Interview: Australia’s next R&B queen Emalia on “Suga Rush”, toxic relationships and mental health

Emalia

Emalia is Australia’s next R&B queen. Think a 2020s Ciara or Ashanti. It’s about time our Aussie music scene crowned a local Alicia Keys and Emalia would easily qualify as a frontrunner.

Over the past year, this Sydney singer has released four incredible R&B-pop singles that take her listeners through a darker journey of lust and empowerment. Her sultry vocals ooze over production that pays homage to the early ’00s hay-day of the genre.

Her latest offering, “Suga Rush”, is a sweeter track in her collection and the first from her upcoming EP to be released later in the year. With a delicious woozy guitar, a glittery backbeat and a perfectly classic echoed clap, this single transports you to hip-grinding low-cut jean dance floor. It’s safe to say this tune of toxic temptation is your next candy crush.

We caught up with Emalia to talk about her new single and check in on her upcoming body of work amidst this COVID climate.

Hey Emalia, how’ve you been? Where are you right now?

Yeah, pretty good. Busy, very busy actually surprisingly. It was a bit dead for awhile and then crazy busy at the moment. I’m at home so I’m near. Do you know Kiama? Down by there.

You’ve been super busy. Congrats on ‘Suga Rush’!

Thank you so much. How do you like it?

I love it! I would be as bold enough to say this one’s my favourite out of your four singles.

Ooh. I would be bold enough to say it’s probably in my favourite as well.

So this one’s about dangerous temptation, hey.

Yeah, absolutely. I wanted it to really embody that feel-good moment that you get when you’re in those relationships that are so up and down that you’ve got these incredible highs but these really, really horrible lows but you keep coming back because the highs are just so addictive. And they just reminded me of food… I have that relationship with food. I feel like I will indulge in the latest chocolate that is put on the market like Caramilk or something even though I know I’m going to feel sick afterwards because it’s just so delicious and that was kind of the analogy that I got for the song. It’s just a bit sexy but fun but sweet and sour.

It’s a strong parallel! What do you normally binge on then if you have to go for a binge?

Oh man, I’m so bad. I have a crazy sweet tooth so this song is very, very close to home but I feel like my go to binge is anything chocolate and particularly Cadbury Milk but I also can do milkshakes. I don’t know why. I have a thing with milkshakes and the ice creamy cream stuff which is so bad for me because I’ve got a lactose intolerance but I just ignore it half the time.

In the past you’ve mentioned that your songwriting is pretty reflective of what you’re feeling in real life. Is ‘Suga Rush’ inspired by true events or is this one more general?

No it’s certainly inspired by true events. I feel like I’ve been in multiple situations, not even just romantic ones. Just like it’s just life. Your relationships with the people around you can have those ups and downs but sometimes you get people in particular that it’s very, very confusing. You keep coming back to because it is like an addiction and it’s not necessarily a good one.

I feel like ‘2am Habit’ was a similar type of… It was inspired by a similar time in my life but ‘Suga Rush’ is a new way of looking at it and the song itself with ‘2am’ is very, very dark and heavy and it’s really sonically focused on that, the darkness of it. I feel like ‘Suga Rush’ is focusing on the other side of it.

 

The light and shade. That’s true, it does also reply to platonic things. I know there’s definitely been friends in the past where I’m like, oh it’s so much fun when we’re together but … And particularly with girls it’s like all I’ve done today is bitch and I hate that about myself. That feels a toxic friendship, when you walk away feeling less like yourself and not for the better.

Yes, yeah but the person is so fun. You might have that friend who’s like, oh every time we go out we just laugh and laugh and laugh but wow she makes me really bitchy or wow I feel negative after it because I’m just constantly talking about people or we’re constantly drinking or maybe she is encouraging bad behaviour so I feel like it’s something you can apply to a lot of different areas of life.

Speaking of ‘2am Habit’, I didn’t realise but all of your video clips linked into one world. Does ‘Suga Rush’ fit into that storyline or is this a whole different world?

No, this is a different world. New era. It’s the first from my debut EP so yeah. It’s a whole new thing.

Oh exciting, and I know that visuals are pretty important to you. Are we going to get a film clip for ‘Suga Rush’ even though I know it’s pretty difficult to create something grandiose in this day and age.

Yeah, we started yesterday! I had a big day yesterday and that’ll be coming out very, very soon. I’m really fricking excited about this one. It was a clear vision that I had so I wrote the treatment and then collaborated on that with an incredible director, Chloe de Brito. She is phenomenal. I love her work so I reached out to her because I really, really love what she does and we collectively worked on this together and she got an amazing team to work with us on it.

It’s very nostalgic and sexy but cool and it’s bringing a whole new Emalia side out but I feel like it’s really exciting to get in touch with my roots and I’m starting to really get to who I am and share part of that and share where I came from, what inspired my music and also, obviously introduce the world of the new EP because I’m all about my worlds.

 

What can you tease about the new EP? What timeline are we looking at?

It should be out by the end of this year where it’s hard with COVID because things have changed around but I’m working hard to make it happen. Expect a few more singles and some awesome fricking kick-ass visuals to go with it.

Hell yeah, will those first three singles be on there or are they kind of standalones?

No, the first three singles are entirely their own. They’re not on the EP, so there’s all new music coming. It’s just, it’s a lot of nostalgia. It’s going to be early 2000s, the stuff that really inspired me. I’m throwing it back to the R&B, Pop artists that inspired me as a little girl but also bringing my new take on it. It’ll be a bit of a commentary on media and the effects that I believe that that has on me as a person and also society itself while also starting to really delve into things that have happened in my life. I’m going to be talking about important issues to me, including mental health.

There’s a single that’s going to be coming up because obviously I myself have struggled with that a lot and I have a lot of loved ones who have so I’m looking forward to that because I feel like it’s something I haven’t touched on heaps in my music. ‘2am’ did a little bit but I try to focus on… I like positive. I like to try and focus on the empowering messages and this is still empowering in that I want people to feel confident enough to talk about their problems. I always have and that’s why I try to be so honest in my music but yeah, entering this kind of phase with the EP, I’m really excited about because it’s just delving a bit further into that.

And I think that’s such an important discussion to have openly with your fan base.

Yeah, it’s hard. It’s very vulnerable and it does feel quite raw and scary to put it out there but I’m doing that because we don’t do it enough. Mental health, it’s very difficult because, obviously not taking away from things like cancers and physical illness because they’re freaking horrible as well, but this is the type of thing that is still … There’s still stigma and taboo around it so people don’t like to talk about how they’re feeling. They get worried about what people are going to say or just get over it or whatever the response may be and I feel like that’s something I’ve struggled with in the past too is hiding it and it doesn’t help anybody so I think if I can talk about it and write music about it and let other people feel like they’re not alone then I’m doing something good hopefully and I want other people to know that they can do the same.

Exactly, and it is such an easy thing to hide so you’re doing your due diligence as a public mouthpiece.

Yeah, yeah, so I’m looking forward to that. But yeah, there’s going to be a whole bunch of things. It’ll be sexy, fun, you’re going to have sad moments and the happy moments.

I can’t wait! Thanks Emalia and congrats again on ‘Suga Rush’!

Check out Emalia‘s new single ‘Suga Rush’ here.

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