Giving us a glimpse into their musical world, we chat with UK electronic duo, Empathy Test, and find out whether they are human or really androids.
Why did you start making music, and where did the name Empathy Test come from?
We’ve known each other since we were kids and both come from creative backgrounds. For us, music was a natural progression from other forms of expression like drawing and writing. We taught ourselves to play guitar in our teens and started writing and recording our own songs. Empathy Test came about many years later, after we’d both worked separately on some other very different projects. One day we just finally found a way for us both to collaborate and a style that suited us both. It probably took us a year from then to find a name that worked for the project. We wanted it to say something about our mutual love of Sci-Fi and the influence that it had had, both on the music and the artwork, which Adam does for us. Isaac was re-watching Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner for the fourth or fifth time, when he heard Tyrell say “Is this to be an Empathy Test?” and there it was. It’s what they use in the film to work out whether someone is a human or an android.
Describe your sound in three words.
Mesmerising future pop.
Despite writing critically acclaimed songs, and having a large fan base, Empathy Test remains unsigned. Has this been a conscious decision?
We’ve always wanted to be described as “critically acclaimed” – thanks! Has it been a conscious decision to remain unsigned? Yes and no. Our game plan was always to release two EPs, then an album. The first EP would be a self-release, the second we’d release via an independent. Then, fingers crossed, we’d release the album via a major. So far, so good. Three month’s after self-releasing Losing Touch (February, 2014) we caught the attention of Stars & Letters Records on Twitter. S&L agreed to release our second EP, Throwing Stones in December 2014. A year later, the album is nearly finished and we’re about to start pitching it to labels. We’ve had a few offers already but as we see it, there’s no point in being “signed” unless the label can do something you can’t do yourself. For us, it’s providing us with a much bigger audience than we already have. Once you’ve made a big enough name for yourself, you may as well just do it yourself.
Why did you decide to release a remix EP?
As a place holder really. We’d released two EPs and people were already hungry for more. We needed to record the album but didn’t want to keep people waiting too long. Over the course of 2014 we’d made a lot of new friends in electronic bands and we thought it’d be fun to get them to remix tracks from the second EP. We asked more people than we needed to, in case they didn’t have time or didn’t come up with anything, and ended up with way too many remixes. Then we felt we couldn’t reject any of them so we ended up putting out a ten track EP, which let’s face it, is basically an album.
Stars & Letters said they’d release it and that we should try and get as much press as possible in order to sell more copies of the original EP, so we planned this insane schedule of fortnightly premières for almost all of the remixes. Midway through the promo period S&L informed us they didn’t have the time or resources to see it through, leaving us to finished the promotion and release it ourselves. The irony was, after all that we had a few fans, particularly in Russia, grumbling that we should stop “rehashing our old tracks” and give people what they wanted – an album – or two!
Your album ‘Demons’ is out this year, as well as securing support slots with DE/VISION. It sounds like you have a good year ahead. Are you excited?
We’ve actually changed the name as we’ve dropped the title track, Demons, for the time being. New working title is ‘Shadows’. There’s no release date as yet because we don’t yet know who is going to release it. We’ve started working with German booking agency Pluswelt, which is home to some pretty big alternative acts like Clan of Xymox, Combichrist and Grendel. DE/VISION are on there too and so yeah, excited to be performing with them at their two pre-album launch shows in Germany in April. There’s also some big shows planned for the end of the year and the possibility of a support slot on a European tour too with another Pluswelt band, fingers crossed. So yeah, it looks set to be another big year for us and we are very excited to finally share some new material with you.
Where do you cite your musical influences from?
In a nutshell,’80s Pop and Sci-Fi soundtracks, ’90s guitar bands and UK underground dance music. More recently, Black City Lights, Electric Youth, Chromatics, Chvrches, Purity Ring, FKA Twigs, Avec Sans, Gems, Mt. Wolf.
We love new music at Indietronica. What new music are you listening to?
We both loved The Japanese House when we played with them at Camden Barfly at the end of last year. ‘Still’ was one of the best tracks of 2015; an amazingly well-crafted track. ‘All The Sad Young Men’ by Spector is also up there, and ‘Leave A Trace’ by Chvrches. Two great albums last year were Agent Side Grinder‘s ‘Alkimia’ and Lord Huron‘s ‘Strange Tails’. Guitar music is definitely making a comeback and there’s a lot of very ’90s sounding bands appearing, which we’re all for, by the way. You can check out Isaac’s top tracks 10 of 2015 here.
We’ve invested in Empathy Test. Have you? Listen to more of their songs and support them at tradiio.com/empathy-test.
Sounds like: School of Seven Bells, Chvrches, Purity Ring, The Chain Gang of 1974, Avec Sans, Cut Once