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Emily Mei is a multi-hyphenate, ambitious artist with big dreams. After growing her following through social media, the self-made entrepreneur has released a couple of singles for her audience worldwide.

Her new single, “MANIA (Where Them Girls At),” has been picking up steam since its release at the end of July, laying the foundation for her further success down the road. Pop Crave sat down with Emily to discuss her inspirations, her creativity, and her long-term goals. Keep reading for the full interview!

Hi, how are you?

EMILY MEI: Hello! Nice to meet you.

So, where are you at now? You’re in China?

EM: Yes, actually. Yeah. Then Korea and then probably back to LA!

Well, congratulations on your new release!

EM: Thank you! I hope you enjoy the music video. It was a lot.

For “MANIA (Where Them Girls At),” I was wondering if you could explain the storyline. This interview will go out to people that I’m sure haven’t heard about you yet, and I’d love to introduce them to the Emily Mei story in your own words.

EM: So, the funny story about the song is that I actually woke up after a night of playing video games with friends. Like, I was literally playing shooter games with friends. And then at 5:00 a.m., I woke up randomly with a verse in my head, and I was like, “Oh my god, I have got to write this down!” So, I grabbed my phone and started writing it down, and the entire second verse came to me, and I kind of built the song around it. I wanted to play a character, almost, in the music video. It was a lot of character play. A lot of… I guess just feeling very confident, I would say. It’s funny because my friends always say that I have the personality of a marshmallow. I’m actually a keep to myself personality. In my music, I try to play the opposite. To play even more on that, in the music video for “MANIA,” there are multiple different characters. Through the music video, you see all the different realities or different versions of me across different universes or different dreams, however you want to interpret it. They’re all a different character, a different part of me, a different piece of me. I really feel like as a person, we all have many different parts of ourselves, right? There’s the parts that you are when you’re just by yourself. There’s the person you are when you’re at work. There’s the person you are when you’re, I don’t know, with your best friend or with your grandma or whoever. So, I feel like every single person has all these different characters within themselves, and it was like a little storyline that we wanted to explore. 

What was the shooting process like for the music video?

EM: The entire music video was done with me and my friend. The entire thing. He shot it, the concept and everything. And then, of course, we went out and did the styling, and then I had my hair and makeup done for two of the looks, and then I did my own for the rest of it. I wasn’t even planning on shooting a music video, but I was like, “Should I do it?” My friend was like, “You know what? I shoot music videos. Why don’t we just do it?” So, we just did, and it was a whole… wow. It was a labor of love because it took days to shoot. Every single look was a different day. What happened is we would go out and shoot that day and then go back to a studio, and in a studio, we would edit then and be like, “Okay, so these are the scenes that we like, this is where the transitions are. Here’s what we need to shoot next.” Then we’d shoot the next day and then edit and then shoot and then edit. It was back and forth like that for two weeks, I would say.

Wow! That’s definitely a lot of hard work.

EM: Props to my friend Yuri for whoever’s reading. Please check him out. He shoots all his own music videos. He’s super dope. But yeah, it was crazy. We made props. We made everything.

That’s awesome! I know you’re a huge fan of anime and media that has a lot of different character exploration and prop work, so it’s really cool that you’re able to explore that in your own project. Speaking of, do you have a full-length project that you’re working on, or are you kind of taking it more day by day with some singles? What’s next on the horizon for Emily Mei?

EM: Well, actually, I wonder if my team is okay with me saying this, but I’m just going to say it. It is what it is. I wrote a bunch of songs, so I had like seven, eight, nine songs in the chamber that I just never released. I just sat on it because I was like, “When is a good time to release it? Should I release it?” And now I’m slowly starting to release singles, and then I will be releasing an EP.

That’s so exciting!

EM: Every single song, I feel like, has its own flavor. They’re all very different from each other. No two songs sound anywhere near the other one. It’s going to be very interesting. And I feel like that’s kind of how I like everything. I like my snacks like that. I like my video games like that. I like my anime like that.

Everything, for sure. I mean, you can have a [specific] style as an artist but still be dynamic in the styles that you choose and the genres and how you portray yourself as an artist. It can be very dynamic. What are some of your inspirations right now?

EM: Well, for this current one, it was very video game heavy. I’ve been playing a lot of video games, so in whatever free time that I have, I’ll probably just play games with friends. So, this one was very video game heavy. But I would say most of my inspirations are actually from anime. There is another song that I wrote that is very heavily based in one of my favorite animes, and that’s the plotline. There’s going to be character twists and there’s a whole thing. But yeah, so a lot of it’s anime based. I watch a lot of movies. I’ve been reading a lot of books. A lot of them are either science based or fantasy based. I try to put a little bit of everything I love into my music. That’s why sometimes it feels like storytelling almost, because I feel like it is like a story.

Yeah, definitely. Do you have any current pop culture obsessions?

EM: I very recently watched Interstellar.

Oh, that one. It’s heavy!

EM: Cannot believe. By the way, I’m not fully through it, so please don’t spoil anything. Oh god. But I’m partially through it. I feel so inspired by these movies that just make you think. I feel like movies like this, like Tenet, I haven’t seen Oppenheimer yet, so I’m still waiting to see that. I feel like I’m really into movies, books, anime, and everything that just either has crazy plot twists or they make you think over and over and over again. I feel like that’s the pop culture thing that I would like, and I’d recommend to who hasn’t seen it.

There’s so many things dropping right now, so it’s hard to keep track.

EM: There’s a million things dropping right now. Let me think. There are too many good animes. I have a list somewhere. I’ll compile a list of all the “currently watching” by category, but I usually watch five or six at the same time.

That’s a lot. I’m doing that with shows right now. I’m rewatching The Office, but also watching Dynasty but also watching Vanderpump Rules. It’s a mess right now.

EM: I feel like people are going to hate me for this, but I’ve actually never seen The Office! It’s all the memes. Like, I see a ton of memes on it – Oh! Attack on Titan. Please watch it if you haven’t seen it. If everyone watching hasn’t seen it, this is what I’m going to be watching. Yes. Catching up on anime. But I need to catch up on all the last seasons of everything because I feel like all the really good animes are coming out with all their new seasons now. So, that’s a pop culture thing I love!

What are your goals as an artist? What are some small short-term goals for maybe this year, and then what are your long-term goals?

EM: Oh, wow. I feel like that’s always very difficult. My short-term goals are, if I can, I want to do some kind of visual because I’m a very visual person. And even when I write my music, I usually see the music video or how I would want the music video to play out in my head. My goal for this year is to drop a visualizer, if I can, to every single song that I release. But it is quite a lot of work, so we’re going to see how that goes. But I’m trying to do that. I think for this year, I want to release a song every couple of months and then drop very short… Maybe like every two months or so and then two months or so and then drop a visualizer, a music video with it. And then my long-term goals… It’s my dream to perform with a hologram of my character. I wish I could pilot it in the back, but I don’t think that people would want to see that.

I mean, maybe! That’s a whole thing that people want to see!

EM: It’s like my dream. Maybe I can perform and then someone can pilot my character, but I can still do the vocals, right? So, they would pilot the movement of the character. But it’s literally my dream. I’ve told my whole team that that’s my dream that I want to do for a live performance one day is just to full send perform with a hologram. That’s [one of] my long-term goals.

So cool. I’m glad to hear that you’ve got some things going for Emily Mei. I’ve loved what you’ve released so far, so hopefully it’s only up from here! I’m super excited for your release, and I hope you are too.

EM: I know! I’m so excited. There’s so much happening… I’m so thankful to everyone who has been watching and has been streaming. It really does mean a lot to me, because I feel like I wrote this out of, I guess, just pure passion. Even with most of these songs, I never thought that I would release them. I never thought that I would do something with them. And the fact that I was able to and that people are actually listening to it, I’m like, “People are actually listening to it?” It makes me so happy. So, I think I’m just thankful. And then, of course, to you for interviewing me. Thank you.

Emily Mei’s latest song, “MANIA (Where Them Girls At),” is out now.

Written by Lily Dabbs.