Emiko is an internationally recognized, award-winning songwriter and recording artist. She has an impressive catalog of over 3,000 songs that span a wide variety of genres including pop/rock, R&B/soul, full theatre and film scores and J-pop. Emiko is a very successful businesswoman as she uses her musical talents to compose for TV series and documentaries. She also has her own studio where she produces film and TV projects with her team. Although she has the skill to diversify her genres, Emiko is best known for her styles on the Hammond Organ and her Alesis Wireless Vortex keytar (named Carlos).
Her newest single “Great North Road” is soulful and emotional. Emiko displays her natural vocal talent with her impressive range; she alternates between soft and powerful vocals throughout the song. She sings the song with a real feeling which is contagious to the audience and gives the song its authenticity. “Great North Road” is brimming with traditional instruments that help tie the sound together. An elegant piano plays in the background as a drummer pounds to the beat. There is also a heavy presence of string instruments, including the violin, which also triggers emotion from the audience. Emiko has graced the pages of Billboard, Music Connection, FM Sound, Keyboard Magazine as a songwriter for many successful companies. We are sure that she will continue to impress us as her career continues to develop.
Listen to “Great North Road” here.
Welcome to BuzzMusic Emiko! We were captivated by the intensity of “Great North Road.” Can you tell us more about the message behind this song, and what inspired you to write it?
The song has been on quite a journey. I actually wrote it 10 years ago (almost to the day) when I was living in England. I was captivated by the rich history there and how beautiful it was to see the English honor that history in everyday life. The Great North Road is an actual road - it’s the Old Roman Road, which today the English call the M1, which is the main artery from London up to York. It goes all the way up to Scotland I think, but I traveled the London to York leg regularly. Anyway, I was terribly homesick for a lot of my time there due to a very tumultuous and abusive relationship I was going through at the time and I remember thinking that leaving everything behind in New York (where I lived before) and moving to England wasn’t turning out the way I was told it would. As I read more and more about the Great North Road that I would travel on almost daily, I remembered learning that it was made by the old Roman soldiers who had come over centuries ago and started thinking: how many of them signed up for the journey and then got to England under false pretenses and realized that this was not what they signed up for? So I imagined two Centurian soldiers on the long trek from York to London, marching side by side, one saying to the other basically, “Yo. This is NOT how we were told things would be. I would never have come over here if I had known this is how it would’ve turned out. The next chance I get, I’m on the first boat back to Rome. Geez, I’ve got a family back home. Can’t believe I left them for this.” And I imagined their conversation was similar to the one I had been having inside my own head. The song stayed dormant basically for the past decade - for whatever reason I don’t know. Maybe it wasn’t time for it to live and breathe before but as I was tracking the vocals in the studio, all of a sudden, I was singing the song from yet another perspective. Ultimately, the song started out about going home. Then it became about finding home. And I think, now, it’s about making a home and taking ownership and comfort in that. A lot of people who have heard it have said it’s dark and uplifting all at the same time. I’d say that’s pretty accurate because, honestly, being homesick under such awful circumstances in a land that is otherwise totally incredible is a total juxtaposition of worlds for sure. We know that you are a Hammond Organ songwriting clinician where you give lectures and workshops at Sam Ash Music Stores nationwide. Can you tell us how this impacts your music?
Yes! So for years, I toured the US giving songwriting clinics as a Hammond roster artist and it was incredible. I think the way it impacted my own music most was really in two ways. First, as a clinician, I had to have an even deeper relationship with my songs. It’s one thing to write them and record and perform them. It’s a completely different thing to get up and explain them to a room full of people who want to know about the deliberate choices of arrangement, production, orchestration, and even lyric and melodic choices. And for the first while, it was weird for me because I don’t write in a clinical way. I write from the gut and when the song is done, it kind of stops writing itself. And that’s it! But I had to find a way to explain that to audiences and delve further into each song. It really pushed me as a writer as well because it made me find new responsibilities for the songs I write and I felt a lot closer to them. It really keeps me in tip top shape as a writer when I do my clinic series because I know I have to be “ ON." Also, I got to meet a lot aspiring writers - some who struggle in the songwriting process and some who don’t. I get to hear and learn their experiences and in that, I get to learn different perspectives that songwriters have so it’s a very holistic experience all-round. You work with your team at your studio on film and TV projects when you aren’t recording or performing music. Can you tell us how you juggle all of these lifestyles?
Sure! So actually, it’s not really juggling anymore (although my team may feel differently haha!) - it’s more about scheduling and being organized. It’s actually not very glamorous at all, it’s about keeping a timeline of when I do what. So for example, a full day in the studio may be broken down into morning film/tv projects, then recording. Or it may be rehearsals and then something else. Now, when we’re on location? That’s a totally different story. My production company is made up of musicians and artists so when we are on a production that involves travel, we all pack our instruments and turn the hotel rooms into studios. I tend to travel with at least one micro or mini controller at all times and all of us have DAWs on our laptops so we send files back and forth from room to room sometimes. The one thing I’d say that is MOST important in all of it though is really having clear goals and a clear vision of each area of what you’re working on. Otherwise, things get muddled and the quality of work suffers. I like to take time in between to clear my head and set a very focused intention on the next thing - be fully committed, you know? So that way, when I dive into it, I can give it my all without question.
You are currently working on your upcoming album “Fighting Under Water.” Can you tell us what we can expect from you in this upcoming album?
Oh you can expect AWESOMENESS. There’s no question about it. “Fighting Under Water” is being set to be face meltingly good. I’ve partnered up Bruce Robb who is an incredible artistic mind as producer and we’re recording at his studio, which is a legendary space - Cherokee Studios. The thing I love about this album is that Bruce has been encouraging me to get out of the box! We chose songs deliberately that are either new or from my older catalogue that have never been heard. Songs that, even for me, were sort of out of left field. And I’m so glad that they got chosen because I’m really proud of them and they deserve to have an incredible life! For so long, producers I worked with kept things very neat and tidy and very much “in” the box. But not Bruce. He’s taking these songs to their fullest potential and then pushing them even more. It’s going to be a genre merging, boundary breaking, very progressive album and I’m already proud of it just talking about it even though it’s not even out yet. As much as I love to create music on my own and in my own studio, there are times that when you have the right partnership you can just go to a stratospheric level and it’s pretty clear that the way Bruce and I work is totally that. Seriously - I’m so excited to share it with the whole world but for now, we have to finish the album, haha!
We were happy to have you on BuzzMusic! What's next for Emiko?
Thanks so much! I’m glad we connected. Oh boy - what’s next? Hmmm…..well, obviously continuing the album recording for a start. I’m in the middle of scoring a feature film which is due out later this year so that’s gotta get finished. My production company has a number of really exciting projects on the books for this year including a feature documentary and a new TV series that we’re not only producing but doing the music for, plus releasing more singles and videos! Oh! We have some exciting surprises coming too .. I almost let the cat out of the bag - but I’m not allowed to say anything yet. But I’ll say this, my own production studio, Tiny Cactus Productions is finally opening to the public in North Hollywood! It’s a super artist friendly space and we’ll be producing artists as well as creating content for them there. And then there’s the record label thing … but I’m not supposed to say anything about that either yet. And also the vinyl releases … so yeah, there’s a lot coming up it seems!