"Baby, we’re back. Did you miss me?” is a line in “Now,” the first single off former “The X Factor USA” contestant EMBLEM3’s latest album.
Consisting of Drew Chadwick and brothers Wesley and Keaton Stromberg, the band released its debut album Nothing To Lose in July 2013 after placing fourth in the singing contest and being signed to Simon Cowell’s record label, Syco. Within the year, the band announced Chadwick had decided to leave the group to pursue a solo career. Both Strombergs worked together to put out an EP titled Forever Together before parting ways in June 2015 and announcing a hiatus.
Just a few months into hiatus, Chadwick and the Strombergs rejoined to start creating their new EP, Waking Up—this time without the backing of a major label. EMBLEM3 has made the EP, as well as most of its other music, available for download through its free app.
The Chronicle spoke with Keaton Stromberg about Waking Up, the band’s new app for releasing the album and regaining their creative control.
THE CHRONICLE: Why did the band decide to reunite?
KEATON STROMBERG: We were in some pretty crazy contracts with some shady business. We went on the hiatus to let those contracts die out so we could come back with full creative control and do everything ourselves. Now the contracts are up, and we recorded the new music.
What is the message behind your single, “Now”?
That song was just to tell that story of why we needed to take a break and why everything happened the way it did. [It’s] explaining that now’s the time for us to come back together and be stronger and better than ever.
How is this EP different from your previous ones?
Nothing to Lose was recorded with a major label backing it, and we were working with some of the best producers and writers in the business, which was an amazing experience. We have learned from all those people, and now we get to do it on our own, which we’re really excited about.
How involved were you in writing and producing Waking Up?
It was 100 percent us this time around. We wrote and produced everything at home. I own a home studio, and I produced most of the stuff, and [it’s] mostly just the three of us.
Why did you decide to make Waking Up available through a free app?
We did the whole app thing because we feel like the music business is changing so drastically. Everyone gets their music for free anyway nowadays, so we figured,why not just give it to our fans on our own app, which is essentially our own social media? Because they deserve it, and it’s not like we’re making crazy money selling our music anyway. We wanted to give [the album] straight to our fans.
Are there any music videos in the works?
Yeah, we are actually working on a music video for our new single, “Taboo Love.” We’re getting ready to film that music video. We’re [also] getting ready to push that single out to radio and all the other streaming sites and iTunes.
What’s your favorite song off Waking Up?
It’s hard to say. I love all of them equally. It’s like picking a favorite child: it’s pretty difficult. If I had to say one, I love “Waking Up” because I brought that one to the table, and I started [its] initial songwriting. I also love the meaning behind that one. I also love “Taboo Love” because it’s kind of a new direction for EMBLEM3, and it has a more mature, new sound to it.
What would you like your fans to know about the band?
I want them to know that we’re so grateful for every single one of them, for sticking around and staying by our side through this whole crazy journey ever since “The X Factor,” and we love them so much.
EMBLEM3 will stop at the House of Blues Chicago, 329 N. Dearborn St., May 19 on its “Waking Up Tour.” Tickets are available at EMBLEM3.com and are $27.50.