Alternative R&B duo Emotional Oranges are undoubtedly an enigma. They have existed under their moniker for just under two years now, adopting the citrus fruit as a marker of identity across the digital space.
As I arrive at popular music venue Heaven, the goal of getting to the core of who this pair are constantly circles my head. I take off up some stairs to the buildings VIP lounge and was instantly greeted with a room filled with everyone from the pairs manager to PR.
“Hi,” V, the female-vocalist calls, ushering me in to take a seat. Band-member A, is recalling how much he loves joking around before asking the room what the British phrasing of casual jokes are. “I’m winding you up” V interjects. “It’s that”.
Both seem so in-sync with one another as we begin setting up for questions and distinctly laid-back. I began to ponder on what keeps them instinctively anonymous to the world.
“You can find our name if you want to,” A laughs, “It’s there, on the internet”. “At first I’d call him AZ, then sometimes A. It was all through texts, but it started when we first met. Organic.”
V is self-assured in her answer, with A quickly co-signing it.
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Emotional Oranges swept the internet last-year with their debut project ‘The Juice, Vol. I’. The set was home to the popular ‘Personal’ and ‘Motion’ buzz-singles. Shortly after their first release, the twosome embarked on a regional tour, which touched on both the North American and European markets.
“We started together, just as us two, about a year ago with me in it.” V states. There have been previous articles which suggest that there’s been more than one iteration of the group, some with varying members, however, here, V and A are solely focused on ‘EO’ — as they call it — in their vision.
“‘Unless You’re Drowning’ was one of the first records that we did together. It was written in about thirty minutes,” A says nonchalantly. He continues to recall experiences of songwriting going wrong and feeling like a “chore” in his words. “Sometimes it feels like you’re going on blind-dates, with no expectations, but with V it all came together so authentically, I love it.”
Not only are both of the members of Emotional Oranges’ real names in a somewhat embargoed state, they also continue to incite mystery by deliberately clouding their identity visually. They perform with lights faced towards the crowd, instead of in a traditional format — where lights face artists — and wear huge glasses and masks when on stage, heavy smoke in abundance. Some of these tools have been embraced in the R&B and wider-music universe long before the acts creation.
The likes of The Weeknd, H.E.R. and Sia all exist as modern displays of privacy, both long and short-term. It can be argued that these branding choices boosted intrigue and were incorporated into marketing strategies. “I think the identity is introducing itself in different ways as we grow,” A continues to list the ways in which they interact with their fans, through social media, email, and at live shows. “On Vol. 2 we’re even more vulnerable. There are records like ‘Heal My Desires’, ‘Sundays’, that’s where we find our DNA. It’s less in the faces and in our names but more in the emotion,” V instantly nods in agreement.
The references to emotions lingers across the duos forthcoming project ‘The Juice, Vol II’. From the millennial-driven ‘Your Best Friend Is A Hater’ to the boldly expressive ‘Worth It’ various moods, motivations and passions permeate their sophomore set.
“Emotional Oranges is so fitting as our name, our identity. It’s funny because when we came up with it we were at a kickback with about 40 of our closest friends,” V reveals. “You peel back the layers to get to the juicy centre.”
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Elsewhere on the ‘The Juice, Vol. II’, Emotional Oranges begin to genre-blend even more-so than before, incorporating A Tribe Called Quest’s ‘Can I Kick It’ on project-cut ‘West Coast Love’. “It was great, I love them [A Tribe Called Quest] but it just came out as a freestyle,” V recalls.
As we delve deeper, it is learned that ‘The Juice, Vol. II’ only took two weeks to make. “When you have an incredible bond with someone and you understand or are starting to understand your creative partner things just flow better. From the songwriting to the takes, it all gets easier,” V expands on A’s point, adding that the pair regularly, only took one take to get it right this time around. “The writing we do really fast, he [A] takes his time on the production to get it really right.”
Emotional Oranges aren’t however afraid of getting external opinion. The likes of Kanye West and more recently co-host of The Joe Budden Podcast Rory Farrell have shown appreciation for the group. “He [Rory Farrell] was a fan, he’s such a dope human who is a fan of our work and keeps supporting.”
As I type, it seems as if Farrell is subliminally validating A’s claims, as he’s just announced an exclusive play of ‘The Juice, Vol. II’ scheduled in New York City today (November 7th). Emotional Oranges reside in Los Angeles, California where a pre-existing landscape of commercial R&B is thriving. From Jhene Aiko to Mustard, acts continue to sprout from or work closely within the region, helping to inform R&B’s next move(s).
For the singing-group and their citrus-squad however, 2020 is in sight and the positive prospects for their trajectory. “Everyone is getting bodied next year. 2020: by us,” A proclaims, V in laughter at this point. “Oh, except Brent Faiyaz; I love him, we can collaborate. Is that true or not though: everyone is getting bodied.”
A and V are currently in inception stage with what’s loosely being titled ‘The Juice, Vol. III’. On mention of debut albums and if that’s on the horizon also, A quickly musters up his response. “Maybe, we’ll create an album one day, but what’s an album, project, EP in 2019? We’re all breaking rules.”
V reassures that an album will be recorded one day. “Maybe after ‘The Juice, Vol. 94’ or something, then an album will come.”
Watching Emotional Oranges live later on (as a part of their world-tour) that night suddenly it dawns on me: These singers peeled back are relentless, self-assured and confident in their takeover. The genre-blenders — currently at over 867,000 monthly Spotify streams — are building a global audience and fast, led by their perfect balance of juxtaposed themes: mystery and vulnerability, citrus infused and all.
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Words: Nicolas Tyrell
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