‘I Am Woman’ is one of the biggest songs in the world right now, and deservingly so. Emmy Meli’s defining message of female and self-empowerment has been heard globally, and become the natural theme song for this years International Women’s Day. It’s a song that already means so much to a whole new generation of people who needed to hear the inspiring words of reassurance that this breakthrough singer-songwriter had to share.
Born from a place of needing a self-reminder, Emmy had these mantras circulating her head that she continually told herself. Flowing out of her like a stream of consciousness, these mantras became a chorus, and the chorus became a global TikTok trend, and now a song that was created to help her through her anxieties is being felt by so many who feel a similar way. Not only does she no longer feel alone, but all of the listeners who doubted if anyone felt the same way of them now have a song to find solace within. It’s the ultimate power of music, and the incredible power of a single song that can catapult someone into the spotlight and change their life forever.
To celebrate International Women’s Day this week, I chatted to Emmy Meli about the personal mantras that birthed her breakthrough hit ‘I Am Woman’, discussed the importance of the “I am feminine, I am masculine, I am anything I want” line, and she explains how her throwing up in her therapists parking lot planted strawberries. Check it out BELOW;
THOMAS BLEACH: ‘I Am Woman’ is a beautiful and empowering song that is all about embracing every part of you. You wrote this song completely by yourself, and lyrically it feels like a stream of consciousness with the way it naturally pours out. So was that actually how it felt and happened when you did sit down to write it?
EMMY MELI: Yeah! Originally it wasn’t even a song. It was just these little mantras I would say to myself every day that were born from a dream I had. I was in rehearsal with my bandmates and just freestyling, and I started singing those mantras that I was saying to myself. The lyrics are qualities I picked about myself that I thought I needed to pay a little extra attention to and appreciate more. It just flowed out of me, and felt like a happy accident that was meant to happen.
I continued to write the song after that little hook part blew up on TikTok, so it just poured out of me. Especially hearing that people were enjoying the “I am” aspect of it, because it is like an affirmation.
TB: “I am feminine, I am masculine. I am anything I want” to me feels like one of the most important lyrics in the track. The representation and power of that lyric specifically is very special. Why was that a sentiment you really wanted to spotlight?
EM: I agree with you, I think that is the most important line in the song too. I have always struggled with the fact that I am feminine and masculine. I’m very feminine presenting, but in my personality and habits I have a very masculine energy. Maybe it’s because I’m a Sagiatirus that I have that dual energy going on. I like to do a lot of research on astrology, and actually being feminine and masculine used to be seen as very divine and special. Which is also where that “I am divine” lyric is born from.
I struggled with that because back in high school I would always wear my dad’s clothes. I tend to dress pretty masculine too, and in 2015 people would always be like “girl, what are you wearing? Why are you wearing boy clothes?”. And I honestly think that’s dumb because clothes are literally cloth, and clothes don’t have a gender. So that makes no sense to me.
I also struggle with PCOS. One of my ovaries has cysts on it which causes acne, as it’s an imbalance of hormones. I struggled a lot with acne growing up, and kids are so mean in high school, and I would always try to cover it up with makeup, and I would be scared to wear bathing suits because of my acne. I kinda felt like I had to include that line in there as I think it’s really special to be unique. I think that’s what makes people cool. When they’re unique and embrace all parts of themselves, that is something special.
TB: What are some of your personal go-to empowering songs? For me growing up it was always ‘Who You Are’ by Jessie J, and ‘Fighter’ and ‘I Am’ by Christina Aguilera.
EM: Actually, there was a song I found by Jessie J a few years back called ‘Queen’ where the lyrics went “I am a queen. I am a goddess. I love my body. I love my skin”. I LOVE that song!
‘Born This Way’ by Lady Gaga. That song had me in a serious chokehold for 2-3 years of my life. It came out when I was in high school and I was getting bullied, and I would just walk around the hallways like “Sorry, I was born this way” *laughs*. So definitely that one!
Another one that really struck a chord with me growing up was ‘Lost Ones’ by Lauryn Hill as it talks about how kindness always wins. You might think you are winning by being a dick, but I’m right within, so I am the one winning. Abundance is within. So those are definitely my top 3 tracks that I listen to when I am having a bad day.
TB: When you were producing the track, you found a beat online to sing the lyrics over. What was it about the beat from Okano that connected with you and the sentiment of the song?
EM: When I originally got home from that rehearsal session I was just beat surfing to get creative, and trying to find something that could get the juices flowing, had a similar key, had a similar vibe to what we were playing, and was something that felt a little ethereal. I think my search bar was “experimental soulful frank ocean type beat”. It was deep down there. I was searching through a bunch of them until I found one that resonated with what I was saying. And then I literally just recorded myself singing it over that beat on my phone. I hadn’t even properly recorded the vocals on it or anything. I was gonna just use it as a reference, but then my thought process was what if there was a girl out there sitting on her bed scrolling on TikTok and needing to hear that it’s okay to be who she wants to be. So I decided to post it, and 24 hours later my life changed.
TB: Well yes, TikTok quite literally changed your life with the ‘I Am Woman’ trend being born through this song. Has there been a video that has particularly resonated with you, or got you extra emotional?
EM: Honestly, all of them get me emotional as they are all so beautiful. I may be the creator of this song, but I am a normal person who still gets really insecure, and has body image issues. I struggle with insecurities just like everyone else, and sometimes I need reminding that I am those things. When I am sad I watch those videos and see people showing off their art or talent, discussing body image issues, female athletes, and the motherhood videos, and it makes me really happy. Also the non binary community finally having something that resonates with the validation of them being feminine and masculine, and anything they wanna be is so special that I got to be a part of creating that safe space for them.
TB: From seeing everyone adapt the song into their own lives and share their unique stories to the world through the use of this song, is there something that it has taught you about yourself and the song?
EM: The explosion of this song has proved to me that your potential really is limitless. I truly believe that kindness will always triumph, and when your heart is in the right place; you are in it to win it. When you make music because you love it, you love helping people, and you love inspiring people; there is no place you can’t go and there is no height you can’t reach.
TB: The acoustic video of the song is absolutely stunning, just like your blue eyeshadow in it. What was something you liked about stripping it back to that raw state?
EM: *Laughs* Thank you! My fashion and makeup choices are always mod-styled with a combination of 50’s and 60’s makeup looks and colour pops with a modern freshness in it. But anyways, I think when you strip something down to the core of the song, it is more fun to sing because a) you get to have more fun with it. And b) you feel it. There’s not a bunch of elements distracting from the song, and you get to just sit with that melody and really feel it. I also just love acoustic versions of songs as they are so calming. I listen to them in the shower, and when I’m cleaning around the house.
TB: You’ve been in the studio working on new music, so what is something listeners will get to learn about you from this forthcoming new music?
EM: I think this upcoming EP is really going to help shed light on who I am as a person, what my message and goal is, and the reason why I am in music. I think it will also set a precedent for the sort of artist I’m trying to be, and allow people to get to know me outside of TikTok and ‘I Am Woman’ and see that I am here to stay. It’s a very personal project. As of right now, I am the sole songwriter of every song on the project, so I think it will resonate with a lot of people as we like to hear people being vulnerable. .
TB: You teased the release of ‘Hail Mary’ on your Instagram recently. What is a fun fact about the creative process behind that track that you could share with us?
EM: It’s a hard hitter! I really get to have that growl in there. I’m really tapped into the funk side of my artistry because the premise of the project is mostly RNB, and that funk song just has to be on there. It really digs into you, and grabs you by the neck.
TB: You have released 6 other songs on streaming services so far. So out of those songs, if you could choose for one more of those songs to have a viral moment, what one do you think deserves it the most?
EM: That is such a good question! I reckon it’s a tie between ‘MATRIX’ and ‘Throwin Up StRaWbErRiEs’. I think ‘MATRIX’ is ahead of its time. I was really surprised to see ‘Wanting More’ as the runner up to ‘I Am Woman’ as I really thought it would be ‘MATRIX’. I literally had blood, sweat and tears from making that song.
But ‘Throwin Up StRaWbErRiEs’ is such a funny story too, and the lyrics are so quirky that I hope people chuckle to themselves while listening to it. It’s very Frank Zappa with the way the music and vocals are so melodically well structured. But then the lyrics are that I am literally up-chucking in my therapist’s parking lot.
TB: I love those lyrics so much as they are so brutally honest and remind me of Julia Michaels’ lyrical approach.
EM: What is so funny about that situation is that I went back to my therapist around the same time as all of the ‘I Am Woman’ stuff started happening, and I shit you not in the centre divider of the parking lot, there were literally strawberries growing where I up-chucked. I only saw because I dropped my iced-coffee and then saw strawberries growing in the centre divider. I was like “please don’t tell me that my throw up literally planted strawberry seeds” *laughs*.
TB: Let’s play a quick game of rapid fire questions. Are you ready?
EM: Sure, let’s do it!
TB: The emoji that best describes ‘I Am Woman’ is…
EM: The butterfly!
TB: When I think of Australia I think of…
EM: Finding Nemo!
TB: The colour of my toothbrush at the moment is…
EM: Dark blue.
TB: A song I wish I wrote would be….
EM: ‘Always Be My Baby’ from Mariah Carey
TB: Pineapple on pizza is…
EM: Amazing! And anyone that thinks otherwise… I am sorry. You need to re-think it.
‘I Am Woman’ is out now!