SOUND CITY 2017: An Interview with Local Natives
In the midst of Sound City Sunday, we had the joy of interviewing Taylor and Kelcey from one of my all-time favourite bands – Local Natives. Talk soon went very off topic in what I can only describe as one of the weirdest (and longest!) interviews I’ve ever taken part in.
Jess: Are you excited to be playing Sound City?
Kelcey: Yeah! I feel like they’ve been promoting it a tonne on social media, and I’ve seen it everywhere the last four months.
Taylor: We haven’t been in the UK in a while now, so we’re pumped!
Cecily: Who are you looking forward to seeing?
Kelcey: We just played with !!! (Chk Chk Chk) at Immergut Festival in Germany and they’re from the States so we kind of know them.
Taylor: Our very first Festival season ever, in 2010, we went on tour with them, [!!! (Chk Chk Chk)] Broken Social Scene and a bunch of other bands. And then two nights ago we played with Broken Social Scene and !!! (Chk Chk Chk) and we hadn’t seen each other for years! It was fun; I don’t think I’d seen them since that time so it brought me back to that very first festival season.
Jess: What would you say your favourite song to play live is?
Taylor: It changes all the time, but recently it’s been this song I Saw You Close Your Eyes. We just put that out a couple of months ago, so it’s a new one. Normally you wouldn’t play such a new song at a festival but it’s just been so super fun to play.
Jess: It’s probably good to see people’s reactions as well.
Taylor: Yeah, it’s a good chance to play to a crowd that probably hasn’t heard much of your music.
Jess: You released your album last year and now released two newer songs this year, so are you going to do another album or are you just putting them out there?
Taylor: I think that we had so much material when writing Sunlit Youth – we wrote so many more songs than we’d written before and instead of waiting forever to just put out new music, we finished some songs to put out in the meantime. But we are looking forward to working on our next record, sometime near the end of this year.
Cecily: What would you say are the best and worst things about playing festivals?
Kelcey: At their best, you can play to a bunch of people who have never seen/heard you before; that’s really awesome and always a fun surprise. I know when I’m at a festival and the few times I’ve discovered bands there, it’s a really special thing to find them in that environment. On the flip side, I find it’s a bit of a sensory overload and it can be hard to make a connection. It’s not like the quality time of your own show where you have all your lights and stuff sorted out.
Taylor: Like Kelcey was saying, it’s part of our goal at a festival to provide a really musical, amazing experience. Get people involved and lost in the moment.
Jess: Are you playing any other festivals in the summer?
Taylor: We’ve got a few more this summer, we’re doing Primavera right after this [31st May] and we’re playing Governors Ball in New York [3rd June].
Kelcey: Then we’re here in July and going to play Hyde Park. We’ve never played Hyde Park before so that’ll be fun!
Taylor: Opening for Kings of Leon.
Kelcey: Yeah we’re not headlining Hyde Park. Frightened Rabbit is going to play – we’ve met them before and they’re really nice. Pixies are playing too, so that’ll be cool. Then we’re doing NOS Alive in Portugal.
Taylor: Coachella was fun. We almost shared a stage with Beyoncé, so close!
Cecily: So, along that kind of line, what influences do you have?
Taylor: Right now, I’ve been listening to so many albums that I’m really excited about that have just released a song or two. Like The National, those guys are friends of ours. Aaron [Dessner] produced our second record and we’ve toured with them quite a bit over the last couple years. I’m really excited for that record; I love them, I’m a big fan.
Kelcey: A lot of indie rock bands from the 2000s are releasing records this year, it’s kind of like a fun resurgence.
Taylor: Right! There’s a Feist record, Fleet Foxes record.
Kelcey: Beach House I think! Nick Hakim, I’ve been really liking his record, he’s kind of in this new genre of more soulful singer/songwriters that aren’t necessarily RnB. Charlotte Day Wilson, she opened up a tour for us last year. There’s a new fleet of artists like that, that I really like and we’ve been listening to.
Jess: If you could swap places with any other member of Local Natives who would it be and why?
Kelcey: Switch places at any point in time or right now?
Taylor: *laughing* Do you want to relive Matt’s childhood?
Kelcey: Well, I would switch places with Taylor because he has some really nice hair.
Taylor: I think I’d say the drummer because I think I’m the only member in the band who can’t play drums and I think that would be so fun. Kelcey can play drums. Maybe I should just switch with Kelcey because he knows all the instruments. Just suck up his powers.
Cecily: Do you have a dream tour collaboration?
Kelcey: I would be into collaborating with Thom Yorke or Johnny Greenwood, that would be awesome. Or there’s this experimental piano artist called Nils Frahm, that would be really cool to jam with him. He’s this German guy whose pretty big with artists who play opera halls. The high art scene, where he’s collaborating with two other piano players and they’re playing all at the same time. And some rich guy in a monocle is like ‘YES’ and he’s paying for it to happen; you know, like, they endow their art. That’s the world he’s in.
Taylor: Björk’s been on tour recently; she’s one of my all-time heroes and favourites. I love what she does and I’m a big fan of all these masks that she wears, and I’m so into her tour production and how she presents it. I was going to be able to watch her at the Waterloo Concert Hall with an orchestra this week but we’re on tour. So I would tour with her.
Jess: If you put on your own festival, what would you call it and who would you have play? Along with you guys of course because you’d want to be in the bill!
Kelcey: I would love to play! If we can? That would be a fun dream, just because we’re from LA, it would be so fun to have lots of our friends come from all around and play a festival. We’ve got to agree on the name; we’d come up with two wildly different names. It [the name] would be something weird, or something personal to us.
Taylor: Something weird and personal?
Kelcey: I almost said our password! That is a good idea though.
Taylor: If they only knew! We have a number next to it, but still you could guess it from that. There’s not THAT many variables. I’m stumped, you’re going to have to come back to us on that one. I would love to include a lot of these artists that we’ve been touring with and that Kelcey was mentioning. I think Charlotte Day Wilson and Moses [Sumney]. I would have both of them.
Kelcey: I’d try to get Portishead to headline one of the nights. It’s a three-night festival – we’re really ambitious for our first festival! I’d try to get them to play Third in its entirety.
Taylor: There’s also another War on Drugs record coming out. I really love that band and I’m really into that record. Maybe Tame Impala.
Kelcey: We cannot afford all these acts; you’ve got to go smaller!
Taylor: You can’t not have Tame Impala!
Kelcey: Who are we gonna give the biggest trailer?! They’re all like the same level! We’re screwed! I’ve got Kevin Parker on the phone, I’ve got Portishead on the phone…
Taylor: I’d really love to have John Hopkins play.
Kelcey: There’s an album called Immunity which is super good. I’d love to collab with him. However I can get Jeff Barrow there because he does a bunch of different projects. I think Sampha would be cool to have there, he’s all about piano stuff. He does sad piano.
Taylor: We should just do a sad piano stage! We’re going to curate the sad piano stage now.
Kelcey: We have some crazy funding for this festival. I think I would have James Blake, another big artist, I don’t know how we’re going to afford him. I’ll probably have Bowie do a set, and have John Lennon do a solo set.
Taylor: Just of sad piano songs.
Kelcey: He’ll close the piano stage. He’ll be like ‘thank you so much’ and I’ll go to hug him and then he’ll disappear right in my arms.
Jess: Where does the name Local Natives come from?
Kelcey: Well Ryan and Taylor have been playing together forever and in high school I started playing with them when we were in a different band, we tried to give that a go. Then we wrote Gorilla Manor and felt like it was so different from anything else we’ve written and that we should be a new band. So we were trying to come up with all these different names and it was almost Big Orange for a second, but our old bass player came up with Local Natives and it just kind of stuck.
Jess: If that name was already taken, what would you go for now?
Kelcey: I’d call our band Seizure Salad, because it’s my back up band name and it’s the best band name. Seizure Salad would be my DJ name.
Taylor: You should go by Caesar Salad.
Kelcey: Do you understand the magic of Seizure Salad is that it’s not Caesar Salad?!
Taylor: I know but I feel like Caesar Salad is just more you!
Kelcey: I probably think of more band names that are terrible; the two that have stuck with me are Auxiliary Motor and Timeless Enterprise.
Taylor: Timeless Enterprise is kind of great though – it’s so bold.
Jess: If you ever wanted to do a secret set you could just go by Timeless Enterprise
Kelcey: I can’t wait to get big enough to just go play some festival as something different!
Cecily: Our final question is probably going to cause some more debate, but if you were an animal which animal would you be and why?
Taylor: A sheep because sheep are the best.
Kelcey: The real answer is that he is obsessed with sheep.
Taylor: No, that’s not true! I’m not obsessed with sheep, I just think that they’re so noble and wonderful and beautiful. They’re just soft and fluffy and I think they’re smart?
Kelcey: Taylor called me a warthog the other day. A warthog is pretty much an old fat pig, a vicious old fat pig!
Taylor: Kelcey is a nice wise warthog
Jess: So like from the Lion King?
Jess: If you’re not a warthog what are you?
Kelcey: I think I’d be a dog.
Taylor: You said you’d be a dog; you know there’s many dog species?
Kelcey: I know there’s so many dogs! Fuck. I’m so stressed out. I’ve never had a favourite breed! But then I love my dog so much, I’ll go with a husky.