Hansel (vocals / production)

Julian (bass / guitars)

Isaiah (drums)

Gimpleg had the pleasure of speaking with nightlife. Together they discussed their name, their origin story, Baltimore, and so much more!

1 Hello and welcome to the Music Shelf. How are you today?

H: doing well, thanks for hitting us up! hope you’re doing well too ❤

2. How did the name Nightlife come into existence? Who came up with it and how did it stick as the band name?

H: well, i was obsessing over the idea of “the perfect name” for a long while (as i do with…everything) & i actually think nightlife came up pretty early on & just stuck around in my mind even as we kept putting together what the songs would actually sound like. as EP1 materialized it kinda kept making more & more sense as a way to easily evoke the exact emotions we want to.

3. What is your origin story? How did Nightlife form as a band? If you aren’t doing music related stuff, are you likely to still be hanging out with each other?

J: we all met through playing in bands together – julian and hansel through a mutual friend’s rock band, hansel and isaiah through a different band. given our activity in the scene, our paths would have all crossed eventually. one day, hansel called me (julian) and pitched the idea for this project – it was an immediate yes for me. after weeks of creating together, it was clear we were onto something.

H: we hit shows & such together sometimes too, yeah! 

4. Looking at the tags you use to describe your music on bandcamp, you call yourself alternative pop, alternative R&B, alternative rock, neo-soul, and post-hardcore. Do you really feel that any of those are good descriptions of your music, or do you have just as much of a hard time describing your own music as I have?

J: depends on the song. certain songs feel pretty easy to categorize, but as a whole, it’s difficult to apply a genre to our entire body of work.

H: ^ for sure. we feel like “soul-punk” does as good a job as any to fully sum up what we do, but what that means exactly really does vary from song to song. 

5. Your music is like an aggressively danceable R&B, but there are definitely punk and rock vibes as well. How do you manage to squeeze so much into an EP?

J: it feels less like squeezing it in and more like letting the music speak through the languages that feel right. similar to how there are certain words in languages that don’t have a direct translation, so it’s better to just use that language (a certain je ne sais quoi). as music nerds, we’ve studied and loved these “languages” our entire lives, so they naturally make their way into our creations.

H: yeah, it really does feel more like trying to communicate exactly what it is we hear in our minds than it does finding ways to fit a lot of different sounds into one body. we truly do just love music, so usually it’s more like “huh, this song is kinda pulling me toward a drum-and-bass section…let’s try it” – not to sound pretentious, but kinda like dancing with music as we make it. sometimes we lead, sometimes we follow, but no matter what the goal is a mutual expression between what the music “wanted” from us & what we wanted from the music.

6. So, what is your songwriting process like?

J: we typically build the instrumental first in a DAW, then work our way through vocals and lyrics. it’s an iterative process, as we’ll often revisit/rework the instrumentation to better support the lyrics and vice versa. an advantage we have is since we can record as part of the songwriting process, we can really flesh out ideas as we go.

H: yep, everything ends up on the table since we can always just remove something & record something else. option paralysis is definitely an issue for us often, so sometimes the hardest part of finishing a song for us is just calling it done.

7. What musicians or bands are your biggest influences?

I: John Blackwell (prince), sonic the hedgehog, animals as leaders, donald byrd

J: Lenny Kravitz, reggae & go-go music, progressive deathcore/djent, my mom’s record collection

H: Omar Rodriguez-lopez (the mars volta/at the drive-in), Stevie wonder, letlive./issues/black post-hardcore & metalcore, sonic the hedgehog

8. At one point you were selling earrings as band merch. That’s an incredibly unique merch idea, and it’s all sold out now. How did that idea come about and are there plans to restock or possibly another unique merch idea for the future?

H: honestly, i was just dipping my toes into selling merch & seeing how difficult it would be to pull something like that off. turns out we have a friend who at the time was making custom jewelry, so i worked something out with them & made 10 pairs. i feel like different jewelry will be something that always finds its way into our merch lines here & there, since it can feel so personal yet do so much for someone’s confidence when they’re putting their outfit together. 

9. You are from Baltimore, what is the music scene like in Baltimore right now? 

I: it’s flowing pretty heavy – we have big acts like pinkshift and turnstile blowing up as they deserve and putting the city on the map again. we also have bands like end it, blkvapor, and cherie amour who are all chasing their own sound, plus neighbors like soul glo pushing boundaries left and right.

H: yeah, it’s exciting as hell to be here right now. every weekend it’s another show with some kinda cool headliner from town, & our hip-hop/dance scene just keeps growing too. if an A&R wanted to hack the future, they’d just have to drop in on the crown, joe squared, or ottobar any given night depending on what they’re looking for.

10. Being from Baltimore, what are some of your favorite things to do in the city that do not involve music?

I: it’s slightly hard not to add music in the equation because we have food spots like R House who have things from thai fusion to jamaican food but also host cool things for the community like open jam nights & poetry reads.

H: it’s been a couple months, but i used to pop into a bookstore called red emma’s a couple times a week to see what was up – it’s a bookstore dedicated to communist texts & essays, and even hosts speakers & group discussions during the week. but yeah, i mostly love hitting up the shows around here. prices have gone up a bit for obvious reasons, but you still can’t beat a solid lineup for $10 any night you please.

11. If you could tour with any other band, who would it be and why? 

I: I would say lil yachty, especially with his recent release it only makes sense we’d do a run together.

J: silk sonic, cause… yeah

H: ^ agreed with both of these heavy. love that yachty album rn, & us + silk sonic would put together an evening no one would forget. throw doja cat onto the list, or turnstile, or someone like jpegmafia too.

12. You came out with your debut EP in 2021, and just a year later you released another five song EP. What can fans expect next? Is there any touring being planned or another EP, singles, or a full LP in the works?

J: more music, and live shows. we’ve been continually pushing ourselves creatively, and want to get this music to our community as soon as possible. we’re currently looking at releasing singles and an EP for 2023.

H: all of the above! it just depends how long it all takes, since we’re still the ones piloting the ship. besides what julian said, expect the unexpected ❤ 

13. You mixed and mastered all of your own music, and it sounds great. What was that process like and how did you get into mixing and mastering?

H: you know, it took a good few years of producing music for other bands & artists before i could say “yeah, it’s time to try this on something of my own.” but nowadays, i have a process that i use for other artists’ music that i try my best to apply to nightlife to expedite it along once it’s time for post-production like mixing & mastering. and since we’re doing something that’s not quite been done this way before, it only made sense that we handle how it sounds too.

as for how i got into it all…I heard the opening drum fill of antarctica by hands like houses and went down an internet spiral of who produced just about every mall-core band from 2011 – 2014. i knew i wanted to know how to make drums sound like that & to this day, i still don’t know.

14. What is the best way for fans to find more about you and to find your music?

H: look us up anywhere you stream music! you can find us on spotify, apple music, tidal, youtube, & more. if you like what you hear, follow us on instagram, twitter, or tiktok to keep up with new music & all the other stuff we’ve got coming for y’all ❤


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