Exclusive Interview w/ Night Lights
Proud to bring you an exclusive chat with Boston's own Night Lights, who will soon be moving out to Los Angeles. The band made the announcement just a few weeks ago, and recently played their last Boston show for the forseeable future this past Friday @ Cafe 939 before a vast and dedicated crowd to send them off. I sat down with the guys before their final Boston area show to talk about how the band made the decision to move out to the West Coast, plus the band's reflections on their career so far, and their hopes moving forward. Here is the transcript from our chat:
Give us your names and roles in the band?
Yusuke: Yusuke, Guitar
Dag: I'm Dag and I play the drums.
Jeff: I'm Jeff and I play bass.
Mauricio: I'm Mauricio and I'm the lead vocalist and guitar player.
What influenced your decision to move the band out to LA and how did you all arrive at that choice?
Yusuke: So LA has been a place that we all collectively wanted to go after Berklee for awhile now, but we've had some conflicts on where to go, New York or Austin. At the end of the day, we just all fell in love with LA. Actually, what decided was that all of us have graduated and we can do this as a full time job, so then we decided to move as a band.
Jeff: We thought it would be a little more conflicting as we decided to go, and then we had a band meeting and asked, "What are everyone's choices"? I think we anticipated more conflict, but there wasn't any.
Mauricio: I also think it has to do with, anytime sometime meets me, Yusuke, or Dag we have the vibe of LA. We're laid back, we like a lot of colors, surf, I don't know how to surf or skate either. So LA just made sense.
When you first started the band together, did you all envision having a strong local impact, or was it more about playing for the fun of it?
Yusuke: Before I was in the band, I went to their first show. It was in Cambridge at a dinky basement. I went with a couple of friends, and not knowing I'd join the band. For me, we all have different reasons: the music, they're my buddies, it was a good hang, good music, the rest was kind of a side effect on my end.
Dag: For me, I remember the first time was a jam, no intentions more than to want to start a band. As you start to write the songs, one thing leads to another and then we might be able to do something with this.
How would you best describe your sound to those who aren't too familiar with you guys?
Mauricio: I guess the easiest cop out answer would be indie rock, but we try to describe it as influenced by rock, pop, and soul music. It's primarily rock driven because it's guitar heavy, and we cater to the pop side of things, we want to try make things accessible and relatable. It has a positive message and kind of fun and dancey, but as musicians we want to make things groovy, as a bass player I defintely take some influence from Motown and soul music we try to blend all three of those together and make me people feel feelings and dance together.
How did you all manage to bring together your vast musical influences and stay together on the same page musically?
Mauricio: I think the way we all fell in love with each other musically to say the least, we just gave each other room to grow. I write the melodies, lyrics, and stuff, but sometimes it doesn't always come out of that. Sometimes, after a song I would be really tired from the rehearsal and right before somebody would drop a line of something and we'll just jam on that for 8 minutes, and eventually that becomes a song and we structure it and stuff. I think the cool thing is our influences bleed through. There's a certain limitation each person you can put into the band and here we just go with each others vibes and feelings.
Can you talk about how your experience at Berklee changed all of you personally and professionally?
Yusuke: For me, Berklee influenced me in a way that I'm able to communicate sounds better, better musical ideas to each other using theories, knowledge, and notes. As a band member it affected me personally. And also, being exposed to different kinds of music and developing my taste. What differentiates us is that we have a good library, good vocabulary of other types of music and knowledge of music in vast aspects of it.
Dag: For me, I definitely realized that there are alot of people way better than me. I realized what I can bring to the table is different than what the next guy can. And serve the song as well is the most important thing as a drummer.
Jeff: For me, some of the biggest things that I've taken from Berklee is playing with a ton of different people and everyone here can bring something to the table. Then you start to learn that everyone may be better, but I have something that no one else can do. Just playing with a ton of different people has allowed me to hone my craft and express it through music.
Mauricio: Specifically for me, I studied songwriting and it's a really weird thing to study because if you're not in tune with yourself stylisticially, your song doesn't translate. People are just learning to write songs that are too brainy and zany. In this case with the band, differentiate what I write for people as opposed as to what I write for the sake of my emotional outlet. As well as learning to hear other musicians, just the importance of me to back down or be quiet and really listen to the music.
With all the songs you've recorded together, do you have a favorite that really sticks out to you?
Yusuke: I would say "Make Me Smile" has a ittle bit of signifncance because it's our first single. It'a the first face of the sound that we put out, it's the first impression and the beginning for this. That's the most significant song for me.
Dag: For me, it might be one of the songs that has yet to be released. (Laughs)
Jeff: I think for me, I love all of our music. Different songs are fun for me to listen to and play. One song that has resonated with me is our song "Into The Light" which we play alot. It's not on the EP, but it's going to be on the new record and regardless of the musical side of that song, we've recorded that song more with other projects we've worked on at Berklee. There have been so many different versions of that song. It deals with loss and all of the emotions associated with it. Now that I know what it's about, it has given me a special place in my heart.
Mauricio: I think for me it's hard to discern, I have so many feelings involved with the lyrics and melodies. Definitely "Into The Light" hits it home for me. The one that hits me the hardest is "Stutter", it brings me either super down or super up.
Besides music, what can we find each of you guys be doing?
Yusuke: You can find me sleeping anywhere, eating anything, and working out and skateboarding.
Dag: I'll just copy that. (Laughter) I like to be active for sure and I like to travel and lately, I've been picking up the skateboard again with Yusuke which is fun.
Jeff: Lately I've just been doing Netflix which is a terrible obsession. Right now, I'm pretty deep into Sons of Anarchy. I try to keep up with all the shows and I try not to binge watch cause I get super into it. I also enjoy bike riding, snowboarding, skateboarding, Mexican food, the beach, outdoorsy stuff and travel.
Mauricio: Something that I think is pretty obvious to the band is that I'm a geek. I'm super into comics, nerdy stuff, I like video games, frisbee canjam. I just really enjoy going on adventures with friends, it's been a long time coming that we want to do stuff outside of school and this year we just got to do road tripping, going to quarrys, antything you can jump into. It's great to discover the friendship side of things where it originally started.
When you move out to LA in September, what is the first thing you'll be doing bandwise?
Yusuke: I would definitely spend some time with my girlfriend, go to the beach, longboarding, skateboarding, whatever I do in better weather.
Dag: Definitely find a place to live as a band. We definitely want to get active quickly as a band, playing local shows in LA, we have a following here but over there it will be fresh and new. Excited to see how people take our music over there. We'll take it a step at a time.
Lastly, Boston has been your home base for the last few years, what is the one thing you'll miss about its people and what it has meant to each of you personally?
Yusuke: At this point, I'll be here for 4 or 5 years, and we've been in every cracks and corners of this city we know. We turn around any corner, we know what's going to be there I find much comfort in this place, I made alot of memories everywhere. We've played so much and I've grown so much, we're ready to move on and pursue this professionally.
Dag: Boston will always be a special place for me. I went through chemotherapy for 6 months here, I'm a cancer survivor. Other than that, school is great but I'm looking forward to not doing school for the rest of my life.
Jeff: Boston has been a really cool place for me. Coming of age, turned 21 and got my first consistent job, went to college, graduated here. Boston has been a really cool place for me to explore being my own person and figure out what I want to do in life and what I believe and value and to experience it all here.
Mauricio: Similar to Jeff, it was a good place for me to try songwriting craft and try to communicate what I want to a crowd that is very sincere and honest. Boston is very unforgiving. No BS, if you're good people will listen to you, they'll applaud and cheer because there is so much good music out here. They push you to find yourself. I think it was the best place for us to be formed. You have to push forward and stand out, and I'm very grateful for that.
Thanks once again to Jeff, Yusuke, Dag, and Mauricio for taking some time out to chat before their final show this past Friday. I love every fiber of these guys musical existence, and what they each bring to the table as musicians and as people. Getting to know them has definitely brought me so much joy and passion, and from just seeing them perform I know how they truly enjoy playing together as a group as well. Best wishes on their journey out to LA!