Knowing your own self worth can be an uphill struggle for many; we ignore our strongest supporters, deferring instead to our worst critics – the least of which is that overly callous voice in the back of our mind. As a lack of self-esteem or self-worth undermines everything we do, our conviction and confidence becomes brittle. “Ghost,” the latest track from Emma Jaye, serves as a canticle for those struggling with knowing their self worth. She sings about her experience with ghosting – a pervasive phenomenon well-known to most millenials – and focuses on the empowering positives, notably, the importance of asserting yourself and refusing to be led by the whims of somebody else because there could be a chance at love.
“It’s honestly so common and I don’t know a person that hasn’t been ghosted. But it’s cool because more people can relate [to the song],” says Emma Jaye. “It felt good to get that off my chest. It bothered me a bit and then after a few months my sentiments changed and I was like, so talk or don’t – up to you, I don’t care!”
“Ghost” sets the scene with a distinctive guitar riff reminiscent of the Police’s “Message in a Bottle” and Blue Oyster Cult’s “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper,” albeit with a lighter, poppier edge. As the riff repeats, Emma Jaye dives straight in with the line, “Radio silence then you blow up my phone” – someone she thought had disappeared has returned, but Emma Jaye isn’t going to continue repeating a cycle in which she feels trapped. Her immediate retort sets that conviction in stone: “Hey, thanks for trying, but I’m good on my own.” She turns the page and starts a new chapter in her life, with a new value system and renewed confidence in herself as a person. “‘Ghost’ is about me not basing my worth on somebody else’s inability to see me. It’s like, well, if you don’t see me, I’m going to see myself. That’s the energy of the song,” she says.
Steady percussion ticks away like a clock, and Emma Jaye seems to be counting down the seconds until she can say what she needs to say for herself and then shut the door without spending more time on this person. “Everybody wants love and approval and acceptance and I get that, but I don’t think a lot of people are able to stand on their own and get approval for themselves,” says Emma Jaye. “It’s important to know your worth and what you bring to the table.” The lyric video visualizes her words in a multitude of fonts reminiscent of the distinctive neon-lit skyline of Los Angeles that Emma Jaye calls home.
The singer-songwriter wasn’t always so in tune with herself. Stepping out into the world of acting as a child, she previously appeared in the hit TV show Boardwalk Empire as Edith Thompson and in the film Spring Breakers. With some success as an actress under her belt she could have chosen to pursue that route; perhaps it might have seemed the most sensible. But the self-reliant Emma Jaye took a leap of faith to pursue a career in music. “I love acting… but singing is the thing that I was born to do,” she says.
She has a hard time pin-pointing when she realized music was her calling: she felt drawn to it most of her life and asked for music lessons at age ten, but set it aside in her early adolescence and didn’t start singing again until she sought music as a comfort for loneliness. “I can always count on people to let me down. I can remember when I was 14… I didn’t really have anyone. I would come home from school, lay on the ground and listen to music because that was all I had,” she says. “It was kind of sad, but also, it kept me company in a way. Music and singing started to become more of a lifeline.” From that experience, Emma Jaye eventually got more serious about her career. “I had this strange epiphany moment when I could see everything in retrospect,” she says. “That was the real ‘wow’ moment – I had always known, but it took time to really remember. A real part of life is remembering who you are; I think that’s the journey for every single human being.”
Emma Jaye is poised to find success in music as well as acting, releasing a string of singles that showcase her ability to dig deep and bare her soul – all to the to catchy tune of a pop beat. Starting off 2020 with the release of “Dumb,” an infectious track that incorporates an eerie, off-kilter nursery rhyme quality, and “Overtime,” in which she expresses overthinking about a relationship to the sonic backdrop of an atmospheric, trance-like beat, Emma Jaye has solidified her presence in the industry. The songs she creates are a direct reflection of where she is now: “It took a lot of time and meditation honestly. It took growing as a human being because as I grew, my art grew with it and that was a reflection of where I was at that time,” she says.
Like with her previous tracks, Emma Jaye uses “Ghost” as a sonic Trojan Horse – her deeply personal work gives a voice to 21st century existence, in a deceptively fun pop package. She unabashedly uses “Ghost” and her other pop-oriented singles to assert her presence in the world – not just as a musician but as a young woman navigating relationships.
In essence, “Ghost” provides a blueprint of support for anyone in a similar situation. Emma Jaye tells the listener that she understands why some of us let this type of behavior slide, but projects the reality that it doesn’t have to be this way as she details the freedom and confidence gained from knowing your self-worth and trusting your decisions.
“I’m very familiar with narcissists – they are basically emotional vampires, and they are very manipulative and gaslight you and will keep you down to keep you around and use you like a battery if you have that empathetic nature. A lot of the things that broke my heart fixed my vision. To that point, I wouldn’t change who I am,” Emma Jaye says. “I knew who I was going into this industry… Honestly, leaning into heartbreak is the way back home and that was music for me.”
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