From Sydney, Australia, the 5-piece alternative pop/rock band Ask & Embla releases their highly-anticipated and conceptual debut single, "The Calm."
Comprised of Joshua Keane, Cameron Langley, and other talented musicians, the two DJ's turned songwriters never shy away from touching on powerful themes and subject matter. When expanding on Ask & Embla's sound, lead vocalist Josh Keane mentioned this, "Unapologetic, confronting, and unashamed. I would liken our voice to the same resistant messages that came out of grunge in the 90s but with a much more timeless and broad pop-rock sound."
Now releasing their poignant debut single, "The Calm," Ask & Embla drenches us in emotional catharsis and introspection with their rich lyricism that expands on mental health. "'The Calm' speaks to the listener from the perspective of the protagonist in the middle of an internal battle and conversation with their personified mental health," says Ask & Embla.
Diving headfirst into their debut single, "The Calm," the song opens with a powerful wall of drums and a smooth array of guitars that cascade over us like a serene waterfall. As Josh Keane makes his vocal appearance, he delves into the song's heavy theme regarding the protagonist's spiraling mental health.
We truly admire the emotional debut that Ask & Embla has made with this release, as they perfectly introduce us to their poetic lyrical abilities merged with symphonic alt-rock. As we approach the song's climax, Ask & Embla makes the experience all the more powerful and compelling through their crashing instrumentation that closes the song with nothing but heightened emotion and soul.
Catch Ask & Embla in their poignant debut release, "The Calm," now available on all digital streaming platforms.
Welcome to BuzzMusic Ask & Embla, and congratulations on the release of your emotionally charged debut single, "The Calm." Why did you want to release such a powerful and emotionally rich single as your debut? Josh: Thank you so much, it's very exciting to finally be putting our voice out there. Choosing this song as our first release was a decision we made fairly quickly and without too much initial thought. But as we've built our repertoire and discovered more about what 'Ask & Embla' sounds like, we have realized that the defiant message behind this track is a perfect summation of what we are about and what we want to achieve as a band. It's very important to us that our music is relatable but my favorite kind of song is one that strikes an emotional chord and makes your neck hair tingle and this is ultimately the kind of music we want to release.
Cam: I think with the world being the way it is right now, there are a lot of conversations and self-reflection going on surrounding mental health and a lot of people across the world are in the same boat; feeling isolated and frustrated, so we thought it was the right time to put out something that was an honest exploration of those feelings. If anything just to let other people know they aren't alone and it's ok to question your own sanity at times. It's encouraging to see less and less stigma around being able to just admit that you're not ok. Shout out My Chemical Romance. Pioneers.
What inspired the emotional lyrical theme within "The Calm?" Was there a collective inspiration, or did one specific member pitch the song's lyrical theme? Josh: The songwriting is largely shared between myself and Cam. This particular song however I actually wrote in about 45 minutes whilst pulled over on the side of the road. It's no secret that the lyrical theme behind the song is about someone's struggle with their mental health. I had actually had a rough morning and was driving home lamenting days when I had less stress and anxiety and the lyrics "I can't think the way I used to" just started rolling around in my head. So I immediately pulled over and just started typing into my phone.
Cam: Josh wrote it all in like one afternoon and sent it to me while I was on the toilet and I fully cried reading it. Far be it from me to shy away from healthy emotional expression, but I don't wanna be touched on the toilet, and I mean that in all regards.
Could you introduce us to the members within your band and how you divided your instrumental creative process for "The Calm?" How did you create the instrumentals to compliment the song's heavy lyricism? Josh: Okay so on Lead Vocals you have myself (Joshua Keane) and for the first few releases including "The Calm" you'll also hear me on the drums. The role of Lead Guitarist in the band is often handed between our two guitarists Cameron Langley and Dylan Allan but on this track, you'll hear about 17 different layers of guitar all provided by Cam who then also gave a bit of backing vocals towards the end. (He is also that haunting distorted and dissonant voice you hear as a delay at the very end of the track as it fades out). Dyl actually played bass on this track because at the time we were still in search of our full-time bassist and drummer. Dylan has this incredible ability to hear complimentary melodies that just fit. Sometimes he will play something along when we're writing and it's like, this must have been what the first bite tasted like when the PB&J was invented because that just works. We have since found those members we needed and honestly who better to fill the role of Bass Guitar than our very own producer Jack Haycroft who had already put so much work into the music. He has been an absolute dream to work with from a production and engineering perspective. All of the little nuances you hear in the track as well as some major creative decisions such as cutting the drums for the first verse are thanks to Jack, he just gets it and we love having him in the band. Our final recruit has taken a huge load off me and you'll be hearing a lot more of him when we can get back out of lockdown and into the studio again. Our new drummer is none other than Riley "The Kid" Dobbs. He is only 17 for a few months so we really need the nickname to stick before he grows up, can we start a hashtag or something, please?
Cam: We had a couple of lineup changes right when we were about to go into the studio, but thankfully there was just barely enough talent between Josh, Dylan, and I to record all the instruments on the track. I think there's a unique voice in there that comes from the fact that Josh played the drums on top of writing and singing it. Dylan came up with an absolutely banging bass line which unfortunately means the 15+ guitar tracks are all me, which is a shame because Dyl is an absolute beast and has like those Steve Vai guitars with handles cut into the body and stuff so you know he means business. A lot of the track's vibe comes from our producer Jack, who spent days getting me to try literally hundreds of different guitar/pedal/amp combinations and indulging any weird little idea we had. Jack ended up becoming our bass player so it seems like he might have dug our songs. On top of that, our new drummer is 17 and was like engineered in a lab or something to hit things with sticks. He is called simply 'The Kid' and he must be feared.
Seeing that "The Calm" is your band's big debut, how can we as listeners get to know you better through songs like this? Will you continue releasing such emotion-evoking songs like this in the future? Josh: I think that the most important thing for us is that we have so much more growing and learning to do as a group of musicians and it is becoming clear from the songs we have been writing that we have a huge range of influence that spans across several genres. I think it's safe to say that we will definitely continue to release songs that evoke emotion but we also would like to avoid being pigeonholed as that band that does the angsty emotional soft rock. Cam wrote a song about hooking up with the hypothetical ghost of one of our very much still living friends using an ouija board recently and I have finally written my fiance a cute pop-punk vibe love song so really who knows where we go from here!
Cam: I think what you can expect is us to not shy away from exploring any kind of topic or emotion. I think all of us are frustrated at the world to some degree and it's time more than ever to just drop all of the bullshit and be truthful about how you feel, it's the only way we're all gonna get through it. Reality is fuckin weird, there is so much to write about and that's pretty much all we've been doing in lockdown. I'm all about honesty with my art. If I feel like hooking up with someone's ghost then dammit I'm gonna write a song about it.
What's next for you?
Josh: We have a few more songs to release this year with the next couple written by cam. But the major focus for us is working on getting the full lineup involved in all future projects and it would be nice to finally play some more shows!
Cam: You get to hear about my problems next, haha