Emma Cook is standing in a field at sunrise. The sun is rising behind her. She is looking to the left and has her back facing away from the camera.

Premiere: Emma Cook Searches for Freedom in Messed It Up

Toronto musician Emma Cook is searching for freedom in the release of her latest video for Messed It Up, a beautiful new track with a simple message, “Messed It Up tells the universal story of how life can constrict and complicate us – it is that yearning for the freedom of childhood. I have this very clear memory of playing in my best friend’s stream, spending hours with our rubber boots and just being in the moment. It asks the question, “how do I get back” to that kind of simplicity,” says Emma.

The video highlights a juxtaposition between “freedom and formality,” as directors Tatjana Green and Matthew Barnett said, and sees Emma shedding the constrictive layers of a costume beautifully designed by Alexandra Boultzi.

We’re happy to share the first look of the new video right here on ADDICTED, along with an interview with Emma Cook. Check out the video and interview below.


[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=07Nhz7lQ6f8]


Messed It Up is such a beautiful video featuring a dramatic look and stunning nature shots. How did you and directors Tatjana Green and Matthew Barnett come up with the concept for the video?

Thank-you! We’re really happy with how the video turned out. Tatjana and Matt initially came to me with three shooting/location styles to choose from and I was immediately drawn to the idea of shooting outside in a dramatic landscape. The song is ultimately about finding freedom, and the wide expanse of the water and sky and simplicity of nature really called to me. Once we had nailed down the style of the shoot, we immediately got to work focusing on the costume.

The costume really became a character unto itself, and we used its complexity and layers to tell the story of the juxtaposition between the hemmed in person you have become and the more free version of yourself you long to find again. The amazingly talented Alexandra Boultzi designed the wardrobe which was no small feat as there are multiple pieces and layers, most of which sewed herself.

Messed It Up asks the question of how we can get back to the simplicity of childlike freedom. What are some things in life that make you feel more free?

Good question, and something I am working on figuring out. The difference with childlike freedom is that they are not thinking about it – they are just in it. As we grow up, the same things that make us feel free as a child, are not necessarily the things that make us feel free now. When I see my 6 year old playing a make believe game, she is totally immersed, but if she asks me to play with her I would say that’s the opposite of freedom for me lol.

I do know for sure that nature is a huge part of the answer, for me, but I would say probably for many of us. When I dive into a lake or when I am kayaking, there are long stretches where I am not thinking about anything and just in a total state of ecstacy. This is one of the big reasons why I decided to leave city life behind and move to cottage country where we are surrounded by lakes and trees.

On the day of the shoot, you had a beautiful blue heron and seagulls serendipitously join the shoot. What was your favourite part of the video filming?

Well I’ll tell you what wasn’t my favourite part, and that was when Matthew Barnett told me I had to be on location at 4:45am and it was an hour drive from the city. But all jokes aside, the early morning shoot proved to be really magical, as there was this utter stillness on the water and a stunning sunrise as our backdrop. I’d have to say my favourite part of the shoot was when I was dancing on the beach and singing. Although I felt a bit self-conscious at first, I very quickly relaxed and let myself be free with the movement.

Messed It Up is a single from your upcoming album Fight Left In Me. What can listeners expect from the upcoming album?

I began writing for Fight Left In Me about three years ago, when I was touring my previous record Living Proof. At that time I was coming back to music after a head injury and most of the songs were about struggle and sadness. Fight Left In Me is less introspective, and more like I put my head up and looked outwards to find inspiration. Don’t get me wrong, this album is still pretty moody, but less about my own personal struggles and more about the experiences of those around me, particularly women, who are in that time in their life when their own personal identity is wrapped up around those around them.

I had been touring with Andrew Rasmussen as my keyboard player and he’s just so ridiculously talented he was an obvious choice to produce this record. He is a perfectionist, and there were some very long days in the studio doubling vocals with pinpoint accuracy, but the finished product is really something I’m proud of.

The album pulls in some folk and pop elements but Andrew and I were really open to breaking rules and taking risks. The vocals really shine, with tons of layers and harmonies, which is really how I speak my best music language. I feel like this album is my best yet, and that’s really what you want as an artist, to keep growing and creating things that you can be proud of. I hope it speaks to people.


Connect with Emma Cook here.

Cassandra Popescu

Cassandra Popescu

Contributor at ADDICTED
Cassandra is a writer and photographer based in Toronto, Ontario. In 2015, she picked up a camera and dove into concert photography. Since then, she has covered events like Festival d'été de Québec, Wayhome, Toronto Urban Roots Festival, Field Trip, Canadian Music Week, NXNE, and many more.
Cassandra Popescu