Posted On 05 Jun 2019
Once called a mix between Beyonce and Janis Joplin, EMM, the powerful singer-songwriter, producer, performer and women’s advocate, continues to build her EMMpire.
A classically trained musical prodigy from a tiny Michigan town, EMM has chased her dream across cities all over the United States; from the Big Apple to Los Angeles. Through a crucible of heartache and harsh setbacks, EMM has created a sound that encompasses a fighting girl’s empowerment while exploding with creativity.
Her debut, “Burning in the Dark,” was the first ever mixtape to be entirely written, produced, performed, and mixed by a female artist on her own. “Burning In The Dark” amassed over 250,000 streams within the first 60 days, as audiences resonated with EMM’s representation passion and positivity in the midst of extraordinary adversity.
Now based in Los Angeles, EMM has performed at some of the city’s smallest clubs and largest arenas, including the Staples Center and Dodger Stadium. In the last few months, she’s crafted over 50 songs with her team of co-writers and co-producers, and received a number of major film and television placements.
Read more about EMM in the following All Access interview:
Now that we are well into the 5th month of the new year, how has 2019 been treating you so far? What are some goals that you have for yourself this year? How close are you to reaching them?
I’ve built a show I’m really proud of, released some amazing music, and built my 3 year plan. So I feel like I’m in a really great space. My next goal for this year is to sell out some amazing Los Angeles venues and release more music. I am hoping to release every 6 weeks or so. And that’s all been dope. And I am going to tour at some point, which I am planning now.
Growing up, how important was music in your life? Can you recall the moment when you decided that you wanted to be a musician? Was it an easy or difficult choice to make?
I have been writing songs and playing instruments forever. It’s how I heal and center myself… I would’ve been totally lost as a kid without it. I just never wanted to do anything else. It came so naturally to me. There was one moment where I saw Beyonce at the VMA’s performing as a girl and I was like ok. That’s my spirit… That’s when I stopped hanging out with friends on weekends and every second I had outside of school started going to my craft.
Was there ever a time when you thought about doing something else? If you weren’t a musician today, what else could you see yourself doing? Would you be as fulfilled in life?
I’m passionate about women’s issues and also providing basic needs to people like clean water, food, clothes and housing. I’m really passionate about asking big questions and exploring different spiritual answers. So I think that all of that would bring me joy to do. But I don’t think the universe would allow me to do something else! I’ve devoted my entire life to working toward my goals. And I am not going anywhere until I accomplish everything I want to do.
What has been the biggest surprise so far about making music your career? What has been an unexpected or welcome challenge to it all?
When I was first starting in the business I was always hoping some executive or powerful person would show up and tell me how to be great, or open all the doors for me. I think that is the expectation of a ton of young artists. I was surprised to find out that I didn’t need someone to validate me or help me. It took me so long just to believe in my own compass and follow my gut. I always assumed other people knew more than me. If I could go back and tell my younger self anything it would be to stop trying to please everyone and just do what feels right. Artists are way more powerful than they think they are. Now I am the complete opposite of how I used to be. I feel so empowered. I’m completely my own boss. The challenges are new every week but it makes me constantly have to grow, which I like.
Let’s talk about your debut collection, “Burning In The Dark.” I understand that it was the first ever mixtape to be entirely written, produced, performed and mixed by a female artist. What does that mean to you? Why did you want to be 100% responsible for this entire project? Do you think that you will do this for future collections?
I was just trying to make something that was true. And I wasn’t emotionally mature enough to collaborate and still tell my story in its rawest truth. It’s a lot harder to write something like “I wish that you were dead but I wish you were inside me,” or “face down (in the) concrete” in a room full of men with opinions and ideas of their own. That project was really sacred for me and I wasn’t ready to open it up to any outside opinions. I’m sure down the road I’ll write a project completely alone again. But right now, I just want to learn more as a producer and a writer and a lot of that comes from working with new people who challenge me. So that when I choose to do another project completely on my own, I have a new level of skill and inspiration, you know?
I know it’s hard to pick favorites, but I would love to hear how a few of your songs were created and got to be on your mixtape? How do your songs go from being ideas in your head to full-fledged recorded songs?
Sure! I have videos on my Youtube channel where I show how I create songs from scratch if you want to check them out. TBH, I don’t know how it happens – I sort of black out when I’m creating. Or maybe “black out” is the wrong term. It’s almost like meditating. You catch a flow and then just translate it into form. Wow this sounds stupid. But it’s totally true. On the mixtape, Mad, Judge me and Crooked Love were really great flow songs – I didn’t think much about the lyrics at all. I just sit down at the piano, start playing with chords, and they just sort of pour out. Those kinds of songs, where you don’t overthink, usually end up being my favorite.
Are you currently working on new music? What has been inspiring your new songs?
I’m always writing. My catalog is huge and I am always adding to it. I’ve been really inspired lately by Muse and a lot of alt-rock. And I’ve been playing with horns a lot. I try never to box myself in sonically. I never want to get bored with my writing. So I mix it up all the time. And my co-writers, Taylor and ZOE are always coming up with cool ideas which keep me really inspired. ZOE’s unreleased project has really been inspiring me too. Her stuff is going to take over the world.
Where can people see you perform live next? What has been an ideal show of yours in the past?
I just debuted my show for the first time in Hollywood recently. It’s so much fun to perform. I play so many instruments and have the most incredible dancers and band and media. I am so so so proud of my show. I am planning a performance in Los Angeles in August that I think is going to be really special. Really excited for that.
How do you think you have grown as a musician since you first started singing and writing songs?
I’ve been playing piano and writing songs since I was 6, singing since I was a baby, playing guitar since I was 13, recording since I was 13… Performing forever. I am always getting better and trying to find new things to improve. I have so much to learn. I love music because there is always something to make better.
What has it been like keeping up with your social media accounts and all of the different platforms? Is it hard to stay up to date on it all? What would you say is your favorite way to connect with your fans now?
Social media is a lot. Sometimes overwhelming. I’ve been really enjoying Instagram stories lately though. I try not to take anything too seriously. In the end, people are going to remember the music I made, not the posts. So I don’t stress too much over it.
Who are some of your favorite artists or rather, what musicians have continued to inspire you and your music? Who would you absolutely love to work with in the future?
I am a die-hard Coldplay fan. I would love to work with Chris Martin. And I love powerhouse female performers – Celine Dion, Mariah, Whitney, Beyonce, Madonna, Aretha, Ariana, Lady Gaga… The list goes on and on. I am endlessly inspired by women in music. There’s so many badass women to look up to.
If you had an unlimited budget and your schedule was free, what would your dream music video look like?
What was it like the first time that you heard one of your songs on the radio, TV or elsewhere? Where would you absolutely love to hear one of your songs?
To be honest, it’s a great feeling. But it’s nothing compared to the feeling of meeting a fan and hearing them say that my song meant something to them. I’ve had fans tell me the most moving stuff. How songs got them through different things. That’s really fulfilling. That’s where the magic is…. I am excited to hear my stuff in major movies. I think that’s going to be really fun – to go to a big film and hear the music my friends and I made. I’d like to do that this year.
At the end of the day, what do you hope people take away from your music?
I just want them to feel powerful. And braver. And like they can do anything. And like they’re not alone. I’m such a weird bitch. I want them to know it’s okay to be misunderstood and left out or whatever because I was too… Most of all I want to give hope to the ones that feel like their story is over. Because I used to think my story was over. But it wasn’t. It was just getting started.
Would you like to share anything else with our readers about your music?
Sure! If you want to hear something you can check out “Freedom” by EMM. Or “Cali Boy” … there’s a million more. Or you can say hey on IG or Twitter or Facebook @EMMInRealLife … I love hearing from you. And if you want to know when I’ll be in your city, you can join my mailing list and we can email you when I’m coming! All of that is on EMMInRealLife.comCan’t wait to meet you!