Ali Shea – Empty Houses


Interview by Miriam C.

The feeling I’ve got from this chat with Empty Houses’s singer Ali Shea is that they are some true music artisans. They really defy the musical boundaries and what they want to offer is a well-chiseled chef d’oevre. Empty Houses‘ debut “Daydream” (released via the art-house label Sargent House) is the living proof that isolation from all this technological maelstrom is still possible and on top of this get the best from what surround us can be the perfect solution for propose something different but now, please let Ali speak. Read carefully what she has to say about it….

Do you mind to recall for us how Empty Houses got together since its inception in 2014?

Hey there, thanks for reaching out! We had talked about making music together for a while, and once it started, it was natural and fun. We would send things back and forth while I was away at college, and would practice when we could. After we recorded a 5 song EP, we all agreed this was something special worth pursuing.

According your official bio, your debut album “Daydream” was composed “in relative secrecy” and you accomplished to “remain almost entirely out of the public eye”. How did you manage to not get influenced, in some ways, by any external elements/factors?

One of the greatest parts of making this record was having the time and resources to create in a really focused and secluded environment. At the time, Sargent House had a house out in the desert they called “The Farm”, where we went for 10 days to come together and write some music. It was pretty much in the middle of nowhere with no distractions (other than some cute pups and a kick ass pool). I think about 10 songs were fully developed there, either from scratch or from rough idea/melodies.

The outcome of this session is your debut album “Daydream” that was released back in June 2016 via Sargent House. What you can tell me about its production and genesis?

While at The Farm, we recorded some demos of the new material, and then recorded a few more when we returned home. When it came time to get down to Atlanta and record, we had about 20 songs to choose from, which felt really good.

“Daydream” was produced by the whole band and Grammy-winner Graham Marsh. I was curious to learn, in which manner, such an experienced producer like him helped you harmonize all the different Empty House’s musical peculiarities? Did he give you any specific advices?

Working with Graham was great. He was totally on board from the get-go and we all vibed together really well. He understood how we wanted it to sound, so being there for the mixing process was easy and fun.

It’s distinguishing the choice of recording live the whole album in the studio. What prompt you to opt for this alternative?

Recording live felt very natural for everyone. I would sing along while they recorded, and then when it was time for me to record vocals, I could zone in on that feeling of us all together in the room.

As mentioned before, “Daydream” was published by Sargent House, a label really focused on search and promote the best music out there. When and how was your first approach with them?

Our first conversation with Cathy Pellow of Sargent House was lovely. I think Adam had spoken with her briefly before, but when we all got onto a conference call together, we knew it was something to get excited about. She was just really into the music, and the fact that our sound was so different than everything else on the label meant she really cared. They’ve provided so many opportunities for us and have been wonderful to work with!

As I disclosed before, Empty House successfully meld in their musical formula Motown style, rock, indie and doo-wop but where the band’s true nature lie?

It’s always hard for us to really put a specific genre or label on our music. We’re influenced by so many different sounds/styles, so we naturally incorporate different pieces together and try to blend it all together into a cohesive sound.

“Falling Away” was the single used as a lead-in for “Daydream”. What insights you can share about this song?

To me, “Falling Away” is a song that really resonates these days. It has a fun upbeat sound, but basically sheds light on the very human struggle of giving up on things you really want and settling for what you think is more realistic for your life.

In June you’ve toured along with Good Old War for promoting “Daydream”, what are the next band’s plans in terms of recording and touring?

There are currently no plans set for any future tours, but we would love to get back on the road next year, and hopefully start thinking about our next record!

So, Ali, it’s time for your parting words – I really thank you for your time – please greet freely our readers and your fans. Thanks again!

I’m so glad that we’re able to create music for people to enjoy. We have a lot of fun, so I’m looking forward to seeing what our future holds!


Photos by Rina Movsisyan

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