Thursday, 8th April 2021 | Women in Pop Live with Emalia and MARSHES @ Oxford Art Factory
I’ve a confession to make. I’ve forgotten how to dance at gigs.
When my friend and I arrived on Thursday night at the Oxford Arts Factory for Women in Pop’s first ever live event - and among Sydney’s first gigs this year where dancing is permitted - we gazed dumbstruck at the floor. Where had all the seats gone? Luckily, the rest of the audience had better memories than us and wholly embraced the freedom to dance throughout what became a banger of a night.
The hosts of the show, Sydney based Women in Pop, produce a biweekly print magazine, a podcast and web content focused around women and their influence in the pop scene.
“Women in Pop was created due to the misrepresentation of women in the media,” writer Jett Tattersall, who hosted the night, told us. “Instead of focusing on her talent, the media focuses on whom she’s dating, her clothing, her age, whether she’s going to have kids - as opposed to her art. Women in Pop is about changing the dialogue on that.”
We were without a doubt given a look into the creative worlds of emerging R&B sensation Emalia, supported by electropop flame MARSHES.
A Sydney based DJ who’s recently also taken to the mic, MARSHES immediately brought the stage to life with her confidence and charm, kicking off the night with her earworm ‘C.B.F.’
MARSHES proved to be an inspiration for us, saying that her biggest challenge was being her own worst critic - but her biggest achievement has been overcoming that.
“I’ve learned that nobody cares,” she remarked. “If they don’t care, they’re not listening anyway. And if they do care, they’ll listen.”
And listen we did, particularly to M.I.A. which is a heartful number about disappearing on friends when the artist was suffering from a particularly serious bout of anxiety.
MARSHES is also known for using instrumentals produced by fellow local DJs and singing well known songs on top of their tracks. She then swapped that around, singing an original vocal melody over a Mura Masa instrumental, which she named ‘Sleepless’.
The electropop artist finished her set with her new single ‘Beaches’, about a long distance relationship. With its catchy vocal hook and the poignant line “there’s so many beaches between us”, we think it’s only a matter of time before you start seeing MARSHES everywhere.
The moment headliner Emalia stepped onstage we immediately felt her boundless enthusiasm. As a performer Emalia understands how to command the space she’s in, lithely bounding around the stage to her first banger of a track ‘Prima Donna’.
The darker undertones of ‘2am Habit’ suited Emalia’s silky falsettos paired with powerful Ariana Grande-esque belting. The R&B artist is versatile, displaying her talent with rhythm in the hip hop heavy ‘IOU’. Despite a couple of false starts on ‘Suga Rush’ Emalia demonstrated her professionalism by recovering smoothly and sailing straight through a track propelled by understated beats.
The singer also brought to us her latest single ‘Mistake’, about her first relationship which she was in from the ages 14 to 20. “I’ve been trying to write about how it ended for years and years,” Emalia expressed before launching into a soulful performance.
By the end of the night, the audience was in full dance-mode - the space we’d seen when we arrived was packed with music lovers and fellow artists alike, and as we left the venue, little bits of what I’d forgotten pre-pandemic began trickling back into my gig-starved brain.
I think I’ve remembered how to dance again.
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