The rising pop artist releases her new single, “Self Care” and speaks to her newfound sense of self.
When singer Emmalyn Estrada took the stage at Galore’s Girl Cult Festival last week, all eyes were on her, and not just because she was wearing a full-on cherry red leather getup straight out of a ’90s music video. With hard-hitting pipes and a palpable confidence to back them up, you would have never known that it was her first solo show, let alone that she was nervous for it. Emmalyn’s not exactly new to the scene—she got her start posting covers on YouTube and joined the girl group GRL back in 2012, which later disbanded following bandmate Simone Battle’s tragic death—but she’s now on the road to defining herself as an independent artist, and with that comes writing songs that feel personally meaningful. Like her new smooth R&B single, “Self Care,” a testament to the importance of checking in with oneself. We caught up with Emmalyn to talk self-discovery, body positivity, and the most inspiring woman in her life.
Your performance at Girl Cult Festival was amazing! What was the experience like for you?
Thank you so much! Girl Cult was an exciting experience for me because it was the first time I have performed my music as a solo artist. To be honest, I was nervous for days leading up to the show, but I had so much fun!
How did you get into singing?
I started singing when I was six years old. I was extremely shy, but I found a certain kind of happiness that I could only feel when I expressed myself through music. That drove me to eventually pursue singing professionally, and now here I am.
Your new song “Self Care” is about the importance of taking time for yourself—a notion that has become increasingly popular recently. You sing, “Lately, I just need to feel me and love me again. Think it’s been too long since I’ve been in touch with myself.” What inspired the song?
I wrote “Self Care” in November of last year while I was in a relationship. For a while, I was giving so much of my time and energy away that I ended up feeling empty. Even before then, I had done a lot of self-work to mentally and physically get myself back to a place where I felt comfortable in my own body and mind. My heart has always been connected to music, so when I wrote this song, I was trying to reconnect with myself.
You’ve been in the public eye for a little while now, and you’ve also gone through some really difficult times. How do you take care of yourself through adversity?
The loss of my friend and bandmate impacted my life in so many ways. Truthfully, I don’t know if some of the ideas I feel so strongly about now would have been brought to my consciousness if I hadn’t experienced the loss of someone so close to me. I try to keep an open mind and accept my path completely. We’ve all heard “life is too short,” and I truly and wholeheartedly believe that. I try to live my best life and encourage others to do the same.
In your 2016 song “#FreeTitties,” you voice an equally impactful message to women, celebrating them as they are and encouraging them to take pride in their own bodies. Why was this important for you to write?
I had this idea years ago, but I couldn’t quite get it right until last year. I wrote this song with the intention of spurring the equality/feminism conversation in a tongue-in-cheek way. To me, beyond the tongue-in-cheek lyrics, it’s not about being topless or wanting to show your nipples for attention; it’s about women being able to choose how they represent their bodies. We should feel comfortable in our own skin and not be seen as sexual objects. Something like breast feeding in public shouldn’t looked down upon, for example. We have a choice, and we shouldn’t fear how people will react or how society will judge us.
What strong, independent women do you look to for inspiration?
My mother is my inspiration. She’s my number one fan and biggest critic, but it always comes from love and the fact that she wants me to become the best person I can be. Growing up, I witnessed her fight and survive breast cancer twice. She’s taught me to work hard for what I want and always appreciate what I have, and I’ve carried that with me through hard times.
You started out singing covers on YouTube six years ago. How do you think your musical direction has evolved since then?
My musical direction has evolved completely since I posted covers on YouTube! I’m proud to have a career now because I posted these covers six years ago, and I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t. It’s been a journey finding my sound and feeling confident in what I stand for, and I think these last few years of self-discovery have helped me take those steps in the right direction. I’ve lived, lost, loved, and done it all over again, but I take all of the experiences with me when I write my songs, and that’s been my favorite part of evolving my sound and my life.
“Growing up, I never saw anyone who looked like me or said some of the things I’ve said…I want to help bridge that gap for those who feel that they don’t have a place or a voice in this world.”
You’re in the process of carving out a space for your solo work and defining yourself as a musician. How do you see yourself and how do you want people to see you?
I am a young woman defining myself every day, and I’ve found that when I lead with authenticity and passion—with whatever sets my soul on fire—it’ll always bring me to where I’m meant to be. I want people to see me simply for who I am. It sounds so basic, but growing up, I never saw anyone who looked like me or said some of the things I’ve said, so that’s been a big part of my discovery and definition. I want to help bridge that gap for those who feel that they don’t have a place or a voice in this world.
What do you have coming up that you’re excited about?
Life! I just had my first show, and the plan is to continue performing, traveling, and releasing music. I have some exciting surprises up my sleeve that I can’t quite talk about yet, but there is a lot to come!