[INTERVIEW] Emma Hewitt Discusses Her New LP, 'Ghost of the Light', Creative Process, + More
Following her transition from rock to dance music, Australian native Emma Hewitt has developed a purely original sound. This style is heavily present in her brand new LP, Ghost of the Light. The project combines her unique background with an introspective and nostalgic nature that carefully plucks the heartstrings of the listeners.
iEDM got a first-hand look into Hewitt’s artistic process, career outlook, and brilliant perspective on the current state of dance music.
Check out iEDM’s exclusive interview with Emma Hewitt below.
iEDM: You describe your Ghost of the Light LP as “...an ode to the persistence of memory and to the people, places, and moments that make us who we are and stay with us long after they’ve gone. Ghosting us in their watery light; they remain almost close enough to touch, but always just beyond our reach”. Was there a singular event or moment that inspired you to create a work of such poetic nostalgia?
Emma: There was not so much a singular event that inspired the album, it was more of a series of ongoing moments, over a lifetime… Small moments that didn't seem so significant at the time, but when I look back I realize how they shaped and changed me.
People that I have mostly forgotten about until a flash of a memory drops in, maybe something they said or did, or a memory of a time when they were an integral part of my story, even if that person is a stranger to me now.
All of these experiences have added up to shape me as a person now, and I like to revisit them through songs.
iEDM: The album is an intimate experience of love, loss, coming-of-age, and all the emotions that follow. How do you plan to translate this at your upcoming live shows?
Emma: I get to relive these memories and moments through the songs, whenever I perform them. I always try to translate these feelings and emotions into the songs when I am performing live. The remix versions of these songs that I will be performing on tour also bring a whole new level of energy and expression, I cannot wait to share these versions!
I will of course be performing some of my songs from the past as well as a bland of the new music, I want to create a journey of where I have been to where I am now.
iEDM: Ghost of the Light is your first album to launch since 2012. Over the last decade, dance music has grown and changed immensely. How has the constant evolution affected your sound while forging this project?
Emma: For me, the song is always the driving force. I never really focused on anything being a genre or having to fit a mold. So long as the song can be written and played on an acoustic guitar or piano and stand that test, then I know it will work for me. The production styles have changed over the years, but the writing and the essence of the songs has always come from the same place.
With this project, I especially chose to ignore all genres and just organically make the music I was feeling. I really wanted to stay true to producing in the way I felt the songs should sound in my head. I am not really sure what genre this is actually, I just knew this album had to be kind of real and raw.
LOOKING FOR YOUR NEXT RAVE ADVENTURE?
CLICK TO CHECK OUT OUR 2023 FESTIVAL SCHEDULE FEATURING LINEUPS, DATES, AND LOCATIONS FOR EVERY FESTIVAL ACROSS NORTH AMERICA THIS YEAR!
iEDM: Across dance music, there has been a variety of sporadic influences from other genres such as punk rock, rap, and reggae. Have any genres outside of EDM inspired any of your music?
Emma: Absolutely yes! I was inspired a lot by the music of the 80’s and 90’s. Depeche Mode, Garbage, Pearl Jam, Nirvana, Tori Amos, even the 70’s stuff my parents listened to when I was a kid on road trips, like Fleetwood Mac.
I think everything we have ever heard and loved tends to have a musical influence on us in some kind of way, whether we are aware of it or not.
iEDM: There has been a growing movement of talented female artists rising to the top of house, techno, and bass music genres. As a part of this extremely influential group trailblazing a path for women in this industry, have you dealt with any adversity related to your gender?
Emma: I don’t think so, not that I have noticed. I have always just felt like if I put all of my energy and efforts into creating what I love, then that is all that should matter. I have never really felt any kind of gender division personally, I am sure it exists out there, but I guess I have always been too focused on the music side to really pay attention to much of that divisiveness.
I do think it is super awesome that a lot more women are really killing it with their music these days though!
iEDM: Social media is an increasingly effective method for music marketing but can quickly become a double-edged sword. How do you approach your relationship with your fans on social platforms? Do you ever feel trapped by expectations regarding your “marketability”?
Emma: It kind of is a double edged sword in a way, right? It is definitely an awesome tool for musicians to directly reach people and get music and messages out, bypassing all of the traditional label type of red tape.
I am also always grateful to be able to connect with people in this way. It is super incredible to receive messages from people who have resonated with my songs, I love that!
I guess my main issue with social media is creating content for the sake of content. Like, I really don’t want to owe the world a selfie, posting without a meaning behind it. I love creating acoustic vids or moments I genuinely want to share. The rest I find a little vacuous, even if it is at times necessary.
I feel like music is definitely missing some of the mystery that it used to have. It was cool when once upon a time you didn’t know every single detail of a band or artist’s life, they could have been a total arsehole but you wouldn’t see that.
You could just love them for their music and the occasional rare, personal behind the scenes photo, instead of the constant oversharing we have all gotten used to now.
iEDM: Similarly to giants such as Skrillex, Sullivan King, and Borgore, you began your musical journey with a rock band. What are the parallels between dance music and rock? Do you believe there is a cause for the surprisingly common pipeline between the two genres?
Emma: Yes, I do believe all music is derivative, and we bring all of these influences into our writing and sounds. I still write songs for dance music as though I am writing a rock song. Always with a guitar or piano, the essence of the songs do not change, just the beats and production that form the meat around the bones.
iEDM: To continue on the previous question, many rock artists make a predictable transition into bass music, such as dubstep. On the other hand, you have found your niche within house and trance. What was your initial attraction to these subgenres? Was there a large learning curve to surmount in order to find success in a brand-new community?
Emma: I kind of fell into dance music when I was still fully immersed in the world of my rock band. A couple of producers and DJs asked me to write and sing for them. So for me it was not so much a conscious decision to shift genres, it was more that some of the songs I wrote started getting heard, so I decided to write some more like this.
I never really knew what I was doing in dance music; I still don’t! I just keep trying to write songs that make me feel something in some way, that is always my main goal. If a song can work with a guitar, it should be able to work with any genre once the production goes on.
I am lucky that the producers I am collaborating with in these genres know how to turn the songs into dance tracks, and also that the dance music community was always so welcoming to me from the beginning!
iEDM: As an Australian artist, you are part of a rapidly growing EDM community that has surpassed many other regions in terms of audience size. From your perspective, how does the Australian scene compare to other dance music powerhouses such as Europe, Asia, and the United States?
Emma: I feel like the Aussies are totally coming into their own these past years! I think there is definitely something positive about being so far removed from the rest of the world that outside influences aren’t weighing in so heavily.
I think there are a lot of cool new sounds coming from Australian artists, perhaps because people are not afraid to experiment, there are not as many people to be compared to so you have to kind of forge your own path.
iEDM: You have collaborated with massive artists including Ilan Bluestone, Cosmic Gate, Chris Lake, Armin Van Buuren, and many more. Are there any artists that you hope to collaborate with in the future?
Emma: I am super grateful to have gotten to collaborate with a lot of my “dream list”. I would love to work with someone in a slightly different genre perhaps, maybe artists like Kaskade or Porter Robinson.
But in saying that, I am super happy to just keep writing and making more of the music I love, even if it is just by myself.
iEDM: Without taking logistics into consideration, what merch item would you like to design for your fans?
Emma: If logistics were not an issue, I would love to have a vintage style mellotron instrument made for merch. These instruments are full of so many hauntingly beautiful sounds. I think anyone could create a meaningful song just based off playing a couple of notes on one of these beauties!
iEDM: What are your biggest goals to accomplish by the end of 2023? How do you plan on reaching these objectives?
Emma: I really hope to have my next EP written. I feel super inspired now that I figured out a way to record the original versions of my songs in their organic format.
I hope to also have another Elysian EP released too, along with a couple more collabs that are in the works. My next biggest goal really is to so my best to make every moment of 2023 count, to enjoy all of it and be fully present!
Photos courtesy of Emma Hewitt