5 Questions With: Emzae
The electropop singer stops by to talk about her new record, running a label, and why she prefers F1 over football.
Today we’re talking with British synthpop artist Emzae
Emzae wears a lot of hats: Singer. Songwriter. Producer. Record label owner. Hailing from Derby, east Midlands in the UK, she recently released her debut album, All Those Things I Thought I Knew on her Zirconia Records label. It’s also a bit of a misnomer to call this her debut record, as she’s been steadily releasing singles and performing for some time now.
The record is a culmination of 6 years’ worth of effort reflecting both the friction & anxiety of the last few years but also her determination to rise above it all. And determined she is; part of forming her own label was so that she could release music on her own terms and not be beholden to the vagaries of any label or algorithm. In real terms, that has meant learning on the fly and handling everything from production & promotion to the cover art.
Everything you see and hear comes from Emzae herself.
On the surface, All Those Things is a pop record. Or an electro-pop record, if you prefer. But listen closer, and the LP starts to reveal itself as a more dynamic composite. There are dance floor fillers next to ear candy pop next to ballads— it all makes for a fantastic listen
We recently had a chance to catch up via email. In a wide-ranging chat, we talk about her plans for her record label, the scene in Derby, why she prefers F1 over football/soccer, and of course, the music.
Our chat has been lightly edited for clarity/flow.
Everything is a big learning curve, and I need to just be patient, take my time and make sure I know my stuff and have a plan before I take the next step. I have a tendency to want to rush off to the next thing!
KA: Can you fill in a little bit of your backstory? Walk us through what made you get started playing. Are there any other bands that you are/were involved in?
EZ: I have been into music since I can remember and spent many years teaching myself how to sing and write songs. I got knocked off course a little bit in my teenage years when I was diagnosed with M.E. and dropped out of school, but gradually, I worked my way back up to trying to find another way to chase my dream. I have been releasing and performing under the name Emzae since around 2018, and I have never been in any other bands.
KA: Softball Q: How did you get your name? Was it really your MSN username?
EZ: It wasn’t my actual username, but I came up with it during a conversation on MSN with my friend Chloe when I was 15.
KA: I’ve heard your record described as bedroom pop, synthpop, dream pop, and more. How would you describe it?
EZ: Those descriptions are probably accurate! I tend to label myself as pop, as there is a lot of room for maneuver within that!
KA: All Those Things I Thought I Knew is your debut record. How did it all come together? What do you hope people take away from it?
EZ: I wrote, recorded, produced, and mixed it over the course of 6 years in my bedroom. It’s essentially about my experiences, realisations, thoughts, and fears about navigating adulthood and the future alongside chronic illness. With pop hooks galore. It’s up to everyone else what they would like to take away from it - I just hope they might enjoy it!
KA: You’re also a label owner (Zirconia Records). Where do you see that going in the near term? Do you plan to sign more artists or more as a vehicle for your own work?
EZ: At the moment, it’s purely a vehicle for my work, but it may be something I seek to expand in the future. It would just have to be in a way that was manageable for me. Everything is a big learning curve, and I need just to be patient, take my time, and make sure I know my stuff and have a plan before I take the next step. I have a tendency to want to rush off to the next thing!
KA: Speaking of artists, what’s the music scene in Derby like? Is the musician community fairly close-knit?
EZ: It’s small but friendly. It’s not a famous scene, and it takes a lot of work to maintain for everyone involved in putting on gigs, but there are a lot of people who try really hard and some really exciting artists.
KA: One more softball: If you support a football (soccer) team, which side is it, and why?
EZ: No, I’m not into Football; I never have been. I respect that it is a huge part of people’s lives, but it’s not for me. I follow F1, or more accurately, I’ll “follow” Lewis Hamilton until he retires, then stop watching. Most randomly, I watch Ski Jumping. I cycle through the more niche sports - the other year, it was Darts. I think what puts me off Football is that there is never an end to it and depending on which team you support, you know that barring a miracle you will never reach the top. I’d find that really disheartening and frustrating, and I don’t need that in my life!
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Emzae | All Those Things I Thought I Knew, 2023
Click on the record to listen on your platform of choice.
To connect with the Emzae and purchase her music, click here:
One more thing:
1. Describe your music style in one sentence.
Interesting, thoughtful, and intricate pop productions about this weird thing called life.
2. What music played in your house(s) growing up?
My parents weren’t particularly avid music fans, so just normal stuff. My mum had Craig David’s debut album and a CD single of Sing it Back by Moloko; she also liked Will Young. My dad liked a collection of random things from Motown to Westlife whilst despising the music of some critically acclaimed acts, and I have never been able to predict what he’ll enjoy. My brothers are older than me, and my oldest brother is a huge Oasis and Noel Gallagher fan. My younger brother was into Nu Metal and hip-hop and then later added all sorts of other stuff. They each have one Spotify playlist, which they dump everything into, whereas I categorise and catalogue the music I find.
3. What are you listening to these days?
I just listened to Corinne Bailey Rae’s new album, Black Rainbows, and I was blown away by the song “Erasure.” I’m also really relating to Lauren Mayberry’s new song “Are You Awake?”
4. What are your 5 Desert Island Discs?
Lana Del Rey- Ultraviolence
Mariah Carey- Caution (SUCH AN UNDERRATED ALBUM)
Britney Spears- Blackout
5. If you could collaborate with any artist/band, who would it be?
The producer Danja
Thanks to Emzae for stopping by, and thank you for being here,