Emalia, RnB pop singer on the rise whose voice is adored by Dannii Minogue, started out on YouTube: 'People can be supportive online, and can also be cruel. Let those comments make you stronger.'
"I could listen to her sing all day. Smooth like honey," said Dannii Minogue upon hearing the voice of 19 year old Sydney based RnB artist Emalia. Emalia has been training her silky voice since she started school, performed in arenas throughout her high school years, and recently graduated from The Talent Development Project, renowned for acts such as Angus and Julia Stone and The McClymonts. When Emalia was 12 she started uploading videos to YouTube where she developed a faithful following and honed her craft (one could go so far as to say she does a better version of Selena Gomez's song Perfect better than Selena, but decide for yourself. Video below). Now, after years of training and a list of great experiences for a young, aspirational performer, Emalia is working with pop producer Adam Reily (Jessica Mauboy, Guy Sebastian, Jordin Sparks, and Shannon Noll) on a new album. Two singles have been released, the first of which was called Do Your Own Thing which charted in the top 100 on the Australian iTunes charts and also the Pop Charts. She's got big plans, a steely determination, and spoke with Music Love about YouTube and her wildest dreams. They really are huge!
What does music mean to you?
Music has been my way of expression before I could even talk. My parent's have always said that I could sing my ABCs before I ever spoke a word, and when I was just a tot, would cry whenever I heard songs like My Heart Will Go On by Celine Dion, or clap my hands and dance wildly to upbeat music, without even understanding the lyrics. On a personal level, music has been my safe haven; my way to express myself and escape the pressures of the outside world. It makes me feel alive. It puts a smile on my face and births a warmth in my heart. I began writing songs out of my experiences with bullying during primary school - music really helped me through that time. On a bigger scale, music is a way of communicating, of reaching out to people, of healing people. It can connect people together in ways that simply talking, or social media alone cannot. It allows you to explore emotions and feelings that you might be too afraid to show otherwise. It can show you you're not alone. You know those moments when you hear a song, and it seems as if it was written just for you? Nothing beats moments like that. And nothing comes close to creating that feeling the way music does. Because not only does a song portray emotion through its lyrics, the actual SOUNDS within a song can be enough to move you, or express the inexpressible feelings inside of you. And I honestly think that is a form of true magic.
Tell us about your music life on YouTube.
YouTube has been an awesome platform where I have been able to share my talent and my music. It used to blow my mind how people from all around the world could hear me sing and see me perform, all from the comfort of their own home. It allowed me to connect with people on a larger scale, and nothing gave me more pleasure than seeing people that I have never met, and might never meet, commenting that they liked my sound or the song I had written, or most importantly, that it had some sort of effect on their life. I have always wanted to inspire people with my music, to teach people lessons out of my own experiences, or the experiences of those around me. I still remember a person commenting on one of my first few original songs that I had ever written when I was thirteen. Peanut Butter, a cute little love song about a boy I liked but was too afraid to talk to, who ended up liking me back in the end. They wrote that they had sent my song to their crush, which led to them actually becoming a couple. They thanked me for giving them the confidence to speak up. To this day, that is still one of the best responses to my music I ever have received, and I never would have had that without YouTube.
When did you begin uploading songs?
I actually started my YouTube journey by uploading little music video type clips where I would mime to some of my favourite songs; that was all the rage back then. I began uploading covers and some of my own songs when I was about twelve, just entering high school. My dad would help me record and film my videos, until eventually I was able to do it on my own.
How much has YouTube contributed to your life as an artist?
YouTube was a great platform to kickstart my music career online. I was able to build a small fan base on there, and it gave me confidence that there were other people out there that liked me as an artist, other than my friends and family, who were all I really had the chance to perform in front of otherwise.
What advice would you give people who sing for YouTube?
Always be yourself. Make the content that you like and believe in. As much as people can be supportive and lovely online, people can also be cruel. Let those comments make you stronger; let them spark more determination in you. Not everyone has to like what you do. What's most important is that YOU like what you do. Haters are always gonna hate. And my response is, creatives are always gonna create.
What has been your biggest career highlight?
I would say my debut single Do Your Own Thing getting two chart placements on the Australian iTunes Charts. It debuted at #69 in the Top 100 and #57 on the Pop charts. That was pretty surreal for me. Hearing my song on mainstream radio for the first time was a pretty big highlight too.
Tell us about your upcoming EP and the two singles that are currently out.
This upcoming EP has been a long time coming. So much work has gone into it. But I am loving the process and am so excited to share it with the world. I have been working with the wonderful writer/producer Adam Reily to bring the project to life. Reily has worked with the likes of Jordin Sparks, Guy Sebastian, Jessica Mauboy and Shannon Noll, so I am super lucky and grateful to have him working on this project with me. I have learnt so much from him, and we have such a great time writing together. The EP itself will act as the first half to my debut full length album. It will feature six songs, and all of them cover different topics. I try to always include a moral message of some sort within my music. A lot of the songs are about empowerment through difficult times. Both of my current singles, Do Your Own Thing and On Your Own fit that theme. Do Your Own Thing was inspired by my struggles with bullying, and I really wanted to tell people that it doesn't matter what others say or think, as long as you are happy with yourself, that's all that matters. It felt perfect as my debut single, because I think that is the most important message of all that I have to share at this time, within all my music. You are good enough and you are strong enough. It took me a long time to finally feel confident within myself, and I wish I had realised sooner that other's opinions of me aren't important. Everyone is beautiful and unique in their own way and you have every right to do you. On Your Own was inspired by a close friend's experiences with her ex. The underlying message there is again, you are worthy. It is good to value yourself. For people going through a similar betrayal, I wanted them to know that they don't have to accept that behaviour. They deserve the world, they deserve respect, and they deserve true love and happiness. They are strong and can get through it. There is always a light at the end of the tunnel. You can expect similar themes of strength and empowerment with the rest of the EP, as well as some more raw and vulnerable moments. Really, this EP is about being true to yourself and finding your self-worth. It explores ways that myself, and others around me, were able to do that.
What is your wildest musical dream?
I am more of a dreamer than a realist, so my dreams can get pretty wild! But I've always believed in reaching for the stars, it gives you room to grow. My wildest musical dream would be selling out Madison Square Garden, or a similar venue. Going on a world tour, having hundreds of thousands of people from all around the world singing my lyrics back to me. Performing to a crowd of 90,000 in a stadium, like Adele just did on the Australian leg of her tour. Winning a Grammy. Writing and performing with some of my favourite writers/artists in the industry, like Beyoncé, Ed Sheehan, Max Martin, Rihanna or Taylor Swift. That's the ultimate goal. We will see how I go getting there, but you can bet your bottom dollar I'll be working my butt off trying ;)
Who are your favourite Australian women in music?
I think Sia is a pretty incredible Australian woman in the industry. She has worked for years and years as an artist and songwriter, working behind the scenes writing for big acts like Beyoncé, Rihanna, etc, and finally making her break as an internationally renowned artist in her own right. I admire her strength and determination, her passion and her talent. Her songwriting is incredible, and the way she stands up against society and the media's expectations of beauty and what a female artist should be, is inspiring.
Who is your favourite non-musical artist?
I have two favourites, as it is too hard for me to pick between Tatiana Maslany (the lead actress from Orphan Black) and Emma Watson. Both are brilliant actresses. I love Tatiana Maslany because she is probably the most talented actress I have ever seen - and as an actress, avid movie lover and TV series binger myself, I do not take that statement lightly. In Orphan Black, she plays so many different characters, which all have such different personalities and accents, and there are scenes where it's just all of her characters in the one room talking to each other at once. That blows my mind - the amount of work that would go into scenes like that, and perfecting each character so well is unbelievable. She also can speak a few different languages, and that is something I find fascinating. I've always wanted to learn another language but I just don't think I have the knack for it. She has also worked so hard as an actress since high school; working, travelling and studying all at the same time. I am a sucker for hardworking artists who achieve their dreams. Then, of course, there is Emma Watson. What an inspiring young woman. I love her activism, her beauty (from the inside-out), her intelligence, and how she always holds herself with poise and grace. She stands up for what she believes in, which as you can probably tell by this point, is a quality I highly value. I think she is a fantastic role model for women and men alike. Plus, she is about to star as Belle, one of my all time favourite Disney princesses, so there's that too.
What is your favourite place in Australia?
I haven't really had the chance to travel much around Australia, though that is definitely on the bucket list, and potentially an option in my very near future, as I am hoping to go on a small Australian tour soon. I think Australia is such a beautiful and diverse country - I am very lucky to live here. With my lack of knowledge, Sydney is probably my favourite place in Australia. I've always loved going on trips with family and friends right into Darling Harbour and Circular Quay, seeing the iconic Harbour Bridge and the Opera House, heading to Sydney Aquarium, or the IMAX theatre, and just enjoying my time with those I love. I love heading to Bondi too, which is where Reily and I hang out a lot. It reminds me of LA a little. Sydney is home to many happy memories of mine.
What's next for me is another single release from the upcoming EP before it's full release. Keep an ear out!! Then I'll be finishing off my full length album, and hopefully doing some shows here and there for all my original content. I can't wait!
Follow Emalia's music and news at www.emaliamusic.com