Philly band Empath just released their second album, Visitor, that finds them sounding bigger, noisier, and more far-reaching than ever with their mix of live instrumentation and distorted samples. “Our approach to songwriting, and what we constantly try to improve upon, is finding the meeting ground between all of our distinct points of view and ideas we are trying to achieve sonically and conceptually,” Catherine Elicson says. “We never want to be tied down to one type of song or sound, and we love all kinds of improvisational music. We try to fit everything we love into each song, and hopefully produce something new and exciting through that process of synthesis.”

We asked Empath to tell us about some of the influences behind Visitor, and the whole band -- Elicson, Garrett Koloski, Jem Shanahan, and Randall Coon -- contributed to this list, that's a mix of musicians, artists, books, places, podcasts and more. Read their list, complete with commentary, below.

Empath will be on tour this spring, including an NYC show at TV Eye on April 22.


Randall showed me a series of videos of Elvis performing towards the end of his career/life, also one of him doing karate. In the video below you can tell he’s in rough shape. He gives an incredible raw, haunting performance. He can barely speak, but when he starts singing it’s like another person takes over. The delivery of the line “are you still mine” will give you chills. Randall also pulled up his ‘68 Comeback Special which inspired the song title ‘Elvis Comeback Special’ on the record. (Catherine)

Gaston Bachelard - The Poetics of Space
This book inspired me because it talks about how we are emotionally affected by the spaces we love and the weight our imagination places on them. I borrowed the chapter title “House and Universe” for a song title on this record, feeling like I was describing a subjective experience of feeling trapped in my imagination, in my bedroom, looking out the window at the universe surrounding me. (Catherine)

attachment-poetics of space

John Cale
Have been majorly influenced by the sounds of John Cale and how he blends chaos over beautifully woven pop tracks. Lots of cinematic moments bring you in & out of the hits on this record & all the harsh sounds truly makes this a nonstop listen, imo. (Garrett)

Andrew Emond
We’ve been a fan of Andrew’s photography for a while. His work especially resonated with us when we were trying to imagine the artwork for the record because it elicits heavy feelings of memory and emotions left in lived in spaces. Memories, emotions left between people, leaving and returning, etc. are all topics felt on the record that you can feel in Andrew’s photography as well. (Catherine)

Nag Champa
Being people who enjoy sights, sounds & smells (good or bad), we love burning incense on the road or at home. It’s been a smell i’ve enjoyed and have nothing but fond memories of, bringing me back to a youth center I frequented as a child. No matter how far you’ve gone or how old you get… There’s always nag champa. (Garrett)


Scary DIY office fear vid
I stumbled across this gem in my feed and immediately shared with Garrett. we share a love of this kind of thing, lots of deep internet magic out there. Unexplained mysteries, orb pics, well read creepypastas, you name it. The mind bending special effects and grainy VHS styled 3D rendering of infinite liminal space in a drop ceiling hell where a spindle legged whatsit pursues the first person cameraman. Yowza! look out man! (Randall)

Amazing performers-duck mom and ducklings
This one showing seamless flow and forced perspective mastery, the audio is always delightful as well. I love this show, I’ve been tuning in on YouTube for quite a while. I’m inspired by pageantry puppets and arbitrary scoring systems so this really rings a lot of bells for me. I’ve spent some hours rumbling around in the back of our van half dazed watching these plugged into my noise cancelling headphones. (Randall)

Adrienne Rich
When I’m stuck on lyrics I often find myself reaching for a collection of Adrienne Rich’s poems for inspiration. She’s really good at conjuring specific images of human existence that have multiple meanings, literal and figurative, which is what I’m going for in my lyrics a lot of the time. (Catherine)

- Overworld
This is an album I always come back to when I need peace in my heart and I need it now. This album has it all + nature sounds. It can take me wherever I want to go. (Jem)

The park by Jake Portrait’s studio
Our access to nature while recording. Our second home. Shared food there, took a nap there, got drunk there at night by the water. The place to be. (Jem)

via Google Maps
via Google Maps

The Scarecast
I had to add this one because as I mentioned before, we enjoy creepypastas, not just any old creepypasta but specifically Madd Mike’s creepypastas podcast. It’s one of the few podcasts we’ve listened to every episode as a group and it’s quite a lot of episodes. Usually it comes on in the first week of tour. Someone brings up this scare cast. Was it Catherine that brought it up to the group? I don’t know. This show is a man reading reddit horror stories but my what I really love about it is that it includes a lot of modern, technological and social issues that would never show up in any other form of media ie. Pizza delivery nightmare, evil coworkers, tinder dates gone wrong, Uber rides gone wrong, wonkaberries, demonic lost episodes of teletubbies and king of the hill. Many episodes make me pray ‘god I hope this is all someone’s creative writing’. The episode I’m sharing is not narrated by Madd Mike(I’m sorry bro, but favorites is favorites) it’s a guest reader. It doesn’t matter, what more important is the tale of a demonic clown named ‘#####’ that haunts all of the un remodeled McDonald’s in the country. Bon appetit. (Randall)

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