Emika, born in the UK and of Czech heritage, studied classical piano and composition. She waitressed to save up for her first Apple Mac and copy of Logic.
She was living in Bristol as the city transitioned from d&b to dubstep and she went to the first parties organised by Pinch. “I continue to be a part of this culture which has spread worldwide now.”
She now lives in Berlin, where she works as a sound designer for Native Instruments and it is here she discovered the legendary Berghain nightclub in 2010 where she began making field recordings. She made a sample library which all the resident producer/DJs made music from. The resulting compilation of music became the club's label, Ostgut Ton's anniversary release, called 'Fünf'.
All her songs are based on narratives: “I start with an idea, a story, and then I seek to find the sound world that best dramatises my story, making it into a song. I try very hard to stay faithful to my narratives and not fall into the trap of genre conventions which is why I’m shy of genre references.
Emika has worked with Jimmy Edgar, Marcel Dettmann, Tommy Four Seven, Pinch, Nick Hoppner, Paul Frick, Brand Brauer Frick and Amon Tobin.
The musical world of Emika is a dark place, with the type of glitchy, downtempo dubstep sounds that are made for dangerous liaisons in urban settings. The singer/producer, whose real name is Ema Jolly (we can see why she’s chosen the stage name ‘Emika’--somehow Jolly doesn’t quite fit her musical persona), was born and raised in the UK, but has traded the cider apple-laden landscape of Bristol for the legendary nightlife in Berlin. In 2011, she released her self-titled debut album.
“3 Hours” is the first track on the album, a chilling number that has Emika whispering lines like “hit me when you wanna, and I’ll take the blame” and “hit me if you think that it will help the pain” over a crack-the-dominatrix-whip backbeat.
Not to be confused with the song from “Beauty and the Beast,” “Be My Guest” is as far as you can get from the peppy Disney tune that serves as the soundtrack for enchanted dinnerware performing at a table. Instead, Emika’s song incorporates buzzing electronics and a glitchy, bass-heavy beat that gives more of a spooky, aliens-are-taking-over feel.
On “Count Backwards,” Emika’s femmebot-esque vocals mysteriously count out the numbers “68911080,” as if she’s just injected a dose of anaesthesia and is waiting for you to slip away from the present moment and into her ominous world. “Double Edge” is the epitome of post-R&B, with Emika’s soulful vocals contrasted with electronic beats, while instrumental closing track “Credit Theme” displays her classical piano skills. The melody is utterly haunting, slightly theatrical, and a completely suitable way to bring her first musical chapter to an end.