Our Flag Means Death was one of the biggest shows of the year. Fans everywhere fell in love with the goofy hijinks of wannabee pirate Stede Bonnet and his band of wayward pirates. With a loving fan base comes memes, edits, art, and even music. One of those fans is Twitch streamer Emily Henry who (with the help of her community on Twitch) created a song inspired by Our Flag Means Death.
If you missed the hype, Our Flag Means Death is a romcom series inspired by the adventures of Stede Bonnet (Rhys Darby). Stede trades in the life of a gentleman for life at sea. Aboard the ill-equipped pirate ship Revenge with an often mutinous crew, Stede tries to work out being a villain. When Stede runs into Blackbeard (Taika Waititi), it’s a toss-up whether our almost-pirate and the most terrifying man on the high seas will be true enemies or friends or something more! Romance, canons, and treasure await!
How does this adventure become music? Emily is a regular presence on Twitch, but this DC-based streamer is a singer-songwriter developing her indie pop sound. Emily has been writing lyrics from a young age, and her favorite stories are places she has often turned for inspiration. With her love for Our Flag Means Death, it was only a matter of time.
We caught up with Emily to get an inside look at how her new song “How It Feels” came to life.
Showstopper Magazine Online: What made you want to write an Our Flag Means Death-inspired song?
Emily Henry: I write a lot of songs about media I love, whether it’s a Dungeons & Dragons podcast, a Shakespeare play, or a semi-historical queer pirate romcom! I get a lot of joy from other people’s art and it often inspires me to create my own and spread the love. It really was love at first viewing of Our Flag Means Death.
SMO: You worked with your community on Twitch to make “How It Feels” happen. What was it like to collaborate with your fans in that way?
Emily: My Twitch community makes me feel like an absolute superhero. Being an independent artist involves a lot of solitary work, and before I started livestreaming, I think it was easy to feel like I was completely alone on the journey. My community never, ever lets me forget that that’s not true. They support me when I need help, they celebrate with me when I’m excited, and they remind me every time I get online that it takes a village to create things that matter. I can write a song in my house about a TV show I like, but without the donations, word-of-mouth marketing, and tireless enthusiasm of my community, that song does not get released. They really make me feel like I’m part of something, and I’m so grateful for them.
SMO: Do you have a favorite line from “How It Feels”?
Emily: I think my favorite line is actually near the beginning: “but then you come around with your sunshine smile / and it turns out I haven’t laughed in a while / and you touch my hand and oh yeah / that’s how it feels”
It’s the part of the emotional arc of the song that feels the most relatable to me, getting along in your daily life, just existing, feeling neutral, until you meet someone new and wonderful who lights you up like a Christmas tree. The human heart has an endless capacity for laughter and love, but sometimes it takes a big shake-up in your life to help you reconnect with that.
SMO: What have been some of your favorite reactions to the song?
Emily: My Discord went nuts when the song released at midnight! People were sharing screenshots of the song playing in their streaming apps, describing how they were dancing in their houses, sharing the song with friends and family, sharing Our Flag Means Death memes. In the words of one of my amazing moderators, it felt like “that scene in That Thing You Do when they play the song on the radio for the first time” and everyone is screaming with happiness. What a delight. What a joy. I love these people.
SMO: Is there anything else you want people to know about “How It Feels” or your music?
Emily: “How It Feels” was written from a place of joy, and I hope that it makes people feel that joy when they listen to it. If my music has anything in common, it’s a real focus on feelings, whatever they may be, and the hope that the listener will connect with what they’re hearing on that emotional level. All I’ve ever wanted for my career is to make art about feelings and share that with other people.
“How It Feels” is streaming now on all major music platforms. If it makes you want to dance around and share Our Flag Means Death memes, you know what Twitch chat to share your enthusiasm in.