Genre-sliding musician EMA is self-aware: she knows, for instance, that her new album The Future's Void could hit a little too close to home for certain listeners. While her last record, Past Life Martyred Saints, touched upon themes of drug use, self-mutilation, school shootings and domestic violence, none of that has been as polarizing as her new record’s use of words like “millennial” and “interwebs.” The Midwest-born musician’s new ten-track sophomore LP brazenly confronts digital themes so relevant, they almost feel like they're too soon. But confronting subjects that others have been afraid to talk about has always been a specialty of Erika M. Anderson.
"I didn't set out to make a topical album about the internet and technology," the musician told The Creators Project in our documentary on her new album (above). "It felt really taboo and weird and I felt embarrassed about it... It's kind of weird to use this Internet language in songs. But then I realized that if I was having an actual reaction to it, then others would too.” Indeed, her willingness to embrace new and contentious language and themes seems to owe more to contemporary and net art than typical rock lyric cliches. Her radical honesty may make you squirm, but it will also make you think.
That's not to say The Future's Void doesn't rip on its own, either. With songs like the Hole-friendly "So Blonde" and the hook-filled "Satellites," EMA has created a very modern album that meshes a myriad of influences and styles into a cohesive and delicious listen, not unlike the omnipresent cultural collages that exist on the web itself.
In our video piece on the making of the album, EMA and collaborator Leif Shackelford talk about the DIY technology employed in both the recording process of this album and its current live tour, which includes a homemade LED light board and a mixture of analog instruments and digital distortion.
EMA's DIY focus on building immersive experiences and "smart" stage lighting systems has led to conversations with Intel Labs, and Intel's recently formed New Devices Group, about bringing intelligence to their live stage sets with simple and cost effective technologies, like the Intel® Edison Development Board. Though the future is always uncertain, EMA is the type of innovator who dives head-first into what's just beyond—challenging our ears and making them feel good at the same time.
For more on EMA and The Future's Void, please visit: www.thefuturesvoid.net
Photos Courtesy of Erika M. Anderson, Leif Shackelford, Matador Records
Text by @zachsokol