EMA fuses the personal and political on haunting new single Blood and Chalk

Blood and Chalk is EMA at her industrial, overwhelming best.

4 months agoText by


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Erika Michelle Anderson cut her teeth on a bristling, tense fusion of electronic music and more traditional forms of songwriting. Over the course of her career, she’s been associated with drone, hardcore punk, noise rock, freak folk and any number of niche genres you could care to name. No matter what form it takes, the common thread running throughout her music has always been an ability to unsettle and provoke, to challenge her listeners without alienating them completely. Since the beginning of her solo career, she’s fused political lyricism and sonic experimentation with stellar songwriting ability and won over a core of devoted fans who can relate to the feelings of alienation and anger at her music’s heart. Anderson has never shied away from confronting her own demons either and even when addressing issues such as 9/11 her frustrations have been voiced through a deeply personal, intimate lens.

As she gears up for the release of her third album Exile In The Outer Ring, it’s clear she’s set to continue to this fusion with even more evocative results than before. The three tracks she’s released from the project so far, ‘Down and Out’, ‘Breathalyser’ and ‘Aryan Nation’ run the gamut of her sound to date. The first is a gently composed folk track, the second is an ominous industrial inspired tale of self-destruction, and the third sits between the two, recalling the punk sound of earlier tracks like ‘False Flag.’

Today she’s premiering a fourth track on Notion. The final preview of Exile… before its release on City Slang later this month, ‘Blood and Chalk’ is the rawest release from the project so far. Opening with just a piano and Anderson’s voice, the track builds to a series mechanical peaks, growing ever more atmospheric as each chorus approaches. The instrumental shifts under Anderson’s voice, drawn out chords suddenly cut off, stabs of distorted bass and crashes of percussion emphasising the visceral lyrics. The whole thing builds to a howling, almost overwhelming conclusion, evoking trauma and a lack of control as EMA tells the listener “I know the rage that’s in me / But I’m just what you made me.”

Speaking about the track, EMA said “’Blood and Chalk’ was originally written for the #Horror soundtrack. “I wrote the lyrics very quickly, with the idea that it was about the experience of being a 12-year-old girl, kind of right on the cusp between childhood and starting to grow up. But when I played it for Jake (Portrait) he said he thought it was about a police shooting. I was kind of shocked, but it also makes complete sense from that point of view. Makes me wonder if my subconscious mind was working on a different level, creating a double meaning.” Listen to ‘Blood & Chalk’ below.

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