Musical Muse: Wild-Child EMA Dishes On The Coolest Bands You Need To Hear

We've already expressed our love for the raw, crooning, sometimes crazy, yet always infectious guitars of EMA. But we can't help but gush. There's no truer style icon than a girl who plays by her own rules—musical and otherwise—so we had to sit down and pick the brain of this wild-child who hails from Sioux Falls, South Dakota, but has now made her home on the road. Formerly a member of the noise-rock band Gowns, EMA has since gone solo and is just wrapping up a US tour for her debut album, "Past Life Of Martyred Saints." With a wide range of styles including goth, punk, noise, and folk, it's no surprise that this bad girl's style is as diverse as her music. Click through to check out our little chat with EMA to find out what she's listening to, where her favorite NYC venues are, and to admire her amazing Goodwill finds. Make sure to pump up the volume while you flip through!
Photographed by Anna Rose
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Tell us about what's going on with your solo career right now! Any new projects on the horizon?
"Right now there's a crazy amount of touring. This band will have gone to Europe three times this year by the time it's all said and done. That's in addition to driving around the US about two-and-a-half times. The lifestyle on the road is so crazy, I just want to get that down, [so I can be] healthy and sustainable. It's a monumental task."

You were a former member of noise band, Gowns, which is a bit less accessible from your solo work now. Do you ever feel compelled to get all gnarly in your sets now? What are some noise bands that you can recommend for your new fans to get into?
"I almost always still get gnarly in sets. The middle of 'Butterfly Knife' now has an improvised feedback part that is really loud and crazy. And so fun! People should check out Rene Hell and ACRE if they want something that is abstract but not overly harsh."

EMA poses in a t-shirt from Cali Dewitt for Blood Is The New Black, sunglasses from Target, and her own EMA chain and necklace.

Photographed by Anna Rose
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What are your favorite venues to play in NY? What about LA?
"The last time we were in NYC we played at Glasslands. It was awesome, sold-out, packed, and sweaty! Also, full of tons of friends. That was a really special night. Cake shop is also pretty cozy. As far as L.A. goes, I have played at the Smell more than anywhere else in the world. I haven't been there in a bit and I assume the crowd has probably changed a little since I was hanging out there like every night. I also have a special place in my heart for some of these Riverside house shows that were taking place some years back. Always full of total freaks."

EMA wears a crab sweatshirt from the Goodwill Bins in Portland, Oregon, and second hand shorts.

Photographed by Anna Rose
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The song that sounds most like a mission statement on your album is probably "California," which contains a lot of not-so-nice things about the West Coast (more specifically, "Fuck California, you made me boring"). What's your relationship like with California?
"I'm fine with Cali. It's a real boom and bust place, ya know? It's nothing personal. The rest of California does such a good job of personal branding and self-promotion that my little missive shouldn't put too big of a ding in its' self-esteem."

What are some new artists that you've been listening to lately?
"Hiro Kone, Grave Babies, Austra, jj...The new PJ Harvey record is pretty great."

EMA lounges around in a "Really Thinks" tank from a small discount store in Fruitvale, Oakland, tights from HUE, and shoes and blazer from a thrift store.

Photographed by Anna Rose
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There are many different genres of music on your album... folk, noise, pop, even some hip-hop sounding beats. Is there any type of sound you would like to explore further?
"I'm interested in more electronic beats and production, but I'm worried it might come off as inauthentic. I'm a real amateur with all that stuff."

What artist working today would you most like to collaborate with?
"Either Glenn Branca or the people that produced the last Britney record, or Miike Snow."

EMA locks herself up in a poncho from the '80s and her own EMA chain.

Photographed by Anna Rose
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Where do you go to gather inspiration for writing?
"Regular life, which is why I'm a little nervous about writing stuff for this upcoming record. I don't want to write songs about being on the road and reading about myself on the internet."

Who would you say are some of your favorite icons, both musically and style-wise?
"This is a good question. I've been thinking about what I am drawn to lately and I like kind of scruffy androgynous people. Laurie Anderson. Patti Smith always looks good. Neil Young maybe. Leonard Cohen. And definitely CRASS."

Freak out! EMA's pants and shirt are from Mary Meyer.

Photographed by Anna Rose
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What's your favorite thing to wear on stage?
"Shorts and some sort of fucked up T-shirt."

If you could have a theme song, what would it be?
"Hmm...right now I would have to say...'Feel Like Makin Love' by Bad Company."

EMA gets tough with her hair in a shirt from the Goodwill Bins in Portland, and pants from Mary Meyer.

Photographed by Anna Rose