We love sexy shoes as much as the next guy, but even we were surprised by our lust-filled reaction to “Stilettos,” an ode to screwing in six-inch heels by rising dance-pop star Emii.
By Kara Wahlgren
“Come here and bite me like an animal.” That’s the not-so-subtle welcome message on Emii’s website at press time, and the first thing that pops up when you Google her name. Playing coy isn’t exactly her thing—she’s spent the past two years building buzz with her racy lyrics and sci-fi-sexy music videos. And the Youngstown, Ohio, native has always liked to cause a stir—as a toddler, she once climbed a 30-foot ladder to steal her sister’s thunder during a piano recital. At 13, she demanded that her parents homeschool her so she could spend more time doing community theater and schmoozing local producers. “I grew up attracted to the stage in a very unsettling way for my poor parents,” Emii says. “I think they knew that, soon enough, I would be running off to New York City, and their innocent daughter would be corrupted by the big city.” Sure enough, when she turned 18, she left for New York with a fame-or-bust attitude: “I decided that it didn’t really matter if I had to live on ramen noodles and bagels—I would be doing music until I died.” Now, the 27-year-old is living in L.A., recording her first full-length album, and having a damn good time on the cusp of überfame. We caught up with Emii while she was prepping her debut album, and she opened up about her geeky guilty pleasures and why it’s important to practice safe stiletto-wearing in the bedroom.
What can you tell us about the album?
It’s gonna be badass. I don’t want to spoil the surprises, but it’s going really well. I’m way too excited.
Your 2010 EP, Magic, had a definite rock vibe. Are you bringing that sound to the new album?
For the most part, I’m going to focus on pop and dance music. But there’s always going to be that element of rock—that’s always going to be present in whatever I do. Because people seem to be able to point that out in me, like, “You grew up with rock music, didn’t you?” Of course I did! I love all music, and I do whatever feels good.
You worked with Snoop Dogg on your single “Mr. Romeo.” How did you pull that off?
I was recording master vocals for “Mr. Romeo,” and it was pretty much done. I was in the studio with my producer, and we were joking back and forth, like, “Okay, who can add a little magic to ‘Mr. Romeo’?” Snoop’s name came up, but really—how do you get in touch with Snoop Dogg? But the owner of the recording studio heard my vocals and he just happened to have Snoop’s manager’s phone number in his cellphone. I’m still pinching myself over it. I’m so thankful. Snoop’s a really cool, down-to-earth guy.
The video had a Final Fantasy feel to it. Are you a gamer?
Oh, yeah, absolutely. I am so grateful for my team because they really embraced my geek-ness and my creative side.
What other geeky obsessions do you have?
Comic books—I’m a huge Marvel fan. I’m a huge science-fiction fan. I grew up addicted to Star Wars and Star Trek. I love costuming and dressing up. For a show in Beirut, I wore a Han Solo replica belt onstage in front of 25,000 people. And they all thought it was cool.
It seems like your personal style is influenced by animation—big hair, impossible shoes, futuristic costumes.
Absolutely. I take a lot of style inspiration from things like Final Fantasy and Assassin’s Creed videogames and science fiction. And I like whatever I wear to be functional. If I’m going to wear armor, it has to be metal, and it has to have the right texture—like, if someone’s going to come at me with a battle ax, I want to be able to shield myself. I don’t want to do anything half-assed.
Good thinking. Who are your musical influences?
Chrissie Hynde of the Pretenders, and Michael Jackson, of course. And I grew up with the Offspring—their song “Staring at the Sun” is the song I did my first belly-dance performance to. All the traditional belly dancers looked at me like I was freaking insane. But I had fun, and that’s all that matters.
You’re a belly dancer?
I wanted to learn how to dance. I’d gone to a ballet class and a jazz class, and the girls were so mean to me. I was like, “Fuck this shit!” I went to this belly-dance school and I was like, “You know what? This is fun.” I can’t say I’m a very good belly dancer, but I’m learning. I’m a martial artist, so it took me a while to get into the groove of dancing.
What martial arts do you do?
I’m focused on muay Thai, boxing, and American Kempo. But I’ve done tae kwon do and jujitsu and stuff. It’s
second to music—it’s kept me in line.
Does that mean you’re a big UFC fan?
I haven’t seen a real match since Forrest Griffin! I have a lot of catching up to do. I’ve been locked in the studio.
Well, it’s paid off.What kind of feedback have you gotten since you released “Stilettos”?
I’ve been really thankful that my fans have appreciated it. It’s all about celebrating the little things in life. I mean, it’s a song about heels! A few people have been like, “Oh, it’s a materialistic song, blah blah blah.” I say you’ve got to stop and smell the roses. You can still be deep and enlightened and all that jazz, but ain’t nothing wrong with putting on a good pair of stilettos and having a good time!
Do you have a favorite pair?
Yeah—they’re thigh-high, red-leather Michael Antonio stilettos. They’re ridiculous! I think they have, like, a five-inch heel.
So a nice, practical shoe.
You know what? They’re really comfortable! I can dance in them, I can kick in them. I can’t run very fast in them—but I can’t run very fast in sneakers.
The song has some pretty racy lyrics. Did you make a conscious decision to lay it all out there?
Oh, yeah. I don’t like to censor myself, because these are feelings that most people have. Some people are afraid to say it—I’m really not. It’s okay to be sexy. It’s okay to be a flirt.
There’s a great line in there: “Told me to take it all off, but no matter what, leave the heels on.” Do you really recommend getting down in spike heels?
From personal experience, I think it definitely packs a punch. Of course, you don’t want to stab anybody, so you have to be skilled in the art of stilettos in the bedroom. But practice makes perfect.