Emotional Oranges: The band whose hidden identity keeps them ‘normal’

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Avant Garden Records

“We want to live regular lives, to be totally honest.”

So claims the mysteriously-named Emo of Californian R&B merchants Emotional Oranges ahead of their first UK show.

Alongside his equally mysteriously named singer V, Emo fronts the musical collective, who are number 78 in our Newbie Tuesday list and who released their debut EP The Juice Vol I earlier this year.

While the band don’t make any attempt to hide their faces à la Daft Punk or Slipknot, very little has been written about who they are outside the sweaty four-piece who fill out a sweaty venue in east London with sweaty people who know every word of their sweaty, sultry pop songs.

So why bother with all the mystery?

“I mean, in all honesty, I came from a genuine place of like wanting to live a normal life. I have a girlfriend, our singer I actually met through my best friend, they were dating at the time,” explains Emo.

“My co-producer, he’s a coder in his day job. Our guitar player’s a teacher. It’s not like you come to the show and you don’t see our faces, like, it’s pretty clear. If you’re in the first three or four rows, you’ll see my face.

“And I’m not gonna lie, a few people have found our personal Instagram accounts, like die hard kind of cult fans after they’ve seen the shows. But we’re never going to be like, ‘Oh my God, here are the people behind Emotional Oranges’.”

Emotional Oranges are far from the first band to try to keep their real lives and often their actual faces, away from prying eyes.

Daft Punk’s Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo are rarely pictured without their famous robot helmets, while Slipknot never perform without their grotesque rubber masks.

And DJs DeadMau5 and Marshmellow wouldn’t be caught dead without their signature disguises.

“You mention Daft Punk. I think that’s a really great example of, you know, their anonymity is their protection,” says Emo

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Getty Images

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Behind the mask: Daft Punk and Slipknot’s Corey Taylor

“There are people that are doing it that I’m not really a fan of but I’m not even gonna put the negativity out there,” he adds.

“You want to do it in a timeless way so that in 20 years, when all of us have kids, and we’re older, it’s like, we look back, and we’re proud of what we’ve done.”

If their private lives remain shrouded in mystery, their music has been gathering pace thanks, in part, to their track Motion, which was selected as the official theme song for Ru Paul’s Drag race in 2018.

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“Hands up if you can see our faces…”

Its laid back 80s soul groove occupies a similar space to artists like Canadian R&B chartbuster The Weeknd and British neo-soul collective Jungle.

Their track Hold You Back, about a bisexual love triangle, sees Emo and V sing back and forth, sounding for all the world like The xx if Romy and Oliver swapped their guitars for synths.

“I think, when you look at R&B music, it’s extremely difficult to find a male and female duo,” says Emo. “I’m re-mixing a song right now by Groove Theory, you know, their classic Tell Me and that’s like the last time I remember and it wasn’t even two singers it was a singer and a rapper. It’s exciting and hasn’t been done for a while.

According to their official biog, EO met a couple of years ago “when Adele’s vocal coach and Drake’s engineer met at a bar mitzvah”.

And apparently Michelle Obama is a fan.

Emo describes the band’s inspirations as “everything from The 1975 to Anderson. Paak to Frank Ocean”.

“There’s two sides to us, there’s the DJ side, some of the house influences and old school R&B, and there’s the live side which all four of us participate in.

“Our singer went to theatre school and when you hear her singing like that, that’s what it sounds like live, if not better. Her dancing and her choreography… yeah’s she’s brilliant.”

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Emotional Oranges’ mysterious singer V

Emo is keen to point out EO are more than just a band, the term “collective” is more appropriate.

He even has a “creative guy”.

“He’s done everything from Gallant to now working with Travis Scott, and Frank Ocean has commissioned a couple of pieces from him.

“It’s just an eclectic group of people that do different things.”

In their immediate-ish future is Volume II of Emotional Oranges.

“I want it to be 2020 Motown but with harder drums and synth bass – I think that sound could go far.”

For those of you in disagreement, you’ll have to find him first.

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