The creation of art is an act of giving. In a very practical sense, artists give any number of things to their craft. They give their time in order to create art. They give money for instruments, lessons, studio time, and a whole list of other equipment and required art supplies. They also give less tangible things. They give their energy and their well-being to an audience, putting their bodies through grueling schedules to perform and make deadlines. They give their emotions and their lives to listeners as well, mining experiences both good and bad to share with the entire world. It can be a hard, challenging experience, but it can be immensely rewarding for artist and audience alike. Just ask Emily Perry. The Los Angeles-based 19-year-old pop singer from Australia has given her energy to performance since she was a child, and that act of giving has transformed her into a talented and promising dance-pop star. With a number of singles to her name in 2018 and more plans for 2019, Emily Perry is giving everything she has in order to create her music.

It’s fitting Perry and I spoke in December, the season of giving. Perry has just released her latest single and music video of 2018, “Jingle Jingle.” If the title doesn’t give it away, “Jingle Jingle” is a Christmas song, a delightfully poppy and vibrant one at that. If you would have told Perry earlier this year that a Christmas track would be the follow up to her hugely successful October release “So Bad,” she wouldn’t have believed you. In the tweet announcing the single in late November, she said she didn’t like Christmas music. Perry has a good sense of humor though, and that irony is not lost on her. “I have to eat my crow and say now I love Christmas music,” she says with a laugh. That excitement is helped by the fact “Jingle Jingle” was played in the movie Homegrown Christmas on the Hallmark Channel earlier this month.

Perry knew she was going to give the world a look at her talents long before this Christmas season or even this year. “I started dancing when I was about three years old,” she reveals, and explains that early start is why dancing is still a huge part of her videos and live performances. It was at age twelve when she began to discover singing and thought it was an interesting avenue for her to pursue. She remembers “I realized that was really what I wanted to do with my career because I could incorporate my dance into my music so I get the best of both worlds.” Perry was also aided by the instruction given to her by the teachers at the performance school she attended growing up in Australia. “I did a two year full time dance program, so that was really great and I think it’s really shaped me as an artist and especially as a performer today,” she says of her schooling, and explains it’s a huge part of why she’s so comfortable performing on stage now. The dance-pop sound she’s so great at also ” definitely came from the fact that [she is] a dancer.”

Perry’s writing is also a process of give and take. Perry reveals she loves writing in groups and bringing in co-writers to create an imaginative, collaborative environment. “I think when it’s collaborative it’s a lot easier,” she says. Sometimes when she’s personally stuck on a song or melody, she says someone else will have an idea that she’d never have thought of on her own. She says even just having someone give fresh ears to a track can be hugely beneficial for her, and says “there’s so many different melodies and lyrical ideas you can put on one song, it’s about finding the one that fits.” She’s also a fan of writing tracks first because she finds writing a melody easier once she has a beat and a groove to work with. Perry also says everyone she’s worked with so far, from co-writers to producers has been a joy to work with, and “it’s always very collaborative when we all put in hours like that to make it what it is.” What “it is” is a number of hits, from the summer banger “Summer On Lock” earlier this year to club anthem “So Bad.”

Emily Perry live

Part of the giving of music involves performing it live, and Perry loves to put on a show. “I often start a couple weeks or a month in advance depending on if it’s just one show or a tour,” she says on preparing for going on the road. Two key elements that always stay the same are the fact she dances herself during the show and brings at least a few dancers with her on tour. She says she loves seeing what each audience reacts to and enjoys, and 2018 was filled with a variety of festival dates and tours. Perry’s most recent tour–traveling with City On Down for five weeks–also gave to a greater cause. The tour was supported by High School Nation, an organization that donates the software and equipment for recording studios to high schools with struggling arts programs. She thoroughly enjoyed the tour, saying “it was great getting to meet all the kids and really get to connect with my fans and my audience on a more personal level … A lot of them were so interested in music and arts and didn’t have the access to the facilities needed.” To be able to support those kids was a huge bright spot for Perry this year.

All that touring and giving can be a tiring experience, so Perry made sure to take care of herself as well. Physically, she made sure to take her vitamins, rest her voice, and keep in shape so she didn’t wear down or get sick. “Mentally you just have to make sure you surround yourself with people on these kinds of tours who will help lift you up and make the whole process easier for you,” she says, and to that end she brought her mother with her for the City On Down tour. Having a family member with her made the whole process easier, and she jokes “everyone likes her better than me anyway, she’s way more fun.” Perry is also taking time this month to visit the rest of her family in Australia for the holidays.

The fun doesn’t stop at the end of 2018, either. “2019, I have a lot of music coming out,” she says, revealing that several songs for the new year are nearly finished already. Reflecting on what comes next, she states “I think my goal is to release as much music and visuals as possible to show people what my music is all about.” It’s safe to say fans will definitely be into what her music is about.

Some people are natural givers. Emily Perry is one of them. Whether she’s giving all of her emotions and dedication to a song she’s working on or her time and energy to the fans who come see her shows, Perry is showing the whole world what she can do. As we dance and sing our way into 2019, Emily Perry will be there to supply the music.