Throughout this last season we were introduced to a new chapter of both of these musicians' careers as they combined forces to form the incredible production that is the new installment of Lyonn. From new songs, to a music video, and even a stellar playlist full of influential tracks, this residency really showcased the thought and creative passion that just beam off these guys' collaborative songwriting and artistic vision. Viewing their talent through these different outlets really allows listeners to get inside the mind of innovative music makers.
All great things must come to an end and today we send Lyonn off with an exclusive feature interview.The guys have shared a lot about the album process with us in their residency posts, but in our chat we go more in depth through the tracks of We'll Light The Sky, and the alternative culture behind Lyonn's next phase.
- What are your top 3 favorite albums that inspired you to get into music?
Unfortunately, I've been playing music longer than I can remember listening to any (except for the Power Rangers movie soundtrack that I was obsessed with haha). But the three albums that have been the biggest influence on everything I've done musically would be:
cKy-Infiltrate.Destroy.Rebuild. : A crazy, experimental rock masterpiece that was too far ahead of its time. Also the first album that started to solidify everything I wanted out of my music. Heavy guitars juxtaposed against weird synthesizers with the strongest lyrical imagery I've ever experienced. It kept me open to the concept of using strong, poppy melodies regardless of style. I can't overstate how much this album saved me from becoming a boring anti-commercial music snob. 13 years after being released there's still nothing like it.
Smash Mouth-Astro Lounge: Probably the most confusing entry on this list, but bear with me. This was the first CD I ever owned and the first band I can remember being a genuine fan of. The 7 year-old in me at the time just liked how catchy the songs were, but I've found myself constantly coming back and admiring the depth of the music. It's undeniably one of the greatest pop albums of all time, and Greg Camp deserves so much more credit for the vision he realized through his songwriting. Also, their music videos are what inspired me to want to start drumming...which I can't explain. Their drummer looked like a skinny Guy Fieri, and DDD is the only show I turn off of Food Network.
- What are your fondest musical memories?
Honorable mentions: Using my first financial aid check to buy my first real studio rig in 2011 and selling my violin when I was 10 to buy a super cheap set of drums.
As a listener, being introduced to EDM in 2010 was the single biggest turning point for me. I was really into this girl at the time who played a few dubstep tracks on a date. It opened my eyes to the fact that there was more to modern electronic music than cheesy techno beats and uninspired musicianship. Obviously, dubstep wore out its welcome years ago, but the scene in DC was so fanatic that it completely enveloped me at the time.
- Lately what musical periods or styles do you find yourself most drawn to as a listener?
- What is your dream collaboration and why?
Attila Yavuzer: Long story short, I served Tyler at my restaurant and we hit it off really well. The night after I was walking around and bumped into him again and we went out and got a few drinks. It came up that we both do music, so I showed him a rough, instrumental cut of Shining Eyes and we worked from there.
You’re currently playing acoustic shows this summer, gearing up for full electronic shows later this year. Why did you guys decide to go acoustically for your first shows (and music video)? What can fans expect in your full shows? Do you plan on incorporating any visual/aesthetic elements into your set?
AY: We started acoustically because at the moment that's all we have available to us. We're still working on getting all the equipment together and doing additional composing for live versions of songs. Luckily we both come from acoustic playing so it's been a fun change of pace. I've only been playing piano seriously for a couple months, but it's always exciting to learn a new instrument. We also thought it would be good for people to see that behind the electronic craziness, there's two guys who can actually perform their music without a laptop. We want to bridge a gap between electronic and acoustic performance that we feel hasn't been done justice quite yet.
The full show will basically be Lyonn on steroids. We'll be jumping around on different instruments, slamming drum pads and triggering samples. It's going to be a lot of fun to pull off. We've spoken about visuals a lot lately as well. They will be used heavily eventually, but for the moment we may only be able to pretty straightforward lights to accompany the music.
You’re currently based out of Nashville, and you’ve been active in the local scene there with your EP release and shows. Do you think the Music City has influenced your sound formation? How has it been supportive of this new phase as a duo?
Tyler Gelrud: We have the opportunity to spend time in both Nashville and Knoxville. The mix of both cities helps us a lot. We can go from the hub of music, to a smaller city with more of a community feel. Considering the fact that Attilla and I are both only a year into living in this new state, the sense of being far from home inspires us. I think the community has been really nice to us so far, we plan to be back in California by the end of the year, but knowing we could come through TN at anytime and have our incredible friends here to greet us feels really good. I am excited to see where else music will take us!
In what ways has We’ll Light The Sky defined this new phase of Lyonn? How would you describe the music you guys are producing together?
TG: I think Lyonn has been completly revamped. I never imagined leaving the solo project behind, but deep down I think I was craving a musical partner. I can't really describe how it was defined, or where we are going either, but I think that is the beauty of this project. Honestly, WLTS just brushes the surface of what Attila and I plan to do with our music. That was an EP that was put together in 3 months, I met Attila, and the next month we were onto the EP. It is incredibly exciting to look back on, and I know that with time, we are going to create the music we both have dreamt of creating our entire lives.
How has it been working with each other? What’s the thing you value about each other the most in this collaboration? Tyler, how has making this EP differed from writing your previous albums? Attila, how did you approach incorporating your skills, vision, and creative process into an already existing project?
AY: It's been great. Beyond having chemistry musically, it's awesome to share all of this work and the triumphs with someone I now consider my best friend. We balance the project out by having opposing skill sets, but the same overall vision in mind. Potentially the biggest key to Lyonn working is that we know how to brush our egos aside and do what's right for the song. It's always about the music. We don't have dreams of being these cocky rockstars. We just want people to leave our shows not knowing what happened to them. It's not about us, it's about the experience.
As far as integrating myself into the project-it honestly wasn't a huge challenge. Once we officially became a duo it was something I felt comfortable sharing ownership; so, instead of just being a producer serving Tyler's vision, it was my job to inject myself into the music in a meaningful way. The approach was largely the same, if not a bit easier. Tyler is so good at writing hooks and melodies that sometimes I allow myself to pull back a little bit and give him room to play around.
When it comes to writing and producing I'm very all-or-nothing. 99% of the time I go into the studio knowing exactly what I'm looking for. My brain is constantly working on music away from the computer, so by the time I get to sit down I typically have all of the parts written and a general idea of where I want to push the production. When I enter the studio without that I rarely get anything done. Unfortunately stress and frustration are the biggest enemies of creativity. It's a helpless feeling sometimes when you want to get work done, but know the only way forward is to take a break.
TG: I agree 100% with what Attila mentioned in his answers! This EP was much different to make, Knivsta was a one week ordeal. I just played some acoustic guitar and sang, Promenade was a bit bigger of a project, but I hired a producer to help me, so it wasnt as hands on as I preffered. Now that Attila is the second half of Lyonn, everything is very personal. We both give it our all because we both represent the band entirely. We can take all the time we need and we are always honest with each other and ourselves. It feels good, I truly think we are on to something special.
Can you walk us through the production process on some of the songs off the EP? Let’s take Iceberg for example. How did you go about updating this song from the version we heard on Knivsta? How did the other songs on the record come to be?
AY: Speaking generally, Tyler brought two songs and I brought two songs to this EP. We'll Light The Sky was a song I had demoed a month or so before we started working together, but it was a short progressive metal piece. It was actually supposed to stay that way on the EP as well, but a few weeks before release I accidentally deleted some major parts of the project file, so we scrapped it and started over. The final version you've heard was produced- I probably shouldn't be saying this haha-in about three days. But it gave me an opportunity to reconnect with producing more straight forward electronic music again, and I really do love how it turned out.
Iceberg was unique in that it was a previously-released song. Shortly after we started hanging out, I listened to both of his EPs and immediately told him we needed to redo Iceberg. It has an incredible depth emotionally that I felt wasn't being served by the music or production, so we started at the crescendo and worked backward (which is typically how I work). I knew I wanted the new version to be grounded by piano, so I started by writing the full structure out and started plugging in sounds. When we're collaborating we usually speak in terms of mood and imagery, so I thought of these big drums and textures that would serve the tone of his lyrics and delivery. That also goes for the guitar piece at the end-I knew I needed to write something that communicated the pain of heartbreak sonically without overshadowing the vocals. It's a very story-driven song; there was a lot of balancing involved to keep things dynamic and effective.
What’s next for Lyonn? Do you still plan on releasing another EP this fall?
TG: Our priority is getting the full show up and running, we are on our way to doing so. Once the setlist is perfected we will start working on new songs, we want to test all of our new songs out live first, and build a new EP from there. If I had to pick a time for a new EP, I would say late Fall at the earliest. We will constatnly be working on new music, but we arent packaging anything together until just yet.
How was it being our Artist In Residence? Anything you want to say to our readers before we see you leave us and go on to great things?
TG: We really enjoyed being the AIR, we appreciate the support Indie Beat has been giving us since day 1, it means a lot. Anyone who reads this blog should consider themselves very well informed and very attractive.
Finally, a question we ask all of artists: which songs are you currently obsessed with? What new acts do you recommend to our listeners? What bands do you believe are your best kept secret in the indie community?
AY: I'm a Spotify fiend so I'm more of a track-obsessed type as opposed to following bands' full discography. One exception at the moment is Autoheart. Usually when a band is small it's pretty easy to tell why-there's always an element or two missing-but these guys have it all together musically and they're phenomenally catchy. The song Lent has been on rotation lately a lot.
Also Freak Flag by Gillian has gotten a lot of plays lately. Their harmonies are completely on point. Gives me a Mowgli's vibe, but with more indie sensibilities.
It's hard, we're not really on the cutting edge of music to be honest. I used to be more so when I was into DJing, but I like exploring a lot of genres and studying those who do it best. Quality tends to rise to the top so it's difficult for me to find small artists who I feel are really killing it, unless they're just starting or are trying something completely new and unexplored musically. It may sound counter-intuitive because we are one of those small bands, but we're working hard to prove to ourselves we're more than that.