Looking for powerful Mariah vocals? Angelic, Solange-style harmonies? Emi's incredible range, trained ear, and versatile sensibilities adapt to and cross genre lines. Get a sense of her talent by checking out her vocal reel + credits below. Accomplished as a Vocalist, Producer, and Songwriter, Emi gives your track the breathless beauty it deserves!
Emi is an artist of contrast. Born in New York and currently living in London, she is equally comfortable belting out her heart and soul as she is creating layered stacks of angelic, airy harmonies.
Under the moniker My Midnight Heart, the songs she wrote, performed, and produced were covered in magazines like Vice, SPIN, and Pitchfork, and was even featured under the "Artist to Watch" column in Rolling Stone. MMH landed her a national tour with Grammy winners Teagan and Sara, and shows with Solange, Blood Orange, and others. As a backing vocalist she performed at festivals around the world including the Coachella, Montreal Jazz Festival, Moogfest, Razzmatazz, and SXSW. Both her own projects and tracks on which she's featured have been placed in film and TV, including spots on HBO, Bravo, Showtime. She also recently performed on Saturday Night Live with rising star Dua Lipa.
In addition to her merits as a vocalist, Emi continues to define herself as a producer and songwriter. She specializes in Vocal Production and Mixing--especially working with layers of dense harmonies. She attributes this knack to her experience singing in classical choirs during her teens and now also works as a choral arranger in her spare time.
Emi records and produces all of her vocals in her commercial home studio located in London, England.
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Interview with Emi Monroe
Q: Tell us about your studio setup.
A: My studio is my sanctuary! It's taken me a while to hone in on exactly what I need to get the most out of my work, but now I think I've really perfected it for myself. I have a couple of small synths that do exactly what I need including the Roland JD-Xi, and a tiny Critter and Guitari Pocket Piano which I control through midi so I'm not actually playing those teeny, tiny wooden buttons. I find the analog sound of the Pocket Piano is perfect sometimes and hard to emulate in a digital product. The JD-Xi is another one of my favorites because it doubles as a sequencer. I can quickly put some synth melodies and even beats in with the step controller and start working out songwriting ideas in a couple minutes. I also have a Roli Seaboard Rise which is a futuristic midi controller that allows me to play synths/piano in a similar way as I sing. Most things you would control on a tradition keyboard like pitch bending, or controlling filters and whatnot, can be controlled entirely by your fingertips. The keys almost feel like skin and, even though it's been a learning curve to learn how to play, I find for strings and wind instruments it's barely indistinguishable from the real thing. For singing I have my TC Helicon Voicelive Touch 2 which is a huge improvement over the previous version. I use this to build vocal loops and play around with different vocal fx for different projects. I like to treat my voice much like a guitarist would treat their instrument. I think being open to playing around with how different effects change the mood and feel of your voice is integral to making music that is really new and exciting! I don't always use the Voicelive Touch 2 when recording because I like to use specific plugins on my dry voice on my DAW, but I find for demoing and writing it's absolutely amazing. I record using my Kaotica Eyeball vocal booth which is incredible at blocking out all external noise. This is perfect for me so I'm able to record while simultaneously engineering the session. My studio is set up so I can get down ideas quickly but still maintain the sonic integrity of all the different parts. Plus I just have a vibe in there with candles and fabrics so honestly it's just a cool place to hang out and create beautiful work!
Q: Can you share one music production tip?
A: I think the best production tip is really taking your time to learn the basics and fundamentals of whatever DAW you're using. I've worked with Pro Tools but prefer Logic for production. When I was first starting out even though I'd used Pro Tools and Ableton, I really spent time getting to know my way around the program and geeking out reading the manuals and learning short cuts, etc. The New York hustle side of me was like "whhhhhyyyy are you doing this!? It's a waste of time!!" but I just seriously ignored those thoughts because I knew learning my program inside and out before I actually started creating things would pay off. And honestly I can't tell you how much easier it is to build a track now without having to think about the "hows" involved. There's nothing more liberating then being able to get that song you have stuck in your head, into the real world.
Q: What type of music do you usually work on?
A: Lately I've been working on a lot of EDM/Dance music which is incredibly fun and liberating. You can't help wanting to move when you're singing to these tracks! I love it! Some of them want more Elle Goulding type breathiness and others want the old school, 90s divas belting and making you feel alive. I'm happy to be able to do both styles!
Q: What's your strongest skill?
A: My vocal range and knowing how to use it. I've had intense vocal training and all that, but honestly I think I learned the most singing along to Mariah Carey records when I was little. She taught me how to belt my ass off, how to sound vulnerable and have your voice crack at just the right moment, and also when to be breathy and angelic and give the song a smooth, silky texture in just the right places. I know how to work with my voice to achieve a ton of different tones and textures; definitely not a one-trick pony. Understanding my voice and how to use it is definitely something I'm incredibly proud of.
Q: What do you bring to a song?
A: First of all experience. I don't want to sound like a DBag, but experience is really important when you want something to sound great. I was a session vocalist for over 10 years while living in New York City and honestly didn't know what I was doing when I first started. I had been singing and playing gigs my whole life up to then, but there's incredibly different techniques being used when you're singing live as opposed to singing in a studio. Not only have I had experience working for others, but I have spent obsessive amounts of time on producing my own music. Honestly when you listen and tweak your vocals over and over again for hours on end, you begin an expert in how to make the best recordings of your instrument. It's no longer trial and error. You understand how your voice works and I'm happy to bring that kind of expertise into my work with others. I'm a perfectionist! So it really makes me happy to deliver something truly special to my clients and the world.
Q: What's your typical work process?
A: Typically a client will hear of me through word of mouth and send over an instrumental track with maybe a few rough vocal stems to give me an idea of what they're looking for. I go over everything in my DAW and then really just try to get some demo ideas down right there. I feel like a lot of the initial melodies and feelings are really important to pay attention to! So I'll record some nonsense words over the tracks and then go back later and refine the melodies and add lyrics. Once that's done, I rerecord a quick demo to make sure all the phrasing makes sense. Once that's complete I'll again go over and record a final track with leads and harmonies. Once I'm done, I'll go through and add some light vocal FX and mix everything down a bit to make it sit properly with all the instrumentation. From there I bounce each track out individually; most times I include the dry and the wet so you have more options. This is my typical work flow!
Q: What other musicians or music production professionals inspire you?
A: I'm a huge fan of other women who produce their music! Even though their styles don't find their way into most of my work, I'm a huge fan of Jessy Lanza, Grimes, Abra, all the way back to Kate Bush. I love stacks of layered, ethereal harmonies contrasted with big, belted ad libs. It's sort of my specialty ;)
Q: Describe the most common type of work you do for your clients.
A: The most common work I do these days is session vocals from my home studio. I do still occasionally go out on tours or fly in for a one off, but I'm pretty keen on being in town more than a couple days at a time right now.