Our WorldArts Spotlight Artist of the Month is Empire Assembly! This global quartet formed and settled in Los Angeles, where they draw on a wide array of influences to create a unique and diverse sound. Check out our Q&A below to learn about the band’s origins, their latest single, and tips for success!
1) All of you come from different parts of the globe. How did you find each other?
We all moved to Los Angeles in 2011 to pursue music. Jay (singer from the USA) and Diego (drummer from Mexico) found each other through Craigslist. And the rest of the group (Bruno from Brazil and Kibrom from Ethiopia) went to school with Diego in Pasadena. After a few meetings/jams we decided to record our first single Elements Part I. Since then we’ve developed our sound a lot, performed pretty much everywhere in L.A. and added different elements to our music. And for the last couple of single releases we had the contribution of Marko Fazio, a French producer and musician who brought a lot of electronic elements to our music.
2) What influences do you draw on when you create music?
Since we all come from different countries and have different backgrounds, it’s a big mix! We listen a lot to pop music, jazz and even metal. One Republic, Sia, Coltrane, world music. Our writing process is very spontaneous, Jay and I get together and visit simple ideas recorded on our iPhones. When we find something that speaks to both of us we go deeper into it. We also try to write away from our main instruments (guitar) because that eventually makes us think about music theory and what’s right or wrong. The whole process usually takes about two hours. Then we move on to a new one until we find something special so the group can work together and arrange/produce.
3) What is the music scene like in your respective hometowns?
Brazil, Mexico and Ethiopia are very rich culturally speaking. Traditional music is beautiful but the scene is not too favorable for musicians who are trying to break through or create something unique. That’s the main reason why we all moved to Los Angeles, where every genre of music converges and art in general is happening everywhere. All the best music schools are here, film shoots, and art & photography schools.
4) If you could go on tour with any artist (past or present) who would it be?
Foo Fighters, Imagine Dragons, Sia, One Republic, John Mayer, Pearl Jam. So many!
5) What’s your ‘go-to’ karaoke song?
The Pretender by Foo Fighters
6) WorldArts is all about giving tools and opportunities to artists. What advice would you give to aspiring musicians?
Be committed and have a work ethic. Put together a long-term plan and divide it into smaller plans so you can perceive growth as you accomplish the smaller parts of the big plan. Invest a little time on developing business and marketing skills because those will be very important along the way. Try to create projects with concepts, meaning, don’t simply put out a record and wait until people hear and talk about you. Create a concept around it so people connect with the idea even before hearing the music. Have people pay attention to your music before they pay for your music! Partner up with professionals that are outside of the music business because those are the ones who will come up with different perspectives. If you need to get a day job to help you with your major goals, it’s alright! As long as you always remind yourself why you are doing this and that there’s a plan!
7) If you could change anything about the music industry, what would it be?
That’s a tough question. We feel nobody really knows what or how to do different these days, but we’ve been noticing a lot happening on the streaming world, institutions fighting for artist’s rights, numbers raising, more and more big artists going against the flow. Two minor things that would help a lot (1) musicians and artists in general should know more about music business, how publishing and licensing works for example and (2) venues in general should not be allowed to have live music without paying a minimum rate for the musicians. At least in Los Angeles where we are based, we feel that that kills the whole live music system. There will always be someone down to play for free or pay to play and therefore the paid opportunities are too little.
8) What is the best way you’ve found to market yourself as an artist?
In the past year we focused on creating something that feels good for us, without trying to fit any market or genre. There’s over seven billion people in the world and definitely a lot of them like the same things you do! So there’s space for everyone. The key is to never stop and always be open to learn and connect with people. Connecting with people is also fundamental! In this day and age where everything feels superficial, the more you connect with people the more positive feedback you’ll have. To be more specific, we always try to attach our music with visual concepts, even the lyrical part of it. People are always on their phones looking at stuff and not really paying attention to music. Videos on Facebook always bring big words so people can read instead. So the goal is always to get people’s attention through what they see. Eventually they will listen!
9) Tell us about your newest single “Take The Time” and the inspiration behind it?
About a year ago, in one of our writing sessions, when I got to Jay’s place he was working on some beats. We listened together and for some reason we started talking about the similar things we were through with our relationships. Take the Time is about the struggle one goes through to prove that it’s worth it to try again. Taking the time to show or prove love. The video concept came after seeing a video Lena posted on her Instagram. The gentleness of her moves and the way she spoke with her body automatically inspired Jay to reach out. A few months later, with the demo already done, we got together and shot a series of improvised moves in a studio in Los Angeles. It was a really hard process because all the footage we had from her was incredible.
10) What next on the horizon for you (shows/new tracks/in the studio etc.)?
We’ve been focusing more and more on the licensing/publishing side of music. Trying to connect as much as possible with film and TV people. We are in the process of producing two new singles, Because of The World and Little Secrets. The first one is very influenced by world music with tribal sounds and the second one is more rock/pop.