Subscribing to the Berklee College Of Music’s YouTube channel has probably been one of the better decisions I’ve made. Not only have I found pretty inspiring music to help myself along in my guitar-playing, but every once in awhile I come across some upcoming bands that leave an impression on me. Upcoming Boston band Night Lights has been one of my more recent discoveries, with their unique indie rock sound on their debut EP Here We Come released in July. (You can check out our review of that here)
Based in Boston, the five-piece outfit certainly takes pride in their diversity, with a full range of backgrounds extending to Mexico, Texas, Japan, California, and even Norway. Just a first listen to their music and you’ll catch on to the invigorating vibes and energy flowing from the band. As drummer Dag describes, “Musically I think it has helped us find our own unique sound since we’re all bringing in musical elements from our different musical/cultural backgrounds. Band dynamics are cool, having several strong personalities that all have their own ways of approaching stuff”.
With a wide spectrum of influences evident in their signature approach, it’s hard to place a finger on what exactly their sound is like. Merge the off-beat energy of Mutemath (think Darren King with those headphones taped to his ears as he plays), the suave vibes of Phoenix, and the rapid yet infectious beats of Friendly Fires, and we’re only beginning to get our heads around their style. Diversity is key here as the band pulls us on an unorthodox mix of dazzling rhythm twists and electrifying guitar riffs that is almost as addictive as it is erratic (in an uncompromisingly good way, of course).
Perhaps one indication of longevity and success for a promising band like Night Lights is the ability to stay inspired as they continue to write music that stays true to their identity and overall approach. Having gained a following over the last few months as they set out on tours and delve deeper into the industry, their music has showcased a great deal of inspirations, even from one another. The challenge here is finding the balance in the midst of it. Frontman Mau Jimenez elaborates on the intricacy of this organic process, “I mean, recently the great thing has been that we draw inspiration from one another. We will play a little riff and from that, we all build off of each other and mold a piece of music out of a riff… Sometimes it’s unexpected and we will be rehearsing our set and at some point, someone starts to play something that resonates with the others and we will jam out a beautiful song… It goes from song to song, but in general, our songs are the band throwing ideas together and then giving them structure”.
While we’re talking about structure, one uncanny characteristic of the quintet is their knack for fluidity as they cruise through different rhythms and vibes within each song. As students from Berklee, their technical proficiency and exploration of different genres has produced a compelling take on indie rock, especially in an environment that is known for its emphasis on jazz. One moment on “Stutter” we hear a low-intensity verse that is bound to make you sway along, while another moment the band flawlessly transits us into an exhilarating ride through a jumpy electro-rock refrain. “Being at Berklee has provided a great playground of sorts for us to push ourselves as individual performers/writers/producers because we’re always comparing ourselves to other musicians around us, a lot of whom are better than us. The environment has helped us each really push ourselves to create music we’re proud of and passionate about… we’ve found that our Berklee education can inform our music, so that every now and again we can use chords or rhythms or ideas to help us stand out from other “generic” indie bands. The trick seems to be using our brains sparingly, and just trusting our emotions 90% of the time”, shares bassist and back-up vocalist Jeff.
When it comes to songwriting, the development of a song with Night Lights is as authentic as it gets. Music and lyrics obviously come as a close-knit pair and many bands compromise one aspect for the other, but the indie rock group has managed to find just as much revelation for the latter. Mau further expounds on this quality, “I draw my lyrics from what I know. Like from the things I experience and live and feel. I guess that’s pretty cliche, but it’s true. So for me, I tell stories of personal experiences, doubts, fears, joys, etc, and write them in a way that others can fill in the specifics of them. That the story being told sounds like theirs and hopefully that gives them hope”.
Going deeper into the words, it becomes obvious on songs such as “Hit The Water” and “Stutter” that the band possesses a determination to reach out to listeners in the most human way possible. Themes of personal struggles and inertia faced in moving forward are thoroughly evident in their lyrics, and these explorations place the band in a genuine and relatable light. “Most of my songs are about self improvement though. I think a lot of that has to do with why we are called Night Lights and where our true desire is, which is to be better people. To be “lights in darkness”, even if our light is dim or weak. To continuously strive to be better to the people around us because in the end, what good is a light that only serves itself right? The point of light is that it has use for everyone that can see it. So most of my songs tackle the issue of self-confrontation and pity and all these things keeping me from coming in contact with others”, illustrates Mau.
On future plans coming up for the band, guitarist Yusuke summed it up perfectly with his reply – “Hopefully continue to play, tour, create, share, and dance!” With that level of talent and creativity stemming from their first EP, that’s what we all hope for too.
You can find updates and upcoming tour dates on their Facebook here.