When a number of creative and artistic minds get together, it’s unsurprising to see them succeed in just about anything they put their minds to. With only one EP in the last three years still getting airplay, Sydney based group The Nights are returning with a selection of new tracks bound to have the same impact. Comprised of Thomas Marland, multi-instrumentalist, electronic production lecturer and founding member of Panama, Rob Campbell, near-BA graduate of the Sydney Conservatorium of Music and ex-General Manager of Ableton Liveschool, and Walter Flamenco, whose creative direction in both image and music can be seen all throughout the project, new music is exciting to say the least. With such huge careers on the side, we thought it interesting to get their thoughts on balancing all aspects of their lives with this continuing project, and their future plans for it. Here’s what they had to say.
Your latest tracks are getting such a good reception, and your next release is just over the horizon. How does it feel?
It’s feeling really good. We’ve been sitting on some of these tracks for a little while now, so to have this positive reception to our recent releases has been really nice. It’s all contributing to our excitement to get the whole EP out there in early April.
All of your music has a distinct The Nights sound to it now, but doesn’t seem to follow any particular kind of genre specifications. Is there an idea of your sound you have before making it? Or you just go with the flow?
We pretty much go with the flow in most stages of writing; most of our ideas actually come from jamming on our synths and MIDI controllers without focusing too much on a particular outcome. But there is a certain sound we’ve developed over the years that permeates our track, and perhaps three years of collaboration has helped define that sound. We all have a pretty diverse range of influences, but we’re collectively inspired by the concept of eliciting a visual mood in the mind of the listener, which is hopefully evident when the tracks are played.
You’ve each got big careers aside from your work with this particular project. Is that why these new releases have taken so long to surface? Or would you say you’re perfectionists?
A bit of both, really. Over the years we’ve all had career opportunities which have led us to extensive touring, travel, long work hours etc., so we’ve all been hard to pin down at times.
Some of us have also gone through some heavy personal stuff, that even though it can fuel the creative process it definitely hinders productivity. So there’s definitely been a sort of extended ‘hiatus’ period since our last EP, but we’ve always stayed in touch with ideas in between gigs. That being said, there’s also definitely a sense of perfectionism in our productions; learning how and when to surrender a track can be one of the hardest things for us, and when you have three perfectionist in a room, the process can go on forever…
How do you feel that each of those careers contributes to making The Nights a more successful project?
Our individual careers have certainly seeped into the way we create and perform. I spend a lot of time out and about as a multi-instrumentalist and music director, consulting with some high profile acts about how to implement Ableton Live into their sets, and Rob has extensive experience in using Ableton Live having worked at Liveschool for years (Rob and I also both teach Ableton Live & Electronic Music at TAFE). Walter is a Creative Director, and his visual aesthetic for The Nights has always been intrinsically linked to our sound in such a great way. As a result of consistently thinking conceptually, he brings so much to the plate in terms of tying together loose ends; putting the finishing touches onto our track more often than not.
Basically, over the last few years a lot has happened for us experientially, and we think we’ve developed some pretty complex and cool ideas about how to do things a bit differently in the context of production and performance.
Do you feel that you’re never quite putting enough time into The Nights? Will this always just be a side project or something bigger?
At times, we have certainly felt that we’ve not put enough time in, for sure. With everything going on in our personal lives, it’s certainly made it harder to collaborate and jam as much as we’d like to. But we’ve made a concerted effort to make it a priority over the last six months. We’re definitely intending for this to be something bigger and judging by the response of our latest releases, it’s seems like in the very short future this will be a reality.
I was reading that your new EP is intended for live play, but so far you guys haven’t announced any shows. Is that something we can expect to hear about soon?
Yes! Stay tuned… We’ve been slaving away at our live show non-stop this year, and we are beyond excited to show everyone what we’ve been working on. We’ve recorded one of our live jams in our rehearsal space, that will give you more of an idea of how songs can evolve when we jam live. We try to keep things as free as possible, aiming at never playing the song the same way twice.
With so much experience in music, have you felt a big change in the way you do things since the implementation of the lockout laws?
Definitely – Keep Sydney Open! These draconian laws have adversely affected the musical economy and vibrancy of our once beloved city, and also our work too. Rob works as a DJ and it has affected his hours, and also the availability of venues he can play at. Additionally, the amount of venues still running and available to host production rehearsals and shows has declined significantly. As a result, the planning of our new live show has had to be worked around the highly-suspect lockout law zone.
Funnily enough, the last time we performed as The Nights was at OAF in January 2014, at around 1.30am. And it was just before the lockout laws were fully implemented, so we have a funny sort of nostalgic ‘last hurrah’ feeling about that show. It’s a strange feeling to be having about it really, considering that late night performances are – and should be – deeply embedded into the culture of electronic music.
But in saying that, the Sydney dance community has definitely gotten more creative since then. Some of the best shows and parties I’ve been to have been organised by crews that are thinking outside the square and making their own fun. We are so grateful for their passion and commitment to the scene.
So far all your tunes have been getting released mainly via Bandcamp. Is that a trend you want to continue? Is the hope to eventually get signed?
Through self-releasing, there’s a tangible feeling of near-complete ownership of our music, which is really important for us. We’ve been in talks with labels in the past, but it’s just never worked out. However, we’re in conversations with some interesting people at the moment, so we’ll see what happens down the track.
What most excites you about the music you guys are making and releasing?
There’s an overall brooding yet optimistic mood that’s in the music we’ve been writing recently, and it’s something we’ve been aiming to capture for years. A lot of the music we’ve made for this EP has been cathartic in the writing process, so we’re really excited by the prospect that our music might resonate with people in a similar way that it did for us whilst making it.
Another thing that excites us is the intentional sense of ambiguity of meaning we’ve embedded into our new tracks. For example, we’ll make a melodic or literal allusion to an overarching narrative through perhaps a chopped up vocal sample or synth lead line, but its ambiguity leads the listener to find their own deeper meaning out of the track that is thus interpreted and informed by their own personal experiences. We’re pretty proud of what we’ve achieved in this sense, and are excited that this intention is being received well.
What’s next on the horizon for you guys?
We’re stoked to announce that we’ll be releasing our sophomore EP “Beyond Desire” on April 5th, followed up by an accompanying debut live show in later April. From there, we have plenty of new music up our sleeves to be released later this year. We can’t wait to start playing live again…
WATCH: Other Issues (Live Jam) — The Nights