Merseyside-via-London producer E.m.m.a will service some unusual muses on her debut album, forthcoming on Keysound.
E.m.m.a provided the inaugural release on the Wavey Tones label in 2012, releasing the purple-meets-funky sinewavestravaganza Rainbow Dust Part II. She also contributed the stately ‘Peridot’ to Keysound’s excellent This Is How We Roll collection; imagine Legowelt making 2-step, and you’re on the right track. Rustie and Joker are namechecked as influences, but the shadow of Ikonika and Guido also loom large over her bright, electroshocked music.
Dusk & Blackdown’s Keysound imprint will release e.M.M.a’s debut album next month. Blue Gardens promises a synthesis of (wait for it) “Coney Island, Delia Derbyshire, Baroque tonality [and] Microsoft’s forgotten Encarta ’96’ encyclopaedia”. Fellow Keysounder Sully features on the album, as does Rebel MC.
FACT spoke to E.m.m.a. this morning to find out a little more.
Tell us about your background. What was the first music you started making, and how did you end up with the kind of style that’s showcased on Blue Gardens?
I started making grime because [music program] Fruity Loops just seems set up for it. Then when I left university and got away from all the nights etc I just started thinking back to basics about what I liked to listen to which is basically just big epic sounding synths, so I went from there, and I guess around then was the emergence of UK Funky. I was still liking bassy stuff, so I suppose they crossed over.
How did the connection to Rebel MC come about, and how did you end up linking up with Keysound?
I met him in Ramsgate when I was down there for a bit, gave him a CD of my stuff and asked him if I could have a pop at doing a new take on his ‘Jahovia’ tune and we went from there.
I’ve always followed Keysound, since I heard Starkey’s ‘Gutter Music VIP’ which is brilliant. I never sent ‘Dream Phone’ to anyone because I didn’t make it to flog it about. I was pleased Blackdown liked it cos I like the stuff he plays so I sent him some more tunes.
Did you always have an album in mind with this material, or was it the case that you ended up sending Keysound a bunch of tracks and they thought it would work as an album? How back and forth was the process of compiling them?
I always think in a concept of more than one tune so I didn’t find it hard. I had five of them done at the point we discussed the album, then we spoke about filling the gaps so that it was coherent.
I don’t know how tongue in cheek the press release for Blue Gardens was, but it uses baroque tonality, Coney Island and Encarta ’96 as reference points. I wondered if you could tell us a bit about that – the latter two are quite specific.
In terms of my actual music and influences I don’t do anything tongue in cheek, I’m deadly serious. Encarta came about when I was lamenting how shit life was immediately after university, and somewhere around then I realised on balance I preferred encyclopaedia books to the internet. Coney Island is just part of a wider theme which is the beach and the sea, anyone who’s ever lived by the sea will know that it’s hard to be away from it.
The video to ‘Dream Phone’ has this whole hypnagogic vibe to it – it’s reminiscent that nostalgic American brand of music that also uses stuff like Encarta and Myst as reference points, and there’s a bit of Boards of Canada to it too. Is your music nostalgic, do you think?
Dream Phone is a ’90s board game for girls which I owned, which, on reflection, is a bit sinister in a way. It’s weird because I don’t like nostalgia – it makes me uneasy when people hark back to “a better time”, but oddly things like that do end up influencing me.
Blue Garden is due on July 29. You can stream 2012’s ‘Dream Phone’ below.
2. Dream Phone VIP
3. Cherry Favour
4. Jahovia ft Rebel MC
6. Nostrum ft Sully
7. Green Light
8. Shoot The Curl
9. Mood Ring
10. At Sea