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We Talk To Emma Beko About Her Debut Project, Mental Health, And Authenticity

Her nine-track debut project BLUE was released on January 29th.

POSTEDBYMARESE O'HAGAN

You may recognize Emma Beko as one half of the 2010s Montreal duo Heartstreets. Maybe you’ve been jamming to her most streamed single to date, the acclaimed MHS.

But if you aren’t familiar with Emma Beko yet, pay attention. You’re about to be ahead of the game.

Emma made a rousing impact after launching her solo career mid-pandemic. She’s featured in Apple Music’s The A-List: New Artists, Gay Times, and Spotify’s Fresh Finds in the last year alone. A Peruvian-Canadian who grew up in Montreal, it was Emma’s eventual move to New York that inspired her love for rap. Now, Emma’s sound and growing list of accolades have given her a deserved place in the alternative hip-hop scene. 

Emma released her debut full-length project, BLUE, on January 29th. The nine-track effort draws on poignant life experiences, from the throes of adolescence to mental health issues and self-medication. It features collaborations with some of Montreal’s finest- Karelle (Tremblay) lends her tones to Alma, while francophone artist Rymz features on Party. But throughout all this, the essence of the project remains clear- facing the immorality of the world head-on can bring a sense of comfort.

We chat to Emma about her inspirations behind BLUE, her new music video, and her biggest ambitions.

Hi Emma! Great to talk to you! As we can see, you had a very successful year in 2020. How was the experience of launching your solo career mid-pandemic?

It gave me something to work and focus on safely from my home, I really tried to make the most of it. The only downside was that I couldn't perform my songs in front of people and I couldn't celebrate all the wins and the milestones with the people I love, but it was an overall beautiful experience that I'm extremely grateful for.

Your debut solo project BLUE was released on January 29th. What made you want to create a full-length project?

I wanted to introduce myself to the world as a solo artist and the most natural way for me to do that was to spread myself across 9 tracks, I couldn't have done it in less. I'm a complex human so I couldn't summarize it! Also, when I start having a couple of songs stacked, they're all in the similar energy and mindset, since they are created around the same time in my life. So to me, they make sense staying together and going out into the world together as a full-length project.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Emma Beko (@emmabeko)

Your most-streamed single MHS concentrates on the difficulties that can come with uprooting your life. Can you elaborate on what inspired this track?

It does focus on that, but also on escapism through substance abuse and the pains that growing up can bring as you move from childhood into adulthood. My experiences inspired the track, the way I felt as a teenager in a new city, with my own trauma, and how I now reflect on those times. It seems like a whole other life, but at the same time I remember the feelings vividly.

Much of the record is driven by expressions of anxiety and existential dread. Why are these themes important for you?

I like to ponder things; I like to understand them and I like to challenge myself to accept them even when I don't understand them. But it is a big struggle for me and definitely a big inspiration because it's such a big part of who I am. I love to observe the world and the people that make it up, including myself, but sometimes that can be very anxiety inducing and everyday I sort of battle with my mind to try and tame it. Although I know I have to accept not being in control.

Your music video for Ukulele was released on February 2nd. What was the vision behind it?

I was like, I really want to make a music video for it, as for every other song I've ever put out by the way. I had this simple one take idea that looked really cool in my mind and I reached out to my friend Clara L'Heureux Garcia and we made it happen with the help of amazing collaborators. It's simple and complementary to the song, just how I like it! It was extremely cold but a lot of fun to shoot!

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Emma Beko (@emmabeko)

Where can you see your career going next? What are your biggest ambitions?

I’m currently building a virtual concert called "the BLUE experience". I'm trying to really push myself in terms of what I know to be live streamed shows, to try to elevate the medium entirely. I'm very excited about this! People will be able to experience "BLUE" live for the first time, and although it will be virtual I intend to share a memorable and intimate moment with them. In the bigger picture, I want to have fans all around the world, be able to live from my art and always stay one hundred percent authentic through it all. I'd also love to one day collaborate with my favorite artists, that would be sick hahaha!

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Emma Beko (@emmabeko)

 

Listen to Emma Beko’s debut project BLUE here.

Watch the music video for Ukulele here.

You can purchase tickets to The BLUE Experience here.

 

Photography: villedepluie

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