Dancing with the demons

It came without warning and with a power that knocked her over. Danish singer Emma Acs was on the brink of an artistic breakthrough when a depression drove a wedge through her life and darkened everything – even her pleasure in music, which had been
her greatest passion since she was very young.
But hidden in the dark was a vital force that showed her
the way to go and gave the demons new tunes to dance to.

My new album Give in to Whatever is so personal that, before releasing it, I had to decide how much to reveal – whether I should evade questions regarding my inspirations, or whether that would be dishonest. In the end, I decided to talk about my depression, to be open about it. I didn’t want the issue to be taboo. That would be sad. I think a lot of people are walking around with knots inside, and I consider myself lucky, because I’ve learned at a young age to take those feelings seriously. And there’s nothing shameful about having felt dismal. I am a very private person, only not when it comes to my music. In interviews, it’s natural for journalists to also ask questions about the dark, twisted feelings that were part of the creation of my second album. Don’t mistake it for reality TV. It relates to my songs, and in that way it makes sense to talk about it. You tell stories, after all, both with your music and with who you are. You give a part of yourself away, and that’s just one of the terms of making the kind of music that I make.

Feeling depressed is just this dark, deep, never-ending ocean, and I don’t think you’re meant to fathom it. How could you? In my case, for example, there was nothing specific, no event, no specific moment, that made me conscious I was depressed, but all of a sudden I just saw myself from the outside, and watching myself, I was thinking, ‘Wow, I don’t feel that great.’ That’s the scary part about it. It sneaks up on you, this feeling.

Making the album was a kind of exorcism. It wasn’t so much about dealing with the emotional aspect, wondering why and how to move on, but about chasing it away; driving out the demons. So I approached it in a very witch doctor type of way by asking myself ‘Should I turn this feeling into a monster, make it into something figurative, or should I rattle with something, use a tool, dance it away?’ That was the approach, instead of expecting to work through my emotions by writing songs, like some kind of therapy. Having a depression isn’t very inspiring, after all, because it’s just feeling super lousy. But the journey away from it, climbing out of that pit, that was inspiring. I think every artist has somehow used their personal emotions as a facilitator in their work, and doing so can be beneficial in dealing with them.