Interview: Five Minutes with Emika

Image Credit: Sven Marquardt

UK-born and Berlin-based producer Emika has remixed Vincenzo Ramaglia’s ‘La parole 4’, which features the jaw-dropping real-time invented vocals of Laure Le Prunenec (lead singer of the French band Igorr). The original single is taken from Vincenzo Ramaglia’s La parole album which has also received remixes from Shigeto and μ-Ziq.

Emika is a fast-rising producer and label head, having previously worked at Ninja Tune before going on to launch her own self-titled label followed by the new label, Improvisations X Inspirations. The producer has had her music used by several major brands (Gucci, McLaren and NBC’s TV series The Blacklist), as well as featured in a number of film soundtracks, including the trailer for Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol. Other noteworthy achievements include crowd-funding a symphony and recording with the City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra.

Curious about this diverse and talented producer? So were we. Find out more in the exclusive interview below.

Set the tone for us. Why the arts?

For me, it’s always been about exploring the universe, vibrations, connectivity.  All of the things we feel and know exist but cannot find evidence for.  Through music, I travel through worlds, through different lifetimes, through different hearts and minds of strangers.  I can find answers through music which have no words or explanations in a logical sense.  I am essentially living in my own alternate reality and anyone who tunes into my music can experience being part of this also.

Was there a specific moment in your life where you thought, “this is what I want to do”?

Yes – I was around 12 years old and David Bowie – China Girl came on the radio at my granny’s house.  I asked my dad about the sound of it, why it sounded so different.  And he explained to me that it was down to the music producers and special effects like echo.  This concept of echo totally captivated my mind as a pre-teen and I began exploring recording my piano and percussion sounds from my parent’s kitchen on a 4-track cassette recorder my dad found in my Aunt’s old house.

You recently remixed Vincenzo Ramaglia’s ‘La parole 4’. Tell us about your favourite part of working on this remix?

I should probably start by saying that I really dread getting remix requests because I would much rather wake up with a new idea and start from scratch.  I am not really a hirable producer in the sense of making something to spec.  But from the moment I listened to the original, the fact that the soprano sings from her soul and has her own technique for inventing new words, it’s so expressive and magical, and the electronic parts Vincenzo created are totally on this same dimension of exploration of what’s possible if you are able to open your mind and work freely with the power of music.  It was an immediate yes for me.  And then I battled for weeks with many different versions.  

When seeking inspiration for the remix, you mentioned turning to Jamie xx as well as your own classical soprano album, Melanfonie. Where do you turn to find inspiration for creating your own, original content?  

I very much wait, observe life, and it comes to me.  I wait for the ideas that come to me and then I act fast and never let them go.  These ideas are gifts, keys to unlock to worlds, if you don’t let them in when they come knocking then everything falls apart.

What techniques do you experiment with to get your original sound?  

Pianos, echos, reverbs and bass.

As a female label head and producer, you’ve managed to forge a path in a predominantly male-dominated sector. What would you like to say to other rising producers who are looking to make their way in the industry?  

Being female has always felt like a privilege to me because when I went to university to study Creative Music Technology at Bath Spa, they absolutely needed to support and encourage more women into this field.  I grabbed this opportunity with both hands and never looked back.  The fact that my teachers were (and still are) working hard to establish a more equal path in this field, is a beautiful thing.

Vincenzo Ramaglia classifies his style of music as PEM (Popular Experimental Music) while you’ve been quoted saying that your style is a conjunction between futuristic storytelling, club context and classical influences. With such similar creative processes, do you potentially see future collaborations with Vincenzo on the cards?

I love to collaborate and am always open to working with great artists like Vincenzo.

As a mother, how aware are you of leaving a musical legacy behind for future generations?

Very aware, for this reason I would love to become a music teacher (but with my own concept) for teaching children how to write and produce their own songs.  Whatever may happen in the lives of children, if they know how to make a song about it, how to express what they may be feeling, it’s a truly beautiful skill through which they can learn to rely on themselves and find strength through music.

What gives you hope for the future of the music industry? What are you looking forward to most?

The end of major labels and people being brave enough to face their own misery in these worlds and find new solutions which makes them feel happy in their hearts.

Famous last words?

Follow your heart.

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