London's Empathy Test has gone about it all wrong. They've just signed a record deal with Stars & Letters Records out of Brooklyn, but haven't played a single live show. Not one. Shouldn't that be the third step behind steps 1 and 2, 'create band' and 'write songs'? But it didn't matter, everything else they did was right. And, really, what do I know?
Based on the strength of their debut EP, Losing Touch, the band won over a discerning internet crowd on the way to that elusive record deal. When it was their turn, they stepped out into the light fully formed. From their website, to the artwork for their singles, to their approach to marketing, the band has done everything they could to succeed. And it's this level of detail that's impressed me from the very start. This approach exuded confidence, a seriousness about what they're presenting. All this from a two person outfit, singer/songwriter Isaac Howlett and composer Adam Relf. And I haven't even mentioned the music.
When I first heard Losing Touch, I was impressed. At the time, I was new to Twitter and wondered why this group started following me. Surely a grievious mistake. Someone in a drunken stupor following the wrong person, only to be sorted out the following day when the fog cleared. So, I went back for a few more listens, and then investigated the group. Great song, polished, and when I saw the website and artwork, I knew this whole unsigned thing wasn't going to last for long.
Earlier this week, I spoke with Isaac about another Q&A with the band and he accepted. I wanted to get the band's thoughts on the record deal, what to expect from the 2nd EP, the band's approach to marketing, and of course when to expect some live shows. This is part one, part two will run Sunday June 15th.
Part One, Q&A with Isaac and Adam of Empathy Test
What was the band's reaction when Stars & Letters Records contacted you?
We followed Stars & Letters on Twitter and the owner, Mark, had a listen to our SoundCloud. When he left a comment on Losing Touch saying it was "the best thing" he'd heard "all year" we knew we were onto something. Our next step after self-releasing our first EP had always been to find an independent label to put out the next one. We just didn't think it would happen so easily or so quickly. We couldn't have asked for a better label either; S&L are a fresh, forward thinking new label and home to some of the most interesting new electronica bands around. We're big fans of Black City Lights. The fact that S&L are based in Brooklyn adds a certain something too, and means we're already represented on both sides of the pond.
Have you guys had a "pinch yourself" moment yet?
The whole thing has felt like a dream to be honest. Everything's happened so fast and has all been very much online; we haven't played a single show yet, so it's all a bit unreal. Signing a record deal, finding out we've had 28,000 plays on Spotify, getting a tweet back from Chvrches saying they liked Losing Touch and our new label mates Ruane Maurice asking us to join them on the road for a UK tour in October (you heard it here first!) have all been major "pinch yourself" moments for us.
What can you tell us about Throwing Stones -- release date, 1st single? Making Worlds was mentioned as the title for the EP in our last Q&A, is it going to be on the EP?
We can tell you that it'll probably be September now for the release of the EP. Knowing that it'll be our first label release has meant we've really made sure it's the best we can possibly make it, from the writing, to the production and to the artwork. We know people already have high expectations and we're hoping to live up to them. As with the Losing Touch EP, the first single will be the title track, Throwing Stones. We had to do the demos for the EP pretty fast by our standards to make sure S&L took us on. Making Worlds didn't quite come together as quickly as we wanted. We'll be saving it for the album, along with a couple of others that didn't quite make it; Everything Will Work Out and Vampire Town.
Did you follow the same recipe as Losing Touch? Any recurring themes?
We took note of all the feedback we received from the first EP and focussed on what made Losing Touch specifically, such a stand out track. The writing process remained the same, but we do think that the new EP has a much more modern sound than the first. Expect a catchy chorus and a killer hook on every track though; that's never going to change! Lyrically, the Throwing Stones EP is 50% dysfunctional relationships and 50% death! We can't give you the full track listing yet but we can tell you that the title track is about splitting up with someone but every time you go out you end up outside their house at 2am chucking stones at their window to wake them up.
Check back on Sunday for Part 2 of my Q&A with Isaac and Adam of Empathy Test.
For more information on Empathy Test: