Transparency, clarity and how feeling like you’re not alone is your ammo; the NY duo release raw debut break up EP ‘single”
Break ups are hard. If you can sit right now and think back to a moment that makes your heart wince a little, or breathe a heavy sigh and think ‘…yeah’, then you know. There’s a saying; you’ve heard it, ‘money makes the world go around’. That’s a lie. It’s love that makes the world go around. It’s in our coffee shops, it’s in our films and Netflix shows, it’s in our heads and it’s in our beds. It’s in our hearts.
Thankfully, decoding dysfunction that often follows separation is the trick up the sleeves of American Pop duo Loote (known separately as Emma and Jackson). On the back of their first EP titled ‘single’ they’re charging towards our broken hearts with bandages, Ben and Jerry’s, and the best advice they can offer. And you know what? The tracks aren’t just what we want to hear. They’re what we need to hear.
‘We definitely write from our own lives. We try to take the initial intimate moments, and expand on them. We take one snippet of each story, usually the first part I’d say, then we elaborate and mash in other potential scenarios and get out of our own heads’ Emma says, adding a playful ‘no pun intended’ at the end of her sentence with a flourish of laugh. The EP features seven songs, all single-worthy, and one is actually named ‘Out Of My Head’. The duo’s beginnings began with catchy jingles and this showcases the true extent of their ear worm capabilities; you won’t be able to resist shaking your shoulders and if you’re in the car you’ll be reaching to turn the volume dial as high as it can go when the first chorus kicks in.
It shows a lighter side to a pair who often sonically often focus on the aftermath of relationships, and can be taken in either a romantic or friendly context depending on your own headspace, which is a credit to their capabilities; they put you firmly in between the lines. Chirpy and bold, it’s the definition of the moment where you look at yourself in the mirror, not having showered for three days, and you see your hair matted, make-up washed with tears, eyes more puffy than a panda because you’ve binged more tv than you can remember (on your ex’s Netflix too, oops). It’s a helping hand, which is what they do best. But how did they become so in tune with each other?
‘We met in college’, Emma continues. ‘Our teacher randomly paired us together for an assignment in class. He told us we sounded really good and we thought he liked what we did, so we kept working together. He actually signed us to a publishing deal. He’s half of another songwriting production duo that develops artists and writers…’ (who has worked with Rihanna, they add). ‘They had a joint venture with Universal so we ended up getting a gig’. A chance encounter that led to their calling? Sounds like the beginning of a creative awakening. And it was.
In the years passed since Emma and Jackson first shared a study table, they’ve gone from small, dark rooms huddled over notebooks to, well, different small, dark rooms and probably even more notebooks. But in between the endless ‘writing, writing, writing’, they’ve managed to actually get out and start doing what they were born to; spread their voice. ‘We’ve been playing shows and for the first time people actually know the words to songs we previously haven’t been able to share with anybody so it’s a more immersive experience. That’s been the biggest and noticeable thing especially because we’re on tour right now’.
‘I’m so happy that we are starting to get traction outside of the U.S.’, Emma gushes, with the voice of someone realising they’re beginning to live their dream. ‘It’s really interesting to see on our socials that [their music] is not just growing for people that are here… I’m seeing fans that are like ‘yeah I’m from London’ or ‘I’m from Germany’. It’s really cool. It’s special for me’. We discuss further plans to tour, as the demand is certainly growing; currently they have over 3 million monthly listeners on Spotify with 80k in London and almost 50k in Singapore. Jackson notes ‘We had people in London that knew our songs, which was crazy. It’s definitely the next step for sure. Because of the tour we’re more known here, but people know our songs everywhere. That’s the beauty of Spotify, it reaches everywhere’. And to know that sometimes all the help we need is just a stream away is the most comforting thing we can ask for.
Back to the EP, which they’ve been working on since they signed over a year ago. ‘There’s a couple [songs] that feel very raw. There are a few of them that are the straight out experience that I was going through, and Your Side Of The Bed is the exact experience that Emma was going through’. Emma was actually going through what she describes as ‘definitely the biggest break up of my life, the main real break up I’ve ever had’. Your Side Of The Bed (of which the majority was written in 45 minutes) is the opener on single, opening the show with a swift kick that knocks down your door.
A message to a lost ex, it speaks of the tangled web of conflict that exists when we start dating someone new before we’re sure we’re ready. The notorious build up of ‘1, 2, 3’ is a fist-pump which takes you to cloud nine, but Emma soon gets real and brings to earth again, lamenting how ‘he’s taking your side of the bed’; the fact she refuses to give up her energy encourages you to stay dancing, and you’re soon swept away in the confidence. It’s an instant loveable hit because there are no hidden feelings, they’re not pretending to be fine; but they’re getting on anyway. Which is all we can expect of ourselves.
Not that they need any, but there’s an extra special guest who pops up halfway into the listen. It turns out Joe Jonas heard one of their tracks and, like we did, and you will, felt an instant connection; so much so that he had to profess how strangely relatable their lyrics were, and jumped on to add some vocals to Jacksons’ most vulnerable song yet. ‘[Longer Than I Thought] is the most personal song on the EP for me. I’d moved to New York from college and my ex also was there, she was in the same neighbourhood. For the first year living here every couple months my heart dropped to my stomach because I thought ‘that was her’ on the subway. It was a horrifying feeling, and then that evolving into realising that you figured you’d be over someone by this point but you’re not, while everything else in your life has moved forward’.
‘The three of us were on the phone’ he continues, ‘…and realised we all had the exact same situation like. When you have three people that vibe with a song so much and want to be a part of it, why would you not put it out together?’ He was like ‘I have an ex in New York and this is literally like my exact situation’. Opening with a classic belter of a line, ‘I think I saw you on the subway’, you’re pulled in for three minutes of unspoken thoughts what we’re swimming around Jackson’s head for a good year, and a wider battle between wanting to physically push thoughts of your head, and coming to realise that it’s perhaps not that easy. And you what? It’s another nail on the head.
Longer Than I Thought is tentative at first, unsure a little if it should be saying what it should, asking why and questioning who, before admitting vulnerability and admitting to wanting to call but not being able to, and saying that it’s ‘gonna take me longer than I thought… to get over you’. Such afterthoughts become the forefront of the lyrics, each line more cutting than the last, and Emma’s entrance into the song, ‘you’re a bruise that I forgot about, until I leant on it again’ is the essence of how we feel when we lose a partner and try to hide the pain.
A bruise needs to be exposed to heal. LTIT really is a belter with a message that we’ll all find ourselves stuck in this cycle at some point, in the middle. But you know what? ‘Maybe you’re just in the middle. That’s a big piece of what our songs are about. It’s okay to feel conflicted, it’s okay to not decidedly feel one way or another, that’s reality. We feel like it’s a little bit under addressed’.
I ask for tips that they’ve learned that might help others cope with a break up, with a strong feeling that I’m not the first to pry. “All we can do is write songs and hope that it makes us feel better. I’ll say that anything creative, or anything that you can do as an outlet that helps you get over a break up or something in your life at the time [is very important]. Feeling like you’re not alone is our ammo really. We wanna talk about this because we feel like people don’t talk about it enough. I want people to feel like they are heard and they are going through something normal, because they are’.
‘What we’re writing about is what we’re going through at the moment, and we’re in the stage of our lives were where both still growing up. We have a lot of learning curves to get over still, I think that with every step in the direction of our lives we’re gonna have new things that arise’.
And although they’ve taken so many steps to get to where they are today, by listening to what they have to say out of the studio you get a real feeling that they’re only just tying their laces. They’re learning through heartache to become a little more resilient, which is essential if you’re the kind of person who has to deal with breaking up with someone, over text, while you’re boarding a flight *Emma*. Chance brought them together, determination has got them to where they are today. But I guess we’re the lucky ones really, because now, they’re giving pieces of themselves to us.
‘I feel the consistency that people will always be able to recognise is that the songs that you’ll hear from Loote are always going to be talking in the most transparent way about what it is that we’re going through and what we’re feeling. It’s always gonna be as if you ran into our heads or our lives, us in the most honest way we can possibly be’.
You can catch Loote on all streaming services along with performing on tour in the U.S supporting Eric Nam, and at the Billboard Hot 100 Festival on August 14th. And keep an eye out; they just might have some more things in their back pockets for us.
Photography by Meredith Truax
Words by James Hawkridge