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EMA is the solo performing moniker of guitarist/vocalist Erika M. Anderson, who shaped her experimental voice and guitar techniques in two well-regarded underground bands before setting off on her own. Anderson, who moved to Los Angeles from South Dakota when she was 18, played guitar with folk-noise outfit Amps for Christ in the late '90s and early 2000s, then formed the psych-folk band Gowns in 2004 with former Mae Shi member Ezra Buchla. After making three albums, Gowns disbanded in early 2010, and Anderson began working on solo material. Her single Grey Ship arrived about a year later and boasted a 17-minute version of Robert Johnson's "Kind Hearted Woman" that managed to reinvent the song drastically while remaining true to its spirit. Her debut album, Past Life Martyred Saints, appeared on Souterrain Transmissions in mid-2011. It was widely praised in the music press and, despite minimal marketing, it led to headline tours across North America and Europe. The following year Anderson began work on her second full-length with musician Leif Shackelford in Portland, Oregon. Titled The Future's Void, it arrived via Matador Records in April 2014.
Erika M. Anderson, better known by her stage name EMA, is an American singer and songwriter from South Dakota. Originally the lead singer of drone-folk band Gowns, she released her debut album Little Sketches on Tape in 2010 on Night People, an independent music label founded by former Raccoo-oo-oon member Shawn Reed. In 2011 EMA released her second album Past Life Martyred Saints, which received positive reviews from Pitchfork Media, Drowned in Sound, and the NME. After releasing her debut album, EMA was named "New Band of the Day" by The Guardian and "Artist to Watch" by Rolling Stone. In 2011 she performed "Endless, Nameless" for Spin 's twentieth anniversary tribute to Nirvana's album Nevermind. Her song "The Grey Ship" was used on an episode of Adult Swim's Off the Air, and in the 2014 Carter Smith film Jamie Marks Is Dead.
She has been heavily blogged about and was described by Yahoo! News as one of the most blogged artist of the week. This was calculated using an aggregator of 1000 music blogs.
A new album, The Future's Void, was released in 2014. She made her network television debut performing on The Late Show with David Letterman on August 26, 2014.Neyland, Nick (May 10, 2011). "EMA: Past Life Martyred Saints". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved May 17, 2011. Skinner, James (May 5, 2011). "EMA – Past Life Martyred Saints". Drowned in Sound. Retrieved May 17, 2011. "Album Review: EMA – 'Past Life Martyred Saints'". NME. IPC Media. May 4, 2011. Retrieved May 17, 2011. Lester, Paul (April 14, 2011). "New band of the day – No 1,005: EMA". The Guardian. guardian.co.uk. Retrieved May 17, 2011. Keyes, J. Edward (May 17, 2011). "Artist to Watch: EMA's Spellbinding Noise-Folk Confessionals". Rolling Stone. Wenner Media. Retrieved May 17, 2011. "FREE ALBUM: SPIN Tribute to Nirvana's 'Nevermind'". Spin. July 19, 2011. Retrieved July 28, 2011. "EMA – Past Life of Martyred Saints". The Decline Of. Tumblr. May 29, 2011. Retrieved June 29, 2011. AFP Relax (May 9, 2011). "Most blogged artists: EMA releases new track, debut album". Yahoo! News Malasya. Retrieved May 17, 2011. Richardson, Mark (10 April 2014). "EMA: The Future's Void | Album Reviews | Pitchfork". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved 30 April 2014.
Anderson played guitar for the experimental rock project Amps for Christ until the early 2000s. In 2006, she shaped the noise-folk band Gowns with The Mae Shi member and then-boyfriend Ezra Buchla. The duo, along with the former drummer of The Mae Shi, Corey Fogel, relocated to San Francisco, California. After holding recording sessions in Anderson's home in South Dakota, the group released its first record, Red State, in 2007. After the record's release, Jacob Felix Heule and Aaron Davis became additions to the band, with Heule replacing Fogel as drummer and Davis becoming the group's bassist. Gowns continued to tour and record, releasing its third and final album, Broken Bones, in 2009.Phares, Heather. "EMA". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved December 2, 2011. Mason, Stewart. "Gowns: Biography". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved June 25, 2010.