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Interview: Heads.Hearts

Photo courtesy of Momentum PRAmber Taylor-Groves and Ed Cox make up Heads.Hearts, a duo from London, England, who are quickly building a loyal following for their unique brand of electro-soul. We sat down with them to discuss their music and future plans.

SW: I've read that you’ve been friends for over ten years but how did you finally get together as a duo?

Amber: We toyed with the idea for a while...and we did little bits of writing, but because Ed was very much consumed in his last band it wasn’t an option as they were doing so well. We just knew at some point we would do it. It just so happened that both of our bands dismantled at the same time so we both went "now’s the time".

Ed: I also knew I’d end up working with Amber, I knew from the first moment I heard her sing. We did try a few things but we never had the time. When we finally did the songs they came together.

SW: So how long have you been together as a duo?

Ed: About 16 months but the time frame gets a bit furry. We did our first show in November of 2008.

SW: You spent a lot of time in the studio early on, so after spending so much time in the studio, how did you find the transition to live performances?

Amber: We knew we had to get enough stuff together to go out and play a good solid set, to try and show people what we’re all about. When it got to the first gig after eight months of solid studio work it was a bloody joy.

Ed: We were nervous, generally nervous.

Amber: Nervous but quietly confident. We’re both front people so we were both a secure in the knowledge we could pull off an animated performance. But after we’d done the gig, we couldn’t have been more pleased, it went really well.

Ed: We did do a little road testing in that first show. Seeing as people had never heard anything we put together all the songs we had, one set of seven songs and a second set of six. From that show we were able to immediately write off four of them for live shows and just keep them in the studio. From the response some of the others got we could work out the other tracks that would go down well and develop more around that.

SW: When you decided to release your first single Qualified you released it digitally, why did you decide to do it that way?

Ed: Purely cost. I know that sounds brutally cynical but it’s not really, it’s pragmatic. We couldn’t afford to do a pressing and don’t have a label to do a pressing. We’d have loved to have done some limited edition pink vinyl with Amber’s head on it.

Amber: laughs

Ed: Are you not keen on that idea? I was going to run it past you.

Amber: Not so much

Ed: It was the easiest way to get it out there and the easiest way for people to find it, you go on iTunes and type Qualified/Heads.Hearts and it’s there. We’re just using the tools that are out there to distribute it.

SW: Some of the press surrounding Qualified described you as “80s synth pop”, how do you feel about being categorized like that?

Ed & Amber together: deeply deeply sad.

Ed: We’ve been thinking long and hard about this - it’s been one of the things we’ve been thinking about the most. When we got together we didn’t know how the music would come out, and we weren’t sure what would happen, so we just sat down and made some tunes with the instruments we had just to see if we could make any that were any good, and we were relieved that we could.

After that, we started to think about what are my strengths and what are Amber’s strengths and how do we bring them together into something that is stronger and better and more unique. If people think of us as electro-pop or 80s synth-pop we’re going to be thrown out with the bath water containing La Roux and Little Boots and all the other electro-pop acts that are around that are making that music. We want to make electronic soul.

SW: I much prefer that

Amber: We just spent 2 days together and wrote 3 new songs which are very much in that vein.

Ed: Yeah. Amber’s vocal has always been intensely soulful, she has a hint of Tina Turner. We like Ike and Tina, I really like the Eurythmics. It sounds almost cheesy, but we want to mix the best of Ike and Tina with the best of Dave and Annie and make some electronic soul. A bit like the kind of soul you get from Gossip as well, with that raw soul sound, but they mix it more with rock, we’d like to mix it more with electronic. Electronic soul is our style.

SW: So what are you plans for the coming months?

Amber: To just keep on trying to evolve the electro-soul side of things and just hammering away. Ideally we need to get the music out there, regardless of if it’s signed, we need to get it on adverts, get it on the internet, all over the place. Just keep on hammering away at people.

Ed: Just spread the word. We may do another release to keep momentum building.

SW: Finally, you have a lot of influences listed on your Myspace site but who do you consider most influential in your music career?

Amber: Tina Turner for me.

Ed: I’m going to have to say Quincy Jones.......although I’m already apologizing in my head to all of other people I didn’t mention.

As one the most promising new acts I've heard in a long time, Heads.Hearts are a band to keep a close eye on as it won't be long before Ed and Amber have a smash hit on their hands. Until then, you can watch the video for their debut release Qualified  below (before it hits US air waves!), and listen to a few of their tracks on Myspace. To keep up to date on the band's gigs and daily activities check out their blog and follow them on Twitter.

 Heads.Hearts - Qualified