Who are nightlife?
Motivational Muses Exclusive Feature | by: Anastasia Logan
Innovation and continuation is the mission of nightlife, a three-piece soul punk band from Baltimore Maryland. Not only does their music combine two unlikly genres into one, but much of their inspiration also comes from the soul movements of the 50s and 60s when Black artists were brought to the forefront of the music scene. Consisting of vocalist/producer Hansel Romero, bassist/guitarist, Julian Lofton and drummer, Isaiah Walker, nightlife is already making waves in the music industry.
As is the case for many bands, the members of nightlife met each other through their time playing in the local music scene together. The common connection for this group was Hansel.
"Julian and I met playing for a friend’s band called Elizabeth II, and Isaiah and I met playing in a prog metal band called The Path Unwinding."
It didn't take the trio long to discover the number of similarities they shares and what they could each bring to the table musically.
"All 3 of us are into the same wide variety of music, each with our own deep niches."
For many bands finding the perfect bandmates is no easy feat. Bands need to mesh in every aspect, from personality to creative drive and that combination can take a while to nail down. Hansel's journey of finding the right people was no exception.
"It took me a long time to find people like that who could also play their asses off and be creative — between the 3 of us, I’m easily the worst musician and that does nothing but inspire me."
Just like that, a lineup was secured. The next task that lay ahead for the young band was picking a name that would help them stand out from the crowd while encapsulating who they wanted to be. Hansel knew a name wouldn't come overnight or would it?
"I came up with the name after tossing a bunch in my head for months, just tryna find something that would make sense and encapsulate all the things we wanted to try."
Surprisingly, Hansel had more back and forth on determining the track titles on their EP new low than they did on the band name.
"Funny enough, I think as "new low"/"all I know" took some concrete shape as demos, the name “nightlife” came and stuck."
History has a resounding impact on how society is structured today. Whenever we speak about the history of music, we can't do so without mentioning the Black artists who paved the way for all artists today. For nightlife, the soul movements of the 50s and 60s were a key inspiration for their work.
For Isaiah, it's almost impossible to not be inspired by this musical era.
"The 60s had all these heavy hitters like Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, Aretha Franklin, and James Brown making their debut and being the first to fuse jazz, blues, soul, rock, and pop to make something different for the time — it’s hard not to be inspired by them and that era."
Past musical inspiration, these movements powered social change by putting Black artists in the societal spotlight. Hansel wants to continue that legacy through nightlife.
"Black music and culture has almost always acted in defiance of a system pushing down on them or in daring to be different. We all came up in some part of the emo/heavy-music scene, a place that hasn’t done a ton of work in creating diversity and embracing unique perspectives. So the idea for nightlife has always been, “how can we bring something new that only we can make to the table?”
Back in July, nightlife made their musical debut with their EP new low. They i nitially shared the news on Twitter with the "new low" music video, which in just three months, has generated over 61,000 views on YouTube. In full, the EP has almost 200,000 streams on Spotify! Talk about coming in with a bang! They have even been featured in Alternative Press Magazine, Kerrang! Magazine and the On Wednesday's We Wear Black podcast. Overall, the initial response has been overwhelmingly supportive and the band couldn't agree more.
For Julian, not only did the reaction to new low's release exceed his expectations but it also gave him the confirmation that nightlife was on the right track.
"I was pretty overwhelmed by the response, to be honest. I was already stoked about the sound we were putting out there, but the feedback we got showed me that the scene is actually ready to hear it."
While the response was unexpected, Isaiah is grateful for everyone who has showed their support for nightlife.
"I was totally not expecting the response we got to this degree. I mean, we knew the tracks were pretty flame before we released them. But seeing people/musicians that we personally look up to show love and educate us about the game still has me in shock today."
Unwavering support for the release was a breath of relief for Hansel. After learning how many people supported nightlife and their sound, it made the creative process for future releases easier.
"It feels fuckin weird, man — in the best possible way. I’ve been so deeply a fan of the scene for so many years & haven’t seen a response like this before, so I don’t even have a reference for what to expect or think is coming. it’s given us the confidence we didn’t have before — at least, I didn’t. Now we can keep experimenting and having fun making music with less pressure on if people will like it."
Usually, when asked which track is a personal favorite, each band member gives a different response. Not nightlife. These three were almost unanimous in stating their favorite track was "new low." And honestly, who can blame them?
Even though Julian and Hansel both adore new low, they each have two distinct reasonings on what makes "new low" special for them, individually.
Hansel is up first.
"I’ll never forget how it felt to put the most special moments together and freak out as a band about them for the first time."
There is something about hearing a song come together for the first time that is truly indescribable. Creating "new low" was likely a core memory for this group and I could see why.
As this group tends to do, Julian shares a similar sentiment about what made "new low" special for him.
"It was an absolute blast to put together, it’s unique, and the message means a lot to me."
For the first time in Motivational Muses history, an artist has shared their not-so-favorite song. Well, in Isaiah's defense he is the drummer, so he gets a pass!
"I’m just gonna say “lonely” is not my favorite because no drums 👿."
No recording process is challenge-free. No matter how hard artists try to keep everything moving smoothly something always manages to go wrong. It's not the fault of the artists! Sometimes the Universe is plotting against them! During the recording process for new low, nightlife had to overcome both personal and celestial challenges.
For indie artists, the name of the game is, you have to work to make the dream work. Isaiah found himself juggling between his full-time job and his band obligations. Through teamwork and dedication, he was still able to contribute his talents and get the EP completed.
"For me it was working 80-90 hours a week but still trying to be a part of the writing process. At some point I was just sending Hansel videos on Instagram of me playing through the songs and he would punch it in."
Hansel had a whole separate set of challenges. Actually, I think a better term is, series of unfortunate events. Seriously, the Universe was really testing them. Let's take a dive into just a fraction of what Hansel faced over the recording process.
"My external hard drive failed, so I lost all of the initial demo sessions (along with so much more from the past 2 years) and we had to remake them."
Now, losing an entire hard drive with over two years worth of work is truly a nightmare. But, unfortunately for our dear friend Hansel, the Universe wasn't done shot-putting challenges their way.
"At one point somebody was stealing my car at night for a short two mile errand and then returning it to a different parking spot by morning — happened at least four separate times."
After navigating through a lost hard drive and multiple car thefts, Hansel found himself experiencing the everyday challenges of writing and recording an EP.
"I wrote the chorus to "new low" seven times before working through the original first idea with Julian. Finally, I recorded all the vocals in our practice space (no studio yet unfortunately) which meant some of them definitely had some sludge metal band rehearsing in the background. It was lowkey a mess."
I think we all need to take a moment and say "Thank you, nightlife,' because they went through the wringer creating new low, the least we can do is tell our friends to stream it!
Looking on the positive side of things, as mentioned before, the creative journey for this EP was memorable for nightlife. It's their first release as a band and nine times out of ten the good always outweighs the bad. When asked about their favorite moments during the recording process, everyone had their own special moment.
Let's have Julian share first.
"Those magical moments when we would just look at each other and know we just did something cool. I think the first time I played that bassline with the envelope filter at the beginning of verse 2 was one of those moments."
Hansel continues Julian's thought by reflecting on the impact finishing the EP had on them as an individual.
"Echoing Julian — there's no feeling like the moment after you’ve made or recorded an idea you yourself are genuinely impressed by."
For Isaiah, being able to appreciate the process and final product was a personal favorite.
"Seeing the start and finish of 3 songs was definitely an amazing moment. It's almost like watching a flower bloom."
The internet has redefined the conceptual idea of musical artists fitting into one specific genre. Every day a new band or artist debuts and with them comes musical innovations that don't strictly align with conventional genres. nightlife believes that as these artists emerge, genre lines will become blurred and that's not a bad thing.
Isaiah finds this phenomenon to be telling of the new music age and welcomes it.
"It can’t really be avoided. It’s finally “cool” to listen to more than one genre now, and there are no “forbidden pleasures” in music. On top of that BIPOC are on the rise and are consistently pushing the boundaries now."
Genre fusion certainly didn't begin because of the internet, but it's become a catalyst for more just artists to branch out and experiment with their sound to create something truly unique. Hansel credits the introduction of hyper pop to this key musical evolution.
"I think hyper pop and really the debut of 100 gecs a couple of years ago kinda signaled the death of "genre" as we understand it to me. Now it's almost expected that you’re mixing at least a couple of genres to get any kind of new point across."
Many times, determining genre can act as a constraint. As music continues to evolve it might be a better idea to just embrace what's being created and focus on the categorization later. Julian shares this sentiment and with an ever-changing musical landscape, it's a valid viewpoint.
"Genre just doesn’t matter anymore. new sounds are coming out faster than people can categorize them, so at this point, the power is in the hands of artists to create what their influences guide them toward and worry about what to call it later."
Surely, after reading or skimming (it's okay I don't judge) this feature we just have to know what nightlife has in store for the future! Well, I am happy to report that this trio is currently working on their second EP! Hansel says it should be released by the end of 2021, that is if everything goes to plan.
"If we don’t hit that, feel free to cyberbully me on the bird app."
Sadly, it's nearing the end of this fruitful feature of nightlife, but worry not! That only means it's time for some fun facts about the band taking over the Twitter Sphere! First off is Isaiah, (friends call him Zay). nightlife is the third official band he has been a part of and we are sure glad he decided to join the ride! Now, for the last fact, well, I'll let him share that himself.
"I’m lactose intolerant, and I love dairy. 😪"
To my lactose intolerant peeps, I truly don't know how you survive. My deepest condolences. I think Isaiah seems like a fun guy and I bet the rest of nightlife would agree. Since there are two more members to cover, let's keep this fun facts train rolling.
Next up is Julian who decided to share a fun fact in the recording process for the lead single "new low."
The guitar tuning we used for the lead single — it's an eight-string guitar, with the lowest four strings tuned a half step up.
Every little detail has a significant impact on the finished product of a track. I love learning about these creative elements! Julian is truly a musical treasure and I know nightlife is thankful to have him on the team.
Last, but certainly not least, is the one and only Hansel! Hansel comes from a family of musical talent. I'll let them explain.
"My grandpa composed the imperial march of the Dominican Republic — it's not really performed anymore, but still a piece of history he gets to keep forever. "
The last fact Hansel has to share connects directly to fellow bandmate Julian.
"It took Julian and I over 2 years of knowing each other before we figured out our families are from the same island, Hispaniola."
nightlife are a young band but has already asserted themselves in the musical world. Make sure to follow them on all social media platforms to stay updated on all upcoming projects and shows. While you're at it, might as well give their debut EP, new low, a listen on all music streaming platforms, and consider buying a copy from your preferred online music store!
Advice from nightlife
Study the music that moves you, create in a way that’s fulfilling, and surround yourself with people that inspire you.
- Julian Lofton
Never stop pushing for what you want. never let the color of your skin dictate what you listen to or create. the love of music and the expression of you come first and the rest will follow.
- Isiah Walker
Find something you love about all art you observe — be it music, fine art, dance, film, architecture, sculpting, anything -- so that you can learn from it. if there is intent, there is meaning.
- Hansel Romero
Connect with nightlife