The Brooklyn-based electro-pop trio Little Daylight first made headlines by remixing tracks from Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros and Passion Pit before releasing their 2013 EP Tunnel Vision. Packed with infectious melodies and dreamy dance beats laced with darkness, including the single 'Overdose,' which has been remixed by Charlie XCX and Future Islands, it was only a taste of their talents. With their debut LP Hello Memory out now, Nikki Taylor and her basketball-loving bandmates Eric Zeiler and Matt Lewkowicz are finally settling into their own sound. Below they meet up with Tan Camera's Kimi Selfridge in Williamsburg to shoot hoops and talk to us about their new record.
Little Daylight's Matt Lewkowicz, Nikki Taylor and Eric Zeiler. Photos by Kimi Selfridge | www.tancamera.com.
Matt: Eric and I went to high school together in northern New Jersey and Nikki was dating a friend of ours at the time so we met her through that. We've been working together for a while on different projects, but we've been together as Little Daylight for two years.
Eric: Matt and I were in a band called 'Bassment' in high school. So it was a lot of bass. There was a song we played called "Inside the Pac-man Regime" and it was 12 minutes long. To give you an idea.
Did you guys also play basketball growing up?
Matt: We'd just hang at someone's house and play when we were younger. When we [moved] to Brooklyn, we had a basketball renaissance -- we wanted to get active and the basketball courts were so close to us so we thought we'd go out and give it a shot. Now we're addicted.
Eric: We're trying to get more of our friends involved. Taller people are starting to show up to the games, which is good.
Nikki, how are your skills?
Nikki: I do a lot of passing to the side...
Matt: Nikki is less concerned where the ball goes, but she has the funniest game face.
You first started as Little Daylight by remixing songs. How did that influence the development of your own sound?
Nikki: When we were just starting we were staying at a lake house upstate remixing and creating demos. We always knew we wanted to write and record our own songs and perform live so we all brought ideas for Little Daylight but remixing was a good way to get creative juices flowing.
Matt: It's been kind of insane. We didn't expect people to latch on so quickly to the remixes, and when they did, that translated into a personal momentum for us. Once the ball starts rolling like that you don't even look back and that's how Little Daylight really started. When we started it was more on the washed out, dream side of where we are now. I think the dreaminess is part of our sound, but there are also powerful rock sounds now, too.
And how did that translate into Hello Memory?
Eric: It goes in so many different ways. All three of us are writers so we'll write privately at home then bring something in to show the rest of the group. The level of collaboration we do isn't very common. We are always and constantly working together.
Nikki: I know so intimately the way these guys work and I feel putting those things together and allowing each person to bring their strengths is a rewarding process. We're all about workshopping. We workshop it...flip it around and reverse it.
Matt: 'Restart' on our EP Tunnel Vision, for example, is an accidentally reversed piece of another song we had written in the studio together around the computer. When Nikki's vocals were reversed they sounded like a different English phrase. Everyone looked at each other and was like "This is cool." Then we went down the rabbit hole with this little chunk of reversed vocals finding new melodies and chords.
Does your name come from George MacDonald's fairytale Little Daylight?
Matt: Yeah. We really liked that the character was beautiful only at night and ugly during the day. So there was a night time aspect to it plus we knew back then we didn't want to be stylized in one place. We like that old classic fairytales have a darker side to them and this is one of them. We just think it's fun putting out a lot of messages and have people unpack a story.
Like in the tale do you guys find that you're 'better' at night?
Nikki: Matt's a night person for sure. A lot of times we will get emails from Matt at 4 am saying "Hey guys, going crazy with this thing or created this thing." Meanwhile...I'm sleeping.
Matt: We operate a lot in the mornings too...
Nikki: We are all about waking up and getting coffee and getting to work, like a 9 to 5 day.
Eric: Hah. Yeah, we're a 9 to 5 band.
You're good at keeping up with your fans on social media -- have you always prioritized that?
Matt: It was part of our band very early on. We even had a Twitter that fans created called Little Daylighters.
Eric: These people were also fans of Charli XCX and Marina and the Diamonds who we toured with. I'm sure all these kids will have music industry jobs one day. They are ahead of the curve by leaps and bounds. The biggest fans we have are actually intellectually interesting to us because we kind of look at them and see what are they going to do next.
Nikki: And they didn't even know each other, which is the crazy thing, but they became friends through us and met each other at one of our gigs. It was one girl's 18th birthday.
Matt: We found out they couldn't come to our show at this club because they were underage so we invited them to sound check and they came with their parents, hung out and took photos, which is something we probably would've done at their age.
What are some shows your parents took you to?
Eric: The first concert I ever went to was the Beach Boys with my parents. Then last year I went to see Fleetwood Mac with my dad, which was cool to see together.
Matt: I don't come from a musical family. I remember my mom noticed I was getting into music and was like, "You've been listening to a lot of music, Matt. If you want me to get tickets to something, let me know." I remember very early on before I thought I could get into concerts she was like "Let's figure this out because you clearly want to go to some shows" and that was very cool. At a really young age we would take trains into the city to see shows. I'm surprised our parents even let us do that.
What were some of your favorite venues in the city growing up?
Matt: The Knitting Factory when it was in TriBeCa because they had this free room. We were so young, like 16. I still can't believe they let us into that place. We'd hang in the bar and listen to music then go to a bodega to get a sandwich before we got on the train home.