CMJ Spotlight: Emma Torres Is More Hardcore Than You

Emma Torres is the girl that we all wanted to be, if not now, than at some point in our lives. She’s got a set of skills on the guitar to rival the boys, but a sexy rocker look that will bring envy from the girls. We met with Miss Torres to discuss how she got to be the “girl in the band,” her upbringing in Mexico, and Red Oblivion‘s plans for the future.

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Interview by Ashley Uzer
Photos by Jess Kohlman

How did growing up in Mexico and Spain influence your love for music?
Albums in Mexico would be double the price, so I would have to download them illegally, or you would have to import it. It definitely made me more into metal and hardcore music because the people I hung out with just ended up listening to metal music. When the bands would come to town you would get so excited because no one would play there ever, so every time a band came everyone from school would go and you would get the t-shirts and it was a whole different experience because it was so special. Especially when your favorite band finally got down there it was like -“oh my god.”

You performed on Vans Warped Tour at Age 16, what was it like doing so at such a young age?
It was really fun! I was just kind of like, “this is the best thing ever!” It definitely gave you an idea of what being in a band is, eating Taco Bell every night, and taking a shower was very special.

Have you always felt like one of the boys or have there been times when being in the music industry with a bunch of guys has been a struggle?
Both. There’s definitely a lot of times when I have felt like one of the boys, but there’s definitely some times when people judge you differently because you are a women, you have to work harder. If you’re bad and a female people are just like “oh well, it’s a girl” and nowadays I feel there are a lot more female musicians. I’ve seen some amazing female guitar players. But there’s definitely been some times when I’ve been in really awkward situations with a bunch of guys, being hit on guys from other bands, but as far as in my inner band circles I definitely feel like one of the boys. I can handle the dirty jokes, they don’t bother me. My friends come hang out and they are like “how can you deal with that?” but you’re so used to it.

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Are there any female musicians that strongly inspire you?
Joan Jett really inspired me growing up. A lot of times I would just listen to male guitar players because there wasn’t very many female guitarists, maybe Linda Ford. Fiona Apple is a really good piano player, Melissa Etheridge is a really good guitar player.

When did you realize that you wanted to become a professional musician?
Probably when I was like 13-14. I had been playing guitar for about a year, I was in this summer camp where they put you in a talent show and I wanted to play Nirvana “Breed.” we went on stage, we played it, I played the solo, I got on my knees and everyone was cheering and I’m just like “this is so much fun I want to do this again.”

As a band, you’ve played CMJ once before as well as Lollapalooza, what’s the most rewarding this about playing big festivals?
The fans that you meet and their experience with it is definitely the best part. At Lollapalooza I met some really cool other bands too, it’s great to hear people’s music and actually get to meet them and be like “oh, were people.” That definitely is my favorite part, and I’ve met some incredible people, especially at Lollapalooza in Chile; the crowds are incredible, they’re the best.

How would you describe your most recent album?
Very Pixies like, it’s a lot darker, but much more Pixies. It’s lyrically very interesting because Zach talks lots about special mental disorders and overmedication because now society today is very over-medicated, if you have one little problems they go “oh, here’s a pill” you don’t really talk about it. Growing up in Mexico,  I was with doctors where they talk to you about it and you actually know, so that’s what this album is kind of about. It’s more about today’s societies being in trouble and medications and drugs, and a lot of it is about certain heartbreak that we’ve gone through as a band, we went through some tough times. We’ve been together about 3 years but I feel like it’s pretty hard when you’re confined in a space for so long.

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Favorite venue/city?
Let’s see… I think there was this venue we played in Mexico called the Bulldog which is a club and it’s a stage with a bar at the bottom so when you play you look down at the people, that was my favorite. As far as New York goes, I really like The Studio at Webster Hall a lot.

Proudest moment of your career thus far?
It would definitely be when we played Brazil at Lollapalooza. We had a really huge crowd and I was walking and a giant flood of people started chasing after me, I was kinda just looking around like, “who are they running for?”

How would you describe your performance style?
I head bang a lot. A lot of hair whip-lashing, I break a lot of strings, I hit a lot. I interact with the lead singer- Zach, it’s definitely intense. I’m definitely intense, I’m not very chill, I’m definitely more head banging. It used to be the windmill. I love going to the studio, but stage performance is the best part.

Goals for the future?
Our goals as band is to just keep growing, keep doing festivals, just going out there and being on the road and touring more. Writing more stuff, growing as a band together. We’ve definitely found our sound especially with this last album and we just need to keep growing that sound.

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