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Digital Subscriptions > MusicTech > Jul-16 > Emika


To realise her dream of recording and producing a full symphony, electronic artist Ema Jolly turned to Kickstarter and succeeded in raising €25,000. MusicTech visited Emika at her home studio in Berlin to find out more…

Seeking ownership of her career, Emika has made light of the many hurdles producers face going it alone in the industry. Having signed to Ninja Tune for her first two albums, Emika (2011) and Dva (2013), the Anglo-Czech DJ/producer confronted the pros and cons of being independent head on, resulting in her starting her own label and accepting a job offer working as a sound designer for Native Instruments.

Two albums surfaced on Emika Records in 2015 – the electronic pop beast Drei and Emika’s classical piano opus, Klavírní, which inspired the artist to seek funding for a new Kickstarter project – How To Make A Symphony. Her fans happily filled the pot and Emika set to work recording with the City Of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra. With the album currently at the mixing stage, Emika also found time to release a four-track EP, Flashbacks, earlier this year, with soprano vocalist Michaela Šrumová.

MusicTech: The Flashbacksvideo was filmed entirely on an iPhone. Is that one of the drawbacks of working on a tight budget?

After two albums with Ninja Tune, Emika (left and below) is kick-starting her career with a full orchestra (as well as an upright piano)

Emika: Well, it was a little bit of a business-savvy decision, because I’ve worked with quite a lot different film companies and independent people. If I ask anyone for a video, they’re going to start with a budget of €5,000, so I decided that I would spend €2,000 and go to Iceland on an adventure with my friends. A lot of people told me about Iceland over the years, saying it’s weird, and I’m weird, so I’d have a nice time there. They also told me Iceland looks and feels like being on the moon or another planet, so I thought that would fit the feeling of the track. I’d already shot the video to My Heart Beats Melody on an iPhone in Madeira, so I had a little bit of experience, but it did need loads of post production to make it look cool.

MT: On the track Total, you tried some new techniques, passing voltage and feedback through analogue rhythm processors?

EM: I got a bunch of synths from SchneidersBuero in Berlin, which is a really wicked analogue-synth shop, and I’ve just got a load of gear from Metasonix, which distorts electricity through its valves, so you can just ramp everything up. I’ve worked with digital pitch and cutting and scratching CDs to get all these weird digital sounds, and doing that was really interesting for about five years. Then I started using analogue gear, which is just another level. You have all these massive hot signals going in to create this complete sausage of recordings, and cutting that up is wicked – you hardly need any mastering at the end, because it has this really raw sound. The main pad is actually from the Access Virus that I used to have; I had the level on the synth way too high, so it was distorting.

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