Sunday 31 December 2023


E.M.M.A., aka producer, label owner and person Emma Davies, has intrigued us as a musicmaker since her astounding 'Mindmaze'. A mingling of huge beats and medieval, dungeon synth-adjacent melodies, it was certainly well received here (it was a moment).

But, of course, Davies has done more than blended UK-flavoured beats with fugues to create Renaissance riddims. Years, various projects, two albums (Blue Gardens and 2020's Indigo Dream) and an EP (Change My Mind, released this year) have passed since. Along the way she's crafted commercial and artistic soundtracks, providing audio backdrops for brands such as Gucci, for example, and a selection of short films

Davies is one of the masterminds behind Producergirls, a "beginners' music production workshop for girls" (currently on pause). In a previous interview with yes/no, Davies stated the aim behind the workshop series is "to encourage more women to try out electronic music production and to see if we can make the industry more gender balanced." This is not her only endeavour outside of musicmaking itself. She's the founder of label Pastel Prism, host for NTS show Angel Food alongside journalist Aimee Cliff, and is a regular DJ and mixmaker.

Her most recent release, Change My Mind, is a result of going down a "Miami Vice OG TV series rabbit hole."

"I had a few demos together at the end of 2022 but they were all sort of psychedelic and mellotron-based," says Davies. More Glyn Johns than Jan Hammer. "But having immersed myself in Miami Vice episodes, and taking over the TV for many months ... I was reminded that I actually have a record label named Pastel Prism, which was a reference to the soft powdery hues of '80s aesthetic." Thus the '80s theme stuck. With the aesthetic set, Change My Mind came into fruition "inspired by wanting to extract the most emotion with as few sounds as I can," she says.

And so the E.M.M.A. take on the top tracks of 2023 was always going to be interesting. Broad-ranging but beat-focused, her selection is international and close to home, as involved with atmospherics as it is honed on the thud and boom of myriad BPMs. Read on ☟


Emma Davies: SHIMZ343 is my favourite producer of the year (insert goat emoji here). Listening to this track is like watching a movie. There is a proper narrative going on and a really immersive world being built around you which moves you to a different place from where you were before you listened. I don’t want to say any more because I'd rather you listen and buy the track and see what I mean. Also he’s got a great eye for the visual aesthetic too. SHIMZ34 film soundtrack ASAP plz.

2. Adrian Carter – Motif

ED: I speak to Adi [Adrian Carter] quite regularly and he’s always banging out a hit in the studio. The thing I like about Adi’s music is to me it’s completely timeless, in the same way a lot (all?) of these tunes are. His melodies grasp at the meaning of life while also having the ability to turn any time of day into a party, a party you could imagine happening at any point in the last 40+ years. He’s a wizard. Having said that this tune [taken from October album Salt Horse] is not a party tune, maybe more of an after party, while questioning your life choices.

3. Novelist – Big Novelist

ED: No one needs me to point out Novelist is in a league of his own, but here I am pointing it out. His approach to music is very inspiring, not only how it sounds but how he places his work in the world and the intent behind it. This track released this year [on album 3.5 4 THA RIDE] is one of my favourites, as is ‘Again’. It also goes without saying that as someone also on an '80s flex from time to time that’s a particular characteristic of his tracks and aesthetic that I am a big fan of, his ability to synthesize a detailed palette of film and music influences into something completely unique.

4. Teplice – Revival

ED: Matilda [Jones] aka Teplice was the first person I released on my label Pastel Prism Records that wasn’t me. Shout out Dexplicit who is the other person. This release [Call It Home] on Hot Concept out of Berlin is super dreamy and I love the progression. There are snatches of vocals which I can’t really work out what’s being said, which I think makes it more impactful because your imagination joins the dots and therefore the mood is profound.

5. Etch – Guardare Ma Non Toccare

ED: My pal Etch has had loads of releases this year but I’ve picked this one from a “quick lil mish mash of 1-2min long tracks made in one evening using Italian Library & Film Soundtracks (YES ALL OF IT, EVEN THE WEIRD SYNTHY SHIT, IT’S CALLED FX CHAINS)” to quote the man himself. Me and him have got a collab coming out at some point, I’m sure he won’t mind me saying. We both use FL Studio so I regularly ask him how TF he has done something in his mix. I only ask about 3 people and he’s one of them. There’s nothing this guy can’t do, throw a BPM at him, I dare you.

Taken from Pslightly Psychedelic Sounds Of Italy Vol.1, which appears to be missing

6. Céline Gillain – They Play Games

ED: I simply came across this tune [from Brussels-based artist Céline Gillain's album Mind Is Mud] and liked it.

7. O'o – Moon

ED: As a big fan of the moon, this [track by Barcelona duo O'o] caught my eye. You’ve got to be careful referencing the moon because it’s such a big deal. That’s why I called my track “Ryan Gosling in Space” instead of “Ryan Gosling on the Moon”. I think this track does the moon justice. What we’re looking for here is a feeling of being recharged by the moon whilst simultaneously feeling completely insignificant.

8. Yamaneko ft. J.Day – Nowhere

ED: Yamaneko was the person who kept me sane during writing my first album Blue Gardens. Anyone who’s followed me for more than 5 mins will know I’ve played him in all of my sets, most recently seamlessly and effortlessly blending him with 'Crockett’s Theme' on NTS on a Friday night no less. Get your ears around this.

9. Valentina Magaletti and Zongamin – Candles

ED: Please see answer to No. 6. [taken from percussionist and drummer Valentina Magaletti's album Suono Assente, out on AD 93]

Photography by Sophie Davies [top] and Kate Molins [above]
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