Multi-instrumental duo Half an Orange return to talk to us about Chuck Taylors, Florence and fading youth

Hey, tell us a bit about Half An Orange.
Andrew: We are a duo of two Ohio natives (Michael Maloof and Andrew Spellman). Our name comes from a Portuguese expression that Michael learned while living on a beach in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil for a year. The expression, “metade da laranja” (translated to “half an orange”), means that everyone is half an orange looking for that one person, thing, or purpose that completes them (or the other half of their orange). If you’re still only half an orange then you’re still lonely and lost in the world. We liked the name because we always have felt a little lost or out of place in the world.


Could you share a secret with our readers, something they wouldn’t find out elsewhere?
Michael: We actually started as a four person acoustic band. In fact, the first time we interviewed with you guys for our debut track, Downtown, we were still four members. We love acoustic music and most our songs are actually written by us on guitar first and then in studio we play it on piano for production. For example, I wrote the lyrics for our first 4 songs on ukulele while backpacking through Brazil and then when he returned to the US we spent a day straight in studio producing it. 
 
Life kind of got in the way of us being a four person group (new jobs, new cities, new loves) so when we became a duo we decided that it was a good opportunity to start expanding our music past the original acoustic sounds and to try new things. Since becoming a duo we’ve really started playing around with using everyday non-musical sounds in our tracks. We use things like glass shattering, wood scrapping the floor, boots stepping in rain, and birds chirping in our tracks to give our songs unique layers. It allows the songs to feel more like experiences through life.


What does the new single draw upon?
Michael: This song is about an experience I had while traveling in Florence, Italy when I was 17. It was late at night and I had wondered into a plaza where a bunch of teens from Florence were sitting on steps smoking cigarettes and drinking cheap vodka. I joined them and after 2 or 3 drinks I noticed we were sitting on the steps of the Duomo, one of the most famous Cathedrals in the world. Here were all these teens sitting in front of one of the most iconic places in the world without mentioning it once. It was as if they were sitting outside of a McDonalds. It made me realize just how blind we are when you’re young. 
 
We feel like we’re immortal, we feel like we’re all that matters, we are carefree, we lose perspective on what is around us and how we can lose everything at any moment. That night we stayed out until like 6am. I woke up the next morning, tired and hungover, and wrote a small poem about the experience that would later be used for the lyrics in this song. Almost everyone I was with on the steps that night had been wearing Chuck Taylors.
How did it evolve in the studio?
Michael: I actually produced the original track to build off on 80s pop sample I found online. I sent the track to Spellman around midnight and he freaked out. He said the song’s vocals and mood were amazing but I was wrong in building it as a pop song. His main point was the lyrics were very poetic so they needed a more poetic feel and instrumental underneath them. The next morning he sent me a brand new version of Chuck Taylors. He had removed everything from the original song except for the vocals and had produced a brand new track in under 12 hours. It was brilliant. We sent off the new version to Lowly Palace immediately.

 


Is this the sound you’re setting out for 2018?
Andrew: We don’t really have the mindset of finding a sound and sticking to it, though we are envious of artists who can do that. We just go out and experience life and let those stories, feelings, and people determine our music. When we’re sad, our sound is sad. When we’re happy, our sound is happy. When we’re lost, our music feels lost. Some of the more technical mixing and mastering techniques from Chuck Taylors we will continue to use (since we do mix and master our own tracks), but the general moods, themes, and emotions in our track and sounds vary based on that point of time in our life. 
 
When Andrew produced the final version of Chuck Taylors he was in a really weird place in life. He was struggling with growing older and wanting to desperately hold on to the last parts of childhood he had left. The song sounds like he’s dreaming, wishing he could go back to that feeling of innocence and invincibility you only have as a teen. When I wrote the lyrics, I was going through that same feeling. That point in time is what made the sound of Chuck Taylors. To make another sound like this, we’d have to have that experience in life again. Maybe we will. Maybe we won’t. That’s why making music is so exciting to us.


What do fans have to look forward to in the coming months?
Andrew: We have an amazing animated video of Chuck Taylors on Lowly Palace’s YouTube channel. It perfectly visualizes the song. We also have a music video coming out for Chuck Taylors that we’re incredibly excited for. It features one of the most talented dancers we have ever met, Halo. Whenever he dances I feel like he is fully understanding exactly what our music is trying to say. 
 
In terms of more music, we have been traveling a ton to find inspiration in other cultures and ways of life. We’ve gone camping, traveled to Spain, went into the mountains in Tennessee, and recently went to Mexico too. Whenever we’re feeling lost we try and runoff somewhere. 
 
We have a remix of the track “Wasted” by Orent releasing soon. In February we have a new original called “Given Up” coming out. Through our music we have started meeting and working with some wonderful artist and have made life-long relationships with them. Bijou., the amazingly talented featured singer on this track, has become one of our closet friends. We’re actually in the process of trying to make another song with her since we enjoyed creating Chuck Taylors together so much. We also started recently working with Faceless Management. They’ve really helped us figure out how to show the world who we are and have made us much more organized (which I think is shown by how much music we are releasing now).

 

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