Like so many other aspiring artists, Emii left her small hometown for New York as soon as she could, hoping to make her mark. Unlike most others, though, she's gained plenty of attention—and she's hungry for more.
Although she has yet to release a full-length album, the Youngstown, Ohio, native has already achieved a string of YouTube and club hits. With big plans for music and films ahead, she's eyeing 2013 as her breakout year.
On March 12, Emii released her latest effort, a two-song EP featuring the uplifting "Time to Move On" and the provocative, club-ready "Freakier Freak," through her website, Emii.net, and iTunes. The former, featuring lyrics by Grammy Award-winning songwriter Crystal Nicole, is Emii's latest single that's already making headway in the United Kingdom. It entered the Music Week Upfront Club chart at No. 53 and placed fifth among breaking songs for the week of April 18. On the May 3 Upfront Club chart, it perched at No. 32. A music video is on the way, to couple with the sci-fi-inspired clip that she recently released for "Freakier Freak."
"As soon as I was legal, I got on a bus to New York," Emii says, reminiscing about her humble entrance into the music business. "I did the whole living-in-basements-and-eating-ramen-noodles thing. I played in a lot of bands. I wrote with whomever I could. I went to open-mic nights . . . anything that I could possibly do to further myself and better myself as an artist."
That hard work paid off when Emii caught the attention of artist manager Bill Greene. Searching for untapped talent, Greene teamed with veteran musician/songwriter/producer Adrian Gurvitz, whose extensive credits range from writing a song for the blockbuster "Bodyguard" soundtrack to recent work with Walt Disney Records stars. "We decided to do a nationwide search for the best unsigned singer we could find," Greene says. Roughly 1,500 submissions later, Emii was the unanimous choice.
Emii's sessions with Gurvitz produced her first single, the Lady Gaga-like dance/pop song "Magic." It was accompanied by a spooky, sideshow-inspired music video, which has been viewed nearly 2 million times since hitting YouTube in April 2010.
For Greene, who oversees Emii's production company (Billeegee) and its record label (Slippery Eel), his artists' success begins with radio. "We'd go to the dance clubs first and try to build it up there, and then we'd go to the smaller stations and try to work our way up," he says. "We certainly promoted her on Facebook, Twitter (@emiimusic) and her website (emii.net), and what we've noticed is the two videos that have had the greatest success got the most airplay."
Aside from "Magic," Greene is referring to Emii's 2011 single "Mr. Romeo," the video for which has garnered more than 2 million views between Emii's YouTube channel and Vevo. It didn't hurt that Snoop Dogg is featured both on the song and in the video.
"I was a little more intimidated by him than I was by any other actors on the set," Emii says jokingly. "It's something that, when you're just getting your name out there, is huge. It's almost impractical, but Snoop was actually really pleasant to work with."
"Mr. Romeo" spent 13 weeks on Billboard's Dance/Club Play Songs chart, peaking at No. 13, her highest position thus far. Another single—the hook-heavy banger "Stilettos"—spent seven weeks on the chart, peaking at No. 32.
Aside from her music videos, Emii has had plenty of experience on sets. A lifelong theater kid, she recently wrapped filming for a sci-fi/thriller flick called "Starship: Rising," in which she has a starring role. Her forthcoming "Time to Move On" music video features footage from the film, which is set for a summer release. There are also plans for Emii to tour in the near future, once her busy schedule subsides.
In the coming months, Greene will be busy pushing Emii's recent singles to radio and planning the eventual release of her debut full-length album. "We have it [recorded], but people don't really do albums so much anymore," he says. "We could break it into two EPs, but at some point we will release it as a whole album."
Given Emii's diverse talents, Greene envisions her as an artist who pushes traditional boundaries. "We're going to get her out there as much as possible in the film world," he says. Emii recently signed with Media Artists Group to represent her for films and TV. But music remains her focus now.
"It's really intertwined for me," Emii says. "It's all entertainment and it's all things I can really express myself through. I love it. I'm really having fun."