Emily Weisband Talks Dreamy Karen Fairchild Collaboration “Butterfly”
Singer-songwriter Emily Weisband is known for penning songs for artists including Camila Cabello (“Consequences”), Dan + Shay (“Make or Break”), Lady A’s Hillary Scott (“Thy Will”), BTS with Halsey (“Boy With Luv”), and Keith Urban (“Steal My Thunder”), but over the past few years, she also shown she can move confidently in different creative spaces.
In 2019, Weisband released a pop EP with Identity Crisis, followed by 2020’s Afraid To Say Goodbye and her most recent EP, I Call It Being Human.
Her latest song, “Butterfly,” finds Weisband revisiting her Nashville roots in a way, welcoming Little Big Town member Karen Fairchild to collaborate on the dreamy, truth-filled track. Weisband, a co-writer on the song, says “Butterfly” was partly inspired by her current romantic relationship, which she has been in for nearly two years.
“Even when they are great, relationships don’t feel great at every moment,” Weisband tells CMT. “I heard my parents and every older person who has been married for a long time tell me, 'the feelings fade,' or 'It's just different now.' I think I've always been very afraid of that, which is why I've spent a lot of my 20s just chasing new relationships all the time. But dating my boyfriend now, I was thinking about how I was told butterflies fly away at some point.”
Weisband took that idea into a co-writing session with Alysa Vanderheym and Steph Jones.
“There’s this beautiful tension between wanting new love to hold onto those butterflies, but also appreciating the richness of a relationship where it’s more than just feelings. It’s choice. It’s knowing someone’s still going to stay and have faith in what you have, even when the butterflies go," Weisband says.
Later, Weisband was in the middle of a different writing session with Tofer Brown and Little Big Town’s Karen Fairchild, penning a song for Little Big Town, when the discussion turned to the topic of relationships.
“I started talking about how I had written a song about the very thing we were talking about. And Karen, she’s so openhearted and loves hearing music. She told me to send her the song. Later, she texted me saying, ‘I’m obsessed with this song. What is your plan for it?’ I think she might have wanted it for Little Big Town, but she knew I was putting out music soon. So she texted me like every few weeks about the song and where I was at with it. I started thinking it would be great to have her perform it with me."
Fairchild, of course, said yes and the two vocalists turn in an all-out duet for the song.
“I love true collaboration," Weisband says. "I love the storytelling aspect of feeling like, ‘This is my story but it's yours, too and that's why we're doing it together.'"
Weisband leads the first verse of the song, which focuses on the newness of a relationship, while Fairchild takes the lead on the second verse.
“It's very honest for me to sing, ‘Right now you pick me up on time and you beg me to spend the night.’ That's what's happening right now. Then for Karen to sing about how someday we get older and I'll be a body that you're used to and all the laughing you make me do is going to turns into lines on my face. Now, Karen obviously is very hot. She does not show her age at all but we always did talk about how beautiful it was that she was further down the road in her relationship and I was where I was at. For our verses to represent where in life we actually were, it just made so much sense.”
The song’s accompanying video features a lush indoor garden setting.
“I wanted it to look editorial and high-fashion,” Weisband says. "Karen has this iconic editorial look to her and I’ve always appreciated that kind of Vogue aesthetic. I grew up in the woods in Virginia, with flowers and sun dancing through the trees. I didn’t grow up in the city, and a lot of my videos to this point have been a city and neighborhoods, that kind of thing. But this song felt dreamy and I wanted a video that looks how it sounds.”
They filmed at a house in East Nashville, which was decorated with floral arrangements filling every room.
“All those flowers are real,” Weisband says. “They literally set up a meadow in this house.” But she says the most special thing about the video was getting to join forces creatively with an artist she has long admired.
“It was special because it felt like being with one of my peers, when in reality, I’m sitting next to a woman I have looked up to my entire career and she’s treating me like I’m on her level. It’s such a powerful lesson in how to treat people and newer artists.
"There’s this shot at the end of the video where we’re both sitting in the living room and the director said, ‘Maybe you two can interact?’ and Karen looked at me and was like, ‘It’s kind of more editorial if we don’t, right?’ and I was like, ‘Yeah, it is.’ So it was fun to purposefully do that editorial take and then break character and look at each other and be like, ‘That was fun! That was the vibe.’”
Weisband also shares that Fairchild had some help in selecting the outfit she wears in the video, courtesy of her husband and fellow Little Big Town member Jimi Westbrook.
“When we got to the place she showed me her options and she showed me the white dress she ended up wearing. She told me, ‘I showed Jimi [the options] this morning and I put my arms out and the sleeves were just big and flowy and he said, ‘"That's butterfly, that's butterfly."' So, he actually helped her pick the outfit for the video and it just looked amazing. I thought that was very cute.”
"Butterfly" is the first of new music fans can expect from Weisband, music she says she's made by "really embracing my Nashville community and everything that means to me."
Weisband is also learning to lean less on how others feel about her music, and listen more closely to how she feels when she plays new songs for others--something she says she picked up from Keith Urban.
“I was writing with Keith Urban a few years ago and I asked him. I was like, ‘Do you ever not put a song on a record because [Urban’s wife and actress Nicole Kidman] doesn't like it? Or maybe if Nicole does like it but you don't like it, do you put it on the record because Nicole loves it?’ He said, 'Em, I've stopped paying attention to people's response when I play them something and I've started paying more attention to how I feel playing it for them.’ He was like, ‘Because everyone's response is going to be different. You can't please everybody. But if I feel proud in spite of the response, playing it for them, I know it's my song.’ It was phenomenal advice I’ll hold on to forever, and I feel so proud to share ‘Butterfly’ with others.”