KUNZITE and their dashing VISUALS

KUNZITE released their album VISUALS this past summer on Lowly. IDOL had the chance to speak with Sarah Landy, Vice President of Lowly about the band, release strategies, and achieving the big picture.

KUNZITE, a duo composed of Mike Stroud and Agustin White, released VISUALS, their second studio album, in the Summer of 2021 via Lowly/Wilder through partnership with IDOL. The record is a universe of sound with a bright psychedelic energy current that transports listeners to an electrifying and otherworldly space.

Sarah Landy, Vice President of Lowly shares that , “KUNZITE had already released one full length album independently before our involvement, and there was not yet a picture of live touring to build around. Working towards such a brilliant new body of work, we were determined to open up the audience pool significantly before dropping the album, including reaching the historical fanbase of Ratatat, Mike Stroud’s (of KUNZITE) former project.”

Visual content was a key anchor. KUNZITE’s unique eccentricity and celestial inspiration was a common thread throughout Lowly’s storytelling with media partners and fans alike. Sarah Landy adds, “the creative direction was paramount to the release of VISUALS, and it was a blast plotting out the imagery and video content with Agustin and Mike of KUNZITE, and the designers and directors tapped, to bring the psychedelic soundscapes to life. There is a strong presentation of single cover images, and the series of visuals on KUNZITE’s and Lowly’s YouTube channels are powerful for continued new discovery and for ongoing introduction of KUNZITE with industry tastemakers and music supervisors. We love how the psychedelic vibe is omnipresent and very well woven throughout the band’s profiles and content pushed out. There was a lot of outstanding work behind the scenes, including Jay Lincoln (Creative Director) and Mat Herbers (Marketing Director) with Lowly.”

The band made two videos for the album’s debut focus singles, beginning with “SATURN” released on December 18 just in time for the astrological Great Conjunction of Saturn and Jupiter on December 21, 2020. Sarah Landy adds, “we decided to keep the double video impact going with “JUPITER”, “FROSTY”, “LEMON SWAYZE” and “HALOHEAD.” With each of these singles we published a video to KUNZITE’s YouTube channel, pushing growth of the band’s community, and another video to the Lowly YouTube channel, hitting our audience of over 600K subscribers,” and that she believes the, “attention to the visuals has helped with audience stickiness, and you can see this when you peruse the comments. The Lowly channel uploads have notably propelled new audiences and streaming activity.”

IDOL’s West Coast Sr. Director of A&R and Label Development Mike Clemenza shares that, “the attention to detail that Lowly and KUNZITE put into the campaign was excellent. Fans and new audiences were able to experience consistent amazing content, setting KUNZITE apart in a competitive landscape, and this was a meaningful driver for our Marketing and Retail Marketing teams in the US and around the world.” With regards to teams and collaborations with IDOL, Sarah Landy adds, “we had hands-on support from IDOL US and the international offices, which allowed us to bring on the right press and promo teams in markets with strong potential for KUNZITE growth, based on early analytics and Ratatat’s historical activity. We saw new audiences come in with each single released and the Spotify followers jumped up over 200% across 2021 surrounding the album release.”

In addition to helping onboard and coordinate marketing teams across the globe, IDOL found Lowly physical product partners for the release: VNYL and Southern Record Distributors. IDOL also assisted Lowly in soliciting remixes, including landing Miami Horror for the “Lemonade Remix” of the album opener “LEMON SWAYZE.” IDOL secured a Song Starter campaign with Apple Music UK with the release of VISUALS, and facilitated a timed release for Zane Lowe’s World First on his Apple Music 1 show with the “LEMON SWAYZE” single release a month prior to the album dropping. For Sarah Landy, this was a big highlight of the campaign, “as the song intro kicked in, Zane Lowe remarked, ‘It’s my favorite song of the year already.’ After the play of “LEMON SWAYZE”, he stated, ‘that is a blinding, blinding result, that’s an incredible record.’”

Mid-campaign single, “LEMON SWAYZE” went on to receive great support at retail, breaking into new editorial playlisting territory across all popular DSPs including Amazon Music, YouTube Music, Napster and DSPs like Deezer, Juno and Qobuz in Europe, and NetEase in Asia. As for Spotify, KUNZITE landed the cover of Modern Psychedelia and amongst other great placements like Young & Free, was selected for New Music Friday across many countries. “Release radar was driving about 40% of the streams over the first several weeks, which was a positive sign of historical fanbase engagement. Other radio highlights included “FROSTY” getting love on Double J, key tastemaker and cultural stations in Germany and Austria coming on with “LEMON SWAYZE”, and tastemaker US play included SiriusXM AltNation, KCRW and KEXP,” details Sarah Landy.

Mike Clemenza gives some more context, “there was a good flow of moving pieces in the delivery and multiple waterfalling products per single. The extra due diligence paid to content management throughout this campaign we feel really helped optimize the project’s algorithmic and editorial stream potential.”

“A key indicator of our efforts to help Lowly expand KUNZITE’s fanbase globally is that the band’s top five streaming territories for the band are where we proactively put teams in place. The campaign in general was a big statement and was possible because of KUNZITE and Lowly’s hard work and attention to detail. The experience has been a fun and exceptionally collaborative team effort. Also working with a team so well in tune with the importance of curating great content and social media engagement, really helped in the growth and success of the project. The Lowly team was really receptive to ideas, the appropriate lead times, and the assets we needed to do what we do best” says Mike.

Sarah Landy sums it up best, “VISUALS is one of those records that we think will have a lot of personal sharing activity over time, we definitely hope to see that, as well as moments where the music will be presented in advertising spots and film and tv programming.”

And for the cherry on top, Landy adds that, “2022 will see KUNZITE’s live show debut and another full-length album is in the works!”

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