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EMA says her new record is “too political” for Matador Records (UPDATE: Matador responds)


Earlier today, EMA released “Stand With You (Song for Ghostship).” It’s part of the anti-Trump Our First 100 Days song series, and it’s also a tribute to the Oakland DIY space that tragically caught fire earlier this year.

EMA has now also mentioned that she’s currently mastering the followup to 2014’s great The Future’s Void. That album came out on Matador but the new one will be out worldwide on City Slang (who previously released her music in Europe). EMA wrote, “Matador won’t be putting it out. It’s too political (which I think especially now music SHOULD be) and the sound is not exactly mainstream.” She also said that City Slang is “a very diverse label and very supportive of the singular and controversial stuff that I think ends up being what EMA does best (they’re German! they aren’t afraid of politics or music outside of the box).”

EMA adds that the new album sounds to her like (her former band) Gowns and early EMA, and that it was produced by Unknown Mortal Orchestra bassist Jake Portrait.

We reached out to Matador for a comment who say they have no response to EMA’s claims at this time.

UPDATE: Matador’s Gerard Cosloy has now given a response:

From time to time we have to make some unpleasant decisions regarding the label’s release schedule (which is more crowded some years than others) and roster size. I don’t know anyone — least of all someone as talent and visionary as Erika — who likes hearing, “we’re not putting out the great new album you’ve spent the last 2 years on.” But at no point did we discourage her from making a political record, nor was there any mandate to create something that leaned towards the mainstream.

Here’s EMA’s full statement and also a longer statement on the new song:

so last december ghostship burned down and i lost my damn mind. i don’t even know why it affected me so much but it did. i was a wreck for days. i cried a lot and posted crazy things on fb, where my feed was filled with bay area friends mourning and/or trying to figure out if ppl in their community were safe. i hadn’t lived there for years but it made me realize how important that community had been to me — i knew the person throwing the show (not the douche landlord) who used to come to shows at our venue in west oakland, i knew the performers, i knew a few who didn’t make it out. it was partially the timing, right after the election which was like getting spit on in the face.

we recorded this live in my basement, still improvising the words and timings. i had originally wanted it to be on some sort of ghostship benefit comp, but hopefully this 100 days benefit will spread out the impact towards all sorts of communities that need it.

i think americans are under an impression that certain things are mutually exclusive, but in my mind you shouldn’t have to decide between being safe and being free

i’ve also noticed some ppl have been commenting that i haven’t released a record since 2014. well, one’s on the way! it’s mastered and ready to go. there was a bit of a delay — matador won’t be putting it out. it’s too political (which i think especially now music SHOULD be) and the sound is not exactly mainstream. (altho it’s very musical! jacob portrait from UMO produced it and it’s light and heavy and raw and full of hooks)

in the end i think that’s for the best — i’ve come too far and done too much to compromise my vision at this point in my life.

city slang (who did PLMS) will be releasing it worldwide later this year. i love working with them, they are a very diverse label and very supportive of the singular and controversial stuff that i think ends up being what EMA does best (they’re german! they aren’t afraid of politics or music outside of the box)

i’m so excited to share this new record with you! those who’ve heard it say it’s the most solid thing i’ve ever done. to me it sounds like gowns, it sounds like early EMA and PLMS.

and it sounds like oakland, where a piece of my heart will always be.

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