|LEWIS DEL MAR’S
After gracing (two thirds of) The Deli’s 2016 SXSW issue‘s cover, Rockaway Beach, NY’s experimental soul pop duo Lewis Del Mar had a pretty exciting year, culminating in the recent release of their self titled debut album, and the US and EU tour that follows it. The band caught many ears’ attention in late 2015 with a series of memorable singles that blended an overall acoustic sound with electronic experimentation. We had the chance to ask them a few questions about their gear and creative process.
How is Rockaway Beach, Queens better than Brooklyn and what took you there?
Danny: “Better” is a bit subjective in this case. Rockaway has far less amenities than Brooklyn. Originally we were just coming out here to surf and explore, but we realized slowly that it perfectly personified the music we were trying to make. To create something genuine you have to live it, so we moved here. It’s the only place we’ve ever felt at home.
Max: At one end of our block is the ocean, and at the other end the A train goes by and you can see the New York City skyline. It’s where the city frays and clashes with the beach. In a lot of ways that’s what this project is all about. It’s this mixture of both industrial and natural sounds.
Does being close to the sea influence your songwriting?[pullquote](Rockaway Beach is s where the city frays and clashes with the beach. In a lot of ways that’s what this project is all about. It’s this mixture of both industrial and natural sounds.[/pullquote]
Danny: Absolutely. The ocean is very humbling. It puts all of your experiences into perspective and keeps you from feeling like you are the center of the universe.
There’s a moody and tense quality to your music that doesn’t really conjure up images of the beach – are you guys beach boys at heart?
Danny: Somewhat. We fucking hate the cold. But, Rockaway isn’t Cozumel, Mexico. That’s why we love it. It’s got grit. If it was white sand and clear blue water it wouldn’t have any character or unique quality. My father is also from a small fishing village on the Caribbean coast of Nicaragua, and Max’s parents currently live in Panama. A lot of the more natural elements of our music stem from our travels and connections to the coasts of Central and South America.
Max: The “moody” quality really comes from the weightier themes the album tackles. We started writing it when we first moved to New York, and I think we had that experience, which many young people have when they move to the city, of seeing yourself and your life in a new way. You see how you fit into society as a whole: socially, economically, racially, etc. And sometimes you like what you see and sometimes you don’t. You’re grappling with this new self while at the same time just trying to stay afloat from day to day.
What’s your setup, and the electronic tools that are inspiring you these days?
Max: I’m really inspired by guys like J Dilla and Madlib so I’ve always done a lot of sampling from vinyl. Most of the weird processed percussion sounds are from old records of Latin percussion ensembles. I’ll chop them up, put them on an SP-404 or SPDS-X and then replay them in different rhythms (both live and in the studio). I also use voice memo recordings of various noises and musicians that I’ve come across in New York City to get cool ambiences and weird sounds you can’t get with synths or plugins. There’s also analog synths, old guitar pedals, tape recorders. All types of shit. [pullquote]Most of the weird processed percussion sounds are from old records of Latin percussion ensembles.[/pullquote]
How much of your debut EP was recorded at home, if any?
Danny: All of it was recorded in the living room of the bungalow where we both live.
Is there a person outside the band that’s been important in perfecting your recorded and/or live sound?
Danny: The homie Andrew Maury. We went to high school with him and reconnected in the city as we were finishing some of the original demos. The dude is a wizard. It’s inspiring to watch him work. He helped us make the bungalow recordings more impactful and relevant.
What is the secret to translate your original ideas into a recorded track that’s faithful to it and satisfying?[pullquote]Most of the guitars on our album were recorded on a laptop microphone because we dug the quality of the original simple song demos more than the polished feeling we got when we properly mic’d something. [/pullquote]
Danny: The sauce. For us, it’s keeping everything in one place. From when I first begin demoing a song idea until Max builds a finished production, we work out of the same project file. This means that all the different iterations of an idea are compiled in one place and easy to pull from. Most of the guitars on our album were recorded on a laptop microphone because we dug the quality of the original simple song demos more than the polished feeling we got when we properly mic’d something. Because we’re bringing in so many influences and sonic textures, cohesion is always the goal. We’re always in the room together when we work.
Max: Yeah, for us the songwriting process is completely intertwined with the production and mixing stages, so at every step we’re analyzing how each element fits in with the meaning and intention behind the song. We never wanted Lewis Del Mar to be a traditional “band.” We’ve been in bands since we were kids, but Lewis Del Mar is about going beyond the three-dudes-in-a room-feelin-it way of making music. Lewis Del Mar is this fluid creative entity that sculpts songs and builds worlds with our recordings.