A musician, producer, songwriter and sound designer, one-named British-born/Berlin-based phenom Emika‘s musical dreams know no boundaries. Trained in classical music, she has blazed trails in electronic music in recent years with two acclaimed albums for Ninja Tune and a spate of singles and EPs. Last week the multihyphenate announced the formation of her own imprint, Emika Records, which will serve as an outlet for future work, including a string of club tracks, a symphonic album recorded with a 70-piece orchestra in Prague, piano LP and third album.
With a wealth of life experience under her belt and an insatiable appetite for artistic innovation, Emika spoke with Big Shot about her decision to launch her own label.
“I’ve been told by many industry people over the years that the different sides of me should go elsewhere, should be separated, don’t belong together,” she says. “And one day I just decided: no more divisions!”
Emika plays RBMA Clubnight at Celeste (DJ set + live vocals) in Vienna, Austria, on November 20.
The music business is notoriously tough. What compelled you to launch your own imprint?
Emika: I found out, for me, I feel good and I am the most productive when I am free and independent. The music industry can become a big distraction, and I feel like it tried to educate me into thinking more about ‘image’ than music, to measure myself against other artists, to learn to think about my work in terms of genres. The worst thing of all is that I began to doubt my own skills as a producer and the crappiest thing is that it tries to make ‘women in music’ into a genre. Sometimes I just think it’s a big funny circus.
I’m an artist and this means for me, looking inwards, choosing my own path, and not letting anyone mess with what I’ve got going on. I love running my own business and mixing music and business can be super interesting and rewarding. But it’s got to be on my own terms now.
You’ve recorded for various labels. What are some of best practices you’ve learned about the music industry and what will you steer clear of doing?
Listen to your heart and listen to your audience. I try to steer clear of calling my audience ‘fans’ because I think this has become a deceptive marketing tool. I also avoid signing long deals for more then 2 or 3 years. You have to stay free and flexible if you want to sustain what you are doing. Don’t let the fears and negativity of the industry rub off on you and prevent you from taking risks and trying new things creatively.
“I’ve been told by many industry people over the years that the different sides of me should go elsewhere, should be separated, don’t belong together. And one day I just decided: no more divisions!”
The label’s upcoming releases are indeed diverse — club tracks, a symphony and your third album. Tell us a bit about what we can expect. Are there any guests on your upcoming album?
Several club 12″s; a solo piano LP, which is like an intimate piano diary of my improvisations; my third studio album, and a symphony recorded with a 70-piece orchestra in Prague featuring the beautiful soprano Michaela Srumova.
Are there any labels or label execs who’ve inspired your decision to start a label?
Mala. Pinch. Hank Shocklee. Mark Ernestus.
Will you be signing artists? If so, how will you go about doing so? Which kinds of artists fit the Emika Records sound?
The sound is very open; it’s more a style and certain attitude. I’m not in a rush to sign other artists, but if that one special artist crosses my path then of course I won’t say no.
What will success look like for Emika Records?
If I’m able to bring together electronic music, pop and classical in a style that makes sense for my listeners and that doesn’t try and divide it all up into little boxes, then that’s going to be just great. I’ve been told by many industry people over the years that the different sides of me should go elsewhere, should be separated, don’t belong together. And one day I just decided: no more divisions! And of course my main goal as a label owner is making hot dope products that people feel are worth buying.