ÊMIA reveals debut EP "Little Secret"
Singer/songwriter/producer ÊMIA unveiled her debut EP Little Secret on July 5th.
With the help of Austin Hull, Ben Youngblood, Jacopo Trifone, Sam Bierman and Ellis Forman, the NYC-based artist designed a remarkable first project touching on different topics such as love, self-worth, identity struggles, and growing up.
“While I am extremely proud and grateful to be featured on so many different artists’ tracks, I have been aching to show people who I am for a long time. If a ton of people listen to it, amazing! But even if only 10 people really listen, I am still excited to really establish my sound and tell my stories,” expresses ÊMIA.
Little Secret introduces ÊMIA as a complete artist. By delivering a true artistic vision with a solid musical identity, ÊMIA is a name you want to remember.
The promising project includes the previous singles “All I Do”, “Teleprompter” and the latest single “If You Can’t Take The Rain”.
Little Secret is now available worldwide.
Hi ÊMIA, congrats on the release of your debut EP! How does it feel like to release your first project?
Hi there! Thank you so much and thanks for chatting with me! It feels cathartic. These are songs that I’ve worked on and performed for two years. I’m so thrilled to let everything go. Producing my own songs has been (and still is) a huge goal of mine. Knowing that all except two songs have been produced/co-produced by me is an incredible feeling. I feel proud and unstoppable right now.
What's the story behind Little Secret? When did you start working on this EP?
I’ve never intended for these songs to be part of an EP. These songs were written mostly during various winter/summer breaks. This was when I had the time and space to process how I felt while in school. To me, this EP represents my attempt at understanding the nuances of a real relationship: how being in love/falling out of love for the first time lead to growth and a deeper understanding of who I am.
The project started in 2017 when my friend/ producer of “If You Can’t Take the Rain”, Jacopo Trifone, chose to produce my song as part of his master’s thesis. We were a great team and he was the first person to encourage me to write an album/EP. While we never worked on anything together beyond IFYCTTR due to other circumstances, that was when I seriously began viewing myself as an artist and told myself to produce the rest of the record on my own.
What are the different topics you are talking about on this project?
This project is about love, self-worth, identity struggles, and growing up. In the EP, I call myself out for being the bad guy in a relationship, I shrug off guys that I know aren’t worth my time, I say goodbye to my childhood home again. I talk about my obsession with words and how I think they’re enough to save a relationship. I talk about the crazy experience of being with someone through a phone screen.
Could you describe us the songwriting/production process for this EP?
Every song (except “In A Second”) was written just me and the piano. I go through weeks where all I do is wake up early (I am a morning person) and try to write a song or fix a song that I’ve been working on. Every one of these songs started off as a different song with a different title and with different lyrics. I’m an obsessive over-thinker. The more I listen to my drafts, the more I realize what I’m actually trying to say and the song’s final form takes shape.
As for the production, I was extremely inspired various DIY indie-pop artists that I was/am obsessed with. I would constantly take notes on things that I liked about other tracks and tell myself to add those elements to my own. With each song, there was a sonic world I wanted to create. I’d sit down in my room and try to finish something in about 4 hours. I’d hate it, start over, rinse and repeat until I had about 4 or 5 different versions. Much of the struggle came from being a newbie. I felt so defeated and stupid so many times because I was learning as I go.
One of the best things I did was enlist my best friends and bandmates. I knew that I wanted real instruments on some of the tracks to give it that ‘heartbeat’. “Psychic” and “Teleprompter” started with an acoustic guitar foundation. Something about guitar gives me such different feeling than piano and that made such a difference in how the final product turned out.
There’s a very small handful of people I trust. So when I feel like a song is about 90% there, I’ll send them to my ‘Top 5’ and pour through their notes, making all the edits I feel are necessary.
Who helped you create this project?
I owe so much to so many people. First, I have to give a shout-out to my mentors and teachers. Suzan Koc, my songwriting tutor, taught me how to focus on communicating what I feel as opposed to writing something clever. My piano professor, Dan Strange, showed me how much the musical elements beyond melody/lyrics informs the listener what to feel.
Austin Hull mixed/mastered almost every single song on the EP and was my co-producer on Teleprompter. His production tutorials were some of the first I watched that helped me dip my toes in production. It’s so wild to me that he used to just be a name on a screen and now we’re good friends.
Jacopo Trifone helped me embrace my identity as a pop artist. He took a sad, slow, piano ballad and refused to let it stay that way, despite my hesitation.
Ben Youngblood played guitar and made the parts for “Psychic”, “TelePrompTer”, and “Hologram”. He laid the foundation for the production of these songs and helped me create the pieces that I heard in my head.
Sam Bierman is my former and current bandmate. He played keys and synth on “Teleprompter” and “Psychic”, taking it to another level. He is my dear friend. I am lucky that he’s only 4 stops away from me on the train.
Ellis Forman co-wrote “In a Second” and mixed/mastered “If You Can’t Take the Rain”. He has changed my life and our relationship will be an important part of who I am forever.
What was the hardest part about making this project? And what was the best part?
The hardest part was just letting myself be done and letting some things be imperfect. I recorded and re-recorded the vocals so many times, I went crazy.
The best part has been witnessing my own progress. The closer I got to making a song that I would actually listen to, the more confident I became as a person and as an artist. I remember sitting in my room while producing “All I Do” and thinking to myself…I would’ve never been able to make this a year ago. I love that.
"If You Can't Take the Rain" is your latest single. What's the story behind this song?
I was in a long-distance relationship for three years. For three years, my life consisted of constantly wondering when I would see this person again while simultaneously struggling to find my footing in college. He was the only person I would talk to about everything. We eventually got in a huge fight that ended with him hanging up the phone and telling me that he just couldn’t listen to me being sad anymore. I wrote that song in a very “rock-bottom” moment in my life, hoping that it could convince me to believe that I could be happy on my own.
What can you tell us about the music video for this particular song?
The video took time. The concept was a result of several conversations that I had with my director. It was supposed to be a very simple, one-take video of me performing inside of a glass box in the middle the beach. We filmed in the middle of the winter and the footage didn’t quite work out by itself. So we made some adjustments and came up with a different story-line. I think the dance captures everything I felt during that period of my relationship: reaching out to someone who I no longer recognized, who couldn’t open up to me at time. I’ve never learned choreography like that before and, honestly, the process was even more fun that the actual shooting. Just like writing the song, the making of the video was a form of therapy.
What made you want to name your EP "Little Secret"?
It was actually supposed to be called something else entirely. I had another album title that I thought was awesome. That was when I thought these songs defined me. But as I moved on from the situations that inspired these songs, the more I wanted to give a name that was…smaller? If that makes any sense. The project felt less like a bold declaration of “Hi! Look at me! I’m a pop artist” and more of an intimate whisper. These are my diary entries, nothing more, nothing less. This is my little secret.
What can you tell us about the artwork for "Little Secret"?
Ooh yes! No one has asked me this and I’ve been so ready to spill haha. I am always addressing a “you” for every one of these songs. I’ve always felt like these songs were like letters that I never sent. And, of course, in a very “To All the Boys I’ve loved Before” fashion, I do actually have a box of them. Being the ultra nostalgic person that I am, re-reading these letter inspired the concept of making the cover look like an open letter. I wanted to keep the theme of the cover handmade - like all of my other artwork. Hence the tape, the plastic wrap, the works…
The letter and the envelope that you see on the cover is something I never sent to my high school boyfriend. Absolutely none of these songs are written about him and we haven’t spoken in over 5 years so I figured that this letter was a safe thing to expose to the world. On the hard copy of the EP, the back cover has a little piece of a letter he wrote me on my birthday before I went to college. It went something like “I know this is super cheesy and clingy, but I’ve gotten used to having you in my life.” It felt so sweet and pure that I felt compelled to put that in there…
What is your goal for this project?
I hope that this EP gives people a better understanding of my identity as an artist. While I am extremely proud and grateful to be featured on so many different artists’ tracks, I have been aching to show people who I am for a long time. If a ton of people listen to it, amazing! But even if only 10 people really listen, I am still excited to really establish my sound and tell my stories.
How's it like to be a female Asian in the music industry?
It is something that I’m learning to love. Most of the time, I don’t think about it much. To me, being an Asian-American woman is just who I am. But sometimes, I do get hyper-sensitive as to how my art and behavior reflects on those who share my ethnicity. In any case, I’m mostly just invigorated by the feeling of wanting to pave the way for other female Asian American artists. If there’s a way I could be part of the movement that makes it so it’s no big deal that an artist is Asian American woman, that would be a dream come true.
What message do you want to give to women around the world?
The world is set up so that women doubt. We are taught to believe every shred of advice is worth listening to, to compromise, to live in fear, to be ashamed. We internalize the idea that being likeable is a pre-requisite for respect. It’s not. There are good people who truly want to help. But the hardest and most important thing that we all have to learn is that nobody’s affirmation is nearly as important as our own perceived self-worth. So if there is something you want, go get it.
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