For years now, the L.A.-based songstress Emiko can be found on countless publication placements with SONY/ATV and Universal Music Group performing with her trusty Keytar, Carlos.
Her voice—sharp and somewhat smokey—sounds seriously refined. The character presented in her music is entirely her own bestowing, "L.A. After War," Emiko's progressive contemporary new-wave record, attaining all the perks. In the years prior, Emiko has formed her own peculiar songcraft through an enormous catalog of over three thousand songs, contributing to the handling of her sound and the aesthetic she finds, transforming alternative music with every new release.
These days, Emiko seems invigorated, and her new record (produced in the confines of isolation) is an encouraging collection of fastidious anthemic contemporary molded by her tawny vocal topline melodies and home-vibe instrumental orchestrations.
"L.A. After War" is Emiko's second release supporting her long time moniker following her 2017 debut Extended Play, Look At Later, and it stands individual from her preceding work; across ten cuts, she details her anthemic contemporary pieces with a dense palette of synthesizers, punchy drums, keys, and midi chords, bringing her even closer to the singer-songwriter Hall of Fame status that she deserves to be.
"L.A. After The War" is immortalized by its two most potent tracks: "Thick As Thieves (I can't love you anyways)," and "Man In The Ivory Tower," which are also the record's most uptempo and rocksteady minutes. The first mentioned prioritizes three main elements: an impactful orchestration of drums, a piercing synth hook, and Emiko's sensuous layered vocals, stacked like a stack of crisp bills. "Man In The Ivory Tower" is a song about a relationship built on fragile sands—where Emiko refrains, "You're the man in the Ivory Tower, and you're building your castles on the sand, and you're wiping the blood from your hands!" But the number is presenting like a journey as much as it is a warning: you might be standing in your own sandcastle way out of the reach of true love. With a tangle of electric guitars, gritty synthesizers, and a synergized turnaround amongst the rhythm section, it's challenging to recount if the story ends in loss—but Emikos does it with an anthemic and nuanced procedure.
"My Light" is likewise just as anthemic but with a bittersweet touch, ducking between a lush piano melody and an airy vocal performance with phrases that sound slick in the expansive and atmosphere resembling mix. "I just wanted to give you my heart, even though I swear that baby I'm still stuck in the dark, I love you cause you are my light," she croons, before the song is rinsed away in an organic downpour of organs, groaning basslines, and swipes of strings for the chorus. Emiko's administration of her vocal prowess is especially appealing on this track—she crescendos with invigorating spirits on the chorus, but then proves her dynamic ability with her contrasting soft and whisper-like laments. It's a welcome revolution to contemporary melodies and melodies you would find on the radio today.
Emiko's skills as a composer and writer are obvious throughout "L.A. After The War," as she sets herself apart from countless budding artists coming up in the L.A. music scene. For instance, the groovy interlude "Doctor" is particularly magnetic—a slaw of vocal harmonies and callback with key and organ fragments chopped at a movement soaking with a funky vibe. There is abundant evidence of funk and soul immersed throughout the record. This cut is revealed through this four-minute running conserve of funky jams highlighted with everything from potent electric riffs, a heated drum part, and Emikos supercharged vocals, especially in the closing track, "I Know".
Emiko may still be developing her aesthetic and sound, but "L.A. After The War" delivers a compelling case for the sound she's elevating and basking in for now.
Discover "L.A. After the War" here.
Hello Emiko, it's great to have you back with us at BuzzMusic. What do you recall being the most impacting emotion your experience once L.A. After The War was fully completed and on it's last push before release?
The most prominent emotion I can recall is really LIBERATION! I thought long and hard about this (great question by the way!!) and it’s definitely a feeling of total and complete liberation on so many levels. One that I am finally able to put these songs out there. The album concept is almost six years old, and some of the songs I haven’t been able to play publicly due to personal circumstances (those who know the story know why). And to have self-produced the entire album plus recorded it all during a global pandemic when we were all ordered to stay at home really showed me what is possible if you put your mind to it. It was an extremely freeing and liberating feeling when I gave final approvals on everything and when I checked off the last thing on the production list. I definitely felt a sense of celebration and of “WE GOT THIS AND WE DID IT!!!!”
If you were to describe this record and the three emotions one could expect to feel when listening to it as a whole, which would you pick and why?
Hmmm.. great question! I think the album in and of itself is an evolution and a journey (it’s a total concept album, quite literally) so I’d have to say: strength, resolution, and motivation. If I was allowed to pick a fourth, I’d say perseverance because the whole album is about fighting a war with your own personal forces of evil and having everything thrown at you, having life as you know it has taken away completely, but finding that the “wins” you have far outweigh anything you could have ever imagined. It’s an album about growth and surviving the walk through the proverbial fire.
How do you endeavor to continually grow as an artist every day?
Another really great question. I thought my answer would be different in times like these (what with COVID, etc) but honestly, it’s all about pushing my boundaries and getting out of my comfort zone. This means creatively, musically, as an artist, but also looking at different opportunities and connections as a producer, a studio owner, and a business person. For example, I’m now in the midst of presenting two video podcasts a week, one on gear and one on the importance of mental health in the music industry. I’m co-hosting these with a couple of super well respected and amazing folks who I’m lucky enough to call friends, "The Gear You Hear" is a podcast I co-host with Scott, the Pedal Guy, and then" Across the Board," I co-host with Grammy Award-winning producer and engineer Mike Exeter (who produced such legendary bands as Black Sabbath and Judas Priest). Between that, and running two companies (my production company, Rose City Media Group which I’m thrilled I can now say is an award-winning documentary production company!) and my studio as well as having other upcoming projects including something very special and instrumental, the possibilities to stay creative are endless. I suppose it comes down to staying open-minded and welcoming new projects and connections as much as I can.
What often tends to fuel your creative energy during a songwriting session?
So, I’ve said this often - my writing process is a bit on the unorthodox and somewhat unglamorous side, I’m afraid! When I sit down to write a song, oftentimes, it’s already finished in my head so what I’m doing is literally getting it out and onto paper or into a session file if I’m demoing something. I don’t have a process to speak of other than I’m basically in a real hurry to get the song out and committed to a medium where it can start to live (and out of my brain). I would say that sense of urgency fuels me almost entirely.
Can we expect any more singles coming from your extensively large catalog?
Maybe even a B-side with all the tracks that didn't make it on any of your records thus far? OH. HECK. YES. Haha, but really though, the answer is, absolutely! I’m actually working on a couple of projects right now that will result in songs in the vault coming out and seeing the light of day. We’re working on a vinyl project and super high-resolution audio project at the moment. I also have a top-secret instrumental thing I’m working on that I hope everyone will tune in for, so absolutely yes!