“It Felt Like a Birth”: EMELINE on Her Explosive Debut and Latest Single, “Venting to Strangers”

EMELINE © Andrea Riba
EMELINE © Andrea Riba
Cinderella may be dead, but a new pop princess has emerged from her ashes in the form of Los Angeles-via-Rhode Island singer/songwriter EMELINE!
Stream: “Venting to Strangers” – EMELINE

To be able to physically hug and cry with the fans after shows was really one of the most emotional moments of my life.

Though EMELINE is no stranger to the creative world, this year marked an explosive debut for the multi-hyphenate.

What began in the public eye with a viral demo clip of the single “flowers & sex” in fact started many years ago in Providence, Rhode Island. “I’ve been writing since I was like a five year old kid,” the singer/songwriter admits. “Like since I was a child, every single day, I would try to write a better pop song than the day before. I’d literally wake up and if I couldn’t remember the song, I would be like, God dammit, you need to write a better song, Emeline.”

Venting to Strangers - EMELINE
Venting to Strangers – EMELINE

This dedication to her craft is evident in the art she’s released thus far. With razor-sharp lyricism and the electric stage presence of a legacy act, the success she’s accumulated thus far comes to no one’s surprise. 

The aforementioned track “flowers & sex” was an instant sensation, amassing over 11 million views and earning nods from industry veterans such as Steve Aoki, Yung Gravy, and more.

“Being on TikTok was probably the only reason that I ended up releasing music to begin with,” she admits, “’flowers & sex’ was already four years into the making. I started producing that song when I was 18.”

This momentum was followed by “this is how i learn to say no,” a belt-in-the-car anthem that resonated with survivors of abuse and those learning to set firm boundaries. A dedicated activist, from appearing at the 2017 Women’s March to actively using her platform to champion social justice movements, EMELINE often channels these ideologies in her lyrics, demanding that she be heard and respected with an effortless confidence that permeates screens.

I was nineteen in a white dress
When you told me I’m your princess
So I played right in to your fantasy
Was your good girl, so I’d sit tight
And if I don’t speak, then we can’t fight
Looked in the mirror, now I can’t believe
I forgot I was a bad bitch, tragic
Breaking all the rules ’cause they were only habits
Cinderella’s dead now, casket
You thought the shoe fit but I
(Da-da-da, da-da-da, da-da-da, da-da-da-da)
I forgot I was a bad b*tch
– “cinderella’s dead,” EMELINE

“cinderella’s dead” cemented what was already written in the stars: EMELINE is one of those rare stand-out discoveries that marks a generation.

Luckily for us, her journey has only just begun, and with her success we’ve had the opportunity to watch her unveil her additional talents across many mediums.

From directing her music video “STRUT” to holding her own as a female music producer in an infamously male-dominated field, it’s clear EMELINE will remain a force to be reckoned with. “I think that I’m such an artistic person that I need to delve into different realms of it, in order for it to feed itself,” she explains, “And I also think that if you’re an artist with a vision it is really, really important to follow that in every single aspect.”

EMELINE © Brian Ziff
EMELINE © Brian Ziff

While EMELINE holds the world in her hands, her fans remain the most important aspect to her career.

After wrapping her first official tour this year, EMELINE chronicles the experience as the biggest highlight of her journey thus far. “To be able to physically hug and cry with the fans after shows was really one of the most emotional moments of my life.”

It’s rare to see such excitement for a burgeoning artist, but with every show, people squeezed shoulder to shoulder to witness the birth of an undeniable power. I had the pleasure of witnessing the sensation live at the Moroccan Lounge in Los Angeles, where every square foot was occupied and every eye lay transfixed.

Cinderella may be dead, but a new pop princess has clearly emerged from her ashes. Atwood Magazine sat down with EMELINE to discuss her upcoming music and her journey thus far.

EMELINE © Brian Ziff
EMELINE © Brian Ziff


Venting to Strangers - EMELINE

Atwood Magazine: You’ve had such an explosive year in terms of your music career. What would you say was the highlight of this year?

EMELINE: There were so many highlights, but I think by being able to meet the people that listen to my music and see them as real people and fans– sort of being able to visualize that impact was really emotional, and being able to cry and hug the people who have had similar stories to me. I read it in my DMs all year, but to be able to physically hug and cry with the fans after shows was one of the most emotional moments of my life honestly.

Speaking of which, what was your experience like officially going on tour for the first time? Even when watching you perform, the stage felt like your element, like the place you're most excited to be.

EMELINE: Thank you! Um, it felt like a birth. I have been working on my project and have valued EMELINE and my own pop music so highly in my mind my whole life. I’ve done so many other projects; I grew up doing theater, so I think that it was sort of innately comfortable on stage.

Being able to watch it all happen in real time was like a birth, honestly, and I think that it was just kind of one of those things where I’ve felt like I’ve been training for this my whole life and you know, the opportunities are just now here.

So you do theater as well, and in your career you’ve sort of delved into activism, you directed your music video “STRUT,” etc. Could you describe the experience of being able to saturate yourself across these artistic mediums and explore all of these avenues of yourself?

EMELINE: It’s really fulfilling. I think that I’m such an artistic person that I need to delve into different realms of it, in order for it to feed itself. I also think that if you’re an artist with a vision it is really, really important to follow that in every single aspect. That’s the way to make the strongest brand: Having one brain, or a small group of minds taking over the whole project.

And as someone who’s sort of like the CEO of this project, I like to get really close to everyone that I am working with, and get them to know each other so that it can feel really glued. Obviously, I’m not doing everything totally alone, but I won’t let anything happen without my story and my mind in it.

Can you describe your newest single, “Venting to Strangers” and the meaning behind it?

EMELINE: Yeah, that song is so special to me. And I’m really happy that it is out, I had a few stories that this song was about. As you said, this was my first year actually in the industry with my art. And I had lost a lot of people in my life. Just growing up, I distanced myself from friends and I had a lover pass away in the midst of getting signed, so I was really lonely. But it was also really an exciting time, and I was meeting all of these people who, who didn’t really know me, and then all the people that I did know became strangers. So I felt like every day was venting to these strangers, and it was a very emptying experience. But it was also a freeing experience at the same time. I think a lot of people experienced that, like, going to a bar and venting or talking to someone in an Uber who they’re never going to see again. There’s something really freeing about that. But I think that that song has these two sides to it, of loneliness and freeness. And I think that’s kind of what changes in itself. 

I just was experiencing a lot of growing pains, and beautifully I’ve found that emptiness I was feeling was openness. And I’ve actually been able to step into that freedom and I’ve healed a lot from a lot of those things that I was experiencing earlier this year. I probably wrote about 12 different versions of that song. I think it’s really hard to write about friendship breakups, not romantic breakups. It’s something that’s hard to articulate, but it’s important because most people have experienced it. For me, that type of breakup was harder than any relationship breakup in a different way. Because you don’t really expect your friends to break up with you. Yeah,, I’m happy that a lot of people have been able to feel through it, and heal.

As we’ve mentioned, this was your first year fully saturated in this industry. I know you described your writing process in earlier interviews. Do you think that it’s changed a bit since entering this world? Or could you tell me more about your process for writing in general?

EMELINE: I’ve been writing since I was like a five year old kid. I’ve always loved pop music. Every single day, I would try to write a better pop song than the day before. I’d literally wake up and if I couldn’t remember the song, I would be like, “God dammit, you need to write a better song Emeline.” I’ve always been this much of a writer. I think it’s been cool to experience working with so many new people. I guess I realized that in terms of collaborators, it really all comes down to chemistry.

I pretty much run the ship in terms of my projects, and I think that’s really important in order to keep it all cohesive. When you’re working with so many people, it can get a bit murky if you don’t executive produce it all yourself. So if anything, I’ve learned how to make it more of a well-oiled machine so that the sonics are cohesive. That has led to my process of being a producer, to get more entrenched in the writing process. I’ve always produced but, it’s been really freeing to be more involved and also more respected by the people, especially the men, that I’m working with. There’s not that many female producers; there’s a lot of sexism in that realm of music. It’s been really freeing to be recognized as a producer by the wonderful men that I collaborate with, and the few women that I’ve worked with as well.

That actually answers my next question a bit! I was going to say, since I believe 97% of music producers are male. What was that experience of breaking into producing as an activist and as an artist who has such an empowering focus in her lyrics?

EMELINE: Yeah, I have always wanted to be a producer. I think since I was 12 years old, I had, you know, this clear vision of being a producer. I was told by pretty much every mentor or manager or collaborator that I worked with growing up that that’s just not something that I should even be involved in touching, which was really heartbreaking and just became exhausting. It ended up not being worth diving into something I’m passionate about, because it wasn’t worth the exhaustion of having to explain myself and fight for the fact that I’m talented. So I kind of became, like, this closeted producer. I started working in my bed and poked my head out to people who I could trust, and that led to producing “cinderella’s dead” and all these songs that ended up doing really well. My team is so supportive that now I just feel safe. And I feel like I’m happy I’ve protected that part of myself, because it’s not worth feeling like you have to fight for your own passions, and it happens all the time. I’ll be in sessions to this day where people just assume I don’t know how to do things. And that’s okay. I honestly don’t feel the need to explain.

For me, it’s like a little inside joke. Like, I know that I’m gonna win awards someday, and they’re gonna feel like they fucked up but but at this point, I protect my peace over everything. And if someone makes a weird comment, or has some preconceived idea of what my mind can do, it’s just not worth it for me to include them in my creative process, because I have so many more important things to fight for.

EMELINE © Andrea Riba
EMELINE © Andrea Riba

You've been teasing a lot of new singles and music on social media recently in the past few days. So what can we expect from your upcoming art?

EMELINE: I really love keeping everything super connected to the fans. I think that is the direction that music is going in. And that’s the only reason why my music has ever had success: leaving it in the hands of the fans. I honestly love it because I just make so much music now and my fans get to choose what they want. I think it’s a really cool culture that the music is just about teasing and it’s not so precious. I am such a perfectionist that being on TikTok was probably the only reason that I ended up releasing music to begin with; who knows I could have kept it for three more years trying to protect and perfect the songs.

“flowers and sex” was already four years into the making when I showed it. I started producing that song when I was 18. But you know, it’s basically very freeform. I have projects in the works. I won’t say too much. But I’m super excited to get out more music this year than last and keep that relationship with the fans because they’re really the only ones who have guided me in terms of what the journey of the release plan will be.

Nice. So for the next year, 2023, what's the biggest thing that you want to manifest or to be able to say you accomplished?

EMELINE: I actually just wrote out a list of some of these things! I would love to sell out double the amount of tickets that I did this past year. I would love to tour again, I would love to tour with a stadium act as an opener. Touring with Taylor Swift is a dream of mine because going under an artist’s wing would be a really cool, really, really cool opportunity for me. And then I want to, to delve further into my story and vulnerability. And let the fans get to know me even more. That’s probably my biggest goal for this next year… just to strengthen that relationship with them.

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:: stream/purchase “Venting to Strangers” here ::
Stream: “Venting to Strangers” – EMELINE

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Venting to Strangers - EMELINE

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