Empathy Test are two childhood friends, Isaac Howlett and Adam Relf, based in London UK, that have been writing and recording electronic pop music as Empathy Test for about four years. To date, they have successfully self-released a string of EPs and singles. Described by Clash Magazine as “gorgeous, sumptuous future pop”, their music has received both critical acclaim and a growing worldwide fanbase. 

The band came to PledgeMusic through Tiinu, the online music service that helps emerging and developing artists looking for management, publishers, record labels or beyond. Empathy Test’s PledgeMusic Campaign sees them releasing not one, but two debut albums(!) and has been an outstanding success, reaching their targeted aim within hours of launch. PledgeMusic recently spoke to Empathy Test’s Isaac Howlett. 


Tell us about your PledgeMusic project?

We’ve been holding off releasing an album for some time, waiting for a suitable record label to pick us up. We got a few offers, but not from anyone we would consider signing with. In the end, we thought we have a big enough fan base now, let’s just fund and release it ourselves. We had three years’ worth of material, so we decided to release two albums at once. It has been a bit of a nightmare getting all the music and artwork finished, but the funding has been effortless. We were 100% in less than 10 hours. We’re now 500%+ funded and counting. 

How did you first hear about PledgeMusic?

We’ve known about PledgeMusic for a long time but haven’t used it until now. It has always been synonymous with funding for musicians, in our minds.  It’s great for fans to be able to help make things happen and also pick up stuff like handwritten lyric sheets and signed items, stuff that they wouldn’t normally get. The team at PledgeMusic has been really helpful. We were reminded of its existence when we were checking out Tiinu. 

What’s the last album you bought and the first that you purchased with your own money?

The last album I bought was Levin Goes Lightly’s Ga Ps.  They’re a post-punk band from Stuttgart, who deserve a lot more attention…. lots of Joy Division-esque vibes and drum machine rhythms. The first album I bought with my own money was Echobelly’s On.

What album in your collection would you save in a house-fire/what album has survived all your house-moves?

There are a fair few CDs that have survived various house moves and culls, but if I had to rescue just one, it would probably be Paul Simon’s Graceland. One of my earliest memories is dancing around the living room to that album when I was very little. As an album, it has stayed with me my whole life. I used to put ‘Call Me Al’ on the jukebox in my favourite pub in Norwich, when I was at uni. It’s a little passe now though. 

What one question would you ask your musical hero and who is that person?

I would probably ask Robert Smith of The Cure how the hell he has kept going all these years and how he stays creative. I seem to spend all my time online, promoting Empathy Test and interacting with fans, it’s hard to remember sometimes that you’re supposed to be a musician. I guess he never had to deal with all that stuff.

If not Empathy Test, which band would you most like to have been in and why?

Making electronic music and playing to a click track can feel quite restrictive at times – sometimes I yearn to be playing in a guitar band where I could really let rip. I imagine it must have been fun being in a band like The Libertines and really living the rock ‘n’ roll dream.

Perfect gig – what makes it for you as performers?

It’s definitely about the audience. I think my last favourite show we’ve played was a one-day festival called ‘Planet Myer Day’ in Leipzig, Germany. It was back in January of this year. We weren’t the headline act, but we had a lot of people there to see us, a lot of people wearing our t-shirts. It was a relatively small venue, the sound system was loud and the place was packed. When our drummer and keyboard player went out onto the stage, there was a huge, huge cheer – they cheered when the first track started and they cheered when I walked out onto the stage. Those are the kind of gigs where you’ve got nothing to worry about. The audience feed off you and you feed off them. It’s a glorious feeling. 

Keep up-to-date on all things Empathy Test on their Official Site. 


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