emzae @ Rough Trade, Nottingham, UK, September 1, 2023 | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Thursday, May 23rd, 2024  

emzae, Sen Olette

emzae @ Rough Trade, Nottingham, UK, September 1, 2023,

Sep 14, 2023 Photography by Nigel King Web Exclusive
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August is a tough month for gigs, no doubt about it. The ton of festivals, families paying for holidays and all the other stuff going on makes selling tickets a hard slog. Which suggests that booking your own album launch to introduce your debut album as an entirely independent artist is a bold move!

But then again Derby-based electronic pop artist emzae has never really been one for taking the obvious route. Bubbling away on the Midlands scene for the past half a decade, dropping a steady stream of great singles and supporting the likes of Lonelady all with no support, it seems strange to suggest that All Those Things I Thought I Knew is her “debut” - she has been part of the local musical fabric for a while.

The album is entirely self-written, self-played, self-produced and self-released, so a self-booked, self-promoted show to launch it kinda makes sense. While playing a full run through of the album, with commentary introducing each song runs on the risky side of self-indulgent, did this translate well on the night?

The quarter full venue was first introduced to the dark, dream-pop vibes of Sen Olette who veered into Cocteau Twins territory with goth elements pulsing through the modern pop vibes. Given time, development and maybe a full band this could develop into something truly worth paying attention to.

Like everything else she does, emzae’s live performance is personal, intimate and all on her own, but unlike some other artists this doesn’t always feel like a necessity but a calculated artistic expression. The album, whilst being a pop album at its core, is packed with complex layers of electronic production and nuances. All of this was brought in crystalline form to the Rough Trade stage, the songs sounding as vibrant and complex as they do on record, with emzae bringing the pop party vibe, dancing and genuinely seeming overjoyed to be playing this music for the assembled crowd.

From the big bangers like “Extraordinary” and “Overrated” to the complatative balladry of “I Guess, Anyway”, with just a bank of electronics, a guitar and voice has crafted songs she can translate to the live stage as they are on record. That isn’t to say there weren’t breaks from the flow, emzae often giggled or said something to the crowd during songs - it felt like a natural expression of a work that has been in gestation for six years.

The music was great, which is why some of the crowd noticeably waned with the huge amount of chat in between songs, translating a forty-two minute album into a show of well over an hour and a quarter. emzae had a need to explain her creations, and did so at length, which ate into the impact of the musical performances themselves.

But as criticisms go, it is a minor one of a brave launch night that was in many ways a triumph for an independent pop artist doing everything her own way. It’s hard to argue with that.


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