Holding onto a Little Daylight

February 28, 2014 3:11 PM

Little Daylight is Brooklyn’s newest synth-pop project, bound for glory. Little Daylight's Nikki Taylor, Matt Lewkowicz, and Eric Zeiler are quickly gaining the experience and a following to make great things happen. With their debut EP, “Tunnel Vision”, out on Capitol Records last August, they now are looking forward to the 2014 release of their first full-length. TWELV recently had the pleasure of sitting and talking with Nikki, the band’s lead singer, about their past, and their experiences and hopes leading up to their new record. Check out the video for “Overdose” here. 

TWELV: How did Little Daylight start? 

Nikki: Little Daylight started basically as three friends (Matt, Eric, and myself). Matt and Eric had known each other since high school and they were in a high school band together, so they made music together for a while, and I knew both of them from various projects, so we all made music together before in different ways, but never the three of us together, writing original stuff. About a year and a half ago, we kind of just pooled our ideas together and found out we had a lot of overlap, and we all had interest in doing originals, and remixes as well. So, we went up to a lake house, actually, in upstate New York, in kind of just a ramshackle, throw-together studio up there and just spent some time working on remixes and starting to flesh out original ideas, and that was the start of Little Daylight.

T: Where did you guys meet?

N: Well, Matt and Eric met in high school in New Jersey. And then I actually dated a friend of theirs from high school for a while, so that’s how I met the two of them. 

T: You guys are based in New Jersey?

N: No, no that was forever ago. We’re all in New York now. We all live in Brooklyn.

T: So you released your debut EP, Tunnel Vision, last August, on Capitol Records. How was the recording process at that lake house? How long did it take?

N: Well the EP was written, sort of, over the course of…well, we formed the summer beforehand, so it was really a year of putting our stuff out. Actually the first song we wrote together was not on the EP, it’s going to be on the album we just finished recording. Then we wrote songs through that summer into the fall, and really finished by January of last year, and then went down to South By Southwest and started performing everything live, and then put it out. So it was about six to eight months of recording. But we didn’t really have a home base. We recorded at the lake house a little bit, we had a studio of a friend’s that we used in Greenpoint, and we recorded a little bit in Manhattan, so it was just kind of like over the long course of six to eight months, and we would jump in to a studio here and there, and do some work. But then now, for the album we just finished recording last week, we really took a step back and got ourselves a space in Greenpoint, a studio space, and really just have been sitting down and focusing on doing the album, so the project’s a little different in that regard.

T: Do you have a release date for the album yet? Or too soon to tell?

N: We’re thinking it’s going to be June, but we don’t have an exact date yet.

T: I just wanted to talk a little bit about your sound, this synth dance music, was this type of music something that you have always played? Or was it something you all found a common ground on?

N: I was in a band…I’ve been in a couple of projects that were [altering] pop music tunes with [electronica], and I was a synth player. This is my first time being a lead singer, so I’ve been playing this music for a while. And I mean we all certainly come with more than one influence, so anything from…some of us are more into electronica, more of us are more into straight up rock music of the late 90’s, but our sound is one that we found common ground on, doing our remixes and then starting our originals. So it’s definitely a journey, like with any band, I think you start out and you start playing with ideas, and find out what sounds good to all of you, and that certainly happened to us.

T: I’d like to talk a little bit about your remixes. A lot of them are posted online and they’re really great. You said you started doing that [together] as the project was taking off. But is it something you [individually] always did beforehand? Because I feel like you need to know a good deal in order to do it. It seems like it takes practice.

N: It certainly does. I mean, I’d worked on a couple of remixes before. Nothing too high profile. I guess we’ve all done a few here and there. But it’s still a learning curve for us. When we did our first remix, it was a lot of talking about what we liked about remixes.

When we first started doing remixes, it was forming a system of which songs felt really authentic to us, as well as staying authentic to the artist. So in that respect, it wasn’t so much about learning how to remix, but learning what we wanted to say as a band, which was one of the reasons it was big to do this at the beginning because it really helped us find a common ground, find out what we were all excited to be listening to and making, so some of the themes that we kept in our music are the big pounding drums, some big synths, like fuzzy synths happening, a lot of energy…that all really developed when we started doing our remixes together. The Edward Sharpe remix was really a big one for us in terms of the feeling of communal, everyone around the campfire setting, but yet still keeping a little more electronic, a little more synth-y, a little more dance-y. So it’s cool. That’s a really good example of taking a song that feels like Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes could have done that, sort of, and also something that we could have done, even though we sort of have different sounds.

T: Is that something that, just listening to music, you’ll hear it and get ideas of how you would remix it? Does that always happen when you listen to music?

N: Yeah! That’s a cool question. Yeah, that does happen sometimes. Sometimes I’ll be listening to a song, it doesn’t happen all the time, but a song that has a really good hook, but yet…I’m thinking of the last song on Yeasayer’s last album. It’s my favorite song on that album, and it’s so cool, and to me, it’s a really dance-y song, even though they did a much more stripped down version of it. And so, sometimes I get ideas for stuff like that, like oh, wow, a remix of this, and have it sound a certain way. One of my favorite things about doing remixes is re-contextualizing melody. I really like doing melody, and hearing all the other chords and all the other songs that you can make with that melody, with that hook. It’s super fun.

T: What would you say your biggest influences are as a band, either musically, or non-musically?

N: Musically, or non-musically, wow.

T: Well, we know you talked about electro-pop as a major musical influence, but we’re just curious if there are other art forms or media that you really draw from.

N: We do, we’re all really into art-photography, mostly. Matt is actually a really good photographer, and if you look at most of our remix art, that’s all been art that we created and it’s mostly culled from Matt’s photographs. And we do a little of our own stuff ourselves. We do all of our own art. We really love photography, festive, sort of abstract images. We all really like the process of doing a remix and then finding a photograph for that remix. We did a photograph for the EP cover too, and I think we’re sort of thinking of something along those lines for the album cover hopefully. Making a really beautiful photographic statement would be awesome. I don’t know if we’re definitely doing it, but it’s an idea we just started throwing around.

T: Was that idea of a photographic statement incorporated in the music video for “Overdose?”  We got a lot of photography imagery from the video, like the juxtaposition of color on black-and-white…things we’ve seen photographers do, trying to really make color pop by placing it against a black-and-white backdrop.

N: Yeah, it’s cool that you mentioned that because that is definitely one of the things we loved most about the video, was Campbell Hooper, the director, had such a photographic eye. And the black-and-white photography style video sequences of that video, I just think are beautiful. He does some really breathtaking moments. And actually it was really exciting to be a part of that shoot because we‘d made other videos. We did videos for another song of ours, and another “Overdose” video, actually. And what was really fun about working with him is that he just really felt like it was art happening. It was just all very improvisational. [He didn’t really have to spend or use all the day.] He just got everyone together, and was like, “Alright, let me see what this looks like with a fan.” Or “let me see your hand,” or “let’s see what happens when you try and move like this.” He had all these ideas like “now try falling,” or “now try jumping.” And then he would get really into it, and capture these moments, and it was really magical. So yeah, I love that about the video.

T: Very cool. Kind of like first take best take?

N; That’s exactly how it was. We just kind of moving through the day, doing whatever came to his mind.

T: You’re about to embark on a pretty extensive US tour with Terraplane Sun and Flagship. What are your expectations for the tour?

N: This is not our first time going through the US. We’ve done a few other tours. We did a few in the fall that took us throughout the US. The difference is that this tour, we’re seeing a lot more of America, so the tour is longer. We’re hitting a lot of cities that we’ve never been to before as a band: Minneapolis, New Orleans, and a bunch of other cities. So what I expect is that we’re going to see fans in cities that we’ve been to a few times on the west coast and the east coast, and then at the same time, see new cities, make new fans, and just kind of get out into the country a little more, which will be fun.

T: Excellent. Do you have anything you’d like to add about the future of Little Daylight with your full-length record coming up?

N: Yeah, I think we have a really big year ahead of us. I’m so excited for the new music that we’ve been writing. We’re going on tour; we’re going down to South by Southwest; it’s all leading up to the album coming up, and yeah, I think it’s going to be a great year, and a great summer, once the album comes out. It’s been a lot of work, so it’ll be really fun to hear it all out and have people listen to it. I can’t wait.


By J.P. Basileo

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