Following a recent string of captivating single releases, Los Angeles-based Eleven Point Two, the dynamic duo of musical brothers Taylor (piano, vocals) and Jon Siegel (drums) releases its impressive debut album, Painting in the Dark. Eleven Point Two entered the music scene in 2017 with their single "Not Alone" and debut EP, Unidentified, which garnered an impressive amount of positive reception and awards, including one for "Best Alternative" musical artist at the 2018 Ventura County Music Awards. I was first drawn into the eclectic, mesmerizing sound of this emerging band with their recent single, "Don't Wanna Spend the Night Alone," a standout track that spotlights the duo's tight vocals, solid songwriting and clean production.
Painting in the Dark is a brilliant presentation of Eleven Point Two's dreamy and melodic alt-rock sound that is comprised of equal parts melancholy and glimmer. Thematically, the introspective and emotional lyrics lead the audience through relatable and poignant subject matter, while artfully transporting the listener to another dimension where light radiates into darkness.
Those already familiar with Eleven Point Two's recent single releases will recognize the upbeat and infectious "Midnight Passion," easy-flowing "Don't Wanna Spend the Night Alone," as well as the hypnotic, steady-paced "Monster" and dreamy "Take Me." Among the new tracks, "Lifeline" is a clear standout with its rhythmic, catchy chorus and crisp production - tremendous single potential here. The powerful "Not the First" sends a supportive message to anyone struggling with mental health issues, and was briefly released by the band during the 24 hours of World Mental Health Day (October 10). The album's upbeat opening and title track ("Painting in the Dark") presents the core elements of the Eleven Point Two sound: captivating, synth-driven melodies, adorned with dreamy, resonant vocals. The twelve-track musical journey of Painting in the Dark concludes with the soaring and introspective "The End of the Beginning," a truly gorgeous closing track to Eleven Point Two's impressive debut album.
To coincide with the album release, SoundThread Music Blog caught up with Taylor and Jon to chat about Painting in the Dark, take a glimpse into their songwriting process, and learn about their musical background and inspirations.
[STMB]: Congratulations on the release of your debut album! Can you tell us about the origins and/or theme of the album?
[TAYLOR]: The theme of painting kind of stuck after I revisited an older song that Jon had wrote, which ended up being the title track of the album. The message of the song really resonated with me while also providing a pretty cool visual aspect, so I pushed for it to be the main visual theme of the album. I think I can speak for the both of us when I say we are still attempting to figure ourselves out, which is what that song represents.
[JON]: This whole album is quite heavy to us. The majority of it revolves around struggles that we face within ourselves. Self-identity has been a battle for most of my life. Many issues that come along with that such as anxiety, emptiness, addiction, and depression are branched off into different songs on the album.
When and how did you decide to start making music together and form Eleven Point Two? Was music always a key element or part of your lives growing up together?
[JON]: We both played music as kids, usually just learning and playing along to songs on the radio. Eleven Point Two started in 2016 and formed sort of unexpectedly. When we moved, we’d started jamming in the living room here and there. We went to concerts and had joked about forming a band. It was really just a hobby that we loved at the time, but quickly grew into more once we began writing our own songs.
Are there any particular musical inspirations or forces in your lives that led you to write and record your own songs?
[TAYLOR]: The band Keane was my first big musical obsession right after moving to California. Their incorporation of piano into their songs was mainly what got me hooked since that was the only instrument I knew how to play and not many other bands used it as their primary sound. The band that got both me and Jon writing songs and interested in performing was Twenty One Pilots because of the intense emotion and energy they displayed through their music and shows. Also the fact that they are a two-piece band helped us realize we didn’t need anyone else to make it work.
How did the band name 'Eleven Point Two' originate?
[TAYLOR]: I took an astronomy class my first year of college because I was and still am fascinated with outer space. At this particular time my self-esteem was pretty low and I would constantly think about how I wish I could just shoot up into space to get out of my head and escape all of my problems. Then one day in class we learned about escape velocity, which is how fast an object must travel from the surface of a planet in order to break through the atmosphere and escape gravitational pull. The Earth’s escape velocity is 11.2 kilometers per second. This idea stuck with me and happened to be at the same time that we were brainstorming band names, so we ended up stylizing the name as “Eleven Point Two” partially in reference to Twenty One Pilots and also because we figured it would be easier to find our band in a google search that way.
You both moved from the Midwest (Western Michigan) to Southern California several years ago. Did the geographic move influence or impact your songwriting or music in any way?
[TAYLOR]: For me at least, moving away from our hometown was probably one of the best things to happen to me. It might not have seemed like it at the time, but looking back I can see how much I was just trying to fit in with everybody else at my high school in Michigan rather than figuring out what I really loved to do. Moving was the perfect way to isolate my thoughts and discover my passion for music and expressing myself through songwriting.
How do you collaborate to create Eleven Point Two songs?
[JON]: Both of us do it all. We’re both very DIY and self-driven people. We’ve both become multi-instrumentalists over the years and taken on music production ourselves. Usually the process begins with one of us writing the majority of a song, which then turns into bouncing ideas back and forth until we feel that it’s the best it can be.
How does Painting in the Dark compare to your 2017 debut EP, Unidentified?
[TAYLOR]: Unidentified was our very first collection of songs that we released and produced completely on our own. We sort of knew what style we were going for and what we wanted to say with that EP, but don’t feel like it really hit how we wanted it to. So now with a couple more years of experience songwriting, mixing, and mastering, we feel like this album is definitely our best work yet and conveys similar messages that we were attempting to say with the EP. I think we are still trying to figure out what exactly this band is in terms of genre and style, but overall we’re super pumped for this release.
Thanks to both Taylor and Jon for providing all the insightful responses! With that we leave you with the colorful music video for Eleven Point Two's single, "Don't Wanna Spend the Night Alone," which provides a colorful visual complement to the "painting" aspect of the new album.
For more information about Eleven Point Two, visit the band's official website, follow on social media (Facebook, Instagram, YouTube) and find their music on Spotify and Apple Music.