Freak folk singer-songwriter EMA today premiered a music video for her new song “Breathalyzer” — off her upcoming album Exile In The Outer Ring. Watch the Alicia Gordon-directed clip, which “adds another ominous layer” to the track.
“The story in ‘Breathalyzer’ is very much an Outer Ring story. It’s about kids getting fucked up in the back of a mid level sedan and driving through suburban landscapes,” says EMA (née Erika M. Anderson). “I especially wanted to present a non-moralizing view of a woman deciding to take drugs. In most media representations, if a woman decides to take a substance she usually loses control and something bad happens. She is punished for her choices. I wanted to acknowledge that possibility of danger, but in the end she is her own judge as she confronts herself in the mirror while tripping heavily. The actors, Michael and Bianca, were in a band together before this called Bruxa so they already had a chemistry together. I think they did a great job, I love just staring at Bianca’s face. The director, Alicia, worked it out so that almost everything was done in-camera with lenses and lighting. At first I was envisioning a more ‘trippy’ video, but now I think it’s cool not to have those sort of instagram-y fx and filters all over everything. It feels more real and less manipulative.”
“To create a visual component for EMA’s indelible song, ‘Breathalyzer,’ it was crucial to establish the vibe,” adds Alicia Gordon. “By utilizing vague human interactions, sexual nuances and subversive body language the rest of the narrative is left to individual viewers’ devices. It was important to me to maintain a fairly high level of in-camera purity with lighting and lenses rather than rely on excessive filters and post production. Thus illustrating one woman’s chosen escape from reality and how it existentially functions beyond her experience.”
“Breathalyzer” is the upcoming record’s second single, following last month’s “Aryan Nation,” a not-so-subtle statement against nationalist and fascist world views. Exile In The Outer Ring will drop on August 25th via City Slang, after which EMA will be heading out on a European tour.
EMA had achieved success with her two previous records: 2011’s Past Life Martyred Saints and 2014’s The Future’s Void, leading her to follow it up with #Horror: Original Score by EMA, a soundtrack to the film of the same name. Despite the abrasive nature of her music, the tight songwriting earned her a late night debut on The Late Show with David Letterman, leading to praise from an even wider audience.
Afterwards, EMA took to a basement in the magical land of Portland, Oregon, to find the perfect portrait of the American underbelly. She describes what she calls The Outer Ring: “A pitch-black world of dark night highways, American flags hung over basement windows, jails and revival meetings and casinos and rage.”
5 months into a particularly destructive Trump presidency that represents a certain Midwestern working-class despair, EMA will hopefully be able to deliver with an album to encapsulate this idea and portray it with the deepening distress it deserves.