It was nearly a year ago that Emotional Oranges arrived with their debut song, "Motion." Since then, the mysterious group has built on their appreciation for R&B, soul, and highlighting the ups and downs of love through several releases, culminating with the eight-song project, The Juice Vol. 1. Fans hoping to get a glimpse behind the creators won't have to wait much longer as Emotional Oranges will hit the road later this month for The Chill Baby, Chill Tour.
Complex spoke with a member of the group (who will go by EO, for now) about creating their first collection of music, and what's next. The interview, edited and condensed for clarity, is below.
What was the inspiration to choose the name Emotional Oranges?
That's a good question. I think all of us are just really emotional, and we hide it. And I think that, especially the three of us that kind of started the project together, we smoke a lot, and oranges felt like it rhymed with emotional at the time, although it's a really bad rhyme.
There's a gray area of who's a part of Emotional Oranges; you haven't revealed your identity. Was that plan in place from the very beginning? You wanted to hide from the general public and let the music speak for itself initially?
Believe it or not, I think that all of us kind of like the regular lives that we have, and being able to go about our days and have girlfriends and eventually have wives. "V," the singer, she had a boyfriend, and being able to just be regular, that was big for us, too. I don't think we're necessarily hiding, because if you come to the shows there's no masks, there's no real gimmick. But we don't want to say that on our socials just yet. We want people that come there to be able to experience it, and I think we're going to keep it that way for at least these first two collections of music.
If people were able to identify you, they identify you... But it's more about the music and that experience?
Yeah, I think the moment that you see someone, you make assumptions of what they should sound like, or if they're allowed to sound like they do. I was listening to so much Daft Punk and so much Gorillaz, seeing it through the world they created. And that's why I said just three of us in terms of vocals and production, but really our creative director, and our art director, and the muses that have played a part in this rollout are equally as involved. Our mixer and our engineer is nearly a co-writer at this point; he's been there from the inception of the idea four years ago. These are all people that without them, this is nothing. It’s just an idea, really.
It took about three years or so of trial and error to really flesh out the vision of Emotional Oranges. What would you say was the most difficult obstacle during that process?
Real life. All of us have jobs. Our co-producer on the project is a coder during the day, so he was able to really help us execute a tech vertical of being able to acquire emails and zip codes for fans so that we didn't necessarily have to give away a percentage to an agent early on for doing that work. And just finding a way to rebuild what we felt like was wrong with the music industry. We'd all been producing and writing for other people before this project, and to only get a few thousand dollars at most... Or you'll work on a track and having that fall into hundreds of millions of streams and not participate in it because of the way labels structure things. It was almost out of survival, in a sense.
Approaching it in a different way than you might have five or 10 years ago.
Absolutely, yeah. I don't even think this project would be possible 10 years ago. Or even five, like you said. I mean, look, we're on the phone right now with Complex telling our story and there's no… We haven't spent very much money. I think we spent $7,000 making our EP in terms of just mixing costs. I'm really happy with how it's all turning out.
With The Juice Vol. 1, how did you know, "This is going to be our introduction to the world"?
I think it's the palette. I think introducing [Vol. 1] from each space of inspiration for us, and then on Vol. 2 we start to develop even more on those sounds. I'm not gonna lie, I think a lot of these songs are great, but once people see where we're taking this, it's just the foundation for us. We were really inspired by the way that the Weekend rolled out that trio [of projects] in one year, and we wanted to do kind of the same thing, but obviously it's a little too ambitious this early on. The second volume is nearly done and that will start rolling out in the fall. I'm just excited for you guys to kind of live with the next phase of it all.
The music on Vol. 1 was recorded months ago. This isn't new material to you; it's something you've been sitting with and really made sure it was the right batch of material, but you've obviously been working since then.
Yeah. Believe it or not, the final song to come out, "Unless You're Drowning," is the first song that us three together—the three that are kind of going to be leading the presentation of the project when you guys see us—that was the first song we wrote together. But we've had demos done for two and a half years before that. "Motion" was an idea from 2016; that was the first track that we released. The final song we released off this project was the first thing that we did together over a year and a half ago. It's exciting for us.
The music that we've heard thus far takes people into different narratives of love, falling out of love, falling back into love. On this particular track, it's more bitter. Was there anything specific that influenced "Unless You're Drowning?"
Yeah, that one was specific I think to my last breakup. You get to a place where you are just like, I don't need you in my life, and really honestly I don't want to hear from you unless you're about to die. [Laughs]. It's not that dramatic, but it came off as a really funny lyric, and then that syncopated throbbing bassline alongside of it, the juxtaposition of saying something so aggressive. But then it has such a nice bounce, it just felt good.
The music video has a much different effect in what it's telling. Can you break down the concept behind the video?
Yeah, it's power reversal. I wrote the record from the female perspective and being able to switch into that zone and be like, know your worth, you have, your pussy is dripping right now; you own this, and he needs you, so make him assume the position. If he wants you back, he better bend head over heels and do everything that you need. This project is all about that female empowerment, and when you guys see the singer, I think everything is going to make so much sense.
Is Vol. 2 going to be a similar situation where it's a group of people working on it, as far as getting outside people? Dante from THEY., he worked on a track or two for this project. Are you going to be bringing in outside assistance?
We've been talking to some really awesome people, but I think as far as right now, we have a good foundation for Vol. 2. I think just being able to tell our narrative is extremely important to establish that kind of sonic identity that made us fall in love with people like Gorillaz and Daft Punk. We have met a lot of really good people that have been a fan of our music and gotten to work with them. But if those songs make it, I'm not sure. Because as of right now, it's just the songs that we’ve written and produced together.
I saw the note that you found out you're Kanye's favorite band. How did you find out about that?
We have really good managers. We have a really good setup that's working for us right now and they're making the impossible seem possible, especially some of the people that they put us in the room with. Without giving too much away, I think that's just the tip of the iceberg.