American singer/songwriter/producer ÊMIA is releasing her brand new single “All I Do”.
The self-produced single is a catchy pop record exploring ÊMIA’s feelings over past relationships. “This was written as an attempt to deal with my guilt and sorta make fun of myself for being the literal worst. I was in a situation where I had feelings for someone else when I was in a relationship and couldn’t decide what I wanted, explains ÊMIA.
Along with her solo projects, the NYC-based artist has recently released a project called “Secrets” with Belgian artist/producer Polar Youth.
With this brand new single, ÊMIA is revealing herself as a true artist. Now producing her own records, the NYC-based artist is creating her own musical path.
“All I Do” is the first single off her upcoming debut EP “Little Secret”, to be released later this year.
“All I Do” is now available worldwide.
Introduce yourself. Where are you from?
Hi! I’m Anh. I grew up in a couple different places. I was born in California, moved to Florida, Wisconsin, Florida again, and Pennsylvania. As of six months ago, I live in New York. I’ve feel like I’ve never earned the right to call any of these places “where I’m from.” But each place has played a major role in who I am today.
What’s your story?
My parents (who came here from Vietnam in the late 90s) made me take piano lessons when I was 5 years old. They found a fantastic local teacher who essentially tricked me into falling in love with music by including Disney songs in my lessons. I moved around a lot when I was kid and to deal re-starting my life and making new friends as a teenager, I started posting a lot of YouTube covers after school. I got accepted as one in 6 songwriters at Grammy Camp in LA the summer before my senior year of high school. I wrote a song there that got me a full scholarship to college. I spent four years in Miami majoring in Commercial Music and Production. I met a few people who changed my life forever.
What did you grow up listening to?
My parents were huge fans of ABBA, Shania Twain, Celine Dion - you know, what all the cool kids were listening to. So I’ve always loved pop music. Later on, my music taste was influenced by a combination of singer/songwriter girls like Vanessa Carlton, Sara Bareilles, Michelle Branch, angsty mid-2000s pop/punk ladies like Paramore and Avril Lavigne, as well as a bunch of music found during the golden age of YouTube. I would spend hours on the internet, watching fan-made music videos of random songs set to clips of my favorite shows/movies.
When did you start writing songs?
I started writing things that you could count as songs when I was 10. But the actual ritual of writing songs that weren’t totally embarrassing was when I was 16. Around that time, I met someone who was also a musician at school and we would just hang out and co-write in my living room every week. My high school also had a tiny songwriting club that met in the basement of the school. Somehow going to that room every Tuesday afternoon made songwriting more official.
When did you realize you were good at what you do?
When I was 16, I wrote a song called “On Your Own.” It was the first one that got a genuine “wow, did you actually write that?” reaction from people. Before then, I mostly got polite smiles and a more “that’s cute” response from people who heard my songs. “On Your Own” won over my most critical friend in high school when I played it for her on my mp3 player on the bus. It was a song that got me into Grammy Camp. And it was also the song that won me $10 when I competed at my Choir Camp’s talent show. I don’t know if I’ve ever felt like I’m “good”, but that was the first time I got the gist of what a good song required; what chords caught people’s ears, what lyrics stood out, what melodies were catchy. They had to be relatable and not just random things that sorta sound alright.
When did you decide to pursue music as a career?
I decided that I wanted to pursue being a full-time songwriter and recording artist 2 years ago. Even though I went to college for music, I had a slew of back-up plans in my head. Spending a summer in New York for an internship changed that. Working for free for someone else, for something I didn’t necessary believe in made me all the more motivated to focus on what I really wanted.
You’ve just released your new single “All I Do” what’s the story behind this song?
Oh boy. I never meant for this song to be anything that I would share, but here it is. This was written as an attempt to deal with my guilt and sorta make fun of myself for being the literal worst. I was in a situation where I had feelings for someone else when I was in a relationship and couldn’t decide what I wanted. Everyone ended up being ( rightfully) very upset with me.
Could you describe us the songwriting/production process for this particular song?
I wrote the entire song on piano first. The first draft of the song sounded completely different and was more focused on the idea of promising to be with someone in another lifetime or another universe. My natural instincts rejected the thought of writing a cheesy “we’ll be together someday” type of song. I also felt like it wasn’t true to how I really felt, so the song slowly pivoted to a more self-deprecating perspective.
For the production, I wanted something minimal. I was super inspired by Lauv, H.E.R. and Charlie Puth at the time. There were elements that I knew wanted to have: sweeping delicate harps to add a cool sonic texture, a punchy bass line, using vocals as synths. From that, it was just several months of overthinking my ideas, adding things, taking them out.
What can you tell us about the artwork?
I made the artwork myself! The picture was taken by my roommate inside of my bedroom.The lyrics in the chorus are “all i do is mess around, leave you hanging and let you down” - so I thought it would be funny to paint that image as if it were part of my to-do list in my planner. So I went to a store and found a packet of planner stickers, picked one that spoke to me, picked one of the photos that my roommate and I took and got that printed at CVS, got some tape and paper, scanned it and voila! I’ve always been into the DIY, scrapbooking aesthetic and just felt very..me.
What is your goal for this single?
I think a lot of people know me as just a singer/songwriter. I love for this to be the introduction to who I am as an artist.
You’re also a producer. What are the biggest challenges ?
Letting my shortcomings become part of my sound. For the longest time, I didn’t know ( and still struggle) with making bass sounds sound good. So I just wouldn’t have any bass in my tracks. I’m always trying to push through what’s hard for me so that I can make something that I hear in my head. And not just settle for what is achievable in the moment.
What made you want to produce your own music?
Mainly, other female producer/writers like Nina Nesbitt and Chelsea Cutler. I love how their production plays such an important role in affecting how the vocal melodies and lyrics feel. That sort of sonic identity was something that I never knew I craved until I heard how beautifully cohesive and unique their music was.
What appeals you the most about creating music?
I like how wonderfully one-sided it is. I’m very positive that music is the reason why I’m not super annoying. I don’t even want to think about how many times I would complain or cry or lash out if I wasn’t able to write about it. The uglier the feelings, the more effective and moving the song is, in my opinion. I love getting to take a single moment, hyper analyzing it and make an entire emotional world out of it for three and a half minutes. I get to control the narrative of my life when I write songs. Writing songs make me feel like the heroine of a story.
You’ve done a couple collaborations with various artists and producers. What do you like most about Collaborations?
I like how collaborations push me to explore the other sides of my writing. When I’m just writing for myself, I think it’s easy for me to be happy with things I know already sound like “me.” When I’m writing for someone else, I take into account how well it fits with the other person’s artistry and the end result is always something really special. Also, the best part is becoming friends with someone I respect and admire. Music is so personal, the process ( when it’s a good collab) feels like a late-night conversation that lasts for hours and those are my favorite kinds of conversations. I feel close to so many people I’ve never met in my life because we’ve created a little musical universe together.
In your opinion, what makes a good collaboration?
A good collaboration, to me, happens when the creativity comes from a shared personal and emotional place. I love when I’m working with someone and they send me a track with a really wacky title or they tell me what’s been going on in their lives. From that point on, I try my best to dive inside their headspace and write what I think they were trying to say without words and find those words.
How do you pick the people/artists you’re working with?
I get vibes from people pretty quickly. It’s a case-by-case scenario, but I can tell when someone really wants to make something cool and took the time to research my work and when someone’s just sending a generic networking email. It’s pretty important to me to be working with someone who’s music I actually like and who’s someone who I’d hang out with even if we weren’t doing music.
How do you want to be remembered for?
I want to be remembered for being a good listener, the kind of person you can really talk to about anything, and someone that makes other people feel seen/heard.
What are you most proud of?
I’m proud of being able to live in my favorite city and pursue my dreams. If you asked me a few years ago, I don’t think I would’ve thought this was possible.
In your opinion, what would make the world a better place?
If everyone was able to experience everyone else’s story in some way. I think the only way to do that effectively is through art. I don’t believe it’s enough to get people to “understand the other side” through articles, debates and especially not essays on the comments section of Facebook or whatever. Anyone can ignore talk. But our reactions to music, film, dance, pictures - that’s automatic, you can’t help but listen and look and sometimes that’s the start of a meaningful conversation.
What biggest lessons have you learnt a human being and as an artist?
Trust myself and don’t take things too personally. I listen to everyone’s advice, but I go with my instincts more than ever these days. Almost every single time, the little voice inside my head has been right.
Sometimes, the timing isn’t right and I’m not ready yet. I used to get frustrated when I’d get rejected for an opportunity or if someone I wanted to work with doesn’t get back to me. Now, unless I have something to offer, unless I am building something that people are noticing, nobody has time to waste. Just because they don’t care now…doesn’t mean I can’t work harder, level up and get their interest later. I’ve gotten way better at learning from my losses.
My art will be the result of the people I choose to have in my life and vice versa.
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