Anh Le A.K.A ÊMIA has been featured on MTV Europe, her original song appeared on an award-winning compilation album and she was a finalist songwriter for National YoungArts.
She talks to us about building a career online and carving her own path as an experimental artist.
Building a brand online
How much work goes into maintaining an online presence?
It’s a lot of work. It gets easier the more you do it. I’m used to YouTube because I’ve been posting for so long and I’m comfortable with the platform but I used to hate posting on Instagram and Facebook. I didn’t like posting selfies or anything like that but I realize I loved using it to preview my works in progress.
My pro tip for any artist out there is to analyze the social media presence of the people you really like. What do they do that captivates you?
For me, I adored when my favorite artists would post little sneak peaks and previews of what they’re working on – so that’s what I decided my social media presence would be like.
What are the pros and cons of posting singing videos on YouTube?
I love posting videos on YouTube because there’s less limitations and I always get a chance to do another take.
However, it’s a double-edged sword. It’s easy to get wrapped up in trying to make everything perfect just because you can.
The best part about being an artist on YouTube is being able to connect to people from all over the world without ever having to leave my room.
What equipment do you use to film your videos?
I use a Canon t3i camera with one of the kit lenses (sometimes I use the “nifty fifty” aka the 50mm f/1.8 lens).
What tips would you have for people who don’t have that equipment?
Use whatever equipment you have! Camera phones these days are phenomenal. But really, it’s all about having good, creative ideas. For example, you can have a great camera but if you’re in messy environment or the lighting is bad, it doesn’t matter.
If you think outside the box, you’d be surprised by how much you don’t need! For example, adding Christmas lights or pictures in your background or wearing something snazzy all adds to the composition of the video.
Maybe you live on a farm and you record a cover in front of some horses and cows or something. That’s something I’d watch!
Engage during live performance
The key for a memorable vocal performance?
Be present. I used to be a competitive speech and debater in high school and the one thing I learned that sets a good performance and a great performance is how well the performer is engaged and communicative with the audience.
You might think you’re singing to a crowd but everyone is looking at just you. To the audience this is a one on one experience. I try not to stare at people but I do make a point to make eye contact when someone is really vibing with me.
A performance highlight:
Recently, I had my first show in New York City at Rockwood Music Hall and I used a full electronic set-up in a live setting for the first time.
It was so liberating to design the synths, make the drum loops and map everything out to create the live performance I was hearing in my head.
Favourite vocal gear?
I borrowed my friend’s TC Helicon VoiceLive Touch 2 for one of my shows and I was hooked. I felt like Imogen Heap or Bon Iver when I was using it.
My Blue Dragonfly condenser mic. I love how it sounds with my voice.
Shure 55SH mic, just because it looks like an old fashioned mic and it looks really cool.
What are your thoughts on today’s music industry?
I’m optimistic. I know it’s easy to think that everything is doomed because people stream everything and no one buys albums and whatnot but I think the new music industry and technology gives people like me a fighting chance.
10 years ago, I thought I needed to be on American Idol to be a singer. I thought I needed to be randomly discovered by some hot shot record label. I never thought that the videos I made when I was 12 was exactly what I needed to be doing to make this my career.
ÊMIA is the electronic-pop brainchild of singer/songwriter/YouTuber, Anh Le. With soaring pop melodies, and conversational lyrics, her music has been heavily influenced by artists like Taylor Swift, Halsey and Marian Hill.