One of pop’s most bold and daring characters, we caught up with EMM as she delves in on her hands-on creative style and announces her latest project
LA-via-Michigan’s EMM is a DIY artist in the truest sense of the term, not so much through necessity but through a need to manage and control almost every aspect of her sound and persona. The life-long songwriter and classically trained multi-instrumentalist is hands on with almost everything. From the music, to the production, to the writing, EMM’s DNA is slathered over each detail of what she does.
Fortunately, this is what gives her work its edge. As an artist, EMM is often described as being daring and controversial, a fearless women’s advocate who is under no restrictions or boundaries on the content that she releases. This has resulted in some of the most aggressively candid and honest pop music on offer today. Despite the music’s slick and glossy production, it is still packed with sharp edges and maintains an oblique rawness that can not be manufactured.
We caught up with EMM to find out a little more about the exciting artist, the unique outlook she has on creating music, and what her plans for the future are.
Who TF is EMM?
A mystic. A little bit of Trinity, a little bit of Aragorn, a little bit of Lara Croft. To people that love her, a source of hope and a reminder of the superhero that lies within. To people that hate her, an unapologetic, disruptive, problem (which kind of makes me like her more, TBH). I have trouble defining her myself to be honest. She’s got deep waters.
How long have you been making music?
My whole life.
Why do you make music?
Because if I didn’t I would lose my mind. I love the work. I love the craft. I love the hustle and the challenges. I love that moment of terror when you don’t know if it’s going to work. I love being on stage. I love the risk. I just love everything about what I do. There is no other option for me.
What are your biggest influences?
I’m inspired by stories I can get lost in. And I’m forever moved by a powerhouse performer. I’m inspired by women that support each other. And women taking over rooms that they have been kept out of. Most of my creative inspiration comes in the middle of the night or in prayer. Or in the studio. Or visualizing. I’m weird.
What do you want people to take away from your music?
I want them to feel powerful. Loved. Understood. Not alone. I want them to feel hope. I want them to know that they can survive anything and do anything.
What would you say has been your best moment so far?
There’s so much. Releasing the mixtape I created all on my own in 2016 was huge for me – I did everything from the production to engineering to recording and finishing it by myself. And I was suicidal at the time so that was like a huge moment of triumph, looking back. And the show I just recently put on in LA was monumental for me. I made so much amazing music with my best friends and to see it translate so well live and pack out the room with support was crazy. It was a huge production too. Dancers and a band and lighting and visuals, a big set, all of that. I think it’s a lot of what I will perform when I do my first tour. So I wanted to really challenge myself and go for it. It was by far the hardest show I’ve ever done… both musically and business wise.
Everything is weird for me as an artist because I’m Indie, I’m self funded, I love closing deals and the business side and I love the creative side. I put that entire show together by myself. So I was really proud of it. But I can’t do it all by myself anymore just because of time. I like, JUST brought on a manager and content team and marketing. I have had my heart crushed so many times by the business that I’ve grown to be obsessed with staying in as much control as is humanely possible. Oh, Almost forgot – This week I’m in the middle shooting my first really big video with K. Sarrico and that is pretty monumental as well. We’re really excited for it.
What’s your dream “I’ve made it” moment?
I started in the business at 16, left my hometown of 14,000 people and moved to NYC. I’ve experienced pretty much every shitty thing a young woman can face in the business and I’m making better music then ever, I’m a better business woman, and I’m better mentally then I’ve ever been before. I went from praying that someone would believe in me and make my dreams come true to realizing that I am that person. And I don’t wait or depend on anyone else to make shit happen. And I’ve already made so much progress since I’ve changed my mentality. So in my mind I’ve already made it. Everything from here on out is a bonus. You know? Selling out Staples will be fire. But my list of goals is endless.
‘Peachy’ dropped last month and latest single ‘Lady’ is right around the corner, what can you tell us about these two singles?
This seems like a good time to announce this – Peachy and Lady are both off of my project, EMERALD, that’s dropping September 27th. EMERALD is just part one of a 3-part project. Peachy is about choosing to focus on the good things in your life even when people have mean things to say about you. And Lady is inspired by the Women’s March. It’s celebrating all unapologetic, powerhouse women everywhere that deserve to be praised for the tenacity, courage, boldness and spirit it takes to be themselves.
You have garnered a reputation as an artist who likes to think and stray outside of the box with your sound and the hands-on way that you approach it, what is it that pushed you to create this way?
I’m just a control freak. In a good way, I think. I have an opinion about everything. I’ve been classically trained as a pianist since I was 6, guitarist since I was 12, and producer since I was 16. And been writing my own songs that entire time. And both my parents are professional classical musicians full time so it’s all I grew up with. So it’s pretty impossible for me to take my hands totally off the wheel musically or in my writing. But Taylor Wilzbach, my co-producer, really understands my sonic preferences and he’s so talented. It’s been really nice to be able to trust him do his thing because I don’t have a lot of time anymore to put in the kind of care that great production takes. I think we both learn so much from each other. I also appreciate him because he really respects my ideas and I think as female producers there are so many men who think we can’t program or don’t take our ideas seriously and that can be a huge battle for us. He and ZOË, my favorite co-writer (she is also an incredible artist and producer), are always up to go down whatever crazy rabbit hole I’m in the mood for musically. Which I don’t take for granted at all. It’s really a team effort.
What does the near future hold for EMM?
Lady drops September 13th! And EMERALD, the first part of my 30 song project drops September 27th. And so does the video for Freedom. And I’m thinking it’s time for an LA show very soon!
And finally, who is your biggest fan right now?
My instagram bio says “STAN Yourself.” I want all of my followers to be their own biggest fan. I want them to know that they are worthy of that kind of self-love and faith in themselves. I definitely have to shoutout my whole entire squad for being the best people ever to do this with. And to some of my most amazing fans (there are so many!), I love you so much and I’m so thankful for you. Cory, Aleksandra, Hannah, Peyton, Renzo… just to name a few. ILYSM. You inspire me endlessly. Thank you so much to everyone who has even listened to a second of one of my songs. I will never take you for granted and I promise I’m going to keep doing my best with what I’ve been given. I love you.