Even if you don’t know Loote, you probably still know Loote.
With millions of Spotify plays, high profile collaborations with artists like David Guetta, and co-writes on chart-topping releases such as Cheat Codes’ “No Promises,” they’re everywhere in today’s pop scene. Loote, comprised of Emma Lov Block and Jackson Foote, have come to prominence because of their knack for creating effortlessly catchy pop tunes not only for themselves but also for other artists. They started their careers as songwriters with Universal Music, and have since made a name for themselves as performers in a big way. Loote is known for their explosive, larger than life, pop anthems about one subject in particular: love. They’ve been creating together for the past six years since they first met at Purchase College, and it’s become clear throughout that time that they’re a force to be reckoned with.
Emma and Jackson took two completely different avenues throughout their young lives that led them to the same ultimate destination: Purchase College. Emma grew up fascinated by two seemingly contrasting styles of music: glam-rock and show tunes. She notes, “My favorite things to do were to listen to Broadway soundtracks, but I also loved listening to Kiss. So when you think about it a little more in-depth, it makes a lot of sense. Queen and Kiss and that glam rock stuff, even David Bowie… I loved that aspect of Rock, and I also loved the theatricality of it all.” Often subject to Emma’s requests to play the same albums in repeat in their car every day, Emma’s parents were aware of her knack for creating and love for music. One day, her father’s job in advertising presented a seemingly perfect opportunity: “My dad was working on this commercial for FurReal Friends… I was thirteen maybe fourteen, but he was basically like ‘Hey if you write this and they like it, they might have you record it.’ And so, they just needed a random song for their campaign… and I wrote this little song.” What Emma presents as a “little song” ended up being bought by Hasbro, and featured in future commercials. This sparked a realization for Emma that she could pursue a future in songwriting.
On the other hand, Jackson grew up in a family of creators. His father was in a funk-rock band in the early ’80s, signed to RCA Records, and his mom is currently a piano teacher. Their musicality was passed on to the next generation, to his sister, who is a songwriter, and to his younger brother, who is Loote’s drummer. Jackson first discovered his knack for creating, when his father taught him to use GarageBand “in literally fourth grade. At the time, I was doing Apple loops, and I was taking piano lessons from my mom so I knew piano, and [his dad] got me a little mini keyboard, so I started making beats in literally fourth and fifth grade. And I didn’t really realize it was a thing until I was like ‘Wait a minute, I’ve been doing this for fun but I’m getting better.’”
While the two pursued different routes to the same end, there’s something striking about the way both of them talk about what made them gravitate towards music. They both had a similar outlook on what a career in music could, and should, bring them. Jackson explains, “I was always obsessed with the challenge of trying to make money off of music. I was always obsessed with ‘How can I monetize this craft?’” This realization for Emma seemed to come from selling a song to Hasbro at such a young age. And this may be what makes their bond so unique, as songwriters and performers. They were inspired, rather than daunted, by the challenge of finding prosperity in music.
Maybe that’s why when the two were paired together for a class assignment during their first semester at Purchase, there was instant chemistry. Emma and Jackson were enrolled in a class with Carl Sturken (who has produced for Rihanna, Shontelle, among others) when they first started writing together. Emma notes, “I swear the first five minutes of my session with Jackson, I played him this idea I had. And the insanity began immediately. I saw his eyes go from this blank thing to having the entire world in his head ready to go.” In this way, the two have been each other’s creative “other half” since day one. “We’re both high energy, kind of neurotic, very passionate, and pretty intense when we get ideas. But at the same time, we’re very aligned with our goals. When we’re on the same page, it’s like a buzzing. We’re like a force when we’re aligned at that energy level,” Jackson explains. And they weren’t the only ones to notice the creative force that would later become Loote. Jackson continues, “For the class, it was a moment where everybody was like “Oh. This is something else,” in a supportive way… and [the teacher] pulled us aside after class and was like ‘You guys should keep creating together.’” From then on, the two decided that they would pursue songwriting together with the same commitment that they would treat a part-time job as students. The end goal was to impress their professor, as he was their clearest route to signing as songwriters.
By the end of the first year, the two brought him a handful of songs. And by the end of the following school year, they were signed to Universal Music Publishing Group. But it seemed the real work was yet to come–the two had a great deal of growth to undergo before their songs began to get cut by other artists. “I would say we wrote easily 50 songs before anything started to get cut,” Jackson explains. He notes that artists they were paired with to write “were much better writers than us, they had signed their deals because of the songs they were writing… I think we were signed for the songs we maybe could write.” So they began to write. Over the course of eighteen months, the two dabbled in just about every genre in the pop landscape. “We’d come in and be like, ‘Ok let’s write a song that sounds like Florida Georgia Line today,’ ‘let’s write one like ‘Talk Dirty’ by Jason Derulo,’ we were writing all these songs that sounded like they were for a Disney artist… One day, I was like this isn’t working, let’s change it up… I feel like we had to do that every eighteen months over the past six years,” Jackson explains.
One listen to the Loote catalog and it’s clear that they’re an ever-evolving duo. They initially caught the ear of the music world with “Single,” a collection of upbeat and angsty punk-inspired pop bangers. They followed up on this with “Lost,” an introspective collection of laidback love ballads about just that–loss, and longing. But Loote is aware that they’re constantly changing, and they’re better for it. Emma reflects, “I think the forever burning question is honestly like ‘How do we be ourselves, and stay ahead of the curve with what’s happening?’” Writing for other artists allows the duo to push themselves out of their comfort zone, writing songs in genres that would be completely out of the ordinary of what’s now established as Loote. Starting as songwriters, rather than performers, gave the duo the freedom for this exploration. Emma continues, “We got the practice of being able to just be creative without those walls of like ‘What are we saying?’ And then, adding those walls after, adding those constraints of ‘What do we stand for? What do we mean? Who are we?’”
It seems that the musical subgenre the two have stumbled upon is the self-described “Cry Jam.” There’s something cathartic about these songs that have a way of hitting you at the core of your emotions. It makes sense that this is the direction their songs gravitate towards, when Emma admits, “I feel like I’m always a hopeless romantic, and also Jackson is in his own special Jackson way.”
But what makes a song into a “Cry Jam,” specifically? “A song like ‘Your Side of the Bed,’ which is sort of a quintessential cry jam, it’s like a big anthemic chorus, but the content is kind of sad and a little reminiscent in some ways,” Jackson explains. “I think we’ve always tapped into just trying to pull from what is actually going on–what’s the truth in your life or my life right now? And how can we put that in the prettiest picture frame and packaging possible for people to consume it?” It seems as though the two truly live through their work–and their craft is a reflection of how they process these emotions, and how they move forward with their lives. But this doesn’t come about from just any pair of people writing songs about love. What’s striking about Emma and Jackson is that even after a short conversation, it’s clear that the two are on the same page about everything–particularly their music. And this synchronicity translates effortlessly into their releases, as Jackson explains, they’re “one melded brain… Me and Emma got really good at writing about each other’s lives.” Emma perfectly elaborates, “You know how they have the chocolate vanilla ice cream swirls? That’s how I describe us. Like it doesn’t matter what it was before–we come together in this perfect middle thing, and it’s so much more awesome and delicious because it’s all of it combined.”
With two EP’s and millions of Spotify plays under their belt, they’re only just getting started. The duo will release their third EP this weekend, titled Heart Eyes. But Heart Eyes is looking to be more positive than their releases before. Jackson explains, “I think Heart Eyes is somewhat of a piece of ‘Single’ and a little piece of ‘Lost’ too, and a third of it is just the next step of natural progression… It’s a lot of love songs, we’re both now in relationships, and that’s the kind of stuff we’re emotionally inspired to write.” Emma elaborates, “‘Single’ was like ‘Yeah we’re a little bit awkward, but we’re gonna deal with it, and this is what you get.’ and then ‘Lost’ was way more going through changes, sophomore EP, this one matters more to us than the first one did because we actually know what it’s like now going through this whole process, we almost have more to prove with the second one. I almost feel like this EP is so much more comfortable in the sense that we like ourselves the most right now.”
Heart Eyes is set to feature one more single before the full EP drops. This track is one that holds a particularly special place for Emma and Jackson, who idolized one of their collaborators as young artists. “The next song we have coming out is called ‘Sex With My Ex.’ And it’s a really cool collab between us, Captain Cuts, this other artist Home Alone, and also Travis Barker is on it which is insane and it feels random but also makes so much sense… It’s so insane to me as a pop-punk kid that one of the best drummers, one of the most iconic people in terms of that sound, is going to be on that song. It’s surreal,” Emma shares. However, it seems that the song wasn’t initially intended to be a tentpole release for the duo–Jackson explains, “It’s a very fun, lighthearted record, even though the title doesn’t sound like it. It came about as almost a joke, it was like ‘That would be absurd to put into a song,’ but then Captain Cuts and everybody who we played it for was obsessed with it, and we were like we need to find a way to do this and find a way to fit it into what we’re doing.”
With “Sex With My Ex” dropping this Thursday, and the full EP releasing Friday, Loote has had their hands full for the first quarter of 2020. Forced to postpone their first headlining tour, they’re looking forward to the rescheduled dates in the largest venues they’ve ever topped the bill at. But what’s striking about the way they talk about these landmark shows is how grounded they are. They truly come across as two strategic, talented, inspired creators who are taking it one day at a time. Emma reflects, “I don’t know when that gets normal. It’s crazy to me. I mean looking at Lauv selling out arenas and stadiums, like when does that ever feel normal?” At their current trajectory, it’s looking like Loote will be doing a lot more than performing on their first headline tour in the next year. And we’re all excited to see what comes next.