Talk to Me
Talk to Me is available at:
London, U.K./Perth, Australia
8th March, 2017
Written by Emmi, Max Farrar and Gabriel Benjamin
Production: Max Farrar
Additional Production: Paul Whalley
Mix: Dan Frampton
I have been a bit of a naughty boy and…
changed my reviewing schedule around to accommodate Emmi. Not just because she has a new song out: there are many things about her that compelled a review. Although she is based in London, she hails from Perth, Australia. I want to talk a bit about Australia but more importantly, artists who have a fantastical, experimental approach to music; female artists and why they deserve more acclaim – a little bit about success and embracing much-deserved kudos; rare influences and how they can really add to an original and unexpected sound. Let’s address that first point and why it is such an important area for music. I interviewed Emmi very recently and asked what the main differences between Perth and London are – how the scenes vary and what the people are like there. She explained how London is her home-base now but she came here to pursue acting: she was scoring for films and got the bug for songwriting whilst training as an actor. London is alluring and appealing for so many ambitious artists. It is almost a salvation and Mecca for those who want to find opportunity and audiences. Those who slag-off London and provide the usual grips – the expensive rents and pollution; the so-called ‘cold’ people and the lack of human contact – are, for a start, incorrect and miss the point. Sure, things cost a bit in the capital but it is a big city: if you go to somewhere a bit more un-gentrified, you will find affordability and reality. Same goes with the rent, really. There is a bit of pollution but it is not as though you struggle to see people in front of you – coughing all the time and overcome by the fumes. As for the people there: it is a divisive issue but a subject one. London folk are not, as I find, a cold and rude race. There are thousands of people passing through the city each day; having all of them make eye contact and saying ‘hey’ is not realistic – the same can be applied to any city in the world.
What I find, in isolated incidents, is there is affection and sisterhood throughout London. If someone is in peril, more often than not, people will come to the aid of their fellow man. Maybe issues like homelessness (and the commuter rush) muddies the water but the point remain: London-folk are some of the most interesting, ambitious and nicest you will meet – not as friendly as their northern cousins but hardly a horrible sub-breed, as many see them! The point I am making is London suffers from misconceptions and stigmatising tongues. There are communities and cliques here; fantastic music venues and a supportive network of peers who make a career in music (in London) appealing. Maybe I am subjective in my views but feel London gets a bad rap for the wrong reasons. Perhaps life as a ‘normal person’ in the capital is unappealing but I totally get the allure for the musician. It is The Place to Be and the epicentre of British music. Aside from the fact it is pro-European – the only sensible part of England when it came to the Brexit vote – it is teeming with like-minded artists all looking for that same thing: being recognised and getting their music heard. The more people flock to London, the harder it is to stand aside from the crowd. There are debates rumbling – whether there is enough funding for musicians; ample opportunities and true recognition from ‘proper’ artists – but there are enough venues, chances and people to guarantee your music received a few ears, at least. Emmi has come to London and, whilst attracted by acting and performance, soon found an enticing and magical world for a musician – maybe I am over-romanticising that side of things but it is a great city. Although she is now bonded to London; I am interested investigating where she comes from; one of the most underrated and prosperous cities for new music, Perth. When we think of Australia, there is that classic showdown: Melbourne vs. Sydney. It is almost like the Britpop rivalry of the mid-1990s: do you plump for the intellectual, middle-class character-driven songs of Blur or the working-class, direct and anthemic swagger of Oasis?
In that respect, I am a Blur-boy but in relation to Australia, naturally, my heart and head are drawn to Melbourne. I know there is a ‘friendly’ rivalry between the cities – that is the way I choose to view it – but, when it comes to music, Melbourne wins, hands-down. In a sense, Melbourne is like L.A. and London: so many different genres and styles of music coming through right now. As much as I love the city, I find there is more treasure and potential to be discovered in the lesser-heard places like Brisbane and Perth. I will look at Emmi and why I think she is tremendous; I am mentioning Perth as this is where she comes from and it is completely understandable – look at the artists that emanate from the city. In terms of the modern, mainstream acts; Tame Impala is, perhaps, Perth’s most-famous son. Someone who epitomises the innovation and quality of Western Australia’s capital city. If you think Sydney and Melbourne have a cavalcade of phenomenal musicians, then get your head down to Perth! Little Birdy and Birds of Tokyo are a couple of other names that, between them, show what a spread of sounds Perth contains. Birds of Tokyo’s recent (2016) album, Brace, scored big with Rolling Stone Australia and marked them as one of the most-promising Al.-Rock bands around. Tame Impala’s Currents (2015) is a staggering work that brings together Disco, Synth.-Pop (and many other genres) into a psychotropic melting pot that hits all the senses. Aside from them, you have End of Fashion and Pendulum – a couple more acts that have managed to break from local boundaries and find focus around the world. It is the new crop of Perth artists that intrigue me. Thanks to http://ibisplay.com/discover/10-perth-bands-that-should-be-on-your-radar/ for providing information: there were a few artists that, back in 2015, were being tipped for greatness.
Grrl Pal are an Electronic-Pop duo I am familiar with. Danny K produces and works alongside vocalist Jat Le Kar. They have supported big Aussie acts like Willow Beasts and pen dreamy, synth-warping tunes. In a way, their sound could sit well in Sydney’s modern Pop/Synth. mould but there is, with the duo, a very local flavour and sensibility that has seen them hailed and recognised by sources such as Triple J. Again, HWLS – Ta-ku and Kit-Pop hook-up – could slink alongside Sydney’s best but the boys are too good to be easily defined. They have produced and featured on a series of remixes and worked with BBC Radio 1 – creating an exclusive mix for the Diplo and Friends show. The bass-driven production sounds are getting bigger and bolder: they have made good progress the past couple of years and seem likely to expand beyond the boundaries of Perth. If you want to talk about the big-boys that put Perth on the map: Mosquito Coast are the intriguingly-titled band who have been on the public radar since winning the Unearthed High contest in 2015 – past winners include Japanese Wallpaper. They create down-tempo, breezy Indie songs that take inspiration from The Who, Pink Floyd and Heat Wave. Perth is not just about Pop and Synth. – there are some fantastic Rock bands like The Love Junkies. The guys released sophomore album, Blowing on the Devil’s Trumpet – a pretty neat title! – a while back and have been seen as an odd-couple blend that put banging tunes with well-structured melodies together. It all works and is, when you strip it away, distinctly Perth. If the local websites and press are, as of last year anyway, proffering mainly male-based/male-heavy bands; there are some terrific female artists coming through the city. What I love about Emmi is she takes the best sights and sounds from Perth but expands her horizon and has something none of her former city-mates possesses – that magical elixir that puts her music in a different league.
If she spent only a brief time in Australia, she has taken a lot from the local scene and ties it with something London-centric. You get that base of Electro. and Pop but there is so much more to her work. Strands of World music and Hip-Hop undercurrents; soulful edges and colourful swathes. Coming from that Western Australian hotspot; London provides a different pace and, debatably, more variety and choice for the music lover. What Emmi has done, and something that interests me is open up a musical world. That is why I am so attracted to her music. You get little wizardry-diversions and child-like sprinklings; wonderful little diversions and incredible emotions. Those who push against convention and do not limit themselves are to be commended. It is rare to see that many new artists taking risks and creating music that expands and crosses genres. I understand the idea of being singular and original out the traps: make sure you do not sound like anyone else and project your own identity. Too many new artists take this as a call for rigidity and not bending – sticking with a single genre and not really being that adventurous. Emmi is someone who takes from Australian music and current British trends but weaves in all sort of other decades and genres. There are few that really take the trouble to create interesting and bold music. What I have noticed, among the current crop, are those ‘outsiders’ who shy away from mainstream expectations and produce music that THEY want to hear. Given Emmi’s association, recent, with a certain author’s work – more on that soon – it is unsurprising that she has a certain fantastical approach to music – where beguiling, imaginative worlds come into the music. Those artists that stand the test of time and get out to big audiences are those who go the extra mile and do something new. I have been following Emmi’s previous work and can hear someone always evolving and curious in regards her music-making. Her last song, Sleep on It, showed enormous quality and nuance – that carries on now.
It is unsurprising, being based in London, that there’d be a multi-genre approach to music. You cannot live in a cosmopolitan city and not be inspired by all the cultures and sounds swirling around. That is not to say those who live in towns and smaller areas are going to be restricted and honed. The city, for better or worse, is more open and variegated: it is a natural seduction for musicians because of all the sounds and colours flying about. Emmi is a strong and impassioned female performer who, one wonders, how far she can go in the future. It is a subject I bring up a lot – and did in depth with a recent article about Kate Bush’s debut, The Kick Inside – but feel obliged to bring it back up. I am, as I type, listening to an interview/session Laura Marling is conducting with BBC Radio 6 Music. She is discussing the new album, Semper Femina, and chatting about femininity and role-reversal; equal rights and the role of The Muse. Every new female artist that comes to my attention makes me angrier about the state of the music world. What I mean by that is the uneven opportunities afforded to female musicians. I could go on for ages about the imbalance we see in studios and on record labels. Maybe things will improve but I am always baffled why there are few women in important music roles. There is this perception the industry is male-dominated: this is deterring a lot of women and creating a culture of inequality and sexism. Away from the studio and there isn’t much improvement when you look at festival line-ups and award ceremonies. I covered this last week, so apologies for treading familiar ground. I’ll not go into big detail about the subject but it seems egregious there is a Neolithic attitude and practise in an industry that promotes togetherness and coming-together. I have seen the just-released line-ups for the big festivals this year.
Apart from the boring and predictable bookings – I’ll not rant on that again! – there is a lack of female performers in the headline spots. Even if you scan through the smaller type and look at the lesser stages – where are all the females at? Music has as many female performers as it does male but this is not reflected in the festivals. Judgement and selection do not seem to be based on talent these days. Worryingly, we are stuck in old ways and a fossilised sexism that needs to be put in a museum – beckon a new era where more women are given chances to shine. I’ll keep this concise and bring Emmi in as a prime example. She has the quality and consistency to go as far as she pleases in the music industry. She’d be perfect for the summer festivals and someone you’d love to see albums from. One wonders whether her gender precludes her from reaching these heights. It shouldn’t in any respect in any industry but it is a malaise of the current climate: women having to battle just to be taken seriously. Because of this, I am more attracted to female artists and promoting their music. Maybe there will be some reversal of this current policy but it is very sad we’re in this position. Emmi has created a wonderful song in Talk to Me. It follows on from her previous work and sees her at the most confident and inspired she has ever been. I know there is a big future for her and she’ll triumph regardless of the problems with sexism. I know Emmi has a big fan-base but I’d love to see that on a festival stage. I’ll address this more in my conclusion but I can see it all now: the elaborate, dreamy set-design and incredibly vivid performances; the enraptured crowds and incredible buzz. That will be something to witness, for sure!
One of the best things about Emmi is the acclaim and ‘qualifications’ she has under her belt. If you have seen the film Fantastic Beats and Where to Find Them you might have heard a track called Blind Pig. I am not sure which scene it scores – me slacking on research! – but know it has gained a wide audience because of its inclusion. The fact J.K. Rowling has selected Emmi out and approves of her music is a big honour. Emmi wrote the song for the film and it has been heard by thousands of people. Many artists yearn to have their music included in films: having in one of the biggest films in recent memory is beyond dreams. She is, I believe, still coming down from that trip and good on her. It shows there is a lot of faith and belief in her work. If that were not enough, a certain Taylor Swift has given the thumbs-up to Emmi’s music – she counts as a form fan. That means Emmi is known and proffered in the U.S. and U.K. Her music has resonated with the people and made its way to some rather big names. Tying in with what I was saying about gender inequality: Emmi has gained a huge amount of momentum the last year or so. She is one of those artists in the underground but seems ready and willing to break through the chrysalis and inspire. One of Pop’s biggest names has tipped her sounds; J.K. Rowling is a supporter and that, in turn, makes everything she produces now laden with curiosity and intrigue. Not that Emmi needs to prove herself and top everything that has come before. She has got where she has with sheer talent and originality. If she were your average Pop star or hapless newcomer; many would write her off and she’d languish in the doldrums for years. Praise and high-respect are not to be taken for granted or be modest about.
I know how modest Emmi is, so she does not shout about those plaudits. She has an enormous boost and stunning C.V. that will open up many doors. Being an actor, and having her music played in films, I am curious about that side of things and whether she has any upcoming roles. I can see her getting calls and being in-demand as an actor in the coming years. Her live performances and songs have that sense of drama and whimsy; they are beguiling, animated and hugely engrossing. The music business is, rather depressingly, a struggle for survival. New artists are facing more pressure and a less-certain future than any other time in history. The busier it gets, the fewer spaces there are for musicians. Social media and the Internet provides an open market and accessible way of sharing music – it does come with its downsides. I know Emmi realises these odds but has already covered more ground than most of her colleagues. With Talk to Me in the ether; it seems 2017 is going to be a very successful and busy one for the London resident. The fact Emmi splices different sounds together and has that magnetic and alluring aura around her explains why some of the world’s biggest names are knocking down the door to support her. This will continue to rise this year and, by this time next year, I can well see her breaking her way into the mainstream. Until then, she is working hard and creating music that cannot be easily compared with anyone else. When I think of the most dynamic and arresting female artists of the past, Kate Bush and Björk for example, one thing you never think is how boring they are. You get an all-senses display that brings as much sweeping drama as it does tenderness and intimate beauty. I hear the same with Emmi and many of her finer peers. Looking at Emmi’s influences – Carole King, Shirley Temple; Kate Bush and Eminem, for instance – and you would be hard-pressed to connect them all.
I get depressed when I hear new artists coming along with the same influences and narrow remit. I am hearing more and more artists inspired by Amy Winehouse, Emmi is as a matter of fact, but are replicating her sound or forgetting what made her special to begin. There was more to Winehouse then that incredible voice. Her unorthodox and unique songwriting; the way she addressed love and the sort of production sounds that made her Back to Black a modern classic. It is impossible to replace her but many young artists can learn a lot from her on how to do things. If you simply mimic her voice or duplicate her music; that is completely pointless. Away from her, you get the same Pop stars and artists cropping up – the Beyoncé/Lady Gaga/Rihanna stall. The fact Emmi’s music is so diverse and surprising can be attributed to her broad tastes and proclivities. She seems like someone who could be seen listening to some 1990s Rap or enjoying Carole King’s Tapestry on vinyl. I hear aspects of Kate Bush and Carole King in Emmi’s work.
There is the incredible songwriting and sense of immense beauty and power. Looking through Emmi’s back catalogue and you can hear various influences coming to the fore. It is not a coincidence the finest and most enduring artists have a wide spectrum of musical tastes. Again, this is something I have investigated before but seems apt to repeat it. So many young artists, the type that yearns for commerciality and chart success, do not cast their mind back past this decade. I feel many new artists have little knowledge of past music and, as such, are just repeating sounds that appeal to short attention-span. For every artist inspired by Carole King, you get a hundred that list Adele as their main role model. There is nothing wrong with this but it does get very boring after a while. Because of this, we are hearing a lot of redundant artists, essentially copying what has come before. Emmi is someone who you’d imagine seems at home rifling through vinyl or kicking back and reading a good book. Her mind is always busy and curious; that side of her psyche looking for nourishment and satisfaction.
Not to bitch and dismiss all new artists but few really reach me in terms of their personalities and artistry. In a modern age, I fear there is too much emphasis on quick returns and making an instant impact. How many people spend time with a musician and really LISTEN to the music? It is not always the case but I am finding myself more interested and hooked by female artists at the moment. I am nut whether it is the case – the deepest and most appealing – there is a different approach to music but it is quite interesting. A lot of male bands/solo artists have some great songs but I’m never that interested in their faced, story and personality. With the best and brightest female artists, there is that extra sense of fascination; something wonderful and rich that implores focused interpretation and passionate admiration. That is the case with Emmi – someone you listen to and admire; you are curious to learn more about her and what motivates her. I am really curious about that list of influences and have gone back (to Emmi’s music) to detect little sparks of inspiration here and there. She is someone providing a much-needed sense of wonder and fascination to music. It is no wonder J.K. Rowling’s ears were seduced; hardly a shock Taylor Swift is an advocate. Over here, there is a solid fanbase which can only grow larger. I swear this will be the last time – until; my next review… – I’ll mention the British radio Holy Grail, BBC Radio 6 Music. If local radio is the training ground and first step on the radio-rung: BBC Radio 6 Music is at the very pinnacle. You cannot make your way into their books by being average or merely ‘interesting’. There has to be that inherent quality and potential that suggests a long career and music that will appeal to those who really know what great music is. I have heard some fantastic artists, I have reviewed on the blog, played on the station and go on to bigger things. If it has not already happened for Emmi – again, I could do the research – it will soon enough. She has that kind of sound I can hear on the station and would see her fanbase expand; get through to new audiences and take some big strides. I’ll go into more depth on that in the conclusion, but it seems appropriate to have a look at Emmi’s current and past work – seeing how far she has come and how Talk to Me fits into the pack.
This is the part of the review I look at an artist’s past work – see how it compares to the current material. In Emmi’s case, you can see something new come in with every work. In comparing two tracks, My Kinda Swag and Sleep on It; you get an incredible performance from Emmi but the songs sound really quite different. My Kinda Swag has an Urban vibe that mixes Amy Winehouse-esque soulful vocals with a more street-wise, ice-cool electronic template. It is a confident and swaggering performance from Emmi: filled with strength and defiance against all the odds. I am not sure whether it is motivated by a past break-up but it shimmers and resonates with a sassiness and assurance. The song is never too bold which allows a certain reflectiveness and calm to appear at various moments. It is a track not reserved for lovers of Pop and Urban music – it crosses boundaries and easily wins anyone who hears it. In Sleep on It, there is that balance between sensitive subject matter and huge, bright composition. It is one of the most energised and spirited songs from Emmi and destined for the club floors and big summer festivals. Her voice, unlike My Kinda Swag’s street-queen-mean, is a more open and commercial sound. Not that her voice can ever be compared to anyone else: you have a performance that is made for those who love their music instant, glorious and uplifting. Given that, there is enough in the lyrics to suggest someone who is going through a bad time – wrestling with a relationship that seems on-off and fraught. It is impressive seeing the elliptical, colourful composition paired with words that speak of unpredictable love and heartbreak. Both tracks are wonderfully nuanced so you are hooked on them; revealing new little bits of information every time you listen. Blind Pig, that famous J.K. Rowling-commissioned piece, is, yet again, a step into a new realm and sound. You Said You Loved Me and 60 Minutes – again, different ways of expressive love and different sounds – show what consistency she has. With Emmi, every new song brings new confident and ideas. I was originally going to review Sleep on It but surprised by Talk to Me’s arrival – even more surprised by the quality and instant appeal. Not that I was expecting anything less: I was buckled by an artist so assured and natural. Emmi has created another song that gets inside of you and commits you to feel every word and sentiment – you get involved in the song and cannot be detached from it.
Before I review it, when explaining the song, Emmi expressed it in these terms:
“The song itself, started from quite a specific feeling I was having about certain mistruths that had been spread about me. But as we wrote, it turned into something so much bigger than me or that. It became about not having your story told as a human being”.
Emmi goes on to explain the nub and thesis of the song:
“For me, it boils down to this. If prejudice is, as they say, the result of fear of the unknown… then surely it stands to reason that there is a very simple solution to the issue…
Go find out! Talk. Ask”.
She wants the song to speak to people and have bravely committed her experiences into something hopeful and inspiring. I do not usually look at the artist’s interpretation of a track – and will do here – but was intrigued by its origins. Having been lied to and confused by what has unravelled, Emmi, rather calmly and maturely, explains how some people are not as they seem:
“I’d imagine it’s very difficult to make dangerous assumptions about someone you have actually taken the time to speak with and understand”.
Talk to Me, as the title implies, is that need to sit down and discuss things before they blow up. That easy and human connection can save a lot of heartache and stress. I will come to it very soon but hope, like her previous songs, they find their way onto an album or E.P. at some point. We have a very talented and wide-ranging artist in our midst; someone who can make a difference in music and remain for a very long time.
I was expecting something quite gradual and slow-burning when predicting Talk to Me’s opening moments. What we find is the vocal come straight in. A performance without accompaniment (at first); the lyrics are right up-front and delivered with that inimitable, pure vocal. In assessing its expressive tones and sensuality; one imagines singers like Amy Winehouse, Nelly Furtado and, oddly, Kate Bush to an extent. I know Emmi is inspired by Soul and Folk greats like Nina Simone, Carole King and Tracy Chapman. One gets a sense of all of these artists in her delivery. There is a soulful quality and tenderness but that is accompanied by beauty, gracefulness and definite strength. It is the bold and defiant nature of the delivery that makes me think of the ultra-confident and commanding females in modern Pop and Soul. Emmi has been in the middle of Chinese whispers; she hears one-hundred mouths and tongue clicking with gossip. In the first stages, one wonders whether the false gossip meme has reached node lamda – to quote The Big Bang Theory – or a known truth is being revealed, I am not too sure. I know Talk to Me is inspired by scurrilous misinformation but what is the derivation of that? Maybe it is born out of a rocky relationship or cattiness. One imagines there is something to do with a romance and two (very different) stories being told. We have all been in the situation where people have been talking behind our backs: perpetrating falsehoods and not having the dignity to come and discuss it to our faces. One feels Emmi has had to play the stooge as this toxic conversation has been swirling around her. The way she lays down her words really impresses me. Lines link into one another and almost overlap; it is a Rap-cum-Urban delivery that sits with that beautiful, coffee-rich voice. By the thirty-second mark, there are embers and suggestive flicks of electronics that bolster the vocal. Emmi’s voice still has that defiant quality, but, tonally, has a little snatch of Rihanna and Taylor Swift blending together – always mutating and blending chameleon-like to match the lyrics. Our heroine wants (the villain/people) to hear both sides of the story.
It seems; whatever the true nature of the gossip, someone has been having their say and that has been taken as gospel. Again, I think of a spurned lover who been laying down smack about Emmi. She, in a roundabout way, has heard this and angered by the gall of it all. Not confronting those culpable with anger and egregiousness: instead, you have a mature woman who wants the accused to come to her in future. In the early phases, the song broadens its impact to look at the wider world. In politics, in life and love; we all, rather selfishly, believe one side of affairs and take that as fact. If we actually come to the person in question – that someone who is being slandered, largely – then you will actually find the truth out. The chorus keeps it cool but seems tense under the scrutiny of deceitful voices and avoidance. In spite of the emotions Emmi would have felt – being betrayed and cheapened by lies – you know she is defiant and tackling this with a very sensible approach. This level-headed personality lets itself shine and explode as the chorus comes in. It has that sunny Pop vibrancy that could, in someone else’s hands, been overly-emotional or depressive. The electronics and beats pop whilst Emmi’s voice is at its most electric and impassioned. It has that island-breeze cool that transports you to a far-off island. You imagine yourself listening to the song on the bustling sands of a West Indian paradise – the beach bodies and intoxicating aromas filling the skies. In a way, Emmi channels the spirit (not only of Rihanna) but some Reggae and Soul greats. The chorus is a physical and evocative bird that spreads its wings and reveals all sorts of colours. I was lured in and transposed to a tropical setting where dancing was the religion and inactivity the sin – that need to move and surrender to the emphatic words being presented.
I have talked about Emmi and how she can pen these instant gems: songs that are made for summer festivals but pack intelligence, fascination and sophistication alongside. That is a hard trick to do and something she does with ease. It is a “free country” as the heroine explains so discretion and consideration are often overlooked – people keen to say whatever they wish. However, as the rejoinder comes, it is civil to consider those whom ill you speak. The shots still make her bleed and words do get to her. It is rather immature and inconsiderate to perpetuate hurtful remarks and untruths. Emmi is prepared to take them shopping and be a good friend; walk with them and have a decent, adult conversation. There are a small number of people not willing to take that option and be very childish instead.
Many might listen to the lyrics and assume it is another tradition piece of Pop fare: the subject rallying against petulant people and protesting at a certain kind of personality. What you get with Emmi is someone who nods to the mainstream and Pop sound but is a lot more compelling and rich than that. Her delivery, for one, is not something you easily hear from a white artist. It might sound like an odd point but she authoritatively and confidentially has that sweet-leaf smoothness – what one would normally hear from black artists, largely. I was seduced by the sexiness from the performance; the strength and agility; the ability and silk-smooth core together with the ultra-cool and rodomontade aperture. Emmi has been painted black and stabbed in the back. She has been betrayed by people, one assumes, are meant to be on her side. That mantra and core message keep coming back: one needs to hear both sides of the story to get the full picture. Again, I wonder whether it is a man that is being talked about. Perhaps there has been a relationship and the ending was not too amicable. He is telling one version of events whilst the other, perhaps more accurate, is not being heard. It might just have been a friend (female) who is spreading dirt and being horrid. Emmi could break down or throw shade at the accused: instead, she shows courage and fortitude; not willing to exchange tit-for-tat and embroil herself in any truncated exchange. Essentially, she wants (the gossiping tongues) to come to her and hear her out – that is the only way the truth will be revealed.
Such a straight and accessible desire is expressed in many different ways throughout Talk to Me. Emmi never keeps the words the same: you do not get any cliché or tropes in the song. The way she delivers and mixes the words gives the song energy, emotion and that all-important nuance. Emmi is expert when it comes to reading people and stripping things down to the bone. There is a relatable blood between her and those who are telling lies. She can see grace and good intentions and explains how they are not malicious and deliberately callous. I guess there is that childlike desire hard-wired and embedded into our D.N.A. Evolution and age can never eradicate that immature side that engages us in futile gossip and back-stabbing. Emmi knows this – and, maybe, has been in that situation before – and knows what it takes to resolve things. The final minute of the song keeps the energy fast and level but offers a hand-across-the-waters. There has been bad blood and too much hurt caused already; getting things sorted and putting an end to it is what she wants – no needless accusations and harsh words. By the end of the song, you get a full account and first-hand insight into the song’s origins. It is a fascinating number that has been created from a negative and hurtful time. I hope the tensions have been resolved and there are no more situations like this. Whatever the state of affairs now, it is wonderful hearing Emmi press forward and at her peak. I feel she will get even better and go on to create many more songs. Talk to Me is, perhaps, her finest work that shows what a proportion she is. There is a familiar Pop nature but this is a spliced with Soul, Reggae and R&B; the lyrics are mature and interesting whilst the vocal, her main weapon, conveys so many different possibilities and sides. It is a song that radiates and blooms: that chorus is one of the biggest and most addictive you’ll hear all year. Because of that, the song lodges in the brain and will brighten your day. Another triumphant statement from the London-based singer-songwriter.
Talk to Me shows Emmi at the peak of her abilities: one of those artists always experimenting and pushing herself, creatively. Following a whirlwind 2016; she’ll be keen to keep the momentum going but find some time to relax and take stock. She had that dream-come-true appearance on Wild Beasts and Where to Find Them and big support in the U.K. The fact Emmi’s music has reached ears and fans – more on that soon – in the U.S. makes her one of those artists to watch closely. I am curious to see how the rest of 2017 pans out for Emmi. She has this body of terrific music collated so has options in front of her. I would love to see an Emmi album that draws together her early material and brand-new track. Maybe that can come in the form of an album or an E.P. She is one of the most surprising and stunning young songwriters so there will be many ears and eyes cast her way. In a sea of songwriters and new artists, it is so hard discovering and sticking with someone who has that long-term ability.
PHOTO CREDIT: Darren Skene
What I do know is how far Emmi will go. Last year was awesome but this year is not exactly going to be a slouch. There will be tour dates and plans afoot and it will be interesting to see what form that takes. In terms of the bigger gigs; I am not certain whether Emmi has any booked at the moment. I have looked at festivals and how exclusive they seem to be. I will not go on too much but, as I explained, there is a sexism and narrowness to festival bookings. I am growing angered by the all-male line-ups and how inflexible the music industry is. It is not as though there are not enough female performers who could top the festival bills. In past years – aside from obvious acts like Adele – acts like Beyoncé and Florence (and the Machine) have taken to the big stages. If we are talking about artists who have yet to grace the main stage at Glastonbury, for example, then why not look at Björk? In terms of set and theatrics, that would be something to behold! Perhaps there is a sense she is not commercial enough or suited for s summery, outdoors gig. That would be insane as, with her, you get music that transcends time and season.
Maybe she has played our big festivals but I can’t remember a time when that has happened. I, for one, would love to see her play somewhere like Glastonbury! Laura Marling is perfectly capable of holding court at our main festivals and, whilst not as energetic, theatrical and bold as someone like, say, Coldplay – you get some incredible music that could hit the back rows. Maybe that is the issue: festival organisers going for bombast and noise over quality and originality. If that is the issue then why – she will not be performing for a bit – could someone like Beyoncé not come and play out stages? Anohni and PJ Harvey both created great albums last year and deserve that opportunity. Maybe it would be a positive step if one of the big festivals had female-only headliners and included more black artists – so that the line-up had a majority of female and black performers? That is not tokenism or positive discrimination: there is merit and validity to that. If men/white artists have dominated all these years – and people are not taking a stand – then how would reversing the trend be harmful? I worry great artists like Emmi, in years to come, is deserving of headline spots but will miss out simply because she is a woman. As she has shown herself; she’s capable of gripping the masses and stunning huge crowds. Progressivism is all about moving forward: in 2017, we are moving backwards and regressing to a dark, horrid and discriminatory time. Music needs to get its act together and overhaul the way festivals are run. The same should be the same with award ceremonies. They are, still, largely male and white – how is it right nothing productive has been done to end that?! I’ll leave that there but hope, by the time Emmi hits the mainstream, it will be easier for her to headline a festival.
I wonder whether Emmi will involve herself more with dramatic arts and acting now she is based in London. I know that is why she came here – music just sort of happened – so it will be interesting seeing if she branches out into that field. Surely, an inclusion on a J.K. Rowling film has spiked her mind: a magical, goblin-and-fantasy world of magic, if it is vicarious, provides some food for thought. I can see her doing more acting and combining that with musical duties. She has gained big love from some great names in the music and literature world. It takes decades for some artists to gain recognition like Emmi has. She is someone who seems to inhabit the mystique, wonder and fantasy of a J.K. Rowling work but has the serious musicianship and songwriting talent that makes her an intriguing and widespread talent. I am not sure the back-story behind the Taylor Swift nod but that looks good on a C.V. Maybe the two will combine in the future – having a foot in the U.S. door is always good. I know Emmi is modest and does not flaunt that backing like a feather boa. That said, it is a sign her music and talent are connecting and that much stronger than what is out there. The reason behind this is down to the fact Emmi brings together some wonderful influences and sounds into her pot. I mentioned a few of the artists that inspire her (including Eminem) and some of the strongest female singer-songwriters around. I mentioned how wearisome it can get hearing artists influenced by the same artists. It is rather dull and you get a very homogenised and indistinguishable scene. When someone like Emmi arrives, all those different sounds and genres in her arsenal, a shot of excitement and originality comes in. Talk to Me demonstrates that approach to music and what an exciting proposition she is. I know this will continue and it is just what modern music needs. There are enough rather anonymous and predictable artists so we should promote those who go the extra distance and produce something special.
I’ll start to wrap this up but will finish by looking, once again, at Perth music and those artists that stand out from the rest. I have explained what makes Emmi special and how her music transcends the ordinary. It is not a surprising one gets a theatric, cosmic sensation from her songs. That interest in fantasy and film provides the music a balance of escapism and reality. At her most direct, you have an artist always looking to put her heart and soul out there. You need that kind of revelation and directness from an artist. That means you get to learn a bit about the heroine and what affects her. On the other side, she does not just stick to love and the samey issues of relationships. Songs explore other avenues and burst with colour and light. It is rare finding someone who disobeys the seeming demands of the mainstream – write about love and give the consumer what they want. The thing is, as I have found, the general public are more willing to embrace music that introduces something fresh and unexpected. Emmi is perfectly placed to make big strides the next couple of years. She has already carved out some impressive territory and is a looking like a future mainstream star. What Emmi can bring to the mainstream is a sense of identity and originality lacking in many artists. I have looked at how festivals and award ceremonies are overlooking women. With Emmi coming through, she will be in a great position to effect change and alter perceptions. As it stands, her music is resounding with her fans and bringing new ones in. I would love to see more work from her as this year ticks on.
Emmi has London as home which, as you can hear from her music, suits her down to the ground. It is the perfect city for anyone who wants the inspiration and cosmopolitanism of the modern world. All races and creeds can be found; so many different people and some wonderfully evocative sights. It is enough to get the mind racing and provoke the imagination. Not only is Emmi a bit of an Anglophile but she has settled well into the country. Although she is not based in Perth anymore, I am interestedin the city and a place many of us do not look at. If we think of Australia, many don’t when it comes to great music, our minds go to Sydney and Melbourne. The U.S. has Los Angeles and New York whilst Britain has London and, I would say, Manchester as the big-two – maybe Liverpool comes to mind. I can only really touch the surface of Perth and what is out there. Like Brisbane, the city has a wealth of talent working away. Many people ignore Australia altogether; assuming there is not much out there. That is folly, as is being proven right now. With some help from Mess + Noise, I have discovered some Perth artists who were tipped a few years back – those who are going on to find success and made impressions. Mental Powers are four chaps are an ultimate party band who have had some hit-and-miss performances. Since their second album, HOMOH (vinyl-only release) they have made positive steps and look set to be one of those bands who can break from the underground and make impact. Bamodi are a trio who released their eponymous L.P. in 2008. The guys have changed their line-up since their inception but have improved and come-on since the early days. Considered to be a Noise band by many; they are a genuine Rock act that blend in Punk and have that instant, electric sound. Keep your eyes on them as it seems likely they could make their way over here in years to come.
Astral Travel began at the same time as Bamodi and have that cult status in Perth. Although they have been a little quite the last couple of years; they have released a run of singles that show they are a band who do not take themselves too seriously. Their quality and reputation cannot be faulted: one of those acts that deserve to be huge. They are another trio of names that show what variation there is in Perth. Yeah, some of the local magazines and press sources have been slack promoting their local heroes. They need to engage as 2017 is well underway, right now. My research brings together those acts that were tipped for success in 2015 and ’16. Since then, many of the artists have gone on to find acclaim and are continuing to make new music. A whole breed of agile and eager artists have come into the Perth market and filling it with excitement and brilliance. I will keep my ears directed at Perth and see how the city expands and develops through 2017. Like all the great music areas – London, L.A. and New York – there is a gamut of variegation and difference for every musical taste. Perth might play second-fiddle to Sydney and Melbourne but should not be ignored. Although Emmi is not there now, I can hear touches of the city’s best and brightest in her music. There is an Australian way of working that is different to that here. Call it a more open and relaxed way of doing things: with Emmi, you have an artist baring her soul and letting you into her world. Not that British artists are repressed virgins who need a good sorting out – there are too many new acts too closed-off and enigmatic. To engage with your tribe, you need to get yourself out there and connect. That is what you get with the gorgeous, stunning and multi-faceted Emmi. Long may her career continue and let’s hope more people switch on to her music. She is that rare winged creature that shakes up the established order and gives music the guts, beauty and fabulousness it needs. I have loved investigating Talk to Me and what it can lead to. In a year that is already demonstrating it has plenty to offer; London-based artist Emmi is someone who…
HAS a golden road ahead of her.