Enter the EMZ

Emma Zakarevicius Issue: Section:

Everything is Art. Living is an art and I’ve always had a song within me. I used to joke that my brain was tuned into the frequency of a bad radio station as I awoke every morning for a number of years with a song playing in my mind. I sang on the bus on the way to school in the morning, loud and unabashed those songs that got stuck bouncing between the walls of my cranium for the remainder of the day. I was forever infecting my student body around me with the contagious melody. As I only listened to the radio in the parental car, which wasn’t a frequent occurrence, half the time I had no idea how these songs came to haunt me with such enthusiasm day in and day out. It was probably from watching music videos something that I then lived for. I often spent both Friday and Saturday night watching ‘Rage’, Australia’s version of MTV, which began at midnight and ran through until noon the following day. On these evenings and early mornings a famous band or artist was asked to curate the music for the duration of the show which often resulted in exposing the viewers to varied genres, often including avant-garde music. Sometimes it got really weird but I liked it. The weirder the better.

I may have gotten my voice from my grandmother who sang soprano in a Lithuanian choir for years, touring all over Australia with her heavenly sound. Delicate like a quivering bird, so earnest in its delivery, so emotional at heart, this angelic emanation taught me the power of the voice, as hers often moved me to tears. Thinking that she was speaking of love and remorse, warbling in her passionate Lithuanian mother tongue, I would weep, transported by the sheer emotion emanating from her being. Then she would translate the tale into English revealing an interpretation distant from what I heard as I projected my own sentimental meanings onto the song. It was the power of her voice that transformed me, its reverberance resounded in my every sensitive fiber.

Grandma also introduced me to recording, specifically how to record harmonies over existing tracks by way of old school cassette tape. As she was legally blind, grandma would record herself singing on an audio tape, laying down her lower vocal part first and then with a double deck cassette player, record herself singing along in synchronization to the first track on playback. She would then send these cassettes to distant friends and relatives far across the sea. Now, living so far away from people I love, I create music for many of the same reasons – to communicate my experience and to record my memories within a melody. I am inspired by an overflow of feeling. Once captured on paper, merging with instruments and electricity, a song is as unique as the moment it was created in, inspired by and trying to recapture. It’s a search for the muse, an endless echo into the world.

I have made up songs for years, trying to comfort myself when I was sad, making love songs to my beloveds. However it wasn’t until I came to New York that I got to live the dream. In New York anything is possible. Frank Sinatra taught me that. He also taught me that ‘luck be a lady’ and luckily that’s what I am. In New York, if you make a wish on the balmy summer evening breeze anything can manifest. I’ll give you the short story. Having fallen into a local quirky café with quaint piano and color scheme, pink and blue, tables laden with notebooks and colored pencils, I was invited to partake in the musical festivities that occurred on Thursday evenings in the basement. When I enquired what kind of music would be playing, my new African friend and the proprietor replied – voodoo. Consequently I spent months in that red lit basement in a cloud of smoke surrounded by masks in true voodoo fashion, complete with a kings throne and judges periwig to wear before the jury, the audience. My new friend taught me all his songs, all of his beloved melodies and we sang them until we sank to the bottom of the ocean trapped on the red planet mars in an endless red night.

Shuttle forward a few years and I went from crazy nights to being the lead singer of Crazy Mary, a six piece band that embodies the essence of rock n’ roll and the soul of downtown New York City in its glory days. Crazy Mary is a reincarnation of the former ‘Dead Heronies’ and had been playing on the New York scene for a number of years before I took the helm to become the third ‘Mary’ to front the band. Since joining Crazy Mary in 2007, we have recorded two new albums, ‘Nuclear Lipstick’ and the most recent ‘Water on the Moon’ including two of my songs “Another Dollar” and “Low Down Feeling”. Its been an immense journey working with an established band with such a rich history, especially as all the members of Crazy Mary are amazing musicians as well as being some of my best friends. The fact that Walter Steding plays in our band, an artist and musician who has worked with Blondie and stared in movies such as Downtown 81 as well as being Andy Warhol’s painting assistant through the 80’s, makes the experience of working with Crazy that much cooler. Crazy Mary is part of a musical tradition that belongs to New York and since I’m from Australia, I feel honored to be somewhere within the lineage. I still love and enjoy writing songs and making music on my own but being in a band pushes me to achieve a sound and discover new aspects of my voice that I could never accomplish on my own. And it’s not ending there! You haven’t heard the last from me yet!


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