“Drop The Other,” the first e.p. from Emika – and already making a late shout for one of the year’s most auspicious debuts. Even before release, Emika’s has received airplay from tastemaking DJs like Zane Lowe + Mary-Anne Hobbs. On “Drop The Other,” eerie, near-classical piano collides into glitched-out edits and skitering drum patterns, while speaker-shattering lows rub against Emika’s own hushed, cryptic vocals, the iconoclastic blend marking her an artist that makes a habit of defying expectation. Just when you think you know what you’re hearing, Emika flips the script: the cinematic sound architecture evokes the deepest techno, but the tempo moves too slow, the beats too jagged; the sub-bass, meanwhile, could shudder the most underground dubstep club, but it’s paired with haunting, syncopated vocal hooks that suggest Aaliyah’s work with Timbaland taken to its darkest extreme.
“I make pop, but with a hard edge, playing different sounds and intensities against each other,” she explains. “I try to stay on the fence, leaving room for the listener to create a sense of what its about. It’s all about tension for me.” Tension, indeed. Emika’s music evokes comparison to the visionary likes of the XX, Fever Ray, The Knife, Burial and Circlesquare – artists that stand outside of genre, maintaining an uncanny timelessness of their own. As such, the words and sonics captured on “Drop The Other” prove both utterly catchy but experimental, erotic yet never overtly sexual, clearly confessional but shrouded in mystery.It’s a sound and vision that parallels Emika’s roundabout entrée into becoming a performing artist, a musical journey spiraling from suburban London and inner-city Bristol to cutting-edge Berlin.
Emika has called in some fantastic remixes. Scuba aka Paul Rose was a London dubstep pioneer, but in 2007 he too relocated to Berlin. His “Vulpine Remix” gets foxy with the original, importing vinyl static, ticking clocks and reversed cymbals, disembodying the vocals and making something deep and driving all at once. GeRM, meanwhile, takes the track “Double Edge” and spin it out into euphoric, glitchy electro-house that has already found its way on to Ministry of Sound playlists. Emika is also working collaboratively with visual artist Mox, developing designs and video inspired by her music, as well as a kinetic, multimedia live show. Emika's music is full of unexpected emotional alleyways and late-night allure, tones that alternate between crushing and beautiful, beats hypnotic in both the club and in solitude. “Balancing the future and convention, submission and control—that’s very important to me,” Emika concludes. “What I find powerful is the margins: those things inbetween, pointing out but never explaining. It never resolves, so it leaves a pit inside you – but I like the pit.”
- Electronic, dubstep