Melbourne artist Emma Volard is gearing up to lay down another epic slap of social-soul on her latest rhythmic groove, ‘Femininity’. With her music deeply rooted in seeking justice and storytelling with strong political, environmental and personal undertones, Emma Volard is one-upping herself on her most vulnerable, honest and empowering single to date. Released today, ‘Femininity’ explores gender equality and empowerment in the music industry and beyond, whilst offering women both a shoulder to lean on and a killer soundtrack to revolt to. We had a chat to Emma to dissect the themes of the single, discuss her female role models, and talk about what’s next.
Hey Emma, congratulations on your new single ‘Femininity’! Can you give us an insight into the meaning and making of this track?
To me, ‘Femininity’ is an expression of the omnipotent force of humankind. It’s a reclamation of power, strength and beauty and an f-you to anyone who takes that away from us (female, male and GNC identities). I wrote ‘Femininity’ on a warm spring night in my panel-beaten suburbian abode in Clayton South. I was having one of those reflective evenings…. which in my case is every evening. I’d say my average day consists of 88% daydreaming, 10% eating and 2% sculling a cold grain-filled long black from my half-empty coffee plunger. Anyway, on this particular night I was having an internal rant about the stigmas placed on femmes. Growing up I wasn’t your typical ‘girly girl’ per se, and for that reason I never really felt feminine. I played sports, I had hairy legs, I hardly ever wore make-up- I was a tomboy and I still am in a lot of ways. But, what is it that made these attributes any less lady-like or feminine than people who did the opposite? That’s where the idea started, and then I brought it to my band and friends for some help and pretty much dived into the recording process straight away. It’s a pretty special track to me. It’s a reminder to embrace ourselves, and embrace each other and our differences, to break stereotypes, strive for equal rights and be unashamedly yourself no matter what.
How important are the women role models in your life, and who would you say are some of your biggest inspirations?
I have so much admiration for the women in my life. Each one of them has helped shape me into the person and artist that I am today. My greatest inspiration is my sister, Adelaide, who at 6 months old was diagnosed with developmental delay, severe autism and epilepsy. Despite her circumstances, she always keeps a positive outlook on life. Her strength and resilience is something that I hope to replicate in all that I achieve musically. There’s also my grandma, Jen, who has always been a rule breaker and has played piano her whole life. My earliest memory of music is when she used to perform at her soirees and I’d run around in her front garden at her farm in Kangaroo Ground. In terms of other femmes, I’ve been super inspired by women in the industry who are using their voices to create meaningful change, like Jaguar Jonze, Allysha Joy, Tiana Khasi, ELAURA, Soju Gang and so many more. I think 2020 has yielded a level of accountability that has allowed people to call out injustices, and while the industry will definitely suffer from the blow of covid… I hope that we can recoup and re-establish a more diverse and inclusive landscape within the industry when it all starts up again.
You tracked the vocals of this track with some help from an absolutely killer backing choir, including Jaydean, Allysha Joy, Evelyne and stacks more. How important is the role of friendship, connection and collaboration to your creative practice?
So important! There’s something so special about performing, writing and connecting with others through music. In fact, that’s probably one of the main reasons that I do it. I’m super lucky to have such talented, respectful and socially aware individuals around me who make me comfortable and support me in all of my endeavours…. Even if the album cover requires a nude photoshoot. It almost feels like we’ve known each other our whole lives, we’re like family. Friendships and connectedness make my music what it is and without the beautiful people in my life (especially my band… shoutout to Jake Amy, Jordan Pereira, Hugh Heller and Hary Leggatt) I wouldn’t have been able to achieve what I have through my creative practice.
And how has being in Melbourne isolation changed/altered/strengthened these connections?
If I’m honest for the first few weeks of Isolation 2.0, I really struggled to create music and so these connections kinda dropped off for a while. I’ve always been a really motivated gal. In the past few years, I haven’t had this much time on my hands. I’ve been running from gig to gig, recording an album, finishing university and working as a support worker. It’s been pretty busy. I guess, I’d become habituated to a way of life where any time spare would be used for music and creating. It’s been a little bit of an adjustment period for me but I’ve been super kind to myself because you’re allowed to have down time, you don’t always have to be productive, thinking and processing and deep-listening are all creations in their own rights, not everything you do has to result in a product. In the end you and your happiness have to come first. I have been having many a zoom chat with the band and friends which has definitely fostered my creativity of late. In fact, in some ways, I feel as though this isolation period and the various restrictions upon us have bred a new found level of innovation in the music industry. It’s given us all time to think and reflect on matters that have needed to be dealt with for far too long. So, it aint all that bad really.
What do you miss most about pre-COVID life?
Performing, I feel like I have lost a limb. Also, bar-hopping, having a drink with friends at Carlton Gardens, eating an overpriced brekkie at the local cafe, giving real-life hugs to my pals, seeing family down on the Island and going on crazy adventures with my smoosh (thank goodness I live with him).
And finally, what’s next for Emma Volard – any new material on the horizon? Virtual performances or hot collabs we should be keeping an eye out for?
I’ve got a couple of new things in the pipeline that aren’t quite ready to be announced. I’m hoping to experiment with some new sounds.. I’m super into UK Garage, Broken Beat and Drum & Bass at the moment. I may or may not be recording a live set for the launch of my new single ‘Femininity’. So keep your eyes peeled for that I guess, and remember to be kind to yourself… We’ve got this!