Exposure: Local Natives
It was no surprise to hear only universal praise for Local Natives at a resoundingly successful SXSW earlier in the year. Their hopeful dreams and dreamy rhythms underlay an of-the-moment epic American style that must sound so perfect in the Texan sun. They'll have to get used to a British autumn though, with a part to play in the NME Radar Tour a reward for capturing such zeitgeist sounds and making them their own. The List spoke to keyboard player and vocalist Kelcey Ayer.
Can you give us a bit of background about the band? Who's involved and how did you get together?
Taylor (vocals/guitar), Ryan (guitar/vocals) and I grew up in southern Orange County and started jamming together towards the end of high school. A year later we met up with Andy (bass) after he graduated college and then with Matt (drumns) a year after that and the chemistry has been building since. We were jamming as another band and then wrote some songs that soon turned us into what we are now.
You're touring the UK with the NME Radar Tour soon. How did you get involved, and how do you think it will all go?
Well NME saw us at SXSW and took a liking to us rather quickly, so much so that they offered this incredible touring opportunity to us, so we're very excited to say the least. We've met almost all the other bands and it feels like it should be a blast. We'll probably have to be careful to not have too much fun.
Do you think you have a particularly zeitgeist style? You've been compared to the likes of Vampire Weekend, The Dodos and Fleet Foxes, but you definitely still manage to hold your own.
I think that we're all into such different types of music that when we write, there's a lot of different ways it can go. We're very flattered to be compared to all of those bands, as we're big fans.
What is it about that sort of Americana, pop folk that seems to have captured the public's interest?
It definitely helps when there's a lot of amazing bands right now doing that sort of sound, but I think it ties into the honesty involved. There are a lot of organic instruments and voices that translate really well from the recordings to the live shows, so there's no smoke and mirrors on tracks. People can get into it and say, "This is the music I heard and they're doing it in front of me and I can see them singing and playing and I'm peeing my pants with giddy glee". Or something like that.
What made you all want to make music in the first place? Was it always the dream?
For me, I grew up with music since birth. My dad was a big folk music person; he was and is still a great singer. I remember falling asleep to him playing Peter, Paul and Mary, and waking up to early-era Beatles' tunes. There's never been a doubt in my mind about the pursuit of music as a career I feel very strongly that that is my purpose on this earth, which I'm thrilled to death about because I think its not often people know what exactly their purpose is. Or I'm just brainwashed (my father has made it perfectly clear that he is living vicariously through me).
Are there certain emotions and ideas you want fans to pick up on when listening to your work?
I'd love for people to take away honesty from the songs, because no matter if you like or dislike the music, you can't ever say that it's fake or fabricated. Even if I don't like a band's music, I can respect them if I can believe them.
There's a very distinct visual side to your work to in your album covers, posters and logos. Where do those ideas come from, and how important are they?
Andy comes up with a lot of the visuals. He's very into images that are off-kilter and borderline gross, but also contain hidden beauty.The visual side is definitely really important to us. When you put in so much time and effort into writing songs, they become your children, and you want your kids to look as best as they can right? You're not sending your little ones to school in a burlap sack that stinks of rotten beets, unless you hate your kids (and we certainly do not).
What's the nicest thing anyone's said about your music?
A girl said once that she should have "worn diapers" because she loved our show so much. Her and Taylor are dating now.
In five words, why should people listen to Local Natives.
Don't be a jerk, man.
Local Natives play as part of the NME Radar Tour at Glasgow, Oran Mor on 1 Oct.