Empara Mi is embarking on a fresh chapter within her journey and turning the page on her previous self, the genre-breaking singer explains whilst walking through a London park. This new chapter marks the beginning of a bold return for the artist, who has released the empowering and cinematic new album ‘Suitcase Full Of Sins’.
There’s a clear and wistful lust for the return as she unleashes an 8-part odyssey of self empowerment and renewed clarity. The stifled lyrics of Empara Mi’s latest track ‘WYGD’ are brought to the screen with a certain dynamism and force that only she can muster. The result is a blockbuster of emotions and a fierce drive to break free, which sets the tone for the new album’s underlying theme.
“The ‘WYGD’ video is quite graphic and different to what I’ve done but it was the only way I could think of explaining that feeling. It was me reflecting the feeling of feeling abused in many ways. It’s the moment where you flip your mind and think, ‘What have I been doing?’ or ‘I can’t believe I let this stuff happen to me’,” she explains. “That was the moment for me where it is a bit of a “fuck you” but you also have to laugh at yourself a little bit for playing the victim. I wanted to try and flip that around and have a very silent video.” But the result is far from silent with imagery depicting a mysterious force who attempts to drown the victim, drag her, suffocate her and even fire a gun. “That’s why we didn’t want to show a person as we wanted to represent death as a thing and that’s why we have a weird hand that comes in and pushes you down. Then someone is holding a gun to your head, so all these things are not necessarily a person.” She continues, “I can kind of relate the song to as many different scenarios in exactly the same way, so that’s why we didn’t want it to be one singular event. It was representing people and things holding and pushing you down for a long time, until you get back up.”
Getting back up is exactly what she does, and with extraordinary vigour. This new found emotional clarity and hindsight is represented across all the tracks on the album. “I wanted to leave it quite open to interpretation,” she adds. Deep album cut ‘No More’ contains a heavy lyrical focus on freeing one’s self, again reflectant of the album’s message. “That was quite instrumental to begin with. Especially as I used that first line as the album title, it would be quite weird to have an uplifting single on the album. I wanted to make it a collection of that time in my life, and see that theme tied into a little bow.” Empara Mi continues, “I talk about “freeing myself” in many ways, that’s obviously something I’m struggling with and comes out when I’m writing. I didn’t quite realise that I kept randomly talking about it, but I do actually talk about that exact thing in the track Wanderlust too. That was about me leaving where I grew up, and that’s the other side of the glass ceiling. It’s leaving but with the risk of it not working out, and if I go back it will be embarrassing.”
That feeling of leaving and finding a place in the world is evident in lead album single Wanderlust. The lyrics “Everybody feels like you’re on the outside sometimes” starts to question your sense of belonging. “I’ve always felt like that a little bit and I float around quite a lot. My parents are Irish and I grew up in Guernsey within the Channel Islands. I’ve tried to always find out where I sat. When I went to University I was the only one who didn’t want to be there, and it’s just feeling that you’re not quite part of anything, and I still feel like that musically. I can’t really decide what genre I am. ‘Are you pop? Are you Rn’B? Or Electronic?’ There’s never really a home for what I’m doing so I’m just winging it. I just kind of do things that I like and hope that I make my own little home.”
Ever-striving for that belonging, the emergence of the album has also been a long time coming, Empara Mi explains. “A lot of it was recorded in my bedroom. I’ve kind of been working on this for a while, some I wrote 4 years ago and only just recorded, and some of it I wrote and recorded on the same day. I recorded in LA with a guy I work with called Andy Dawson who did some Kanye West stuff and I reached out to him years ago as I liked everything he’s worked on. A lot of the stuff I re-recorded and produced in my bedroom, and recorded a lot at sound studios here in London. It’s definitely not written, recorded and mastered in the same day.”
She continues, “It does feel like a very new chapter and it’s hard to recognise how long this has been going on for. Just a long time sitting on music and waiting for the right time, and I’m just trying to get that out of my head and just put out stuff that I really love. There’s a big chance I won’t love it in a years time so I’m trying to keep that passion for the stuff that I’ve just written, and kind of package it and get it out as soon as possible.”
The missing link has been the live show, Empara admits. “That’s something that I’m definitely missing and I just really want to have that experience of performing the songs and I know that people are there that want to be, and waiting to hear the songs. That’s never happened to me before; even when I did gigs as it was other people’s material. But having it be your own stuff and they’re coming to see you, that will be so exciting.” “I love live strings, for some of the set it might just be me with just a few electronic elements and live strings. I just thought aesthetically that’s quite nice to see these people play, but as I do have strings in about eighty percent of my songs it makes more sense.” Expanding on the live show set-up, it’s clear that she’s ready to come out fighting. “I’ve done lots of rehearsals already but I’m coming out boldly with what I want to do, so I have to get it right. I can’t come out and it would be half there, so I want to perfect it and have all these elements there.”
Evoking a renewed sense of positivity and energy within her, Empara Mi is looking to next year. “I have high expectations of myself so I just need to make sure I’m enjoying the journey as well. I don’t want to regret things even though they’re progressing. I said something when me and my best friend were having dinner the other night, and we’d both sometimes sit there and complain about the fact that we’re not where we wanted to be. We just agreed that life hasn’t been better than it is now. I have to think like that so it’s just carrying that energy into next year and then relate that positivity to everything else.”
Photographer Lee and Arthur
Stylist Lewis Cameron
Groomer Jason Goh
Photo Assistant 4UNG