EMM Walks Us Through Her Music Video Trilogy

Throughout her career, EMM has worked to showcase the power women possess. With her unique sound, hands-on approach to music production, and bold style, EMM has become known as an anti-pop pop star. Over the past few months, the singer has launched a cinematic music video trilogy.

So far, the first two music videos, “ACT 1: ADDERALL” and “ACT 2: VICE,” have been released. A third music video will drop on June 18. Before EMM releases the final act, Showbiz Cheat Sheet caught up with the Los Angeles-based singer over email to discuss the project.

This interview has been edited and condensed.

EMM looks at the camera with red lighting on her face
EMM | Gramophone Media

How EMM became an ‘anti-pop pop star’

Showbiz Cheat Sheet: What inspired you to pursue a career in music?

EMM: I never really considered another option. Music is so deeply ingrained in me. Both of my parents are full-time musicians and I started so young it’s difficult to imagine doing anything else. 

Showbiz Cheat Sheet: You are described as an “anti-pop pop star.” Can you explain where that description comes from?

EMM: I think people call me that for a lot of reasons. I’m not afraid of saying what I really think… I try lots of genres. I’m not afraid of falling out of favor with the music industry if it means I’m doing what’s right for me. I believe that artists should make their own rules and I live by that. I fund everything I do with my own money and I’m not ashamed of that, I’m really proud of it.

I think most pop artists want to be rescued by someone in an office who will make their dreams come true. I think that we can rescue ourselves. I think people are starting to see me as someone who doesn’t depend on the traditional system to make amazing work and that makes a lot of people within that system uncomfortable. But I don’t care… We will be the billionaires of our own music and ideas, not the old guy who owns the record label and has never written a song in his life and looks at artists like commodities. 

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Showbiz Cheat Sheet: Your music speaks especially to women and those who have gone through trauma. What types of messages do you try to convey with your music?

EMM: My music is just a reflection of who I actually am as a human. And I think if women and people who struggle with their mental health connect to it, that makes sense because there is a shared understanding between us. I sing about trauma a lot because writing music is how I heal mine. I try to just write what is true to what I’m actually working through. 

EMM on the trilogy’s first music video, ‘ACT 1: ADDERALL’

Showbiz Cheat Sheet: What was the inspiration behind the “ACT 1: ADDERALL” music video?

EMM: My goal with ACT I is to introduce the fans to the story. I don’t think a lot of them realized that my music video for “Freedom” was the backstory to ACT I. They will put it all together by the end of the trilogy though. I left some Easter eggs and breadcrumbs in ACT I for them to follow. I want to see their personal interpretations and see if they can figure out the inspirations on their own. 

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Showbiz Cheat Sheet: Are there any scenes or moments from the “ACT 1: ADDERALL” music video that you are particularly proud of?

EMM: For the mansion scene, Kevin planned all that lighting months ahead — the silhouettes, the spotlight in the door, the lightning, and the red room. It turned out so amazing and I’m really proud of him for that. I love seeing my team leveling up. It’s really cool to see our visions come to life. I’m also really proud of how the little details of the whole story will connect too… but you’ll have to wait to see what I mean. 

‘ACT 2: VICE’ shows the difficulties of healing

Showbiz Cheat Sheet: Oftentimes, healing is a lifelong process and something that is never truly “done.” Was that the meaning of your character’s journey in the “ACT 2: VICE” music video?

EMM: My favorite scene in the second act is the pink forest scene. When RUBY is bloodied and bruised from the battle and she wants to give up. And it was the same demon from the mansion that she thought she had killed in ACT I that got to her. Our triggers are like that — we think we healed something and then it comes back to haunt us… There’s a lot of moments in the trilogy where she’s weak and broken and tired. It was important to me not to leave that out because I think those are usually the most pivotal moments in our personal healing journeys too. A true hero doesn’t become a hero without a lot of pain. 

Showbiz Cheat Sheet: There are so many special effects and stunts in “ACT 2: VICE.” What was your experience like filming the “ACT 2: VICE” music video?

EMM: Well, for the stunts, in particular, I was terrified and so nauseous… Mostly because I don’t want anyone to be hurt on my sets. The day we shot in the redwoods was my favorite day of shooting because there is such an incredible sense of awe in that forest in particular. And we were there when the park was empty which made it even more special.

Showbiz Cheat Sheet: “ACT 1: ADDERALL” and “ACT 2: VICE” are part of a three-video series. What can fans expect from the last video and the series overall?

EMM: I think they will have to watch the trilogy a few times to find all the hidden clues. They will be deciphering some puzzles. I expect some Reddit threads and I’m really excited to read them. I think they will leave the story feeling like they can conquer anything, no matter how dark.