As NightWaves Josh Legg and Kyle Petersen, besides founding Binary Entertainment and inventing the term ‘Dreamwave’, make the kind of music that epitomises everything that Dreamwave should be. Optimistic and aspirational, their songs conjure up memories of loves and losses, heartbreaks and sunsets, the best times in your life revisited, the times when nothing else mattered.
From their first single ‘She’s Electric’, through compilation appearances, to last years ‘Sweet Carrie’, NightWaves are evolving at a rapid rate, yet keeping this evolution organic sounding. The duo’s début offerings were pretty straight ElectroPop. Their 80’s inspired melodies and vocals stood-out amongst the emerging retro synth scene as being particularly true to the classic SynthPop sound. Their most recent single ‘Sweet Carrie’, though, was a dreamy Indie-Electro summer soundtrack that came a both a shock and a gift. I will admit that I’m always a bit weary of synth bands who start using guitar (in an ‘another one bites the dust’ kinda’ way, but that’s my problem, I’ll deal with it!) but within seconds of ‘Sweet Carrie’ opening you could tell that this was such a natural progression for NightWaves, it sounded so right. The track blew up online, and rightly so. Synth and guitar blended in to a whole that was so much bigger than the sum of it’s parts. ‘Sweet Carrie’ encapsulates, I think, the Dreamwave philosophy, good times and a summer that never ends.
While working on their début album NightWaves has kept their fans happy with remix after blog destroying remix that have gained them DJ support and radio play all over the world.
NightWaves, ambassadors of Dreamwave, here’s what they had to say:
ER: So how did you guys get together, where you in other bands previously?
J: Yeah Kyle and I have both been musical our whole lives. I played cello for a number of years and Kyle can play the trumpet quite well. We both dove into being in rock bands in our teens. I was a bit of an acoustic singer songwriter in the early 2000’s, as was Kyle (and a hell of a lot of other young males). Its a bit corny to listen back on, but I do believe it broke our songwriting chops to be stripped down to just a guitar and voice. I think it gives NightWaves a big leg up to have written so many songs that way while a lot of other electronic producers are just starting to learn how to construct a song well.
ER: And what came first, NightWaves or Binary?
K: Binary came first, but not by much. Josh and I started Binary in early 2008, and then by mid-2008 we were moved into our office with Binary being our main priority. Since we had some space in our office, we thought it would be a cool place to bring our music gear and have a little space dedicated to being creative and making music. So within the first few weeks of the full launch of Binary, NightWaves was born in some early moments of free time. It was a pretty spontaneous beginning that started with some pretty amateur sounding early demos, haha.
ER: Who are your heroes and influences, both musically and otherwise?
K: Hmm, well that can probably be split into a few groups. There are a ton of musical influences that shape the music I try to make, ranging from pop punk groups like Saves the Day, to Phoenix, Daft Punk of course for their amazing ability to create a spectacle, Miike Snow is influencing how I want to make music now…there are a ton of random past influences. My heroes in music relative to my life are people like Busy P and James Murphy that have built very unique entities and had the resilience to stay at the top of their game and make a lot of the right moves to build their own brand of sound and scene in their towns. And I’d have to say my parents…both are very musical and always supported me in music and inspired a lot of my taste in music and I wouldn’t be able to do this now without them.
ER: ‘Sweet Carrie’ introduced us to a slightly more guitar oriented sound, more of a chilled summery indie vibe. Was this a natural progression for you?
J: Absolutely. I think we would’ve incorporated more live instrumentation into our earlier songs if we could have. Its pretty difficult from a technical standpoint to incorporate live instruments into a mainly electronic mix and it took some time for us to get ‘good’ enough to make it work. We grew up on guitar music and I think it was very natural for us to start to include more guitar in the songs. You’ll definitely hear more guitar on our record, although in a lot of cases the style won’t be quite as out there in the mix as the guitars were on “Sweet Carrie”.
ER: The video for ‘Sweet Carrie’ seems to perfectly visually capture the atmosphere of NightWaves, who directed it? How did that vision come about?
K: We discovered this really talented filmmaker named Cody Bralts. At the time I don’t think he’d even graduated high school, but he was shooting these gorgeous little videos of his life. They really captured the innocence that makes Sweet Carrie the song that it is. We approached Cody about shooting some footage for us and he was eager to let us go through his material. Our guitarist, David Urbina is actually a film editor during the daytime, so he took the footage and really turned the video into the perfect story to accompany the song. We’re really proud of the way it turned out!
ER: ‘Sweet Carrie’ kinda’ blew up on the blogs, have you seem that blog hype translate into much in the way of new fans or sales?
K: ‘Sweet Carrie’ definitely did well for us…the sales haven’t been very inspiring but I guess that’s a good picture of the music industry these days. But I think a lot of people took notice of NightWaves because of that song and the beautiful video that Dave and Cody put together. Some labels perked up their ears, and a lot of our musician friends were really into the song. Josh heard some dudes singing the hook at the Empire of the Sun concert that just happened here in LA, haha, so it looks like people took notice a bit. The trick is following that up.
ER: What lies in NightWaves’ studio. Do you have and ‘go to’ bits of kit?
K: Lots of delay, all day.
ER: And how does the NightWaves live set up work?
J: We perform as a four piece actually. Kyle and I play keyboards and electric bass. David plays guitar on pretty much all of the tracks. We’ve had a few different drummers over the last couple of years too. We rotate around a bit on stage depending on the song, since everyone can play a few different instruments. The only thing that stays consistent is that Kyle and I sing the songs.
ER: If money was no object, what synth would you like to get your hands on?
K: A Jupiter 8…Josh and I probably both agree on that one.
ER: What does Dreamwave mean to you?
K: Dreamwave, to me, and this has some personal bias of course, represents a lifestyle more than anything else. The good life…appreciating being comfortable where you are in life, and beautiful weather, and memorable days hanging out having some drinks with your friends at the beach, and a general optimism about life and about the future. It has a very sunny feeling to me, and I know that it sounds very southern Californian, but I think the same principles can apply to anyone in their hometown. It certainly has the influences from 80’s music, but sonically that’s not really the point and it has more to do with youth and nostalgia, as we always mention. The ability to always feel young and carefree and looking forward to the next day. I think America needs (and is already starting to gain) a sense of things being alright and the future looking bright. Whether or not that will be the case is kind of irrelevant, because a positive mind can have a pretty profound effect on how we make our future.
ER: You’ve recently started writing your début full length record, how’s that going, what can we expect from the album?
K: Going out to Boston to record was a great chance for Josh and I to take some time away and really focus on the future of NightWaves and making some new music. I think you can expect hopefully a good mix of some darker atmospheric songs alongside some driving SynthPop anthems with big hooks. I want to get weird with this record, but not like, too weird. A nice eclectic mix of beautiful sounds. That’s my goal.
J: Yeah… I think we’re up to 18 or 19 pretty completed demos. We’re not quite satisfied yet, so I think we’re looking to write another batch of songs (5-10) before we’ll start the process of finalizing things. The response from friends and family has been great so far though. I think we’ve done a good job of maintaining our ‘sound’, but hopefully pushing our songwriting and production skills to another level.
ER: Are NightWaves more of a cereal or pile of pancakes for breakfast kinda’ band? Would that change the night after a show?
K: I never really eat breakfast, unless it’s a weekend brunch after a night out, at which point I’ll have some eggs benedict. That or I’ll have a bacon and egg breakfast burrito from Pete’s Burgers on Hoover and 24th St…best breakfast burrito in the city, nay, on Earth. And they have the best coke in the city too, with crushed ice, which is crucial. Were you looking for a deeper answer?
NightWaves’ ‘Sweet Carrie’ single is out now, as you heard Josh and Kyle are busy recording their début album. We can’t wait.