EMM, the groundbreaking singer-songwriter, producer, performer and women’s advocate, is back in full force with her newest single “Cali Boy”. Editor-in-chief Kariann was fortunate enough to get to know more about the intricacies of EMM’s musical interests, influences, and whatnot.


Hey there! How are you doing today?

I'm great! Thanks for asking.

How has your week been so far?

It's been really good. Just getting ready to release “Cali Boy” and rehearsing for my show. Really excited about that. 

sweet! let’s talk about your latest single, “Cali Boy”. What, to you, is the meaning of the song and were there any influences (be it personal, music, societal) behind the single?

Sure - “Cali Boy” is one of the weirdest songs I've ever made. And also one of my favorites. It covers a lot of topics but mostly revolves around the awakening of women. I was really inspired by the idea of the divine feminine when I wrote it - you can tell by the cover art. I was thinking a lot about the sexual abuse allegations that just continue to grow, even within the church that I grew up in, and how our traditional constructs of God have always been male and how that has affected the place of women in the world. I mention some of that stuff in the verses. And the chorus is celebrating this character called "Cali Boy," who for me is representative of men that understand what women are facing and are choosing to stand by them as allies instead of being threatened or questioning the validity of our collective struggle. I know that sounds like a really heavy topic but the beat is really energetic and cinematic and fun, I promise. Musically I'm always influenced by my classical upbringing, and I've been really into Muse so I've been crafting my melodies to reflect that. Taylor made the drums to sound like “Black Skinhead” by Kanye, which I loved. So that was a major influence in the song too. I haven't really heard a falsetto vocal over really heavy drums and horns so I wanted to try that out for the chorus. I love how it turned out.

How would you describe the music that you’re making? 

I never want to be boxed in. One day I might make R&B, and the next day I might make something thats rock, or pop, or whatever. I really enjoy the art of crafting different stories and sounds and I don't box myself into a genre title because I feel it detracts from my ability to be as authentic as possible. I hope that doesn't sound pretentious haha. I just want my lyrical and melodic voice to be the consistency in the sound, whatever the genre. And my goal with that is just to create a feeling- some music is created to numb yourself from whatever you're going through. Some music is made to help you feel and work through those feelings. I'm more drawn to creating music that makes you feel. 

What’s the driving force behind you wanting to pursue music?

I will make music for the rest of my life, even if nobody cares or listens to it. It's just my way of processing the world. But my highest hope is to be impactful to people who grew up feeling like a fucking weirdo like I did. I want those them to know they're amazing and so important and I just want them not to feel alone in whatever they're going through. I talk about that a lot of my social media under my "Emmpowerment" stories and in my blog. It's just really important to me to be saying something that will bring hope to somebody however I can (that sounds so corny but whatever).

“Burning In The Dark”, your mixtape, is a mixtape that you produced, performed and wrote yourself. How was the process behind that and what were the most significant difficulties during your journey?

I was going to sessions with all these grammy award wining 72 thousand times platinum guys, and just was leaving feeling really misunderstood. And it wasn't their fault. I just needed to work through my issues. So after my fancy sessions I would go home and work on my mixtape in my bedroom. At first, it was really just to help me work through a lot of mental health issues and trauma I never dealt with. But as I was writing I ended up going through some real life shit that put me in a super dark place. And I was like well, either I can end my story now and have never released music, the only thing that I felt was my actual calling, or I can put this project out and try to just at least leave something behind. So ya. I was really sick at the time. And finishing anything when you're wrestling with depression is a bitch. Haha. But I got it done somehow. And I had a friend convince me to get on medication right around the time I finished it, which really helped me until I could get back to being myself. So that project is really, really personal. The other thing that was hard is that everyone in the business was like, "no one is going to care about a project you made by yourself - you need to work with producer XYZ and write a hit." And nobody in the industry thought I should be producing myself. They just don't think girls should produce. It's insanely sexist. But that just set an extra fire in me to release it.

What are you looking forward to this year? What can we expect from you musically?

I'm releasing music all year. I've got so much music lined up. My goal is to release some videos this year too. I'm really focused on my show right now. I built a show that I am so proud of that's better then anything I've ever made. So touring that show is going to be really special. 

interviewsKariann Tan