Festival season is upon us and LA-based Local Natives will be no stranger to the scene. The group is scheduled to play gigs at Coachella, Hangout Fest and Governor’s Ball in the U.S., as well as Liverpool Sound City Festival in the U.K. and Primavera Sound Festival in Barcelona, Spain.
I had the awesome opportunity to speak with Kelcey Ayer, vocalist and keyboardist of Local Natives via phone on Wednesday evening following their soundcheck at the Mercury Ballroom in Louisville, Kentucky just three days before the band is set to headline CD102.5 Day’s Side B at Express LIVE! in Columbus.
Ayer spoke to me about the band’s latest releases, music festivals they’re set to play and recording in Fleetwood Mac’s historic Studio D.
The Indie Sound: Is there a festival that you haven’t played yet or one that you’re looking forward to in particular?
Kelcey Ayer: We’ve never played Hangout before and we keep hearing that it’s really cool because it’s on the beach, so I’m really excited for that one. Plus, Frank Ocean is going to be there, so I hope I get the chance to see him.
TIS: Do you like playing large music festivals? How does that atmosphere differ from playing your own show at a venue?
Ayer: It’s definitely different. When we play our own shows at venues we have much more control over how our set will go. You also tend to have to play the more upbeat songs at festivals, whereas I love performing our slower ones. The crowds are massive, though.
Playing to 20,000 plus people is something else. Especially because a lot of those people have never heard of us or seen us play before, so we have the opportunity to blow some minds and really show people what we’re about.
The band’s latest single “I Saw You Close Your Eyes” was released this past Friday, March 23 with an interactive twist. Fans were directed to follow the link www.closeyoureyes.net where further instruction read:
“Local Natives would like you to listen to their new song ‘I Saw You Close Your Eyes.’ In order for this experience to work best, please turn the lights off in your room and turn the brightness up on your laptop. If you’re wearing glasses, remove them for a moment. Then click the link to grant access to your eyes below, position your head about 12 inches from the screen and close your eyes when you’re ready to listen”
The experience accesses your webcam and can sense when your eyes are open, and literally won’t play the song if your eyes are not closed. Try it out for yourself!
TIS: What was the purpose behind www.closeyoureyes.net?
Ayer: We actually had a friend of a friend help us make that. It’s really cool all the things you can do with technology today. We just wanted to do something different and we like giving our fans multiple kinds of experiences.
It was a unique way to roll out the new song and to get people talking about it. It also kind of forces you to really listen to the track without any distraction. It was released as a single, like a B-Side to the album [Sunlit Youth], but it also felt like it could fit in nicely with the album itself, so I’m really happy we finally got that one out there.
Released alongside the band’s new single was a cover of Fleetwood Mac’s “Tusk.” Local Natives had the opportunity to record in the famous Studio D at Village Studios, where a few decades earlier Fleetwood Mac spent months recording the double album Tusk.
TIS: What made you guys decide to cover that song?
Ayer: There is a series on Spotify called “Music Happens Here” and they had reached out to us asking if we wanted to do the song in the studio it was originally recorded. We’re all big Fleetwood Mac fans and they’ve definitely influenced our music, so of course we said yes. We’re really happy with the way it turned out and I think it came together nicely.
TIS: What was it like recording in Studio D?
Ayer: Getting to record one of Fleetwood Mac’s songs in the same studio they recorded it was really cool. After the huge success of Rumours, they had a fuck ton of money and they wanted a new studio to record Tusk, so they built one on LA’s west side.
Like, Stevie specifically wanted the stain glass window in the room to be built there. Just being able to experience the room for ourselves knowing all of its history was enough for us to say yes. We actually recorded part of Sunlit Youth in the same studio but in a different room a few floors up.
The Indie Sound focuses primarily on local music happening in and around Columbus. As someone who has been at the beginning himself, I asked Ayer to share some of his wisdom.
TIS: What’s the biggest piece of advice you could give to these bands who may just be starting out or are beginning to see traction in their musical careers?
Ayer: Someone actually just asked me this the other day. They asked me what advice I’d give to my younger self starting out. I’d have to say the biggest thing is stick to your gut. You just have to keep creating and doing what feels right.
Something that no one else will be able to decide for you and something that’s all your own.
“Being true to yourself and making music that really resonates with people transcends further than you’d think. Your songs are what will live on forever, so I think perfecting your craft is really important.”
Local Natives will be playing CD102.5 Day Side B at Express LIVE! alongside Run River North, Deap Vally, The Regrettes and local band Zoo Trippin’ this Saturday, April 1. Doors open at 5 p.m. and tickets are still available for $20 (minus fees) on Ticketmaster or at the box office.