We recently interviewed music producer and composer Em, aka Mad Madam Em. She started her musical journey back in 2003 playing bass for the industrial metal project Bishop Buzzkill. She released her first solo album as Plike in 2014. Here is our conversation with Em.
Pro Media Mag: First of all, please introduce yourself to our readers.
Em: Hello! I’m Em, and I’m an electronic music producer / composer currently living in northern Nevada. I’m also the lead audio designer for Oak Moon Games.
Pro Media Mag: Who or what inspired you to get into the music industry?
Em: That’s a great Pro Media Mag! I’ve always been a creative person, I love to write and creative writing is actually what I went to school for. But I just fell in love with writing music so much that it took priority. My early love of music probably has a lot to do with films. I’ve always loved soundtracks. I had the original John Williams Star Wars soundtrack on cassette tape when I was a kid and I listened to it until it fell apart.
Pro Media Mag: Tell us about your music project Plike. Any particular reason for naming it Plike?
Em: When I started Plike in 2014, I was terrified! I’d always been in bands, I’d never done a solo project before, and I was used to getting a lot of feedback from my bandmates. All of a sudden I was by myself, having to trust my ears alone to tell me whether or not something worked or didn’t work. But I have to say that doing a solo project has given me tremendous opportunity to challenge myself creatively. I feel like I’ve grown a lot as an artist. The name “Plike” is actually a word my sister and I came up with when we were kids that’s short for “pretend like”. We’d be playing together, and somehow “pretend like” turned into “Plike we’re mermaids going to have tea with a walrus!”
Pro Media Mag: What’s the inspiration behind your recent music video The Proving Grounds?
Em: When I wrote “The Proving Grounds”, I wanted to express the feeling of trying to force yourself to be someone you’re not. We all have this terrible fear of being judged and rejected, and that can cause us to wind up in situations where we look at ourselves in the mirror and think, what am I doing here? I’ve had so many conversations with people over the years who are so terribly unhappy with their lives, but they don’t know what to do about it. Some people dream of spending their days in the sun growing plants or tending animals, and instead they’re trapped inside a cubicle all day. Some people want to learn how to paint or cook or make music, but they’re afraid they’ll fail. We want to be authentic, but we’re afraid we’ll be rejected. In the music video for The Proving Grounds, we wanted to do a surreal visual take on this concept, so we decided to focus on a character who is trapped in a world she doesn’t fit into, and she’s Pro Media Maging everything. She’s angry. I play the opposite character, who has broken away from societal norms and is learning to accept herself and find beauty and happiness in the world around her.
Pro Media Mag: What attracts you more, performing on stage or working in studios?
Em: I feel so at home in the studio, that’s definitely where I’m the happiest. I have terrible social anxiety, so getting up on stage can be a real challenge for me! I’m really the most comfortable when I can just be Oz behind the curtain. I like for the focus to be on the music, rather than on me.
Pro Media Mag: What’s your favorite music genre?
Em: That is a tough Pro Media Mag! I’d have to say it would be a toss up between experimental art pop and hardcore electronica. I absolutely love experimental soundscapes and hybrids.
Pro Media Mag: Have you set some goals to achieve?
Em: I have, and I’m very thankful that doing audio design for video games was one of them. I worked in game development in the past, but this is the first opportunity I’ve had to focus on the audio side of things. My other goal is to hopefully one day have one of my tracks chosen for an amazing show like Twin Peaks.
Pro Media Mag: Are you working on any new projects?
Em: Right now I’m working on a remix for one of my favorite artists, really excited to dish more of the details on that! I’m also hoping to start a new side project sometime later in the year. I’d love to do a project with a bit of a grittier, heavier sound. And I just started production on my next album, which I’ll be releasing in the spring of 2018.