So I played some of these songs for a captive audience of 2nd graders. I called them over in little groups and made my eyes very wide and serious as told them that they were going to be part of a conceptual art project. And although they had probably never heard that phrase before, the responded in kind. I played the songs off my iPod and told them to draw about the music, whatever it made them think of. I was surprised at who ended up taking it very seriously and which ones were bored and confused. Some good quotes: “It sounds like a rocket ship taking off!” .. “Can you play some real music now? Some Michael Jackson?” and “Is this a man or a woman? It sounds like a man-woman!” to which Antoine replied “I seen a man-woman once! It was doing a funny dance.”
So I just looked at my site for the first time in a few months and realized that I haven’t updated it for about a year, and at this point the flyer for 2012 May shows might confuse/excite/ultimately disappoint a few folks. I do like writing. I guess it’s just that for the past two years I have done so many interviews, reviews, photo shoots, live sessions and other assorted content that I didn’t feel the need or want to add to it. Also, I needed to detach my brain and take a little internet hiatus. But all of that’s pretty much dissipated and digested and I’m feeling ready to share again. A recent trip to Olympia seemed like a good place to start.
For those of you who aren’t familiar, Olympia, Washington is a little rainy city of about 50k people in between Portland and Seattle. It’s also the home of the experimental Evergreen College and the birthplace of 2 extremely important and seminal independent record labels: K Records and Kill Rock Stars. The DIY ethos here inspired Bikini Kill, Beat Happening, Sleater Kinney, Karp, and the list goes on. So while Seattle is credited as ground zero for grunge, history will tell you that Kurt Cobain found his first punk community in Oly. (Don’t believe me? Let Kathleen Hanna tell you.)
EMA played our first ever show in Olympia on January 28th, 2011, in a combination used clothing/record store. The stage and audience area was smaller than my living room. The opening band was called Caspian Moon and they started the evening with a man standing in front of the crowd attempting to jerk off in his pants while the audience alternated between booing him and cheering him on. I think his ultimate goal was to see if he could finish the job (and for those of you curious: he didn’t.) They then launched into a crazy noise set with his tiny blonde bandmate screaming into a microphone before bringing out a HUGE axe which she swung wildly at a splintering hunk of wood. The space was small. People were terrified. The danger felt REAL.
That set was obviously, unforgettable. We’ve played probably 200 or more shows since then and no other act sticks out in my mind quite in the same way as that one.
So we got into town and took a drink from the legendary well, which is basically just a pipe in a parking lot spewing out some of the best tasting water you will ever drink. (OLYMPIA: IT’S THE WATER!) They only tell you later about the legend that says if you drink directly from the well — not filling up a vessel– that you are destined to die in Olympia. (This town has a lot of legends, but more on that later.)
We then met up with Arrington De Dionyso from Malaikat Dan Singa who was kind enough to give us a quick tour of Dub Narcotic Studios. Damn. I had been wanting to check this place out for a long time. I still can’t find a complete list of the records done here, but it’s a fair portion of the K Records catalog (Mirah, The Microphones, The Blow) and even Beck’s “One Foot In The Grave” which is one of my favorite records ever.
Calvin Johnson and Arrington. This photo is just asking for some funny cartoon speech/thought bubbles…
And while we were there the man himself showed up, Calvin Johnson, and told us some of the backstories of their crazy old equipment. What a sweetheart! The great things this man has done in his lifetime are too numerous to list: he has been a producer, instigator, community builder and musical innovator for over 30 years and counting. For anyone interested in finding out more about this truly inspiring music scene and history, I recommend reading Love Rock Revolution: K Records and the Rise of Independent Music. Just finished it a while back and it put recording at Dub Narcotic on my list of things I hope to do before I die.
Courtesy of K. Love my zombie bandmates! Click the pic to see Calvin’s post about our visit.
So let’s get back to the show. As you may have guessed from my previous Olympia story, I was pretty excited to see the opening band, Mother Ruckus, and whatever insanity they might provide. They did not disappoint. Paint, poetry, nudity, nymph wrestling, and a shirtless stag bassist. Wow. This video does it justice better than words. YOU SHOULD WATCH THIS.
We played next, and the set was everything good and bad one can expect from playing in a small all-ages art space. The crowd was fucking amazing! But the sound was a little problematic. So I don’t really have any video of our set that seems good to post. We played a lot of new stuff, and I’d rather have people’s first encounter with the new material be an experience where I feel good about the mix.
BUT how about this lil gem? My old band GOWNS playing at a house show in Oly in 2006. I’m still playing the same guitar. My Tshirt reads “MY OVARIES ARE A BREEDING GROUND FOR TERRORISM”. Gowns Classic: featuring Ezra Buchla on vocals and Corey Fogel on drums.
Headlining the night was Arrington De Dionyso’s new band “Malaikat Dan Singa“. And it fucking ruled. I’ve been a fan of his music since Old Time Relijun and this new stuff feels just as good if not better. How is that possible? How can one person keep writing things this freaky and weird and groovy and freeing and still keep it feeling fresh?
Also, even though I couldn’t get a good shot of the band, I just had to videotape some of the crowd. You see these people? They are DANCING. They are moving and jumping and laughing and flailing! And perhaps most remarkably, because the Northern is an all ages venue, all these people are presumably sober.
And this is part of the reason I love coming here. I love seeing the true freaks and the new bands and the whole crowds “dance like nobody’s watching.” I feel blessed because it’s actually really hard for a booking agent to get you a show like this in Olympia. This place is built on community and word of mouth. Kids don’t go to the club shows, they come to the parties. The night felt wild and rejuvenating.
(If you’d like a little taste of this wildness, Arrington is bringing the ecstacy on a 2 month cross country tour. You can find dates here. Also, I first thought this spontaneous dance party could not be repeated outside of hometown Olympia until I just saw Malaikat Dan Singa play in a fukkin ORGANIC PRODUCE MARKET in PDX and the crowd was still goin nuts. GO SEE THIS MAN PLAY.)
some of Arrington’s amazing visual art.
And although it seemed like the day couldn’t get any better, after that we headed over to the black magic bar owned by the goth dentist. Yes another Olympia legend! Word is there is a Satanist dentist in town that buys rental houses for cheap and paints them all black. Some say if you looked at all of them on a map that they form a pentagram. Others say that he just does it to drive the property values down 😉 But besides his spookout rental empire he also owns a really fukkin badass bar called CRYPTATROPA where they serve absynthe, have a free jukebox that plays all forms of “dark” music, and you can drink with friends around a huge bronze statue of a cloven-hooved winged devil god. Maybe this sounds a tad cheesy but I can assure you that it’s actually done with surprisingly good taste.
Tales from the Crypt.
Yes I do luv me a good absynthe drunk. Feels so lucid. I conversed for a moment with some younger ladies striving to bring their art and writing to a new professional level which is all good and fine but for a second I wanted to shake them and say “Don’t you see what you have here? You have more freedom here and now than you ever will with the world’s eyes upon you!” And the Pan God laughed and we ended up at a diner at 2am deciding the key to happiness was a true fascination with something, anything. And I agreed it to be so, yes, and recalled that the Yogis call it “engagement”.
PS — Shoutout to Ben Kamen who let us crash at his house with his lovely wife and naughty cat. Ben teaches Electronic Music at Evergreen and has a sweet iPad app called Chordion.
UPCOMING: I’m headed to LA in hopes of continuing the magic. We’ll be playing another small gallery show at the amazing Human Resources on April 11th with the performance artist Dawn Kasper (DK), Bouquet and Roses. And maybe a comedian? April 11th, 7-10 PM, 5$.
Then on 4.20 I will be on a panel as part ofEMP-LA. Like Ted Talks for music and pop culture? It’s at RedCat and it’s called “Destroy More Monsters.” Moderated by Nikki Darling and we’ll be looking at the intersection of art and music and and and lots of stuff. 11am so I will make my best attempt at what others call “morning”. This whole event looks really killer. Check in on the FB eventand this one to keep updated and come listen to me talk about what makes me feel alive with some other rad ladies.
That’s April 20th, 11am at RedCat. You may have to register so check into that…
Wow. Do you realize that “Past Life Martyred Saints” came out less than a year ago? It’s been one crazy, long, beautiful year.
I just stopped writing for like 5 minutes trying to think about what to say. I’ll just be quick.
This is probably our last tour on this record. One last time in Europe, one last time in London and the UK. We’ve got some new songs added to the live show, but this tour is quite possibly the last time that we will perform this album in its entirety. After this I’m taking a break to work on new material. Full dates and venues are at the bottom of this post.
I had a dream right before Coachella that I was back in high school and about to fail a test. A test about green onions. (Science? English? I have no clue!) This is a recurring dream I have where I am flunking out of high school, but this time in the back of my mind i was like, BUT HOW AM I GONNA PASS HIGH SCHOOL WHEN I’M SUPPOSED TO GO PLAY COACHELLA?!? Priorities.
How rad to get to play “CALIFORNIA” with those awesome palm trees in the background!
To answer your quick Qs: yes, I did see the hologram. No. I did not smoke weed with Snoop Dogg. And yes I have lots of new thoughts on spectacle, Jumbotrons and how venue affects performance. But let’s jump from dusty outdoor tent to shiny bright museum, shall we?
After that we rolled to NYC to play the Culture Shock festival at SUNY Purchase. In my mind I had made a subliminal wish to get to go see the Whitney Bienniale, but it seemed impossible. Besides a general interest in checking out some of the best and brightest young things in contemporary art, my old LA friend Dawn Kasper was part of the show, having moved her entire studio into a space on the third floor. But we did not have the time or the money to get there. At the last minute the SUNY show came through and it was like some magical thinking shit.
Dawn Kasper straight on
I surprised Dawn in her studio and afterwards we all went out for dinner and drinks. It seemed like a dream come true. When she asked us to come back and play that Friday, it was just above and beyond.
We were playing at the Whitney but it felt like a punk show. We were on the floor and we were loud. It felt like at any second someone could come by and shut us down. I told the audience to come in close and thrashed around amongst them; standing on a chair, bouncing on the bed, grabbing a fistfull of thumbtacks and squeezing them in my hands and across my chest. During that whole time I felt incredibly happy.
us playing, Dawn filming.
NYC also gave us some time to practice with our latest pinch-hitter, the awesome Sarah Register who usually plays in Talk Normal (and also mastered Past Life Martyred Saints!) I feel real lucky that it worked out to have her on board as she is awesome. Talk Normal have a new record coming out in the fall on Joyful Noise. Keep an ear out! Sarah will be with us in Europe. Bring earplugs.
Here is an awesome mix tape Sarah and I made.
CYPRESS HILL – HITS FROM THE BONG
JOHN FRUSCIANTE – YOUR PUSSY IS GLUED TO A BUILDING ON FIRE
JULIE RUIN – I WANNA KNOW WHAT LOVE IS
SHELLAC – PRAYER TO GOD
CONCRETE BLONDE – JOEY
KRISTIN OPPENHEIM – SAIL ON SAILOR
SKATT BROS – WALK THE NIGHT
ELVIS COSTELLO – GREENSHIRT DEMO
GOWNS – WHAT IF NOT YOU
SPLIT ENZ – I GOT YOU
ZOUNDS – CAN’T CHEAT KARMA
PJ HARVEY – GOODNIGHT
ENTRANCE – PRAYER OF DEATH
EMA SPRING 2012 TOUR DATES:
05/09 LEEDS @ Brudenell Social Club
05/10 NOTTINGHAM @ Bodega Social Club
05/11 MANCHESTER @ Night & Day Cafe
05/12 BRIGHTON @ Great Escape Festival
05/15 LONDON @ Scala
05/16 PARIS @ Olympia w. Garbage
05/18 PARIS @ Flèche D’Or
As I said, this will probably be the last round of dates that we do for this record. This has been an incredible journey and my life has changed dramatically from a year ago today! I want to thank everyone who was a part of it.
EMA is about to head out on what is quite possibly the last Past Life Martyred Saints Tour in the US. Never say never, but this could be the last time we go out headlining shows focussing on this material. (At least in the US, Euro keep an eye out!) I’m feeling good about it. We’ve added a new kickass drummer and switched sister Nikki to guitar. I feel like we have grown so much in this past year it’s insane. We are also bringing the awesome Nu Sensae along as support. I’m really excited to share the stage with them and I think that it will make for some really fun shows. These kids keep it real.
Here are our tour dates. Make us feel good and get a ticket now.
03/01 – San Francisco @ Rickshaw Stop
03/02 – Los Angeles, CA @ Natural History Museum
03/03 – Tuscon, AZ @ The Plush Room*
03/06 – Denver, CO @ Hi-Dive
03/08 – Minneapolis, MN @ 7th Street Entry
03/09 – Madison, WI @ The Frequency
03/10 – Chicago, IL @ Lincoln Hall
03/11 – Cleveland, OH @ Beachland Tavern
03/13 – Toronto, ON @ The Garrison
03/14 – Montreal, QC @ Il Motore
03/15 – Boston, MA @ Brighton Music Hall
03/16 – Brooklyn, NY @ Music Hall of Williamsburg
03/17 – Washington, DC @ U Street Music Hall
03/18 – Greensboro, NC @ Guilford College
03/20 – St Louis, MO @ The Luminary Center for the Arts
03/21 – Kansas City, MO @ The Riot Room
03/24 – Boise, ID @ Tree Fort Music Fest
Nu Sensae are on for Denver thru DC. Also, I’m sorry if we’re not making it to your part of the country on this one. I can only be on the road for so long before I start to feel like Henry Rollins in Get In The Van. But I know what it’s like growing up and having to drive 6 hours to get to a show. Makes it more fun, right? 😉
PS we are also doing COACHELLA and BONNAROO. Super honored to be on these. More details soon!
Ok new song and video up just in time for Valentine’s Day! This one is especially important to me. The video footage was actually shot when I was a teenager, and the proceeds of this song are going to be donated to a foundation that works to combat bullying in schools. To purchase the song and show your support, CLICK HERE.
EMA – TAKEONETWO
This footage comes from a South Dakota trailer park in the mid-90s, and features a small group of freaks and misfits who seem to be having the time of their lives. Dressing up, hanging out, making up funny skits, and lots of laughing. When I look back now at our fresh young faces (yes that is me with the short dark hair and cat-eye liner), I’m amazed at how simply happy we all look. This is especially remarkable as I know what was going on outside those plywood walls: getting called names, shoved into lockers, and threatening to get our asses kicked for being queer or punk or just plain weird. But despite all that, there is a joy, strength and self-acceptance in our faces that I find inspiring and wanted to pass on.
I’m offering the proceeds of this song to an anti-bullying non-profit called The Jamie Isaacs Foundation. The organization was started by Jamie, a 15-yr-old girl in Long Island who was a victim of bullying for years before switching schools. It works to bring youth advocates into schools and pass anti-bullying legislation, as well as empathic education of students and faculty. To learn more, visit her site or check out this video.
When I first put together this video I sent it out to the people involved to get their take on it before it was released. My friends thought it was “adorable” but I didn’t hear back from the sweet boy in the turquoise teddy. I worried that it was too much, too revealing, and he wouldn’t want that footage put out into the world. Finally, I got a message back:
That was the most beautifully done video I have ever seen I love it I love it I love it! I could not stop bawling I don’t think I’ve ever felt so secure as when we were all hanging out in the trailer bedroom.
Erika. Lacy. We all 3 of us went thru some pretty tough shit. But we made it through. Lets use what we learned and give it to somebody else that needs it.
I couldn’t have said it better myself. This one’s for all the weirdos out there: cherish your friends, fuck the haters and let your freak flag fly.
EMA is coming to Australia and New Zealand as part of the awesome St Jerome’s Laneway Festival. The lineup is fucking insane (Austra, Cults, Chairlift, Fiest, Horrors, M83, Twin Shadow, GIRLS etc, etc, etc). I think it will probably be at least as exciting as this thrilling scene from one of my favorite childhood movies The Man From Snowy River (AU). Wild horses! Cute cowboys! Dramatic and dangerous equestrian stunts! I’m sure we can find all that and more at this festival, don’t you think?
01/28/2012 AU Brisbane St. Jerome’s Laneway Festival
01/30/2012 NZ Auckland St. Jerome’s Laneway Festival
02/03/2012 AU Melbourne East Brunswick Club w/ Yuck
02/04/2012 AU Melbourne The Tote
02/04/2012 AU Melbourne St. Jerome’s Laneway Festival
02/05/2012 AU Sydney St. Jerome’s Laneway Festival
02/09/2012 AU Sydney Oxford Arts Factory w/ Yuck
02/10/2012 AU Adelaide St. Jerome’s Laneway Festival
02/11/2012 AU Perth St. Jerome’s Laneway Festival
We are also doing some sideshows with the kool kool YUCK and playing a headlining show in Melbourne.
Just to get us both pumped, here are a few more of my favorite things from “Down Under”:
Once Were Warriors (book and film)
Super creepy great song by Split Enz…“I don’t know why sometimes I get frightened…”
Picnic At Hanging Rock
Micro-tonal instrument builder and composer Kraig Grady. I used to perform with his Shadow Theatre of Anaphoria back when he lived in LA. He now lives in Australia. His music and performances are some of the most beautiful and hypnotic things I have ever seen. If you get a chance to experience it, you must go!!!
Heavenly Creatures – Kate Winslet’s first movie about 2 girls who commit murder. Loved this when I was a teenager…
Performance artist/noise musician Justice Yeldham-warning it ends in blood.
What am I missing? What AU/NZ books do I need to be reading? Which Flying Nun bands should make up my plane-ride playlist? Do I really need to read and download “The Thorn Birds”???
Humbled and happy by the year end luv for this track. I wanted to share with you a kind of funny and definitively fucked-up live version from our show in Athens, Greece. I am kind of embarrassed by my braying swear yells of protest when things initially go awry, but I feel like as soon as we start to embrace the chaos, that’s when the magic happens.
Oh my! There are so many things I want to tell you! About “Angelo” and Ms. Gorjis and the Black Cowboy Parade and the 17-sided die. About CSS and MEN and the luvfest of that tour. About why I cut off my hair. About accidental power crystals.
Can you wait? Just one second? We are 2/3 through a 3 month tour and I’m a little sleepy. I am so yawn, can I tell you in the morning???
FALL/WINTER 2011 Tour Dates:
11/07/2011 FR Paris – Olympia
11/08/2011 FR Rennes – UBU
11/09/2011 FR Tourcoing – Grande Mix
11/10/2011 FR Strasbourg – La Laiterie
Hey all! EMA is headed out on a fall US tour with some rad bands. We are playing earlier on these shows, but if you’re interested you should come check ’em out as they are the last US dates of this year. Special attention to the SF show at the Independent, where we are headlining and Alexis Blair Penney (featured above in the Marked video) is opening. Buy tix here.
Also, we are headlining a show during CMJ at the Bowery Ballroom. If you wanna see us play long and late, this is the show for you! Tix here.
Otherwise we will see you in these fine cities:
10/07 – Seattle, WA @ Neptune *
10/08 – Vancouver, BC @ Biltmore Cabaret *
10/09 – PDX, OR @ Doug Fir *
10/11 – Santa Cruz, CA @ Rio Theatre *
10/12 – San Francisco, CA @ The Independent – headlining
10/13 – Los Angeles, CA @ Echoplex *
10/14 – San Diego. CA @ Casbah
10/15 – Phoenix, AZ @ The Crescent Ballroom $
10/20 – NYC @ The Bowery Ballroom – headlining
10/21 – Philadelphia, PA @ Union Transfer #
10/22 – New York, NY @ Webster Hall #
10/23 – Boston, MA @ Paraide Lounge #
10/24 – Washington, DC @ 9:30 Club #
10/26 – Athens, GA @ 40 Watt Club #
10/28 – Dallas, TX @ House of Blues #
10/29 – Houston, TX @ House of Blues #
10/30 – Austn, TX @ La Zona Rosa #
* = w/ Wild Beasts
$ = w/ Washed Out
# = w/ CSS and MEN
Just got back from Europe! Whew! Germany Switzerland UK Belgium Netherlands, all fucking amazing, and of course, Vienna, where we got to record this sweet version of “Butterfly Knife” for FM4. (Lots of other kickass live sessions in the works too, including a version of Anteroom recorded in a Parisienne crypt!) So we walked into this radio studio in Vienna and there are like 3 Bosendorfer grand pianos, (all sweetly and stubbornly tuned to 444) so I thought, Hey! I’ve always wanted to do a piano version of “Butterfly Knife”. And so we did.
In any case, I’d like to take this opportunity to define “we”. This is my band! And here are the people you will see onstage when you see EMA:
Nicole Anderson aka NKA aka “Aunt Dracula”. My li’l sis hitting the skins. She is shy but funny, refuses facebook and photoshoots and really does not want to provide her dorky older sister with any pictures or info to put on her website.
Nicky Mao : black-clad New Yorker, an only child thrown in to a family of pink-faced gee-golly Midwesterners. Playing tough and mysterious second guitar. She is also a very good sport. Check out her kick-ass solo dreampop : Hiro Kone.