Born in Wimbledon, London, the daughter of a former army officer who ran a gentleman's club in Piccadilly, Anderson attended several private schools before taking her O-Levels at Queen's College, where she met Miki Berenyi. As keen music fans, they wrote a fanzine called Alphabet Soup. Her first band, which she joined in 1986, was The Rover Girls (which featured Chris P Mowforth and Stuart Watson, who were both later in Silverfish) as a bass player.
In 1987 she formed Lush with fellow songwriter Berenyi. On 6 March 1988, Lush played their very first performance at the Camden Falcon in London. They went on to reasonable success, having a number of Top 40 hits over an eight-year career. Anderson told Everett True in Melody Maker, "I remember when I couldn't play, I wasn't in a band, didn't know anyone else who could play, and now we've got a record out on 4AD. I sometimes find it impossible to come to terms with what's happening." Anderson and Berenyi were the only women to take part in the 1992 Lollapalooza tour of the United States.
Both Anderson and Berenyi became major music press celebrities as part of The Scene That Celebrates Itself. Music magazines the NME and Melody Maker gleefully reported their social activities on a regular basis, which could be said to overshadow their increasingly strong songwriting. As drummer Chris Acland states, "people seem to want to talk about Lush's relationship to the press more than they want to talk about Lush."
Of the sound of Lush, Emma says, ""We were kind of punk rock in one way. We did think 'Well, if they can do it, why the fuck can't we?' Basically, our idea was to have extremely loud guitars with much weaker vocals. And, really the vocals were weaker due to nervousness – we'd always be going 'Turn them down! Turn them down!'.""
After their biggest hits, the Top 30 "Single Girl", "Ladykillers" and "500 (Shake Baby Shake)" and Top 10 album, Lovelife, the band's drummer Chris Acland took his own life in 1996. The members were devastated and they split in 1996. Lush officially announced their breakup on 23 February 1998.
While a member of Lush, Anderson also worked with Drum Club contributing vocals and guitar on "Spaced Out Locked In" on their 1993 album Everything Is Now, also playing guitar on "Sound System".
In 1997 Anderson formed a new band with vocalist Lisa O'Neill, Sing-Sing. Emma talks about how it started, "I just started writing songs not really knowing what was going to happen though I kind of knew I didn't want to form another 4-piece indie band. I demoed those songs for 4AD with myself singing but was dropped but I wasn't fazed. I then met Lisa O'Neill via a guy I was going out with at the time. She had worked with Mark Van Hoen whom funnily enough, someone I knew said, was looking for collaborators so it kind of all fell into place and Sing-Sing was born." They released two albums – The Joy of Sing-Sing in 2001 and Sing-Sing and I in 2005, before officially disbanding on New Year's Day 2008.
Anderson joined in reforming Lush in 2015, releasing a new single Out of Control in early 2016.
Anderson currently resides in Hastings.Scar (mini-LP) – October 1989
Gala – December 1990
Spooky – January 1992
Split – June 1994
Lovelife – March 1996
Ciao! The Best of Lush – 2001
Blind Spot – April 2016
The Joy of Sing-Sing – 2001
Sing-Sing and I – 2005