes around, comes around,’ And I’m freaked that it’s comin’ for me,” Burns muses in the song’s chorus.

While Burns does not write “Cheating On Her” about herself, a real-life experience did inspire the creation of the song, showcasing Burns’ talent for telling someone else’s story in her own way. Over email, Burns took the time to break down the making of “Cheating On Her” and tease her future plans with EUPHORIA

Infidelity is a frequent subject matter in music, but it is more common to see songs from the perspective of the betrayed party. What made you want to explore the perspective shown in “Cheating On Her?” 

Infidelity is something I feel very strongly about. I’ve seen a lot of people in my life affected by it, and I wanted to tell the story from the perspective of “what happens next.” 

Two of my close friends actually ended up in a relationship born out of infidelity. When they separately came to me telling me how anxious they were feeling in their new relationship, it really got me thinking, “How can there ever be trust in something that came from lies?” You’re always going to wonder who they’re texting, where they are, and why they aren’t answering your calls. I wanted to express the impact cheating can have on people’s minds, even long after the actual cheating has happened. 

Everyone has opinions about cheating and the morality of it. Did you ever worry about backlash or listeners not connecting with the song’s point of view when creating it? 

To be honest I didn’t worry. My goal is to write and release music that feels honest and raw, no matter how uncomfortable the subject matter might be. I always feel that if I can connect to even just one person who tells me they need to hear this song, I’ve succeeded. 

There’s no doubt that the situation you explore in “Cheating On Her” is complex. What was the writing session like for the song? 

It was a pretty heavy day I won’t lie! I wrote it with an amazing writer/producer called Cass Lowe, who is honestly one of the most talented people I’ve ever had the honor of working with. We started talking about the situation my friends were going through and the song came out very naturally afterwards. We wanted to make sure we didn’t sugarcoat things, so it was definitely an emotionally draining day. 

The song’s production also lends to the effectiveness of “Cheating On Her.” What was the process like finding the song’s sound? 

Thank you! I loved every second of creating this song! Once we had the general vibe of the lyrics, Cass laid down this synth line, and I remember thinking it felt really special. It’s kind of unlike anything I’ve ever created before, but it just felt like one of those magical moments in the studio. It all happened in half a day really, which is pretty uncommon for me! I’m usually painstakingly going over every little detail for a lot longer than that.

What was the experience like filming the “Cheating On Her” music video? 

Filming the video was one of the best moments I’ve ever experienced in my career! It was so beautiful. I cried happy tears most of the day and frankly felt a little bit of imposter syndrome looking around and thinking, “Wow, these crazily talented people are really all here doing this for my song.” The way the dancers brought the story to life in front of me choked me up. I’ll never forget that day.

The lyrics of “Cheating On Her” really build a feeling of paranoia and sadness. Do you have a favorite lyric from the song? 

I think the most important lyric in the song to me is: 

“We know my paranoia’s justified / I know all your lies, I told them too.” 

It sums up the feeling of the song pretty well. It’s like, “I know what you’re capable of, so of course I’m gonna be worried it’ll come back to bite me.” 

“Cheating On Her” references the phrase “What goes around, comes around.” Do you believe in this type of karma? 

Definitely! I’m a big believer in what you put out into the universe comes back to you. Of course, that’s not always the case, but I think it’s important to put positive energy into the world. 

2023 is almost over, which is wild to think about. Is there anything you’re really excited about in the upcoming year? 

The first couple of releases I’ve put out in the past months are just the beginning for me. It’s been a long road to get to the point I’m at, but I’m more excited than ever to share music and play some live shows really soon.

“Cheating On Her” is out now.