Emilíana was born in Iceland, where she grew up in Kópavogur. At the age of seven, she joined a choir as a soprano, until she went to opera school at the age of 15. Her father, Salvatore Torrini, is Italian (from Naples), while her mother, Anna Stella Snorradóttir, is Icelandic. Because of name regulations in Iceland at the time, her father had to change his name to “Davíð Eiríksson”, which also meant that Emilíana had to use the surname after her father in the traditional way. A few years later, the name regulations were changed, and she was again allowed to use her original surname. After being discovered singing in a restaurant in Iceland by Derek Birkett, the owner of One Little Indian Records, Emilíana was asked to visit London to record a song. She decided to stay in London.