Lewis Del Mar: Exclusive Interview & Album Review

Lewis Del Mar just released their self-titled debut album. This masterpiece is the highly anticipated culmination of the band’s closely watched rise to fame over the last year.

 

 

The duo behind Lewis Del Mar are Danny Miller and Max Harwood, from Rockaway Beach, NY. This electrifying partnership has created a collection of tracks littered with mellow acoustics and raw, linear drum beats. The album itself exudes experimentation from two talented individuals and fluctuates in intensity, mood and tempo across each track. This rhythmic complexity is also reflected in their gutsy lyrics, which never shy away from engaging with compelling subjects, from the pressures of modern living to the fabric of the human condition.

Check out the album on Spotify here!

 

At Bizarre Culture, we were privileged enough to be the first interview the duo did with someone who had listened to their debut album. We hope you enjoy it.

 

 

The last time we spoke was in May when you performed at The Lexington in London, how did you find the experience?

Max: That ended up being one of the best of the tour actually, it was sold out and the energy was incredible.

Danny: Anytime you’re that far from home and people know all the words to the songs it’s amazing, we’re a very young band so it was a very cool experience. We’ve got so much love for London, aside from New York, it’s my favourite place to play.

 

 

What have you been up to since?

Max: After that we did some more dates in the UK, some festivals including Lollapalooza, Outside Lands, and a ton of other shows. We’ve been travelling a lot and pretty much nothing else so it’s been a great summer.

 

 

Have you noticed a lot of variation across the shows you’ve played?

Danny: Yeah definitely, certainly not all festivals are created equal. Just in general playing an outdoor festival compared to an indoor space is always a very different experience. Time of day also matters. What’s cool about festivals is that people are just there to enjoy themselves and there’s a much looser atmosphere, with people willing to listen to stuff they haven’t heard before but for us I think at the moment we prefer to play in the tiny high-energy clubs as it’s where we feel at home.

 

You’re heading to Europe later this year, you excited?

Max: Yeah! So that will be part of our headline and album tour so we’re really looking forward to playing shows where we have more material out so people know other songs, have digested them and made a connection to them before the gig.

Danny: We’re also doing a more cities in Europe, so we’re doing Brussels for the first time, Denmark, Paris and two other cities in France for the first time. We’re just really excited as we love coming over here.

 

 

Do you get more nervous in front of a new crowd?

Max: I actually get more nervous where it’s a bunch of people I know. If it’s a city where my family and a ton of my friends are there, I can get more nervous than when I’m in a foreign country as there’s a separation that makes it really easy.

 

 

You guys write as a two-piece but play as a five-piece, how has the transition from the creative recording process to playing live gone?

Danny: It’s gone surprisingly smoothly. We chose people we were friends with, who were really wonderful musicians in their own right and who had a lot to do with it. If you have somebody you speak the same musical language with, not a lot of explaining needs to happen. They can listen to the recordings, get the feeling of their own place and it sort of comes together in a very cohesive way pretty quickly. We’ve been very fortunate that that’s happened and I think because of the amount of shows we’ve done off the bat, we all feel very comfortable with each other and have the most fun.

 

 

In terms of the sound, has it developed as you’ve continued to play more shows live?

Max: I think playing with the live band has informed how we understand the sound. I think that in some of the recordings we did after we had done some shows with the band, we tried to bring in some of the energy we were getting live into the recordings, so it’s been quite a cool process. In that way, it’s been a full circle, with the recording informing the live show, but then the live show now informing the recording.

Danny: I totally agree with that, for young artists like us we’re learning stuff all the time, every week, every show that we play. So whenever I find a band that I’m into that’s pretty young in their career I always want to see them live soon. For us, now with the recordings done and the album finished, the lessons we’re learning we’re applying to our live shows as opposed to our recordings so we can really take the songs to new places. If we feel it should sound more a certain way, we can morph that live and it’s been a really fun experience.

 

 

When guys did you start producing music?

Max: That’s tough to pinpoint. Danny and I were playing music for a long time as we’ve known each other since we were about 9 years old and been making music together most of that time. But that was a lot of playing in rock bands and jamming and stuff. I think it was about 5 or 6 years ago that I initially started to get into recording and production and about 3 years ago that Danny and I specifically came together and started working on self-recorded, self-produced songs. Which is what became Lewis Del Mar.

 

 

What kind of music were you playing growing up?

Danny: it was all kinds, mostly rock, garage and blues. We both played in Ska bands for a long time too.

Max: Yeah we had that Ska phase, there was also some jazz stuff in college that we did. All that experience definitely informed us, we went through so many different phases of trying different styles that we sort of exhausted everything. So we said, “we’ve done all these other styles, how can we create something that is more our own unique style?”

 

 

You had Loud(y) as the breakthrough single, in terms of when that happened was it totally out of the blue or were you expecting or did it feel like a long-time coming?

Danny: I don’t think we really had any preconceived notions about what was going to occur once we released the music. So it came as a total surprise.

 

 

Was there something different about the track itself, did you feel it would be special?

Max: No, that’s what’s so funny is that we didn’t really think at all that it was going to be the track. I don’t even think we really thought we had one track that we thought was going to be the track. We had just sort of developed the sound to a point that we were like “OK we’ve exhausted everything we can do in the studio for now without releasing something, so let’s just get some of it out there”. It was actually a friend of ours who said we should put out ‘Loud(y)’ first saying it would probably be the one and we were like “yeah we’ll see, we’re just trying to start to get our name out there.”

 

 

When did you start producing the other tracks on the album, aside from the ones that made it onto the EP?

Danny: Probably in the fall of last year, around October/November we finished it.

 

 

How are you feeling about the release?

Danny: Excited, I think it’s a first for us; we’ve never finished a full album despite playing music our whole lives. We’re excited because it paints a lot of different broad strokes for the band, and we cover a lot of different musical ground so when you mention Loud(y), I think one of the reasons we were originally reluctant to lead with it is because a lot of the stuff we’re doing is not quite as rock-forward as that song. So I think the album is a lot of different textures, and Loud(y) kind of leads on the more heavier side of things.

 

 

Did that happen naturally or did you aim towards that variation?

Max: I think it was our natural tendency was to produce an album like that.

Danny: As kids who grew up in the 21st century, we listened to a lot of different genres, so I’m sure just like you and your friends, just like we do, have a bunch of different content. So we like all that music the same and we’re experimenting with it already, so to make an album that felt like a playlist of different genres sort of struck us as a more interesting listening experience.

 

 

Is it your plan to take that experimentation further?

Danny: I think certainly, we talk a lot about where we’re going from here, and I think, you know, I began writing again last weekend for whatever the next album ends up being but I think right now we’re trying to focus on what’s in front of us. These songs aren’t even out yet [at the time of interview] so it’s really easy to get ahead of yourselves as a new artist, and the potential always seems so big. Nobody has categorised us, no one has put a ceiling on where they think we’ll go or anything like that. But I think we want to slow down and take a minute to, you know, let these songs live and breathe in their own space.

 

 

How do you find everything changing so quickly? Do you make an effort to stop and enjoy where you’re at, rather than get too stuck thinking about the future?

Max: Yeah, there are times that you get so wrapped up in the day-to-day stuff, you definitely have to stop say to each other, ‘but overall, things are going really, really well’.

Danny: I think something I’ve struggled with personally is the pace that things are changing. My expectations keep changing. You know, things currently are going well, this will be the third time we’ve been over in Europe this year and we’d never even played here until this year. I think that in my mind I sort of suddenly get used to doing those things.

Max: Yeah, you really quickly adjust.

Danny: But it’s still unbelievable, like I can’t believe we’re over playing a festival this summer but it’s very funny how quickly you get used to doing what you’re doing.

Max: And then you try and push yourself to the next point already. Like there isn’t a point where you’re just like, “alright I did it, I did a music career.”

Danny: And I think there’s certainly something where for me, when we get thrown into these situations, for example we’ve played a bunch of festivals this summer on the mainstage of the festival, which for us is a way bigger stage than we’re used to playing on, and it can end up feeling uncomfortable. It’s difficult to play on in terms of the way the sound hits you and there’s also a lot of space to fill as a band that’s used to playing in small clubs. But regardless, I always think about trying to own it, and act like I’ve been there everyday of my life.

 

 

I guess that if you can reflect on it and see it as a positive learning experience then that’s great, right?

Danny: There’s not a second that goes by that we’re not extremely grateful, and aware of the fact that this is literally what we’ve spent our entire lives working towards. Every single day, for as long as I can remember. I was completely prepared to fail at this for the rest of my life. To even be in a position where we get to play in front of new crowds every night and share our music with people is something we’re extremely proud of and grateful for.

Max: I feel that particularly when we do headline shows, it’s like “shit, this many people just to see us.” Like at festivals you’re like “oh there just having a good time”, but when you sell like 250 tickets or something to your own gig, you’re like “damn there’s like 250 people here to listen to our music.”

 

 

I imagine being a duo that definitely helps you realise how exciting this all is?

Danny: Yeah definitely and it’s also funny the different things that strike us, you know.

Max: That’s true, like you get a different perspective. Say, something I might not of thought of or seen that Danny realises or vice versa.

 

 

So going to the album, we loved it and-

Danny: Wait you guys have the album?!

Yeah, we got a preview sent over!

Both: Whaaaaaaaat, shit no way!

Danny: You’re the first interview we’ve done with someone who has heard the album! We’re in new territory now, this is exciting for us!

 

 

The track it would be great to ask you about it ‘Tap Water Drinking’. So the song speaks about the trials of relationships, cheating etc. Is this a personal story of one of yours or just general commentary?

Danny: it’s a true story and whilst even if I told you the details of it I don’t think it would matter to anyone reading this, I think that, you know, the album in general is true. We just tried to steep it in experiences that we think define being our age.

Max: We’re not trying to say everybody cheats or whatever, but it’s something a lot of us can relate to, that type of story.

Danny: And the song is not totally about being unfaithful, just as much as it is about being confused about that action, the residual effects of what you’re left with when it occurs.

 

 

I think a lot of people will relate to those lines, “You said you only live once
You also said you love your boyfriend. But that’s just not important, it never is, when you’re twenty-two and your parents pay your rent.”

Danny: Yeah it’s like, ‘what do you even know?’ The line after that is “That’ll skew your world view” as that’s sort of the point. It’s like you reach this threshold, where you believe yourself to know way more than you actually do at that age.

 

In terms of that writing process, does it vary from song to song or is there a similar pattern?

Max: Lyrically it’s essentially Danny unless I have an edit suggestion or something. Which is super interesting for me, just on a side note, because to listen to the lyrics specifically and realise how much they’re like my own life too is crazy. In terms of the actual songs coming together, there’s some breakdown of song-writing and production but it’s pretty vague as we always build it differently. ‘Tap Water Drinking’ was a hip-hop beat that I was just messing around with and Dan heard it while he was in the kitchen while I was playing with it and he was like “dude, can you send me that and I want to write a song to it.”

 

 

So the back and forth changes on every track?

Danny: So that was a song built off of just a beat, and I wrote it about an hour I think.

Max: And that outro, when we were down in Colombia, we saw this performance of dancers and drumming in this town square and I thought it was so cool, the intensity of the drums and stuff so I went home and made the beat which became the outro to that song.

 

 

A second track to ask about is ‘Painting (Masterpiece)’, where did the inspiration for the track come from, is it a reflection on music creation itself of more broadly creation in general?

Danny: it was sort of a reflection on the naivety of being young and having the first experience in your life where you feel like you can achieve anything. For us, it was this idea of moving away from where we’re from, moving into New York and getting to this apartment and just feeling like “I can make this whatever I want, I can hang whatever I want on the walls, I can paint this however I want this to be and really make this my space.” I think that everyone has that feeling when they leave somewhere and they start something new that’s exciting and it’s sort of this idea that, you know, we found shortly afterwards that our reality in New York was very different to what we perceived it was going to be and it was really difficult. So it’s not to say that there isn’t something beautiful about optimism or about creating or deciding your own destiny, but they’re all things you experience for the first time when gain your independence.

 

 

You can’t always predict the external factors that play a part, right?

Danny: Yeah exactly, and that’s sort of what that last lyric is all about “and many years from now, the landlord will kick us out”.

Max: We both talked about this and I always felt like that line sort of speaks to how as people and as artists in particular, we try to create things to kind of rebel against our own mortality. It’s like “look, I did something, I created something, I existed, I was here” even though, whether it’s the landlord or just the passage of time, everything eventually just fades away.

 

 

On this point, that reminds me of the pinned tweet you have online, which just says ‘make something’. Which in turn, is the same phrase in the 1952 Japanese film, ‘Ikiru’. There’s a part where the main character, who is struggling to come to terms with his cancer and how he is due to die soon, meets a woman who says to him ‘make something’. He goes on to build something for the community, which ultimately allows him to come to terms with his own mortality.

Danny: Interesting! I think that for me, that’s it. The reason we choose to put that tweet out into the world is many-fold. I think the first reason is a positive message of individuality, which is lacking on the internet. In that, the fact that one our twitter page, it says ‘make something’ rather than ‘our EP is out now, buy it here’ you know? And I think that secondly, what I feel like has happened, growing up again in the 21st century, is that a lot of companies and technology have been able to put the resources to make art into the hands of more individuals and to be able to facilitate that process more easily. I think that I encourage it for everyone, because it activates a different side of your brain that in the end I feel like can sort of lead you to things that you would otherwise never experience in your daily life. I was just seeing somebody who was a painter, and she hadn’t painted in years and I was just like ‘you should just start painting again’, even if it’s just like completely recreationally. Honestly, so it can be just recreationally. And it just changed her entire demeanour and it just just speaks to the fact that when you can extend your brain to places it doesn’t normally go on a day-to-day basis you end up feeling stronger about yourself. You end up feeling stronger and feeling like “I didn’t know I could do this”, here this is and who is to decide whether it’s good or bad because I made it and it’s done. And I feel like that feeling of creating something is unparalleled.

 

 

Lewis Del Mar have just kicked off their world tour, we’ll be heading to Dingwalls in London on 21st November to catch them. Check out the rest of their tour dates below!