New Music to Know: Little Daylight Brings Intimacy to Dance-Pop
By Shannon Carlin
When the members of Little Daylight first started making music together in 2012, they never thought they would actually, you know, play live. The Brooklyn trio got their start remixing songs for Passion Pit and Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, so they figured they’d simply be a studio band. Then they got booked by SXSW.
Their solution: booking a few shows around town under a made-up name to gig through the pain.
“The venues needed a little bio so we came up with this description that we were French existentialists,” Taylor said, laughing. “It was like a total BS bio…a band name you couldn’t find anywhere else on the web.”
For the trio’s very first gig — a late show at the Mercury Lounge in New York City — Taylor, Eric Zeiler and Matt Lewkowicz were not Little Daylight, but an electro-pop band from France. And the 50 or 60 people who showed up to hear the band secretly play songs off their debut EP, Tunnelvision, seemed into it. Even if they thought they were seeing another, more recognizable, French band.
“Two songs in, you could literally hear them saying, ‘Is this Phoenix?’” Zeiler said. “Then they realized we weren’t Phoenix and by the third song most of them started clapping. They were excited about something we were doing. We must have converted them.”
Now after a little live practice, Little Daylight have found their stride as an intimate dance band, showcasing the more electronic aspects of their music alongside some quieter sonic elements.
Mixing in influences that range from ambient electronic artist Jon Hopkins to New Orleans jazz to Tom Petty makes it hard to categorize Little Daylight as a straight-up pop band. They’re something more hyphenated.
“We are fully about the song, and a lot of things about pop now are about trends and production techniques. We don’t fully buy into that stuff,” Zeiler explained. “I think we’re as much of a rock band as we are a pop band. We’re as much an alternative band as we are a rock band.”
For fans who have only seen Little Daylight live, Taylor recommends they go home and spend some time listening to Tunnelvision with headphones on. “It probably doesn’t sound like the most personal thing ever when you’re listening at the live show where it’s all about dancing,” she said. “You have to bring it home and listen to it on headphones to hear some of the things we’re talking about.”
With its bouncy, synth-heavy beat, “Glitter and Gold” was written as a motivational tool to help Taylor get past her stage fright. Meanwhile, first single “Overdose” is a flurry of ’80s drum machines masking an anti-love song message.
The song is about an ex that Taylor said had her hooked in a bad way. “It’s about a relationship that is somehow not great for you,” she explained, “but feels really good and you want to keep putting yourself in that position, but it’s not necessarily healthy.”
The trio is currently tucked away in a carriage house in Brooklyn working on their 2014 debut on Capitol Records, which they say will get even more personal. The band likes working a little closer to home and says it’s actually made them quite domesticated.
Every morning they get to the house and make breakfast and brew a pot of coffee, one for each member. ”We’re kind of coffe-aholics,” Lewkowicz said. Later they make lunch together in a kitchen that is no bigger than a narrow hallway. “If we were three people who were easily annoyed, we would probably lose our minds, but we totally worked it out,” Zeiler said. ”We make our coffee and just make music.”
And don’t forget kale. The band says it’s been their ingredient of choice throughout recording, throwing it into nearly every meal to help increase their energy levels.
“It’s totally rock and roll,” Zeiler joked. “Coffee and kale. Rock and roll 2.0.”