Singer/songwriter Michael Berns will tell you that the name Ember Fx comes from a play on a childhood nickname. And that much is true. But the word ember – that last burning piece, the lingering glow that sticks with you and fades out slowly – captures the essence of this project all on its own.
Born and raised in a quiet neighborhood in southern California, Michael’s love for music sparked early. He took his first piano lesson at age 5, but it wasn’t until some years later that he started seriously thinking about making his own music.
“I was probably in the sixth grade when I first tried my hand at writing songs,” Michael says. “Even at a young age I think I knew I’d always have that inside me, but I had no idea I’d end up a recording artist.”
In high school and college, Michael studied musical theater and opera. He fell in love with artists like The Postal Service, Depeche Mode, Air, The Beatles. And when he discovered the possibilities of electronic music, expanded his creative palate beyond the confines of a three-piece instrumental method, the seeds of Ember Fx were planted.
“I realized that the traditional setup was somewhat limited,” he says. “By going electronic I had so many possibilities, the musical ideas are practically infinite.”
He explored those infinite ideas for the first time on Across the Land, Ember Fx’s first album, released exclusively on iTunes last year. The album was essentially a solo effort, with a few notable guest appearances. “I enjoy connecting with people through music,” Michael says. “I often feel more comfortable singing than talking, and Across the Land, because it was such a solo effort, was my complete vision. Because of that I felt like I was able to connect with the listener even more.”
2013’s sophomore release will be a much more collaborative effort, but the signature Ember Fx sound is there – complex, layered, vibrant – and the quest for connection with the fans is front and center.
So, what about that childhood nickname?
“When I was in school, I had a teacher who would call the students on the roll sheet by first initial and last name,” Michael explains. “So I was M. Berns. But the way she called my name had a southern twang to it. Kids thought that was funny, so they would call me M. Berns on the lunch yard. I took it on as a nickname, and embraced it.”
Embrace it, he did – add the rich electronic “effects” to “Ember” and you’ve got it: Ember Fx.