Sydney R&B / Pop sensation Emalia has quickly garnished a reputation across the Aus scene off the back of only a handful of singles – all delivered with a unique style and finesse. With a background in musical theatre and a taste for powerful visuals, she’s carving out her own sonic space having already walked the red carpet at last year’s ARIAs and made a guest appearance in a recent Like A Version. We caught up with Emalia recently off the back of her new single ‘Suga Rush’ for a pretty intimate chat about her inspirations, her passions and her plans into the future.
AUD’$: Hey Emalia, good to chat to you, first up, what’s your favourite sweet?
EMALIA: “Ooo anything chocolate honestly, I feel like you know how people really like strawberries covered in chocolate, like I thought about it and if I was a dessert then that’s absolutely what I would be because you know it’s fresh but it’s sweet and then you know it’s got that sensual undertone it’s like a sexy dessert so I like that side!”
Nice nice so I’m just straight away gonna do the journo thing and draw a parallel there between you talking about strawberries, sensuality and chocolate and your music ,cause I feel like your music (tell me if that was a good segue there) there…I think I did it pretty well there.
Haha yeah that was a good segue!
Haha but honestly I think that’s a really good metaphor for your music, it’s sensual, it’s tasty with a bit of edge though as well; is that something you’re going for with the sounds coming through?
Yeah! That’s perfect, the fact that you’ve described it that way just fill my heart with joy, you see what I’m going for so I’m glad!
Oh beautiful! Tell me a bit more about the context, the new single ‘Suga Rush’ – I love the whole angle you’ve worked up; the sweets, the chocolate, the sugar rush. Where did this concept come from, are you a sweet tooth yourself?
Yeah I’m a huge sweet tooth, I mean like I love food; I’m a foodie. I’m very VERY passionate about food. I’m a small framed person but I will blow people away with how much I eat! So I guess for me it was this idea of sweets and the amazing sensation that you get when you eat food and kind of paralleling that with relationships – like even though you know I will go and indulge in that milkshake it can make you feel real shit afterwards. And sometimes it’s the same thing you can keep going back to these toxic people…
Well what does that look like then? When you talk about the good moments there what’s the perfect date for you then? What’s the perfect night out and the perfect meal?
Ooo honestly I would love take out, like Thai food… I mean cheeseburgers (if they’re gluten free!) and then just watching movies and playing Mario Kart, I love Nintendo Wii. That is probably one of my ideal dates, genuinely!
I love it! In your music you talk about this vulnerability, you’re quite down to earth about it. Ultimately, it’s about empowerment. The message you’re talking about to other young women – to empower them in toxic situations – does that come from a history of heartbreak yourself?
I feel like it just comes from a history of so many experiences with so many different people. Not always with boys but also with friends, peers from school. I myself have been on quite a weird journey finding myself 0 and honestly I don’t have the answers, I’m still working on it… some days are better than others. So I guess for me the music is me channeling that energy and going ‘What do I need to hear for myself?’ It’s funny because I feel like I’m one of those people who can give amazing advice but I never take it. So yeah my music is sort of like a reminder to myself as well as to other people. These are the reflections that I’ve had that I should really learn from.
What does that look like for you? What are some self care tips that you use to look out for yourself or that you recommend to others that get you through a tough time?
I feel like it’s learning when to say no and learning how to draw healthy boundaries. In the past I have always put others before me or I get caught up in things without thinking about what the consequences are for myself or the other person. Also just learning who you are and what you need and what you want out of relationships around you. I think that makes a big difference – feeling confident within those things. The hardest part of it is building that confidence, knowing what you’re about and knowing it and believing it and being unapologetic for it. But it’s working at that every day. That’s my self-care kit.
I guess on that note, talking about being authentic, you’re creating your own twist onto the R&B genre as well. I can hear some early elements you’ve spoken on like Aaliyah, Destiny’s Child. What does your version of R&B look like? What’s it looking like on the EP and what can we expect on there?
Ummm I guess it’s a massive influence of something different. I’m trying to just write from my heart; it’s a soul based thing. I don’t really want to sound like anybody else! I’ve definitely done sessions where I’ve been like “Ooo I just want to recreate this sound” and I’m usually always disappointed. So yeah you’ve got the acoustics in there, you’ve got some bass, you’ve got some sexiness, you’ve got some sad moments…. it’s just…it’s human, that’s what it is!
In terms of when you talk about being human; you mentioned the Wii, and the food, what else are you into outside of music? What do you do in your downtime and how does that help you be professional when you’re recording?
I’m gonna be like so honest with you, and right now that is something I’m working on! I’m genuinely a workaholic! I focus on music 24/7 and I guess for me that’s something that because there’s a passion… it’s so easy… I actually don’t know what I like to do outside of music other than exercise. I do really like exercise and I enjoy reading fantasy novels.
Cool, what are you reading?
Well one of my favourite series I’m re-reading at the moment is the ‘Throne Of Glass” by Sarah J Maas. It follows this 18 year old assassin. I’ll give spoilers I’m so bad at spoilers….but it’s amazing and if you like fantasy novels that’s the one to read! I also watch heaps of Netflix. I love acting, and I love watching dramas and you horror films. For me when I’m watching things it’s usually me just admiring the work that’s gone into it from all of the artists because that inspires me musically as well. I want to be able to do more though, I want to expand my hobbies.
You’re clearly creative though. What’s your hot Netflix tip or anyone that’s going to be reading this?
Ooo I would say get onto Dark, I’m watching dark at the moment! It’s one of those ones that you have to pay attention to otherwise you just miss so much. It’s also German so they’ve got the dubbed version, which you know can be a bit off putting at first, but you get used to it, or you can do the subtitles. I like doing that so you get the emotion of the actor doing it.
Cool, cool. So you’re reading, you’re watching, you’re listening a lot, who are you enjoying?
Honestly just anything R&B! But I particularly love Keana Ledae’s new album, also Kehlani I think is amazing, Jhene Aiko’s new album and Summer Walker.
We’re certainly at a unique point in Australian R&B too – it’s so incredible right now. You’ve got artists like yourself, you’ve got A.GIRL – who you worked with on Like A Version – are there any Australian artists you’re listening to at the moment, or potentially would like to work with in the future?
Oh I’m digging Jeida Woods at the moment he’s got some unreal stuff. Even his visuals for Chemicals are awesome, but his visual for Ultraviolet I dug. Yeah I would love to do a collab with him sometime!
I love it! You’ll read it here first on AUD’$! If you could have anyone in the world to collab with: producer, vocalist, song writer, video director who would it be. What would your dream project look like?
Oh man this pressure. Probably like, right now I would absolutely love to work with Keaana Ledae, she’d be amazing and producer-wise, I mean I don’t know if this would work but I love Max Martin – he’s more in the pop world but I think he’s amazing.
I could see that working! You went to the ARIAs last year how was that experience for you and how soon until we can see you there for your own nomination?
Yeah it was just inspiring to see Kaiit win, I think it was best urban. Seeing that and seeing Dua Lipa perform and just being amongst so many incredible artists in our industry. The after party was amazing and…yeah I mean we’ll see when I get there… I’m hoping it’ll be sooner rather than later! But I feel like this year will be interesting hopefully it’s going ahead.
Well our fingers are definitely crossed for you mate! I really appreciate you taking the time to have a chat with us – definitely want to be keeping in touch and looking out for the EP.
Oh likewise thank you so much for chatting with me I really appreciate it, it was an awesome interview!
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