New York-based indie-pop duo Television Skies is leaning toward a different sound in 2020.
Drummer Paul Maczaj and guitarist Ihor Shuhan have always recorded, produced and released their own EPs and albums, shifting from a heavy blues influence on their 2016 debut EP Heart in Hand to progressive rock themes on debut album The Observer (2017) and the refined rock sound of their self-titled album, released later that year.
Differences, their latest album (June 2019), served as a rebirth of sorts for Television Skies. The two-piece group expanded not with more people, but with more instruments and new techniques. Shuhan took up playing piano, and the duo began creating indie-pop records that fit nicely in the libraries of fans of Walk the Moon or The 1975.
Now, they’re gearing up to release another album, fronted by new single “Empty Room,” which is premiering exclusively on Billboard today (Jan. 16).
On “Empty Room,” Television Skies deeply reflect on their innermost dark thoughts. “But I’ve been trying to define how I feel, I’m f—ing fine now,” Shuhan insists, later admitting: “I need to get a friend to bury my body when I’m dead.”
The anxiety-laden lyrics take the taxing thoughts from listeners’ heads and spill them out in raw rap verses, backed by a moving melody. “All around this empty room, I see you and I tell the truth/ And all around this empty room, I need to know you see me too,” Shuhan cries softly on the chorus, searching for someone to share his inner turmoil with so he can feel heard.
Positioning that “you” as another person places a primary importance on telling a loved one what’s really going on, but Shuhan emphasizes that one must first be honest with themselves about what they’re dealing with.
“‘Empty Room’ is about trying to find the truthful and honest part of yourself, and give space in order to hear what that voice has to say,” Shuhan tells Billboard. “If you’re dealing with anxiety, or feeling that you’re not good enough because of this or that, people might be judging you or looking down on you…you might feel very alone, but it’s important to be there for yourself and not let those things get you down.”
He adds, “I think telling the truth and being honest, especially with yourself, is so important if you want to actually develop in any capacity. You also gotta give yourself some credit for not giving up on yourself, ’cause that’s f–king hard.”
Listen to the contemplative “Empty Room” below, and keep an eye out for the duo’s forthcoming LP.