Hailing from the United Kingdom, Equals is a duo made of singer Ade Omotayo and producer James Low. In a region that’s birthed modern R ‘n’ B/electronic acts like James Blake, Jack Garratt, Disclosure, Sampha, SBTRKT and many more, Equals seem to combine the best attributes of the aforementioned to create powerful, cinematic songs that range from subtle and beautiful to pulsing and booming.
This “2Dope To Sleep On” series is a way for us to show the masses who we think could potentially make noise in years to come, and it typically stems from us missing a gem (as is the case with Equals). I was sifting through Bandcamp, and I returned to the Fresh Selects label page (as is usually the case when search for great underground sounds) to find the British duo. Their Old Habits EP was the most recent release from the label, and within a couple seconds of pressing play, it strayed from what the label usually releases. (In the past Fresh Selects has worked with SiR, Knxwledge, Iman Omari and more.)
According to the project’s Bandcamp page, Omotayo was once a collaborator with Amy Winehouse, contributing backup vocals on tour and albums from the soul singer. He later worked with Mark Ronson, Quincey Jones and more before landing with Low, who began his music career in hardcore rock bands.
The first song I heard was, “Pyre,” which was originally on the duo’s first project together, Single Soul, released in 2013.
That, along with “Single Soul” and “Trap,” made its way onto Old Habits, which featured another single, the album’s monstrous, emotional finale, “Black On Gold,” and two new songs, “Old Habits” and a cover of Sade’s “No Ordinary Love.” Throughout the project, James Low wavers betweens subtle, simplistic, slow-tempo production and synth-heavy, body-shaking explosions as he mostly lets Ade Omotayo carry the emotion of the project through his lyrics of love and perseverance.
Stream Old Habits, which was co-released by Senseless Records as well, below, and please, don’t you dare sleep on Equals like I did. Head to Bandcamp to support the duo.