London-based Emmavie is an eclectic individual who exists freely and fluidly, just like her music. A multifaceted songwriter, producer, and singer, Emmavie has grown to be a do-it-all Renaissance woman in the world of neo-soul and future-R&B. Her newest EP What's a Diamond to a Baby is a step in a new direction for the UK crooner, as she explores new genre territory and is more unapologetically herself than ever before. A 7-song fusion of vintage R&B and soul production with a distinctly new school flair, the EP is a comprehensive and wide-ranging effort that sees Emmavie grow from her neo-soul roots and emerge as an even more well-rounded, genre-defying artist.
Previously best known for her collaborations with genre heavyweight Soulection, Emmavie was determined to break new ground on her newest EP. "I wanted to take risks, my intention was to be able to move into a new space with this project. I don't want people to get used to me being in a particular form. We're all multilayered people and I have a side of me that can be poetic and soulful (like Erykah Badu) but there's also a naughty, sexy side. I think this project taps more into that side." The result is a sultry and mature offering that still maintains a great deal of fun and levity throughout its runtime. Emmavie recently shared the background and anecdotes behind each track with EARMILK and how she built upon her already acclaimed discography to deliver a project a bit different from what fans are used to hearing from her.
"Trick Me" is very much the new R&B that's happening now. It's about having your lover hypnotize you, pillow talk, sweet nothings, and that sorta thing. It's a bit more edgy than what I had been doing.
I was writing with Kojey Radical in East London and in the midst of all the incredible music he was making in the studio, it dawned on me I need to get Kojey on "Trick Me". He wrote the verse in about 15 minutes and it was done. To have him put this sexy, alpha-male energy on the song provides a nice balance to the more feminine energy I chose to put out on this song.
"UH HUH OKAY"
ROMderful is originally from Birmingham and he's since moved to South Korea, doing wonderful things over there. We've been making music together since about 2014-2015 and we're like peanut butter & jelly, we just go together. He sent me the beat like 3 years ago and I recorded the vocals just as you hear it today. And then about a year and a half ago I'm on YouTube and I hear the original beat for "Uh Huh Okay" and I was like 'What is happening?' because I was planning on putting the song out for my project. It turned out that he had given the beat to another UK artist who never responded (or paid for the beat) who recorded over it, had a producer rework ROM's beat, and released it. Its just music politics, it happens. So ROM had to work his magic and took my vocals and completely remade the beat and its much more playful, much more colorful in the version now. So everything happens for a reason and now "Uh Huh Okay" is a much brighter, California-sounding love song.
I made a version of this song like four years ago, right around the time I started working Soulection, ROMderful, and iamNobodi. I was making more jazzy, neo-soul music but "Tune" was my entry into this more future-R&B music that I'm making now. I had this idea to start with "Emmavie's got a tune" because 1) now you know how to pronounce my name, but also 2) it's catchy. I don't want to write anything that becomes too gimmicky or cheesy because this song could've easily become too gimmicky. But I wanted to write it so that anyone who hears it anywhere will be singing my name.
When it came to the video, I wanted it to be girls, girls, girls. The whole song is me crooning about coming over when I'm nearby. I wanted to inject myself in the music a little more because in the past my music has been a little more ambiguous as far as who I'm singing to, and I've never really been closeted, I think it's fairly obvious that I'm gay. I just wanted to do a video to show that yes, these songs are about women and now when you listen to my songs, the lyrics make a bit more sense.
"Avalanche" is another really sensual song. At the time I made it, I was really inspired by Summer Walker's "Playing Games" with Bryson Tiller. When I was producing it, I wanted something that had that American R&B feel to it. The lyrics are just about when you start seeing someone and they're quite hypnotic but also they're costing you quite a bit of money. It's kind of like when you want somebody and are super infatuated with them but there's also a side of your brain that just sees your bank account going down every time you're with them.
I'm a Neptunes baby and this was definitely a Neptunes-inspired beat. I made this original beat back in 2015 and when I was clearing out my hard drive (I had over 1000 songs from 2009-2016) I came across it and knew I had to use it. When I first started producing, everything I made I wanted to be like Pharrell. I wanted this song to sound like it was from 2003, like if you play it against a song now, it has that texture that feels old. Hopefully one day Pharrell and Chad hear this and go "aw that reminds us of when we were kids!"
I thought the track needed that Outkast kind of quartet sound with a trumpet that just goes mad and adds some theatrics, so I put out a tweet asking for someone to play trumpet on one of my tracks. And one of the responses I got was from Brandon Woody, an incredible trumpet player from Baltimore. I saw this young, hungry kid and so I sent him the track and he played the trumpet on it. The layers he got were incredible, it really took me back to Outkast's The Love Below.
I actually met Saint Ezekiel at the PLAYLIST retreat which is this huge songwriting and producer camp hosted by DJ Jazzy Jeff at his estate in Philadelphia. It's a huge gathering of incredible artists like Questlove, Terrace Martin, Tiffany Gouché, Redman, and so on. Ezekiel is an incredible guitar player so we created this version of "Be Mine" with his guitar being the focal point of the song. And then as a consequence of going to the PLAYLIST retreat, Phonté sent me a message on Twitter and I knew I wanted to get him on this song. So I sent him the song and he did the verse right away. It's just surreal to have a song with one of my heroes. We're talking about 15-20 years of listening to someone and now he's on my EP!
The intro you hear this woman speaking, that's actually my mom. And she doesn't even know she's on the EP yet, she just has this way of saying really profound things, really inspirational things. She was talking about this concept that we're spirit travelers and we're put here to transcend time and you exist because you have this purpose but you just have recognize it. That really embodied the whole ethos of not even just the project for me, but just what I want to do as an artist. I want to make sounds that are truly timeless. Even in the way I express myself; I can go from feminine to masculine, I can be hot or cold, sad or happy, I just never want to put any boundaries on me or my music.
Emmavie's passion for her art absolutely radiates from her when she talks. Over the course of her breakdown, you come away with the feeling that this project means more to her than can be put into words (although we certainly tried!). A proud and unabashed future-R&B firebrand, Emmavie's slick style and confidence are on point throughout What's a Diamond to a Baby, a true testament to her forward-thinking and deeply refined approach to her craft.