Interview: Empath’s Catherine Elicson, Randall Coon, Garrett Koloski Talk Sophomore Record

In 2019, Empath released their debut full length record, Active Listening: Night On Earth, introducing the band as one of the best noise acts in Philadelphia. Their highly anticipated follow-up record, Visitor, is slated to be released on February 11 via Fat Possum Records. The record strikes a balance between the group’s tried and true noise-pop sound and diving headfirst into new musical territories.  

“It’s all the same songwriting approach I feel like we’ve had before,” explains singer and guitarist Catherine Elicson, “but maybe just like being more open to having songs that are pop songs and don’t necessarily need to have a lot of punkness in every song. We’re just embracing the pop side a little more.” 

Drummer Garrett Koloski continues, saying, “I feel like nothing is different. We just took more time to record.” 

Visitor is the group’s first record to be recorded professionally rather than the DIY home recording style used on the band’s previous releases. It still retains a lot of the lo-fi elements of the group’s sound, which in large part is due to Jake Portrait of Unknown Mortal Orchestra being brought on as the record’s producer.  

“I feel like Jake [Portrait] isn’t the type of person who needs to have things sound super polished or produced. That’s the reason we wanted to work with him because he was down to make it more how we wanted to and make it sound like we wanted to. We didn’t want it to be like a super polished record. A lot of it is still, you know, layered and blown out,” Elicson says.  

Despite moving up the latter into more a more professional setting, the band still remains fiercely DIY at heart. It’s a family style operation where everyone takes on different roles.  

“I feel like Catherine gets stuff done, Randall fixes stuff, and Gem and I are just along for the ride,” Koloski notes.  

“I, too, get stuff done, though,” laughs keyboardist Randall Coon. “You know, I do the taxes and put the business license together. I’m the handiest, so I end up doing a lot of the van work. I fixed a keyboard, too.”  

Empath have called Philadelphia home since the band’s inception, with almost the entirety of the group having relocated to the city shortly before the start of the band. Born out of Philly’s DIY underground scene, the city has undoubtedly had a big influence on the band.  

“There’s lots of different pockets of music and you don’t have to adhere to one genre or one scene,” explains Elicson. “There are expectations of certain genres in some music scenes. Usually, there’s the music scene, and it’s like this is the general type of music that you’ll find, but in Philly, there’s everything, everywhere, and you can kind of dip your toe in different types of music.”  

“I feel like it’s a city where all your best pals are in bands and all of your best pals’ bands are fucking insane. Everyone we know is playing, and it’s truly inspiring,” Koloski adds.  

Watch the video for “Diamond Eyelids” here:

For more from Empath, find them on Instagram and Twitter.

Photo courtesy of Empath and Miranda Nathanson

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