Letting Little Daylight In


Little Daylight’s Nikki Taylor, Matt Lewkowicz, and Eric Zeiler have channeled the balance of light and darkness suggested by their name into their music. The Brooklyn band formed back in 2012 after the trio stayed upstate at a lake house, where they crafted their first singles. Little Daylight emerged with infectious pop hooks and both upbeat and more somber lyrics and went on to create a series of official remixes for bands like Passion Pit, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, and Freelance Whales. With just the EP Tunnel Vision under their belts, they’ve been making their mark by touring with Brit-rockers BASTILLE this summer and fall. The band will also be making its way through the CMJ showcases in New York City next month. In early 2014, the trio will release its debut record. In the meantime, we spoke with Taylor, Lewkowicz, and Zeiler while they were across the country about fairytales, the darker side of fame, and The Dark Crystal.


ILANA KAPLAN: Where are you guys at right now?

ERIC ZEILER: We’re in Los Angeles at a hotel. We just went shopping.

NIKKI TAYLOR: We just walked around very quickly for a half an hour or an hour.

KAPLAN: What did you guys buy?

ZEILER: We’re doing the anti-Los Angeles thing, which is walking from places to other places. We went to this really cool place called Filthmart on Fairfax. We had a lot of fun. We spent a lot of money on t-shirts and stuff.

KAPLAN: How did you guys land on Little Daylight as a band name?

TAYLOR: When we were talking about band names, we had just rented a lake house. We were all hanging out and talking about fairytales: how they are for kids, but they have this darker edge to them and that’s kind of reflected in our music. The concept of light and dark played into that. We came across a fairytale called “Little Daylight,” an actual fairytale about a princess who is cursed and only comes alive during the full moon. It just had all of the elements that we really liked.

KAPLAN: If you were fairytale characters, which would you be?

TAYLOR: That’s so funny, because earlier today Matt and I were talking about our shared love for the movie The Dark Crystal. It’s a fairytale world. We were talking about how we’d be in that movie basically.

MATT LEWKOWICZ: The characters are called the Mystics in that movie. They are these six-legged, elephant, dinosaur things. They’re omniscient, ancient beings.

TAYLOR: You should see the movie. They do this cool thing where they all sit around and chant together. There are like 10 of them. Anyway, we would be those.

KAPLAN: Can you tell me more about the stories behind the songs on the EP? There seems to be a concept of fame behind the lyrics of the tracks.

TAYLOR: To me, “Glitter and Gold” and “Name in Lights” share a thematic story of sorts, which is the concept of going out there, like you’ve got your name in lights—someone chasing their dreams. “Glitter and Gold” is the story about getting over stage fright. They kind of share that back story. “Restart” and “Overdose” are more classic love stories that take a little bit of a different view on that theme.

KAPLAN: Cool. Is fame something that intrigues you or scares you?

TAYLOR: I think it’s both. It’s definitely intriguing. I think our society has a lot of things to say about fame. At the same time, I’ve been reading a lot of autobiographies about other musicians, and I think there is a price that people pay for fame. “Name in Lights” is kind of about that. Sometimes you let go of relationships that aren’t necessarily working anymore or situations that aren’t necessarily working anymore. There’s a lot of chasing of dreams. There are a lot of amazing things you can do with fame: you can spread messages, and you can reach a lot of people. It’s definitely double-sided.

KAPLAN: What’s the status of your LP?

ZEILER: That’s what we’re actually working on in the studio now. We spent the summer writing the songs for the LP. Now we’re out on tour in September. In October or November, we’ll be recording it in Greenpoint. We’ll probably finish it towards the end of the year. It’ll probably come out early next year.

KAPLAN: Sounds like a plan! Is your record drastically different from the EP?

ZEILER: I think the fun part of working with the three of us is that we’re all constantly changing what we think about things. Recording this album is something we’ve been meditating on for a long time. Now we’re developing it over the course of what will be half of a year. There’s distance between the tracks that we wrote on the EP and what ended up on the album. It’s important that this album comes out as a cohesive whole. I think it’ll be a little bit of both: there will be tracks where you feel a measure of progress and there will be tracks where you feel a classic Little Daylight sound, if there is such a thing.

LEWKOWICZ: One thing that is interesting about our path is that we made an EP before we ever played a show live. Not completely, but those songs were written because we played them at our very first show. Now having toured for a few months, I think that’s probably going to seep into the way we record the new songs. We’re thinking about integrating more live instruments, because now we are a live band.

KAPLAN: You guys have come a long way. Who are you super influenced by?

TAYLOR: We are all over the place. We have certain things that we all really love. We’re influenced by a lot of electronic music.

ZEILER: We have a deep love for electronica spanning experimental stuff like Squarepusher. Cashmere Cat we’re big fans of.  We get into some of the EDM stuff: the cream of the crop. We’re also very into classic songwriting like Fleetwood Mac.

TAYLOR: We love Fleetwood Mac’s songwriting. I’ve been listening to a lot of Tom Petty. I love his songwriting. Electronic music with classic songwriting describes our influences best.