New Music Review: Save EMA

Last year, EMA (aka Erika M Anderson), a 22 year old singer from the US midwest released her debut album Past Life Martyred Saints to much critical acclaim. David Wilkinson offers his take on the album here

The single ‘California’, a searingly personal stream of consciousness with ear bleeding guitars, was her calling card, but recently she has delved into her adolescence to an even greater extent when making the video to her anti-bullying single ‘Take One Two’

As Anderson explains, the video is made using actual footage of her and her friends in their teenage years. They are depicted:

Dressing up, hanging out, making up funny skits, and lots of laughing. When I look back now at our fresh young faces (yes that is me with the short dark hair and cat-eye liner), I’m amazed at how simply happy we all look. This is especially remarkable as I know what was going on outside those plywood walls: getting called names, shoved into lockers, and threatening to get our asses kicked for being queer or punk or just plain weird.

But despite all that, there is a joy, strength and self-acceptance in our faces that I find inspiring and wanted to pass on. I’m offering the proceeds of this song to an anti-bullying non-profit started by a 15-yr-old girl in Long Island who was a victim of bullying for 7 years before switching schools. It’s called The Jamie Isaacs Foundation and it works to bring youth advocates into schools and pass anti-bullying legislation.

When putting the video together, Anderson contacted all of those in the film “to get their take on it before it was released.”

EMA, Islington Mill, 2011 at a FutureEverything event, by Man Alive!.jpg

Her friends “thought it was “adorable” but I didn’t hear back from the sweet boy in the turquoise teddy. I worried that it was too much, too revealing, and he wouldn’t want that footage put out into the world.”

Finally, she got a message back:

‘That was the most beautifully done video I have ever seen I love it I love it I love it. I could not stop bawling. I don’t think I’ve ever felt so secure as when we were all hanging out in the trailer bedroom. Erika. Lacy. All 3 of us went thru some pretty tough shit. But we made it through. Lets use what we learned and give it to somebody else that needs it.’

The resulting video is dedicated by Anderson to “all the weirdoes out there”

To read David’s review and to comment, please click here

EMA will be touring the UK in May. Dates are as follows:

May 9: Leeds, Brudenell Social Club

May 11: Manchester, Night & Day Cafe

May 12: Brighton, Great Escape Festival

May 15: London, Scala

Image shows EMA performing at Islington Mill, Salford as part of a FutureEverything event in May 2011. It was taken by Man Alive! and is shared via a flickr creative commons licence