Demons EP

Demons EP

Both minds combined

create a parallel of artistic synth-genius

As a lover of new music and new bands, the brilliant thing about London is the vast opportunities to discover new bands through interesting pockets of bars, pubs and everything in between. Where designers, artists and musicians convene; where you can see first hand where music meets art. When Empathy Test permitted us this interview and invited us to Cafe 1001 for this band’s new double A-Side single ‘Demons/Seeing Stars’ launch, I was instantly catapulted into a world as this band sees it.

Enter duo Isaac Howlett and Adam Relf from Empathy Test as their band, with new female drummer Christina Lopez and keyboard player Jacob Ferguson-Lobo, swoon the audience into immediate alert with their first song. Only for their magnetism to be confirmed by one of the key songs of the night ‘Seeing Stars’; where you almost feel as though you’ve walked onto a film set in the middle of a sinister scene, just before the build up to the action, as the band guides the room.

…the last few months or so have been manic and now we’re just looking forward to the tour and doing what we love to do most which is performing.

– Isaac Howlett

The interesting subtlety behind this duo is how one appears pensive, the other dynamic; but with both minds combined to create a parallel of artistic synth-genius and an ability to hypnotize their audience. If ever there were a synth band that cleverly combines cinematic sounds, sci-fi inspired music, artistry and compelling lyrics, it is this band. So when I sat down with one half of the Empathy Test, Isaac Howlett, we discussed the band’s developments and how far the band has come in their time together.


“It’s been a weird year so far! The first half was quite quiet. We’re still waiting for the right time to release the album because it is a big body of work and we’d like to make sure that we have the biggest audience possible before making an album. But we now have this tour coming up in a couple of weeks’ time and so that has kept us really busy. We’ve also basically self-released a single and we’ve made our own CD’s and vinyl, but the last few months or so have been manic and now we’re just looking forward to the tour and doing what we love to do most which is performing.”

Having performed at some iconic European festivals, the months ahead see the duo and their band booked for gigs in Europe and further overseas. As Isaac laughs at the sheer mass of shows the band have coming up, he confessed “We’ve just been booked for a festival in Germany called ‘Amphi festival’ which looks amazing! We’ve got the opening slot for the main stage on the Saturday so that’s really cool.” At the moment we’ve had a lot of our success there. In Germany there’s a bigger market for synth-pop, so they really like our work and we’re hoping to replicate that success over here in the UK. Last year we played at Wave Gotik Treffen which is like the biggest Goth festival in the world, where everyone’s wearing black and looking quiet scary. But we’re not Goths!”

It’s been really interesting for us, we never really set out to make Goth music or synth-pop. Adam is a dance music producer and we are both inspired by sci-fi and sci-fi movies, particularly in the 80’s when they were using synthesizers for the first time and so we’ve sort of found a way where we could place together my songwriting, which is a kind of indie pop acoustic stuff and Adams dance music, experimenting with guitar. And then we just dropped guitars completely and used synths instead and suddenly we found a way for it all to come together. And luckily for us the momentum from synth bands after the movie ‘Drive’ is still going and I think we bring something more to this particular genre.”

…The best films and the best art come from innovation..

– Isaac Howlett
Isaac & Adam - Empathy Test

Isaac & Adam – Empathy Test

Although music at it’s core is the band’s ultimate drive and passion, not to mention their love for their fans. The band’s love for movies, is not only expressed in their genre specific inspired sound and stage presence but in their enthusiasm. “Me and Adam can talk for hours about film, but we would definitely love to do a film soundtrack, but this is more Adam’s area than mine and in fact Adam is making a music album for film. Which means he can take all the elements he uses in Empathy Test to the extreme. But because I am a songwriter, it would be more the music that plays a part and so that would be more Adams area definitely. But it would have to be a sci-fi movie – definitely sci-fi. The best films and the best art come from innovation.”

Unless you see the band in their full element on stage, defining the music alone does not convey just how talented Empathy Test are. Particularly when you hear the complex patterns that their drummer Christina plays. Every element from each member of this band’s uniqueness is ever more prevalent once married together and seen live but once you do, you may well agree that Empathy Test bring an excitingly eerie dimension to synth-music.

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