SXSW 2014: Little Daylight x Vinyl Mag

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One of my favorite interviews of South by Southwest this year was with Little Daylight. I sat down with members Nikki Taylor, Matt Lewkowicz and Eric Zeiler to discuss their love of remixes, the power of caffeine and their future plans.  Please listen to this band. You will like them as much as we do. Vinyl Mag seal of approval!

Vinyl Mag: How are ya’ll doing? How is Austin? What do you think about everything here?

Nikki Taylor: I mean, I love it, we were here last year, so this is our second year, and it’s such an awesome, fun time of year. We’re playing a lot of shows this year, and doing a lot of stuff, so it’s busier than last year. It’s a little less party and see lots of bands vibe, and more of a play a lot of music vibe, but either way it’s fun.

VM: Cool. What have ya’ll been up to?

Matt Lewkowicz: We just got in yesterday.

VM: And you flew in from New York?

Matt: No, we drove from New York.

Nikki: Three days of driving.

VM: That’s crazy!

Eric Zeiler: We’re starting our tour after this, in Houston, so we had to drive here to get everything. Oh no, Dallas  – we’re starting in Dallas.

VM: Keep it in Texas. Texas is like a country in and of itself. Could you each tell me about your role in the group and how you work together?

Nikki: We’re a democracy in how Ancient Greece is a democracy, but with women.

Matt: Right, we allow women.

Nikki: Right, a band of the people. For the people. By the people.

Matt: And waving it towards women’s rightsbut yes, in terms of individual roles, we just kind of mush it all together to one patty and then just fry it up, slice it up and see what happens.

Eric: We do have instruments that we play, though, live, and those are distinct roles. For the stage. For the studio, everything is very egalitarian, and everyone is playing different instruments and writing together…but live, I play bass and keyboards.

Matt: I play guitar and keyboards and percussion.

Nikki: I sing and I play keys. and we have a drummer. He’s not here right now, but yeah – it’s the four of us onstage.

VM: When you’re creating a song or a track, how do you approach it? What is your ultimate goal, and how do you reach that goal?

Nikki: We just finished recording our album a couple weeks ago. It was over the summer and the fall, and we all just kind of brought in a lot of ideas. The first day we were working on the album, we sifted through everything we had all been thinking about. And as soon as we had an idea going, we just all workshopped it. Literally, the three of us, just like sitting here talking about what kind of thing it should be. And the end goal, I would say, is just to make the song its best version of itself. We don’t have this thing of, ‘oh this song needs to be this type of thing.’ We had a song that started out on our album as a four on the floor, electronic kind of thing and ended up being a ballad. So it evolves.

Eric: The electronic stuff – the fact that we do most of our creation in the studio – we have all sorts of tools that are at our disposal. Guitars, acoustic guitars, instruments, drums, and then like electronic stuff. So, depending on the song, those elements might come to the forefront just because the song demands them. Because we’re in the studio, and not just in a rehearsal space, we have those at our disposal. We all love that. We are all into having that kind of music, so we were excited about having those sounds in the songs.

VM: Didn’t you have your EP before you ever performed live?

Matt: No, we didn’t release the EP, but we had recorded some of the songs.

Nikki: We released our first album last year, and then our first show was actually last year at South By. So this is actually our one year anniversary of playing our first show here.

VM: What are you excited about at South By? What shows are you most excited to be playing?

Eric: Of ours? We’re probably most excited about the Filter one; it’s with the four-band lineup, and they’re all great bands. It’s with Washed Out, Temples, and Eagles, so it will be exciting to play with all the other bands…

Nikki: And Mr. Wise is playing, and we like him a lot so that will be a good show, too.

VM: You’re performing today right?

Nikki: Tonight. Midnight.

VM: I want to come to that!

Nikki: Yeah, you should!

VM: I’ll have to make it. So…you definitely incorporate remixes into what you do. You released a whole remix album when you also released Tunnel Vision. Does that change the way you approach anything, with the intention of creating remixes?

Matt: Yeah, remixing has been a part of us since making music has been a part of us. From the beginning, we were doing both at the same time. And the remixes have always been a good place for us to practice our studio skills. A lot of times when we write a song, what we do is we workshop things and work on chopping things up and approaching them differently every day until we see what sticks and what works well. With remixes, that’s what we’re doing from the beginning…there are parallel paths to us. So, that’s why remixing and writing originals has been a very similar act.

Nikki: And then getting remixes back from other people.

VM: Yeah, I mean people are remixing your tracks all the time. How is that? That’s got to be really cool. I feel like it’s really flattering, having people be like, ‘I want to rework your track and make it part of this new creation.’

Nikki: Yeah, definitely. And it’s so cool, as the originator of the song, to hear people’s take on it. There are so many different directions you can go with it, and it’s really great when you hear something you never would have thought is in the song, and someone saw something and created something around it. It’s so cool. I remember we did…who was the remix you got stuck in your head?

Matt: Twice As Nice.

Nikki: Twice As Nice did a remix of “Overdose,” and it was so cool. The chords were so different and awesome and catchy that for a while Matt would get the song in his head, but the remix version in his head.

Matt: Yeah, I would be taking a shower and singing our song and realize I wasn’t singing our song the way we wrote it. I was singing the song the way it had been remixed, and that was just a surreal moment.

VM: That’s so cool, like the cultural collaborative effort of people when you work in remixing.

Eric: Yeah, we’ve been back to remixing after being off of it while we’ve been making our album, about eight months. But we’ve been back at it and a couple of them, we would love to perform live someday. Like remixes of other artists we’ve done that we’re so excited about that we imagine it would even be fun to perform it. It’s basically like writing a new song for us, based around someone else’s vocals.

Nikki: It’s almost like the line becomes very transparent or something. Like remixes and originals, and people remixing you and you doing other stuff and performing it live – yeah, you’re right, – it’s like this community effort, sort of group thing that you’re just taking pieces from stuff.

VM: That kind of plays into your whole vibe, like you were saying earlier. Like you’re very egalitarian – you’re kind of always co-working a democracy. I feel like the remix falls into that vibe – that democratizing impulse you have. What projects are you working on as of now? I guess you’re about to release the new album.

Eric: The project of going on tour for two months!

Matt: Our project is learning how to drive for long amounts of time on single cups of coffee. We’re trying to get one cup of coffee to stretch for at least five hours, or something like that.

Eric: Caffeine matters.

Matt: And also stretch our bladders out so we can go without stopping and peeing. I mean, that’s a big project for us. I guess it’s liquid management.

Nikki: Liquid assets management.

Matt: Which in a socialistic-egalitarian-democracy, is something important we all have to vote on and think on and discuss ([aughing]. But that really is the project right now. Truly, it’s being on the road. We did the six-to-eight-month album block, and now we have risen again, and we’re in the real world, and we have to play shows and go to cities we’ve never been to. That’s kind of an exciting thing that is happening on this tour for the first time. We’re going to places like Columbus, Ohio, and Louisville, Kentucky.

Nikki: New Orleans.

Eric: Where are you from?

VM: I’m from around Nashville.

Matt: Cool. We’re playing there also, in the summer! Mercy Lounge.

Eric: Do you know the band Coin?

VM: I don’t.

Eric: They’re from Nashville, and they’ve become friends. They’re here –  they’re playing a bunch. You’re about to hear a lot about them. They’re doing great. They’re awesome. They represent Nashville well.

*Catch Little Daylight up on their tour!!!!

The Independent      San Francisco, CA, US

Troubadour      West Hollywood, CA, US

5th Avenue Side Stage      San Diego, CA, US

Rumsey Playfield, Central Park      New York, NY

Firefly Music Festival 2014      Dover, DE


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