Sometimes, love isn’t hot. Sometimes, infatuation and unfulfilled romantic longing can plunge the afflicted person into an emotional state reminiscent of an ice bath. There he stays, frozen out of time, in suspension, hijacked from daily activity and unable to re-enter the flow of everyday life until the feeling stops. St. Louis R&B and soul singer Stringz EMB knows what that’s like. “Hijacked,” his latest single, is an exploration of love at its chilliest — and its music video, which he directed himself, takes us to a stark, gorgeous, snow-covered mountain top in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. It’s a perfect visual metaphor for the singer’s tormented, wintry heart; it’s an awesome sight to behold, too.
“Hijacked” is just the latest demonstration of Stringz EMB’s striking ability to channel and communicate complicated emotions through his songwriting and performances. It’s not exactly a love song, not exactly a confession, either, and it isn’t entirely a come-on. Instead, it’s a singular combination of all three and a specific description of an in-between state that everybody has experienced but which few can pin down so persuasively. Stringz’s supple voice can handle nuance: it’s impassioned and soulful one minute, distant and icy the next, in turns cajoling, wounded, teasing, and pugnacious. It takes a writer and singer of uncommon sensitivity to fit so much meaning and implication into a three-minute pop song.
It’s hardly the first time he’s turned the trick. Over his career, Stringz EMB has built a catalog of thoughtful, emotionally sophisticated, smartly-written soul and R&B songs — and they’ve gotten him noticed far beyond the city limits of St. Louis. A tireless performer, he’s taken his stage show from coast to coast, sharing stages with ATG of Discrepancies, Lyfe Jennings, Bubba Sparxxx, and Murphy Lee. But no matter how far his success has taken him, he remains deeply rooted in the Eastern Missouri music scene. His recent stand of sold-out performances at the Diamond Music Hall in St. Peter’s, Missouri testifies to his hometown popularity.
There are plenty of shots of St. Louis in the “Hijacked” clip: any time Stringz EMB is shown with the lover who has captured his heart, he’s pointedly at home. But when he’s in the mountain cabin that symbolizes his frigid disposition, surrounded by high, snow-covered pines and trackless, frosty wilderness, he’s by himself. (He *does* take a trip into Denver to a marijuana dispensary; even the lovelorn need supplies). His camera lingers on the pure white surfaces and powdery snow — the pristine feel of land in repose. The singer wanders through the snow in shorts and with no jacket around his shoulders, exposed, vulnerable, yet somehow unperturbed. He’s so overwhelmed by emotion that he has, ironically, become numb.
When did your musical journey begin, and at what point did you realize you wanted to pursue music as a career?
Honestly, my musical journey started during my adolescent years. My very first performance was my kindergarten graduation. I led the choir in singing the legendary, “Lean on Me.” I’ve always been around music & music has been a part of my everyday walk, but I didn’t take it seriously until 2014, when I fell heavily into depression. I began to become more prayerful, and I asked God to reveal my purpose & shortly after, songs began to flow through me. From there, I recorded my very first song, “Time.” Once the guitar dropped, a feeling hijacked my entire body, and I haven’t looked back since
Breaking into the music industry from St. Louis, Missouri, what is it like having unwavering support from your hometown while picking up national traction?
Receiving love from my hometown is EVERYTHING. I’ve been grinding for quite some time & my focus has always been to do it from home. Your city has that power to create an undeniable amount of momentum & that kind of wave is hard to overlook. I feel like I’m doing it the right way. I’m gaining the organic love of my peers, fellow St. Louians, and supporters. With that amount of push & adoration, how can I not win?
What was your inspiration for your newest release, “Hijacked”? What story are you hoping to share with your audiences?
My inspiration for “Hijacked” is simple: Love. Love guides me. Hijacked is merely my perception of the overwhelming feeling of love & the maximal similarity that it has to the feeling of drugs overtaking the body. The song takes one into the emotion of vulnerability, and how it affects you each day. Then at the end of it all, if you are blessed enough to have that one; everything’s magically becomes okay, or at least, much better than it was when you thought you were all alone in this journey we call life. “Hijacked”
speaks to the soul, as it tap dances on the heart. It’s my attempt to promote the beauty of love. Do you believe in love?
How does “Hijacked” stand out from your other work while keeping consistent with your thoughtful, emotional songwriting?
“Hijacked” stands out because of its delivery. Just like my other written songs, I speak about the emotion that we all endure. Love attacks us in different ways, but my focus was to direct it towards the way it makes one feel. My other songs, I’m usually a bit more vocally aggressive, but on this track I pulled back a bit. I wanted to create an audible ambiance that you can just fall into over and over and over again…… kinda like love. It just hurts a bit less lol.
How was your creative vision for “Hijacked” carried out in the music video?
First off, shout to Corrie “Ceesz” Hairston, Jr. He’s my brother, from another mother. He’s the creative genius behind the filming of this beautiful visual. We had decided to go to Denver for 420 lol. Shoutout to EM Breese, Ryan Moore, & James Brown. Yep, a bunch of guys in Denver for 420; good times. So, the day we arrived, I went to rent a car. In every case, I try to be as cheap or “efficient” as possible, so I attempted to rent a compact car. The representative asked what part of the state we were driving into & once I told her, she replied, “yeah, you’re going to need 4-wheel drive.” And THAT’S how we found out it was going to be a snow storm. The original idea was just to shoot the video in the beautiful greenery of the mountains, but once the snowstorm hit, it was like God just upgraded us to a masterpiece. I typically write my songs as a visual, so it was pretty easy to walk through the song’s lyrics, but the money shots were definitely the visuals captured from Ceesz’s drone and the up close shots with the snowy backdrops. Everything just made sense. It felt right & I’m really big on that. We took what was granted, and we made the best out of it. We just happened to be given the most beautiful scenery. It’s kinda like God wants me to win, right?
What do you think new and returning fans will adore most about this new song
I like to refer to them as supporters, simply because that’s what they do. They support me & I truly appreciate them, because without them, I’m just another creative making music that no one enjoys. I think they’ll enjoy the feel of the song & video. My goal is to create immediate nostalgia. Whether it’s winter, spring, summer, or fall, I want to be your instant teleport to the most beautiful winter you’ve ever imagined. On a hot day, I want to be that thing that cools you off, & on a cold day, I want to be that voice that keeps you warm. Ultimately, I think they’ll adore the vibe of Stringz EMB.