It’s not been a bad year for MK’s ‘indie-pop’ duo Off Colour – they’ve had career advice from the likes of Emeli Sande and some bloke called Ed Sheeran.
And on Monday they released their debut single, Touchdown.
It’s been a long journey for the two youngsters whose paths first crossed at school.
“...we didn’t really know or like each other very much,” Antonio admits.
“If you’d have seen us back then, you’d have understood...I was very much into hip hop and rap music, whereas James was all about classic and indie rock.
“...one day James had a load of people round his house before a party and I noticed he had a guitar, and asked if he could play it.
“A week later we had our first cover on YouTube and had reached 1000 views overnight.
“We never really looked back from that point.”
As for that name? There really is no clever meaning behind it.
“At first I was just the guitarist, so it was really just Antonio on his own,’ James recalled, “But as we grew, so did my confidence with singing, and soon enough we were splitting vocal duties pretty much evenly.
“At that point it was imperative we came up with a ‘band name’ because Antonio amoroso and James Smith doesn’t quite have the right ring to it...”
What began as a few cover versions uploaded to YouTube from a laptop webcam has evolved, and then some.
And, like the alternative and metal communities that have swelled in MK, there is another poole of artists from the more melodious side that have risen up together.
“Strangely enough, I went to primary school with Rocky (Nti) and Antonio went to primary school with Bailey (McConnell), so it’s a bit weird how everyone seems to come full-circle in the end.
“Jamie Stimpson (JSMV) as well – he used to be my football coach when I was 11 or 12.
“To be honest, we’ve got massive respect and appreciation for anyone from a small city who has dreams of being a star.
“It can be daunting when you consider how hard you need to work, even to get your own city onside, let along the country or even the world.”
Still, Off Colour have a few friends in high places who have doffed their musical hats in the direction of the duo.
“Both Emeli and Ed were friendly, helpful, kind and just downright lovely people.
“The best piece of advice they both gave us was just to be ourselves, and not let anybody change you, or dictate the way your music sounds.
“That’s something we’ve always remembered.”
But both lads admit to a couple of frankly bizarre moments with the popsters: “For me, the most surreal moment was sitting in Emeli’s house while she was singing to us on the piano, looking around me and seeing Brit awards, MOBOs and plaques adorning the walls,” James admits.
Antonio agrees: “Yeah, it’s gotta be the same for me as well. Either that or when we were in Nando’s with Ed and he took a call from his mum and told her the label had ‘doubled their offer overnight.’ “That was pretty rad.”
These guys might not have put blood into their deliveries, but they certainly put in sweat. And tears, as it turns out.
“One of the most bizarre things I remember was after we had finished a studio session.
“I had this guitar riff that I had come up with when I was about 15, but could never really find the words to fit the tune,” said James.
“Anyway, at the start of the session I played it and the producer was like ‘Wow, we’re using that.’
“A couple of hours later, we had a full demo of the song done. So we’re sitting on the train home listening to it, and all of a sudden I started crying out of nowhere.
“I’d become so emotionally attached to the tune that it was such a massive thing for it to finally have lyrics and to have become a proper song.
“I ended up texting the writer and thanking him for doing such a good job, and he text back saying ‘don’t be such a little baby!’
“I suppose in terms of the genre, it would be best labelled as Indie-Pop, with a drum and bass element to it,” thinks Antonio.
“Kinda like one of Ella Eyre’s most recent songs, but imagine two guys singing instead of one girl.
“I’ve confused myself now!”
Meantime one listener has perhaps hit the nail on the head when they described it as a fusion of Ed Sheeran and Rudimental.
“I guess that’s a fairly accurate critiquing of the sound,” adds James, “I’ll happily be compared to two of the UK’s most successful artists!”
Now it’s over to you to critique Touchdown – tap to https://www.facebook.com/OfficialOffColour and investigate further.