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Empire was born in Montreal, Quebec in 1970 and brought up in Canada, Italy and Egypt before arriving in Britain in 1988. Empire studied at Wadham College, Oxford and Thames Valley University before working as a stage door-keeper for the Royal Shakespeare Company and London's Barbican Theatre.
Empire began writing about music at the NME in 1995, continuing for seven years. In 2002 she became pop critic for The Observer. She has also contributed to a variety of publications and broadcasts such as Elle (US), GQ, Radio 4's Woman's Hour, Newsnight Review, Uncut and The Scotsman. In 2008, she served as a judge for the Mercury Music Prize.
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