Emma G is everywhere. She’s always up to something creative and empowering: releasing a new single every six weeks, running a conversation series encompassing relevant issues and coaching young people on how to use music to express themselves, just to name a few. She’s also the founder, director and managing member of local artist incubator and collective Capitol Groove Collective. Although quarantine has given her time to reframe her ideas and work while helping others do the same, she’s shown no signs of stopping. Rather, she’s readjusting to her new circumstances. We spoke to the musician and total creative about her life and work.
District Fray: When did you know you wanted a life that revolved around music?
Emma G: I was 4. They say whatever your passion is when you are 5 years old, apparently that’s meant to be your life calling. I was born with a health condition called hydrocephalus. I’ve had 10 brain surgeries in my life. My first brain surgery was at 4 months old, so I was always a super weird chick. Music has always been that thing to help me stay sane, connected with myself and connected with other people who looked at me like, “You’re a weirdo. We don’t know how to deal with you as a weirdo.”
Your music has been described as goddess rock. What does that mean to you?
I’ve always been super nonconformist. I was in a pop rock band for five years. We struggled with being too pop for the rock stations [and] too rock for the pop stations. Now that I’m [in D.C.], and my sound has diversified even more, it just made sense to me. I’m a true believer that [in] every human being, there’s an inner goddess and an inner god. We are perfect in their image. I’m all about self-empowerment. I’m all about love. I’m all about equality. That’s where the goddess comes in.
Can you tell me some more about the #RealTalk series you’ve been working on, and how music and having these conversations go hand in hand?
[As] a musician, it’s not about being an expert in these things. It’s about being somebody who wants to change lives. I want to help people love themselves and learn to stand in their own inner freak and be totally down with that. When the pandemic hit, I recognized this was almost the universe saying, “Hey world, you’ve been hustling in all the wrong ways for so long. Can we just all take a breather and remember what our core values are?”
What inspired your #RealTalk series?
I am affiliated with The Author Incubator, and one of their authors, J.J. Kelly, is a psychologist who offered some free sessions via Zoom. I called in and was like, “You know what? F–k it. Let’s just livestream this entire session, so people can see the really positive Emma G and what her struggle points are.” Because now more than ever, we need to allow ourselves to feel, to exist, to breathe, to just lean into our truth. It got such great feedback and so I thought, “Okay, I’ll keep this going.” I’ve had great conversations with the Capital Groove Collective, [which] I founded back in 2018. I’ve had talks with Billy Alsbrooks, who’s a motivational speaker I’ve been following for years. I’ve spoken to New Zealand politicians, rappers, philosophers, authors and just a huge range of people who are epic, empowering and beautiful. I want people to be able to listen to these stories and be like, “Okay, even though we’re all struggling, there are some positive things that can come out of this. There are some things we can do to feed our souls, minds [and] bodies, and thrive in this chaotic space.”
You’ve been releasing new singles and music videos pretty frequently, even during quarantine. Tell me about the music you’re working on right now.
One of the greatest ways for me to self-therapize since day [one] has been through songwriting. Throughout brain surgeries, various sexual assaults from the age of 5, just being a woman – and a brown woman – being [in] love [and] heartbroken, it has been the thing that’s helped me stay grounded and look inside myself. This period has been a really great opportunity for me to just sit, pause and let the creative energies flow. Back in December, I set a goal for 2020 to release a new single every six weeks. Since the kickoff, it’s been go, go, go. Now is the time you can either step up and be a champion or you can give up and just follow the herd, and that’s never been me. As my partner says, “Champions make adjustments, not excuses.”
Your biggest accomplishment to date? My ability to make a full-time income from music for the last five years. Favorite venue to play? There are so many. I couldn’t pick one. I dream of performing one day at The Anthem. But I think my top would be Jammin Java, Pie Shop and Pearl Street Warehouse. Songbyrd [Record Cafe and Music House] is also amazing. If you were trapped on a desert island with only one artist’s discography, whose would it be? P!nk. Any preshow rituals? When I’m playing solo, I generally take some time out to just meditate and get myself in my zone of genius. When I’m with my band or percussionist, we always do something called a “hongi” – a New Zealand // Māori practice where you touch foreheads and noses [and] share a breath of life together. It helps us to not only center ourselves, but also really connect with each other to make sure we are like, “We’re in this together.” What’s a song you’d love to cover? I’d really like to start a mission of D.C. artists covering each other’s music. That’d be cool. But in terms of covers that I really want to do solo, I’m really digging Bishop Briggs. I’d love to do a Bishop Briggs cover. Favorite drink and where you like to get it? I don’t drink that much in terms of alcohol. But if I do drink, a Fijian Kiss. It is a pint of Guinness or porter with a shot of Chambord. My favorite place to drink it would be Pearl Street Warehouse, because their staff is wonderful, the view is beautiful and they know how to make my favorite. Favorite thing about yourself? On an emotional level, I love my compassion for people – my ability to help people become better versions of themselves and love themselves more. On a physical level, I give the best hugs. I’ll be honest, I am the hug dealer of D.C. On a fitness level, I’m really proud of the way my body looks and the way I function. On a spiritual level, I love that I’m a lot more balanced these days than I was before quarantine happened.
For more on Emma G’s work and music – including her Patreon, #RealTalk series, life coaching through songwriting, latest music and videos, and more – visit www.emmagmusic.com. You can keep up with her on Instagram and Twitter @emmagmusic. Learn more about Capitol Groove Collective at www.capitolgroovecollective.com.