Interview Living 

I liked it, so I did! – Interview with Emma Emika Grant

Ladies & Gentlemen, Boys & Girls, Children of all ages! We are back with an interview and one that honestly exceeded my wildest expectations. And that says something. The interview wasn’t only interesting and informative, as you could expect, but also straight forward, quite honest, open and probably the one interview during which I laughed the most. Ever. I can’t really describe how much fun that was and I hope my transcription of your talk will give you somehow an glimpse of what we talked about and how much fun it was. So without further ado let me introduce this time’s interview guest. The horse and jet ski riding actress, singer and aspiring songwriter Emma Emika Grant.

Ready? Let’s go! Usually I start by letting my guest introduce themselves a bit. So, for those who don’t know you, could you introduce yourself briefly?
Oh god. Hm. Sure.

You could say you’re awesome…
Well that’s given.

Right, hence the interview ;-)
Right! My name is Emma Emika Grant. I’m half Thai, half British. I am 18 years old and I am signed to the label MBO under GMM Grammy.

For those who don’t know, what is MBO?
Well MBO is a bit confusing entity I understand. MBO is a teen entertainment community. Which means we produce all kinds of media. We produce music and television. So it’s a 360 kind of thing.

360. Nice. Did they teach you that in marketing class?
Kind of sounds like it, right?

Yes. 360, holistic approach…
Sounds good though ;-)

Enough Buzzword bingo ;-) Let’s start with some general questions first. Did you grow up here or in England?

emma mbo

I moved here when I was four years old but my first language was English. My mom would teach me Thai when making me ask for stuff in Thai though.

Where exactly are you from?
Bristol. When we go to England we barely go there though.

You rather go to cool places, I understand.
Right.

Everyone in Bristol will hate you now.
Things not to say in an interview…

I’ll make sure they’ll find this interview!
You shouldn’t speak bad about your hometown in an interview!

Don’t worry, we can censor it, we’re in Thailand. Seriously though, they probably will be happy that someone from their city is now here and about to become famous!
Well that’s the plan!

Speaking of here, how did you actually end up here?
They found me crying backstage at a competition.

…uhm….that’s not how talents get discovered usually, I think.
Ha, well yeah I guess. I was the singer of my school’s Jazz-Fusion band and we participated in a competition at Central World. I was singing ‘Ain’t no sunshine’ and I thought I was doing really bad. Which I may or may have not, I don’t really recall. Anyways I thought I let everybody down since everybody practiced so hard and so I ended up crying in the toilet. My friend then more or less dragged me out with tears streaming down my face when P’Sia approached me and said ‘Sorry, would you be interested in auditioning at GMM Grammy?” – After that I went to an audition, then another one, and that’s how I ended up here.

So this is how it works? Coincidence and hard work. And lots of crying ;-) But how did you actually end up being interested in music and singing?
That’s actually thanks to my mom. She made me start learning to play the piano when I was about four years old. Also my dad listens to lots of different kinds of music. From Japanese Pop to Vivaldi to Queen to Creed. He’s more into rock and weird alternative stuff. My mom is more into the classical kind of music like Jazz while my sister loves EDM and I fall into the pop punk emo teen space I suppose.

Let me get that straight. Pop. Punk. Emo. Teen.
Can’t you tell from my outfit? Lots of leather etc… ;-)

Totally. You’re fitting it perfectly ;-)
So I grew up listening to a lot of music and I started myself on the guitar and started to ask for lessons when I was around 10ish. I liked it, so I did.

Future motivational speaker right here :P Sounds good though! I like it, so I did.

[Tweet “I liked it, so I did! – Emma Emika Grant #interview #Thailand”]

So you learned guitar, you also play piano, right?
Right and when you play guitar, Ukulele is just a few hops away.

We’re official entering the showing off part of the interview. Keep going, what else do you play?
That sounds like an awful narcissist now.

Musician, that’s ok.
Piano, Guitar, Ukulele. That’s about it. I tried a few others but failed miserably.

Is there anything else that you do in your free time? Or is it music only and that’s why you’re so good at it? If that’s the cause I could forgive you for being so talented in all those music related things.
If you’re asking about hobbies that I’m not necessarily good at but enjoy doing anyways it would be horse riding and jet ski.

……..
Yeah I know that sounds rather pretentious. That must come across very snobby. “I do horse riding at the weekends…”

“…if I don’t ride jet ski…”
Exactly. “If I don’t ride jet ski I’m horse riding in the mountains with papa….”

Oh well, tell me, what kind of jet ski do you ride?
I do stand-up jet ski. And coincidentally there’s a pond just five minutes from my house. That’s why I started doing it.

….The fact that you know the different kinds of jet skis….that’s fantastic…..
I just keep digging a deeper whole for myself, aren’t I?

Don’t worry, that’s all fine. Just keep talking. I’ll stop asking questions now and you just talk… Seriously though, those are obviously some cool hobbies but how did you end up doing those?
Same concept really

You wanted, so you did?
I wanted, so I did! Horse riding came sooner though. Jet ski started once we found out that there’s a pond only five minutes from our home.

emma mbo

Then you obviously had to try it! Now do you also want to add something that’s not that ‘cool’ and that would make people think that you’re an actually normal human being?
Normal human being? Hm. Well you’d be happy to hear that all those things that I do I just do to overcompensate for the fact that I’m super uncoordinated. I’m terrible in most sports.

Isn’t that dangerous on a horse back?
The horse does most of the coordination for me, it’s smarter than I am, that’s fine most of the time. And that’s why I grew up with music since sports was not an option.
I went to an interview here with Lukgal and learned that she’s really good at football. She’s really graceful at that. I’m on the other hand am the human equivalent of a potato.

So good for us that you went with music! How did you start up performing on stage? Did your mom push you on stage when you were young?
Well I guess that’s kinda how it went down. I was terrible at it though. And it continues to this day. I was forget lyrics, sing off key, forget when the song starts, have random panic attacks, freezing on stage…

Does GMM know that? ;-)
Oh yes! They know that very well. It has gotten better though. They said you have to keep doing it until it gets better. So that seems to work slowly.

How did you overcome the fear eventually? Is it really just practicing or did you end up developing some kind of routine? Trick? Drugs?
Drugs?!?! Well sure. I just pop a few pills before going on stage…

Well, Pop-Punk-Emo-Teen….
I started to realize after messing up so many times that people don’t really care about it. The only one who really realizes how monumentally you messed up is yourself. So you just keep on doing it and improve.

Speaking of improving. How does your practice routine look like?
*laughs out loud*

Ooooook
Until recently I, well, didn’t. As I child I really did not want to practice.

So just relying on talent. Here we go again ;-)
Oh no. When it started to get more serious I started to push myself to practice and actually focus more on what I’m doing. Especially after coming in here and meeting so many talented people you simply have to work on yourself. You need to get better. Either you prosper or you die.

Motivational Speaker Alert! You prosper or you die. Take this message home, kids.
Right? Very positive! ;-) You just gotta put your game face on, work on yourself and evolve. Even after doing this for a while now there are still many aspects in which I consider myself as not being stellar in it and I’m not uber talented or anything. Honestly I’m probably quite low on the talent end so I just need to keep adding and put in the hours.

[Tweet “You prosper, or you die! – Emma Emika Grant #Thailand #interview #Motivation”]

How does that work here now? Does GMM provide you with singing lessons? Acting lessons? Marketing lessons? Do they teach you awesome buzzwords such as 360 degree approach…?
They put us all in some classes together for the basics. Now later on we get acting classes with MBO when something comes up and I take my own singing classes to keep improving.

That’s nice that they support you though.
Yeah, they’re nice like that which is really helpful.

Now since you were talking about prospering or dying, how is with competition here? Is it tough?
Well the immediate competition would be my co-workers who are all ridiculously talented. If you would ask me to describe how talented they all are I would probably end up swearing a lot and I don’t want to do that in an interview. That’s how talented they are. Plus they are all amazing people here and it’s crazy how nice and talented they are. Super talented, super nice and downright awesome.

Oh god, so annoying!
Right? And you can’t hate since they’re all just so nice! Everyone! They can dance, sing, act, play instruments. You just look at them, learn from them and sometimes you just sit back and enjoy what’s happening.

So is it real competition or is it more like team work?
Well if you look at it from the outside you could say that we compete for similar positions but we do love each other here. We’re almost like family and when we don’t see each other for a while we start to miss each other. So it’s somehow competitive but rather positive. Constructive competition one could say.

That sounds really good! How is it when you go out though? Is there a competitive feeling with other artists?
For me it has been really positive. Most of the established artists are really helpful and quite open. People like P’Da (Da Endorphine) for example would answer any of my questions with honest enthusiasm. She would be really helpful but she’s not the only one, there are so many of the established singers and songwriters that are really helpful and I keep learning a lot in terms of singing and songwriting.

So you also write songs. Of course you do. Probably while riding a jet ski.
That makes me sound like an absolute snob!

No no! That certainly is cool! What do you write about though? Since your style is pop-punk-emo-teen? Love and the difficulties of life and stuff like that? Ok, now I sound pretentious when talking like that.
I get it much worse from my dad, don’t worry! I write about all sorts of things. Anything that pops into my head really. In all kinds of genres. Depending on the mood. Sometimes it’s proper pop song, sometimes it just the same verse for nine minutes. It really depends.

Interesting. Do you have a certain songwriting process or do you just note your ideas down whenever they happen?
Usually first I need to be in a certain mood. Mostly it’s not a happy mood though. Once you’re in that mood you need to find a sound that matches that mood. Then you’ll start with a cord progression. When you play that often enough then you start hearing a melody and when you got a melody you might end up getting a song out of it. Sometimes.

emma mbo

Do you have anyone that inspires you in terms of songwriting?
Difficult to say. I rotate depending on how I feel and what I feel like needing at this very moment.

Do you go to lots of concerts?
As often as I can. But I just missed Two Door Cinema club. However I went to the Muse concert a few months ago and I cried! It was really emotional!

What was the best concert you’ve seen so far? Kinda stupid question, sorry :-)
I would say Linkin’ Park which was my first concert with my dad. That was really good.

Your dad took you Linkin’ Park? Dad = Cool!
Yes definitely! But there were lots of cool concerts and it’s really hard to find the ‘best’ one.

What’s your favorite Thai band?
Tillybirds!

Good answer! And for real?
Tillybirds!

Alright, passed. You can do more videos with Billy! ;-)
I really do like them! The Whitest Crow is also good though.


Is there anyone you’d want to work with? Don’t say Billy again!
Can I not say Billy again? He’s really great! He radiates genius and he’s so humble, polite and nice. It’s crazy! I’d kill for having a toenail of his talent. So I’d love to work with him again. Moreover, talking about Thailand, I definitely like to work with Big Ass.

Cool! But since you’re about to become super famous…
Really?

Sure, you’re on my-thai.org now! :P So since you’re about to become super famous you could collaborate with anyone, not only Thai bands. Who would that be?
Hm…..Paramore!

Cool. I approve this answer. It’s not what I expected. Nice! Now if I would ask you about your immediate plans, besides being an awesome GMM Grammy family member, what would that be?
Well, I guess graduate Uni, start a youtube channel, work more on my skills and learn more about cinematography. We’re also about to start a new series here with MBO, I don’t know if I can disclose that yet though.

I’m sure you can. We’re all friends here!
It’s called underwear.

Interesting…
It is! By just reading the script I got really excited. It sounds really good and contains lots of different elements. Great project!

That does sound good. Looking forward to learning more about that soon. Now that we talk about series, do you have a favorite series at the moment?
Game of Thrones!

Ah you’re also one of those!
Yes, I’ll gladly succumb to all kinds of stereotypes when it comes to GOT fans. I also like to watch a show called “Blacklist” though. It’s also really good!

We’re coming slowly to an end but I do have a few questions left. We learned in the beginning that you cried on the toilet when GMM found you, do you also have memories of a very good, or your best, performance where you didn’t cry afterwards?
Well I did cry afterwards. It seems like it’s a concert theme of mine. I tend to overthink. Talking about my favorite performances though I’d say number one was performing at Big Mountain Music Festival.

Cool. There’s not much more to accomplish then. That’s one of the biggest festivals here.
Just gotta go back! Also my high school always sets up a concert and the last time I performed there was the last time I saw all my high school friends which is just a nice memory.

Is there a place where you would want to perform?
Well I like to perform the songs that I want people to hear. That’s very hard to find. Finding an audience that wants to hear what you want to share is rather difficult. So to find that, that would be kind of a dream come true.

That sounds really good. And that’s why you make music eventually. Love it.
Exactly. Somebody once asked me why I make music. And the answer I came up with was that I remember that my brother was singing a song and in that moment that song gave me all the answers that I needed. It was the exact same feeling to mine. It was incredibly. It was a rather specific feeling so nothing generic. It was really special and that song understood my feeling. So if one of my songs could be that song for someone else, that would be amazing.

A photo posted by my-Thai.org (@mythaiorg) on

That sounds beautiful. And I think everybody who either makes or is into music has this one song.
So now that we’re both in the emo mood, let’s stick with the theme and and ask: Do you experience lots of different moods? Do they affect you a lot?
Every one who knows me well would tell you that I’m very very emotional. If I know you well, at some point in time I would either turn to you and divulge in the beauty of the world and scream ‘oh my gosh everything is so beautiful’ or be incredibly sad and say ‘oh god this is such a sad existence’.

How do you cope with that? Can you counter those feelings?
When you can go with the full range of emotion it can bring an odd kind of joy. So even if you are sad and you go all in with the sadness you can still get some kind of satisfaction from it.

Speaking of satisfaction, and not adding any pressure here, but what are your famous last words?
Oh god. How do I summarize a whole life time in a few words?

Well pop-punk-emo-teen songs usually try to do that rather well ;-)
True. I don’t really have any kind of last words but rather something I live by. It’s something that gets me through the bad times and humbles you in the good times. Anything is temporary.

Anything bad won’t be for long, anything good won’t be for long. So if you don’t like where you are now, it will change either for the worse or the better. If you like where you are now, it will also change either for the worse or the better.

Wise words. Thank you very much for this incredibly fun and open interview. I had lots (!!!) of fun and learned quite a lot about you and can’t wait to hear more from you in the near future!

If you like what you read, you can follow Emma on Twitter or Instagram!

Sascha Funk

Founder / Editor at My-Thai.org
Sascha is the publisher of my-thai.org and switched from an online marketing agency life in Europe to a teaching and education life in Thailand. He also writes about Teaching & Technology.

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