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Name: Adam Bernard
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About Me: Entertainment journalist with 20 years of experience. Supporter of indie music. Lover of day baseball, and B-movies. Part time ninja. Kicked cancer’s ass. My memoir, ChemBro, is out now!
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Little Daylight Embraces Darkness To Shine Brightly
Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Combining dark synths, with indie pop sensibilities, and entrancing female vocals, the Brooklyn, NY, trio of Little Daylight have worked their way to becoming one of the most buzzed about bands of 2014.

The group, which is made up of Nikki Taylor, Matt Lewkowicz, and Eric Zeiler, released their debut EP, Tunnel Vision, on Capitol this past fall, quickly following it with a tour supporting a then largely unknown band named Bastille. During this time, Little Daylight were also working on their upcoming full length debut, Hello Memory, which is due out later this year.

Currently on the road with Flagship and Terraplane Sun as a part of the Three of Clubs Tour, Little Daylight will be hitting their hometown of NYC on April 2nd. In advance of their homecoming, I caught up with Little Daylight singer Nikki Taylor to find out more about the band’s journey, and the roles third wave coffee shops, and watermelon destruction, have played in it.

Adam Bernard: First of all, why just a little daylight? Why not a whole lot of daylight?

Nikki Taylor: Well, we chose the name Little Daylight because, first of all we really just liked the combination of ideas. Little Daylight could be a little bit of light, and a lot of darkness, and we wanted to represent that in the music. Also, it’s the name of a fairy tale (by George MacDonald). It’s the story of a princess who kind of waxes and wanes at the moon. So we liked the idea of kind of a powerful dark side to the music, as well as sort of a lightness, and a carefreeness, as well.

Adam Bernard: I don’t know if you know this, but you’re kicking the writer of the fairy tale’s ass on Google.

Nikki Taylor: That’s our entire goal, and purpose as a band, so as long as we’re succeeding with that, we’re doing fine.

Adam Bernard: You all live in Brooklyn, so I have to ask, what aspects of yourselves do you consider hipster, and what aspects of yourselves are decidedly non-hipster?

Nikki Taylor: I really like that question. I think probably the main hipster thing about us is the kind of coffee that we like to drink, and the kind of coffee places we frequent. Eric (Zeiler) likes to refer to these places as third wave coffee. First wave is your deli coffee, second wave being Starbucks. We like to go to places that smell like there’s some sort of cedar, maybe, somewhere, and the people have beards. That’s the kind of coffee we like to drink. That’s the most hipster thing about us. The least hipster thing about us, I would say, is probably the way that we like to make music. When I think hipster sometimes I think overly concerned with style, and less-so with substance. I would say the way that we like to work together is really collaborative. It’s really the three of us in a room, just kind of throwing ideas around, and seeing where it takes us, and really trying not to prioritize something about the style versus the reality of where we want it to be coming from as a group.

Adam Bernard: What was your path like from being a Brooklyn indie band, to being signed by Capitol? What would you consider your payin dues moments?

Nikki Taylor: It was kind of an interesting trajectory that we had, because we put out a lot of recorded music before we started playing live, so the image of a band paying dues by being in a little van, and traversing the country for years and years before they get signed, did not apply to us, but we did put in a lot of work in the studio beforehand. We were cutting out time whenever we had it in 2012-2013 when we were recording our EP. I think it was the fact that we were all working on other stuff, and being like OK, we’ve got two hours this night to run in and do some work, and we’re gonna take this day and put aside all of our other priorities and make music together. Just the fact of really making music, and putting out whatever we could, and doing lots of remixes, and working on originals, before we had a clear idea of where we were going with it, or where it was gonna lead us, was our version of paying dues. Now that we’re signed, it’s not as night and day as some people think. We’re still doing our thing, we still make music the same way, we’re in the tour van, literally, right now. It’s all a trajectory. It’s not like you start from one level, and then like immediately you’re doing something different. It’s like a pretty natural, organic, process still.

Adam Bernard: You mentioned your EP, Tunnel Vision, which was released last year. Your full length debut, Hello Memory, is coming soon. What was going on in your lives that inspired the content of each of those albums?

Nikki Taylor: The last album that we just finished is the mind-space I’m in now, because it’s the thing we’ve been working on for the last seven months or so. We just finished it, and it’s really drawn from what was happening in all of our lives. We’re all three songwriters, so we collaborate and write music together, and we all had different stories that we contributed to this. There’s the story of a breakup, and the story of a relationship beginning, and some friend things that were going on, and as we were writing it we sort of discovered that all of these stories could be told as part of the same story, and you could think of them as the same group of characters that are emerging in each song, and doing something different. When we got that idea together, and we created around that idea, we realized there’s a narrative there, and it felt really natural to us. For example there are some segues in-between songs later on in the album that have sound recordings that are taken from the place where we first got together as a band, in the lake house we recorded at in the summer of 2012 when we decided to work together for the first time, so there are some really personal touches in that album that I think we’re all really excited about. For Tunnel Vision, there are a couple themes to that EP. The first one is the idea of the excitement and newness of where we were coming from at the time. There are a lot of really big sounds. Again, there’s kind of this dichotomy of this sort of instrumental thing that comes in in the middle and sort of grounds yourself back to reality before we go blasting off into space again.

Adam Bernard: Reality is only fun once in a while.

Nikki Taylor: Yeah, exactly. Just to touch base, so you know where you’re coming from.

Adam Bernard: Circle back for a second. The lake house where you decided you were going to be doing this as a project, was that a weekend out of town, was there a Dawson’s Creek theme?

Nikki Taylor: {laughs} There should have been a Dawson’s Creek theme. There was more of a NeverEnding Story type of thing. Basically we had access to a beautiful lake house upstate, and we decided to take a few weeks and set up a temporary studio up there. We just had a studio, and a bedroom, basically, overlooking this lake, and we had each brought up ideas that we were excited about working on. We put in a few weeks, and just sat in that room, and brainstormed about what we were going to be doing together. A lot of the stuff that we came up with is stuff you can hear on the EP, and remixes we put out, and really formed the basis for what we’ve been doing since then. Although, of course, we’ve grown and changed a lot since then, as well, but those were the first early days.

Adam Bernard: Moving from the lake house to the road, you toured with Bastille over the summer. Has seeing Bastille blow up the way they have raised your level of excitement, or made you realize how close you might be to doing the same?

Nikki Taylor: Absolutely. Actually, the tour we did with them was such a cool time to be on tour with them. First of all, we happened to go on tour with them because we played with them at the very first show they played in the US in San Francisco in July, I think it was, or June, actually. We all just really got along, so when they were doing the US tour in September they asked us to come with them again. To be at their first show, and just seeing the excitement at this really little venue, and everyone was going crazy, and then in September, already, the venues were bigger, and there were bigger crowds, and lines waiting, and even that was exciting in just those three months. There were certain shows, because they booked the venue (so far in advance), and since they booked the venue they got bigger, we were playing some small (venues). I think in Portland they played a very small venue for them, maybe 300-350 people, and just the energy in that room was so overpowering and amazing. It was super exciting for us to be a part of. They’re such great guys, and great musicians, so it’s awesome to see where they’ve gone even since then.

Adam Bernard: You’re currently back on the road again, this time on the Three of Clubs tour with Flagship and Terraplane Sun. Is sleeping in your own bed totally overrated?

Nikki Taylor: It’s funny you say that because we’re actually about to go back to NYC, and I’m gonna sleep in my own bed for the first time in a few weeks, but then that will be it for five more weeks, so hopefully it’s overrated, because otherwise I’m gonna miss that bed a lot.

Adam Bernard: Being in such close quarters can lead to arguments. What’s the stupidest thing you’ve ever gotten into an argument over as a band?

Nikki Taylor: I don’t know about arguments, but one of the hardest things for us on this tour, so far, has been the early wake up calls. We have so much going on in addition to the shows, we’re doing radio things, and rehearsals, and just a lot of stuff, so we’re trying to figure out how to get the schedule so that we can manage to get a decent amount of sleep, and eat fairly decent, not always drive-thru food, on the road. Just managing schedules is a challenge. Luckily we’ve been able to do a pretty good job so far, and our tour manager keeps us on the line.

Adam Bernard: So if a fan wants to bring you something, a home cooked meal would probably be the best thing?

Nikki Taylor: Yeah. A home cooked meal with vegetables, and leafy greens, would be amazing.

Adam Bernard: Just as long as they don’t throw it on stage to get it to you.

Nikki Taylor: Yeah, well if you do, just aim it for my mouth while I’m singing the chorus.

Adam Bernard: That would be exciting. Speaking of exciting, what’s been the wildest, or most interesting, thing you’ve seen, or experienced, while on the road?

Nikki Taylor: I guess I’m gonna say, and this is probably copping out on this question, but the live show from the other two bands. We’ve been really lucky that the other two bands are incredibly talented, and all awesome people, and they put on really energetic and great shows every night. Really, when you're on tour, the show is the thing that your entire day revolves around. Everything is kind of like, you’re in the van, you’re going through a drive-thru, you’re getting coffee at awesome third wave coffee spots, and then you go to the show and it’s by far the most exciting thing that happens. Although we did have one other really awesome thing that happened. We’d been carrying a watermelon around in the van for a while, it’s a complicated story, but the other day we decided we’d had enough of the watermelon, and we wanted to get rid of it in a way that was pretty epic, and photogenic. It was sort of rotten. We couldn’t eat it anymore. We decided to pull over off this one lane bridge onto the side of the road, and stand up on a hill and throw it and watch it explode onto the pavement, and we filmed it, and that was pretty fun.

Adam Bernard: Did that end up on Vine?

Nikki Taylor: I think it’s on Instagram, actually.

Adam Bernard: So in addition to music, your watermelon disposal skills are kind of off the hook.

Nikki Taylor: I didn’t know we had it in us. I wasn’t sure how it was gonna go, but apparently we’re excellent watermelon smashers.

Adam Bernard: Although you’re not excellent watermelon eaters. How long does it take you guys to eat a watermelon?

Nikki Taylor: {laughs} The watermelon was part of a photo project. It wasn’t our main intent to eat the watermelon, but then we left it in the van in the sunlight and it just didn’t do very well, so we couldn’t eat it.

Adam Bernard: OK. I can understand that. Spoiled watermelon is not good watermelon.

Nikki Taylor: Yeah.

Adam Bernard: Is there anything else you’d like to add about yourself, the band, or any other fruits you’d like to destroy?

Nikki Taylor: Yeah, we’ll take any fruit recommendations. Let us know the next fruit we should destroy. I feel a little bit bad about destroying fruit on the road, but I think the possibilities are kind of endless, and endlessly entertaining, so suggestions are welcome.

Interview originally ran on Arena.com.


posted by Adam Bernard @ 7:00 AM  
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