Premiere: Deeper Connections in The Northern Empty’s Intimate “Molecules”

The Northern Empty © Cooper Leith
The Northern Empty return with “Molecules,” an intimate and ambient electrofolk reflection on the invisible energies that pull people apart and bring them together.

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You make me feel like we’re more than just molecules.

This song wasn’t supposed to happen; The Northern Empty weren’t supposed to happen. Formed at the University of Denver in May 2015, the talented alternative/folk/rock band released their debut album Suzie that December, but had already broken up by the time follow-up single “Rest My Bones” released a year later. By 2017, the four former bandmates were moving down separate paths, all in different directions. Founding members Nick Anderson and Cooper Leith were themselves living 2,000 miles apart – Anderson, as a researcher in Chicago; Leith, as a studio owner in Los Angeles.

Time and distance had forced a promising young band apart, yet somehow here we are, ushering in Phase II – the revival, a brand new dawn for The Northern Empty. Now a duo comprised of Anderson and Leith, The Northern Empty return to the world today with “Molecules,” an intimate and ambient electrofolk reflection on the invisible energies that pull people apart and bring them together.

You can keep me waiting
as long as you’d like now
‘cause I’m in no rush to find out
hunny we can take it slow.
Everybody’s freaking, cheating, stealing
scared for their souls.
You are the hot flash, the puff,
sparking up the grass in the park.
Listen: “Molecules” – The Northern Empty

Atwood Magazine is proud to be premiering “Molecules,” The Northern Empty’s unanticipated comeback single! While the song retains Suzie‘s savvy collegiate lyricism and emotional depth, “Molecules” a fresh start with novel sound. Cool electronic claps, warm synth pads, and textured electric guitars blend together to develop a mesmerizing, multi-layered atmosphere full of sound and emotion. Nick Anderson’s smooth vocals flow effortlessly through this vibrant sea. His rich, heavy inflections balance passion with an overwhelmingly drained sense of loss and hollowness; it’s as if he’s a little lost, and wrestling to comprehend how he and Leith came to this special reunifying moment.

After all, “Molecules” is very personal to The Northern Empty. Anderson tells Atwood Magazine, “It’s inspired by the movements at the molecular level that pull people apart and just as powerfully bring them together.”

Molecules - The Northern Empty

Molecules – The Northern Empty

We’ll sit back
ebb and flow
no one really knows where we go
You make me feel that
there’s more than just ridicule.
You make me feel like
we’re more than just molecules.

“When I flew out to LA to meet Cooper and record ‘Molecules,’ we hadn’t written the song yet,” Anderson says, recalling how this new phase of The Northern Empty came into being. “It had been two years since Cooper and I had seen one another or recorded anything together. In the first two days of the trip we had scrapped every single idea we’d written remotely, and so we decided to just start from scratch and have no expectations for the week. If I flew back to Chicago with nothing, that was fine.”

“We really want the return of this project to be a musical outlet for us, but also become a larger collaborative and a safe space for musicians to create together and spread positivity. We are hoping this becomes a long term thing where we can just meet out west to collaborate with musicians we admire and put out a bunch of music for anyone that wants to listen.”

“Once that clicked, ‘Molecules’ just came out. It has been a couple years; Cooper and I are different people and have different tastes. The sound felt right, so we rolled with it. I wrote ‘Molecules’ as kind of an anthem for the new me on the opposite end of some really big changes in the way I look at the world. My music is deeply personal; it always is – so I’ll sum it up the best I can, but I’ve always been weighed down and rejected the thought that we all might just be random molecules, space dust, you know the cliches that express we’re just matter and nothing more. I’m not scared of that anymore, and it’s been a long and at times painful process, but ultimately freeing. I feel free to focus on the things going on in this life and the world around us. At the end of the day no one really knows; we may in fact just be molecules – but that’s okay. There’s beauty in that: I like to think about movements at the molecular level pulling people and things together or stretching them apart.”

Anderson continues, “In today’s global social climate, especially with the overwhelming access to information, it seems that the world is dark and chaotic. I think this song is about taking a look at this life and admiring the complexities in which things move and progress. Letting go of the fear of damnation or any ideas that intolerance or finding nobility in suffering is on the path to salvation. It’s kind of saying hey, even if we’re all just molecules floating in random patterns, we have the ability to love and empathize, so let’s chase that regardless of religious belief, geography, culture, creed or individual perception of the world. Let’s love and move freely, and hopefully it will speak louder than ridicule. I think the music came at the perfect time. It allowed Cooper and I to redefine our intentions for the project, to try and put these thoughts into music, and most importantly to connect as people and good friends.”

The Northern Empty © Cooper Leith

The Northern Empty © Cooper Leith

Even if we’re all just molecules floating in random patterns, we have the ability to love and empathize.

They say that they can save me
if I don’t refuse.
I’m in no space for thinking
I just want to float away with you
when it’s raining, pouring, storming
just forget what you’re told.
We’ll wake up tomorrow
I don’t think the end’s too cold.

The Northern Empty are back, and whether they’re around for another brief spark, or a longer tenure, they’ve already delivered musical gold in “Molecules.” Few songs manage to tap as deeply as this song does into our human core; few artists bother to explore realms that have no definitive answers. Yet in taking the ethereal state of order and applying it to our personal relationships with one another and to the world, The Northern Empty magnify the atomic bonds defining our existence and realize a powerful truth about life:

We are more than this reality.

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Molecules - The Northern Empty

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📸 © Cooper Leith

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Mitch is the Editor-in-Chief of Atwood Magazine and a 2014 graduate from Tufts University, where he pursued his passions of music and psychology. He currently works at Universal Music Group in New York City. In his off hours, Mitch may be found songwriting, wandering about one of New York's many neighborhoods, or writing an article on your next favorite artist for Atwood. Mitch's words of wisdom to fellow musicians and music lovers are thus: Keep your eyes open and never stop exploring. No matter where you go, what you do or who you are with, you can always learn something new and inspire something amazing. Say hi here: mitch[at]atwoodmagazine[dot]com