Introducing Emah Fox and her important, empowering new single, You've Got No Right
A strong new voice emerges from the Melbourne electronic community.
It's been a year since we heard from Melbourne-based producer Emah Fox, releasing her debut single with the team at Synth Babe Records, but she is back in full flight with new track You Got No Right. The single is a moody piece of dark, electronic-pop that not only thumps, but has also served Fox as a "joyful and explosive catharsis." We'll let her explain further in the Q&A below, where you'll also find she teaches synth workshops and has a few shows coming up to round out the year.
Tell us about about yourself?
I’m an electronic music producer who loves singing, feminism and synthesizers :) I do a bunch of different things - I make synth pop music but I also play more abstract improv electronica and compose sound for theatre too. I work part time at MESS Ltd (Melbourne Electronic Sound Studio) where I supervise sessions and teach synthesizer workshops mostly to women and non-binary people. And I dabble in things like video and photography and installation work, but my first and biggest love is singing, I’ve been writing songs since I hit puberty and needed an angst outlet, that’s what led me to becoming a producer. I’m also the synth player in Primitive Calculators.
What kinda tunes we talkin’?
Probably always evolving and changing but the music I’m making now is really heavily influenced by early 80s synth pop and new wave, as well as 90s hip hop production. Lots of vocal layers and vintage synth lines, sometimes pretty epic, sometimes short and sweet but generally coming from a place of exploring my experiences as a woman, figuring out my strength and vulnerability as I go. I’m probably most vocally influenced by singers like Kate Bush and Annie Lennox, women who capture this intimate intensity and then suddenly belt out powerful soaring choruses. And they both have a darkness and oddness to them that I relate to.
Sometimes I start with a lyric/melody idea and build around that, at other times I’ll have a beat or an atmos that starts things off. I tend to throw a lot of layers at songs, just improv ideas as they flow without too much deliberation. Everything except my voice is either synths, electronic drums or processed field recordings - and then I try to shape it by paring back to what the song tells me it needs. There’s a lot of killing your darlings in the editing process, sometimes I love an idea but have to sacrifice it because it doesn’t work with the whole. But I try to be open minded about where the song might go until I really hit on a definite - "yep, that’s it".
Can you tell us about your new single, You’ve Got No Right?
Writing this was kind of a joyful and explosive catharsis for me - it’s really angry and it’s also really fun. It’s part of a process of establishing boundaries and rules around myself and really owning that self-respect. I had the seeds of some of the lyrical and melodic ideas really haunting me for a while and then I saw Atomic Blonde and came out of the cinema going: yes, *that* is the sound and the energy I want to conjure up - so I started building the track by jamming a bunch of melodies on vintage synths like Oberheim 8 + Jupiter 6 over some really new wave meets hip hop-inspired 808 beats and some bass lines I’d made with some nasty 8 bit samples and dark pulses. I was definitely wanting to capture some of that early 80s pop urgency when people were really messing around with what synths could do. I definitely felt fierce and fiercely passionate when recording this, especially as it was in the context of all the #metoo stuff coming out. The chorus is really putting people on notice to have respect, that our bodies and our emotional labour is our own sovereign territory and not something to be demanded or claimed by anyone. I want more than anything for a young girl to hear it on the radio and be like yes, "I *own* this town aka I own my*self*, I make my own rules, and I am powerful".
Any shows coming up?
Yes! I Just played the Celebration of Women in Electronic Music showcase at Tago Mago with pals Aphir (who mastered my single!), Shiver Canyon and heaps more last weekend. Then on the 20th of December I’m playing Toff In Town with Freya and Wroclaw for G*rl Gang Wednesdays, and on NYE I’ll be playing synth in my other band Primitive Calculators at The Reverence Hotel with Habits, Lubulwa, Friendships and Freya again.
What’s the rest of the year have in store?
I’ll be playing a bunch of shows, and working on sound for a theatre production. And I’ll be recording vocals for more singles and finishing mixes, and planning video shoots for this summer! Also planning some pretty exciting stuff for next year that I can’t talk about yet!
Where can we hear more of your music?
Follow Emah Fox: FACEBOOK