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Paramore's Hayley Williams: "people are confused about what the fuck emo is"

Hayley Williams onstage at Coachella
(Image credit: Amy Sussman/Getty Images)

Paramore frontwoman Hayley Williams has weighed in on the big debate surrounding emo music in 2022 - namely just what in the hell actually counts as 'emo' these days.

The singer - who is fronting a brand new BBC Sounds podcast dedicated to the genre  - discusses her own relationship with emo in a brand new interview with Rolling Stone UK.

"Since day one, I was perplexed when I first heard about this word ‘emo’," she admits. "I searched it on the internet and tried to understand because I was getting into music that wasn’t popular on the radio. I was discovering this whole other world and I wanted to understand it better because I wanted to know everything, I wanted to really be in. And emo has changed so much throughout the years. But one thing that’s never changed from day one: people are confused about what the fuck emo is.

"One of the articles that I pulled up back then, when I was 13," she continues, "had Ian MacKaye from Minor Threat and Fugazi being like ‘that’s so stupid, everything’s emo’. ‘Punk music is emo because people are expressing their rage or their frustration’ or whatever. And I’ve watched it evolve throughout the years, like you’re saying, one minute emo sounds like pop punk and then the next minute emo sounds like Phoebe Bridgers and Conor Oberst doing a project together. Where we’ve gotten to now people are much more open to a lot of different versions of the word and I think that’s cool."

While the origins of emo can be traced as far back as the 80s post-hardcore scene, the genre saw an explosion in popularity in the mid-00s courtesy of bands like Paramore, My Chemical Romance and Fall Out Boy, who took modern emo into the charts and into arenas around the world. Despite their involvement in the scene at the time, though, Williams is the first to admit that Paramore were hesitant to embrace the 'emo' tag.

"We were so concerned – especially me – with not being whatever the scene deemed as poser or whatever," she adds. "Especially as a young girl, the pressure was really on to not be lame...definitely more than once said we were not emo in interviews."

Hayley Williams recently made a surprise return to the stage at this year's Coachella festival to duet a version of Paramore mega-hit Misery Business with Billie Eilish. The first episode of her new podcast, Everything Is Emo, is available to listen to now via BBC Sounds.

Merlin Alderslade
Merlin Alderslade

Merlin stepped into his role as Executive Editor of Louder in early 2022, following over ten years working at Metal Hammer. While there, he served as Online Editor and Deputy Editor, before being promoted to Editor in 2016. Before joining Metal Hammer, Merlin worked as Associate Editor at Terrorizer Magazine and has previously written for the likes of Classic Rock, Rock Sound, eFestivals and others. Across his career he has interviewed legends including Ozzy Osbourne, Lemmy, Metallica, Iron Maiden (including getting a trip on Ed Force One courtesy of Bruce Dickinson), Guns N' Roses, KISS, Slipknot, System Of A Down and Meat Loaf. He is also probably responsible for 90% of all nu metal-related content making it onto the site.