Get To Know Emei [Interview]

Ben Higgins

She first became known for placing third in Chinese Idol at age 15, but rising alt-pop star Emei is an artist to keep your eyes and ears focused on for years to come. With relatable and genuine lyrics, catchy melodies, and a unique and fascinating sound, Emei has quickly taken the world by storm. I got the chance to speak with her about her come-up, her music that’s out, and what lies ahead for the bright talent.

It’s really incredible to go back and watch the videos of you performing on Chinese Idol and see how far you’ve evolved. How do you think it impacted you to be on that large of a stage at such a young age?

It was the reason I started writing music. I always sang. I’ve been singing since I was 9, so when I was very little I always loved to sing and loved to perform. But after that one year of experience on stage performing covers and having people telling me what to wear and what to say and what to sing I realized that I wanted to have my own original twist on artistry. That’s when I started writing. That’s when I realized I didn’t want to just sing other people’s songs, that I wanted to say something of my own.

At the time did you have any vision for the music that you create now and the artist that you wanted to become?

It definitely took some time. I was doing a lot of acoustic singer-songwriter stuff, and I didn’t really know what I was doing honestly thinking back on it. I don’t think current Emei became this type of music until around a year ago. This is all relatively new, this current style of alt pop.

I want to jump into your latest single "Regrets." You obviously center that song around a recollection of your mistakes, but I’m really fascinated by the nonchalant style of your hook, what were you trying to say to your listeners about how they should look back at regrettable decisions they’ve made.

So on the first version of the chorus, instead of “Lying in bed, counting regrets like one two,” it was “Do you regret having regrets like I do.” That didn’t make much sense with the verses, but I think with the original version, it points out that these are all the stupid things that I regret, and most of them are dumb things that I shouldn’t be spending my time regretting, so I was really asking “I have all these regrets, do you also have a million stupid regrets that we shouldn’t be wasting our time doing?” So it’s kind of a reach out. It’s all the things that I think I go through alone tend to be randomly relatable is what I’m finding the more songs I write.

One thing that really stands out to me about your music is the honesty you display in your lyrics. Do you feel that accessing that kind of vulnerability in your songwriting comes naturally to you? Is it something that you had to train?

Both. I feel like I am a pretty straight forward person, so in regards to that it came naturally to me to write those sorts of lyrics and being kind of ridiculous and just saying exactly what’s on my mind, and I think that it really matches my personality. But it took a while, I wrote a lot of songs that felt very fluffy, that felt like I was writing what I think I should say, or saying things in a way that sound grandiose for no reason. I wrote a bunch of songs like before I actually got to a point where I found a lyric style that I liked writing in that felt more like me.

Would you rather lose half of your height or double your age?

I think I’d say half of my height because as you can probably tell from my music most of the things I write about is existential dread, so getting older is scary to me so doubling my age would not be great.  

It was really interesting to take a look through the playlist you created for the inspirations for your song ‘Trust Issues.’ If you were to release a remix of that song with a feature from one artist on that playlist who would it be?

Low key, Katy Perry. I don’t know why that’s screaming to me. I’m a fan of all of these people, but something about how ridiculous Katy Perry is feels like where I want to go. That would be really fun.

You recently performed a show with Lexi Jayde with proceeds going to Planned Parenthood. Congrats on that, it’s really awesome. What did it mean to you to use your talent and platform to benefit reproductive healthcare?

It is so wild to me that I can contribute in any way with my music towards ANYTHING! That was super special to me to be able to raise money for Planned Parenthood, and I don’t want to say the wrong number but I’m pretty sure we raised like 6 or 7 thousand dollars just from a show where I’m singing my silly songs. It’s crazy to me that I can really do something important with the stuff that I love making.

You’ve been on an absolute tear this year, releasing five songs in the last 12 months and you seem to show no sign of slowing down with the teaser tracks on TikTok. What has it been like seeing the success you’ve had come to fruition?

I don’t know how to say it in words. Obviously it's always been my dream to make music and have people listen to it. So I’m super grateful for anyone who listens. Like right now I think I just hit 450,000 monthly listeners, and I can’t even comprehend that number. But what has meant the most out of everything is any DM that I receive from fans saying things like “I listen to this song on my way to work and it makes my day better,” or “I went through this tough period of my life and this song brought me through it.” It’s so magical how music can do that, and I’m so grateful to be able to help in any way.

What are you most excited for coming up?

I have an EP coming out called “End of an Era.” Which is really exciting. It’s a culmination of everything that I’ve been working on and that comes out October 26th! There’s six tracks on it, some are out and some are new which I’m super pumped for. So far, I haven’t had a project that’s cohesive with a storyline and a theme and I spent a long time thinking about the order and what I’m trying to say. Something that’s more intentional than just throwing out singles. “End of an Era” takes you through my past year of “growing pains” in stages: existential dread, impatience, hesitation, regret, frustration, and nostalgia. It’s over dramatic, ridiculous, and reflective of this stage of my life. I tend to write really specific lyrics about specific things in my life and I write them not thinking that people will be like “been there, done that,” but it’s incredible that all of our experiences strangely someone else is going through it at the same time, and I think that music reminds us of that. It’s hard to feel lonely when you realize that everyone feels the same. So yeah, that’s a thing.

Happy Belated 23rd Birthday by the way. I have to ask, you sang in your song “Late To The Party” that you want to have a grammy and a degree by now. You got your degree and while you might not have one yet you’re well on your way to get there. What are your aspirations as an artist? Are there any milestones, features, cosigns, or accolades you have set in sight?

I really want to tour. Thinking more short term, I really want to get on the ground and perform for people who listen to my music. It’s why I do it and performing is my favorite part of all of this. If we’re talking big dreams, I’d love to sell out stadiums one day, that would be really awesome. So that’s my focus, just getting on tour.

Is there anything else you want to say to the readers of Sheesh Media?

I’m performing an LA show on Halloween at School Night at the Bardot! I’m performing with my awesome band and it’s gonna be really great. Thank you all so much for listening!

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