IT has been a pleasure…
speaking with EMM about her new single, No Gods, and how it came together. The U.S. songwriter talks about the feeling in her country right now; whether she thinks female artists are put into holes and boxed-in; what she hopes to achieve before the end of the year – EMM discusses overcome psychological hurdles and coming out the other side.
I was keen to know which three albums are most important to her; some upcoming musicians we should keep an eye out for; whether she gets much time to chill away from music – EMM ends the interview by selecting a fantastic track.
Hi, EMM. How are you? How has your week been?
Hey, Sam. Thanks for taking the time. It’s been pretty busy - just prepping for a show on Sunday and working on promoting my first release. We also have a second release coming August 3rd called Dirty so I’m preparing for that as well.
For those new to your music; can you introduce yourself, please?
Sure. My artistry is built around integrating solid messages I’m passionate about into easily-digestible Pop songs. I write and produce everything I make and I have a soft spot for women’s issues. I was raised by an Opera singer and a Classical harpist so Classical music is in my blood - but I am really inspired by people like Freddie Mercury, Prince and Janet Jackson.
No Gods is your new single. It seems to look at corruption and governments. Is there a particular inspiration behind it?
When we aren’t empathizing with each other, we end up dehumanizing one another and people get treated poorly; whether that’s through a screen on Facebook or through harmful rhetoric in the lives of our political leaders. A lack of empathy is so dangerous. The chorus of No Gods says: “You can’t make me wanna be like you - out of my mind”. It’s in reference to the divisive and harmful conversations we have with each other, particularly over social media. The verses are about the irony of using ‘God’ to justify treating humans like sh*t.
I believe that every single human being is sacred and should be treated like they have sparks of divinity within them - no matter the race, gender; sexual preference, amount of money...whatever.
Being based in the U.S.; is it quite a stressful and divided time? Do you think things will improve?
I think, for my generation, we all feel afraid sometimes when we see what’s happening in the world. But, I have a lot of faith in Generation Z. They seem to be much more tolerant and kind than some of the generations that came before them.
It seems you take risks and do not like to be boxed-in. Do you think female artists are defined and pushed to perform a certain way?
Yes. Absolutely. I think women in music have a long history of men trying to control what they do behind the scenes. Women that know what they want or take risks are usually considered a threat to the order of the system. Part of the problem is (just) that there aren’t enough women in power at the labels yet. I think, a lot of times, we’re afraid to say something political or anything that could make men that are writing our checks feel uncomfortable. It’s a big part of why I stay independent.
Do you think more material will arrive before the end of the year? What are you working on?
Yes. My squad and I wrote about fifty songs in five months - and we have about twenty we absolutely love. Several of those will come out this year.
You had to tackle New York at age sixteen and faced psychological troubles and industry evils. Did that experience give you strength and a harder skin – has it been hard adapting, in a way?
I talk a lot about mental-health on my first mixtape, Burning in the Dark. I had to process through a lot of awful experiences. There were a few very dark years for me where I had a lot of suicidal thoughts. I am healed now and I’m thankful that I went through what I did because a lot of other people have told me that the music I made in that period helped them choose to stay here. So, yes, it was super-hard. But, I feel kind of unbreakable now.
What do you hope to achieve by the end of 2018?
I want to tour. I mostly want to keep working hard every day and doing what I love. I know what it’s like to have to work for ten dollars an hour and barely make rent so I’m honestly just so thankful to be making money and waking up every day and making music.
PHOTO CREDIT: @ksarrico
Will there be any tour dates? Might you head to the U.K. at all?
I will definitely come to the U.K. when I tour. When the announcement comes out, it will be on my website…still in rehearsal mode now, though.
Have you got a favourite memory from your time in music – the one that sticks in the mind?
I look back really fondly on the songs I wrote in my childhood and adolescent years. There’s something really magical about the songs a girl writes in her room with a guitar or a keyboard before anyone has told her to try to be marketable. Haha.
Which three albums mean the most you would you say?
Songs in A Minor by Alicia Keys
Because it was my first C.D. as a kid and I played it a million times. I also ended up getting my start in New York surrounded by her team so it will always be special to me.
The Writing’s on the Wall by Destiny’s Child
Because it taught me how to love myself as a young girl.
Control by Janet Jackson
Because it never stops inspiring me.
If you could support any musician alive today, and choose your own rider, what would that entail?
I am obsessed with Coldplay. I would love to open for them. My rider would probably just be a lot of food. I just love eating.
What advice would you give to new artists coming through?
Hmm. There’s so much. Everyone has an opinion about what you should do and you can try to learn from them but, at the end of the day, you are the artist. Your vision is what matters. Find people that respect that. Also; don’t expect anyone to work harder to make your career pop off then you do. If you’re getting a thousand doors slammed in your face, you’re definitely on the right track.
IN THIS IMAGE: The album cover of Extremely Bad Man's album, Love Is Pure (out 13th July)/IMAGE CREDIT: Russ Murphy
Do you get much time to chill away from music? How do you unwind?
I love being on the water. I’m originally from a town on Lake Michigan, so any time I can swim is awesome for me.
Finally, and for being a good sport; you can choose a song and I’ll play it here (not any of your music - I will do that).
I think you should play Kool-Aid by Diana Gordon. Can’t go wrong. Thanks so much for your time, Sam!