The two boys from Rockaway, Queens have travelled far from New York to be in Stoke Newington. Despite sufffering from severe jetlag, we sat down with singer/guitarist Dan Miller and drummer/producer Max Harwood of electronic duo Lewis Del Mar. The two have caused quite a stir following the release of their debut track ‘Loud(y)’ in July 2015, which led to instantaneous praise and global recognition. We caught an interview with them ahead of their sold-out show at The Waiting Room, Stoke Newington, London to discuss their aptly-named release ‘EP’, loving London, and surfing with MGMT. Photography: Alberto Pezzali
DISORDER: How have you two been handling the attention since your debut track 'Loud(y)' hit number one on the Hype Machine last year?
DAN: It was a little crazy. At first, I felt like we were super-excited, but we quickly got so overwhelmed! Like, we suddenly had to take all these meetings with record labels. It was very 0–60.
MAX: I think that the best way to say how we felt is that we genuinely didn’t think it’d happen. It wasn’t that we didn’t believe in the music, we just weren’t prepared for it at all. We’ve worked at this for so long and it’s all we’ve ever wanted to do, so to be able to now come over to London and play a show that’s sold out has blown our minds.
When did you first produce that track?
D: We probably had that song written in like September 2014, so basically like nine or ten months before it came out? We sat on it a while, because we were trying to hone it and make it as good as we thought it could be.
M: We were just trying to develop the sound, and it took some time before we realised that sound. It felt really good to release it.
Since 'Loud(y)' came out you’ve been signed to Columbia Records with big names such as MGMT. How does it feel to be part of a company that represents those guys and their music?
D: We’re actually signed to Columbia Records’ imprint Startime International. It’s a smaller label. However, we do live practically next to the lead singer of MGMT. He lives in Rockaway too, and we go surfing with him and stuff. That’s nothing to do with the record company. We’ve known him forever.
M: We asked him for advice on Columbia when we were out on our surfboards in the water. He helped us out, he’s a good guy.
D: We’re different from MGMT though. I think that what they’ve done with their music is great, and they’ve brought a fresh sound to a lot of people. That’s something we sort of strive to do, but I don’t think we reference their music.
M: Not directly sonically, but we do reference their overall philosophy. It’s a kind of accessible music with a lot of layers to it, that’s kind of existing between both the pop and indie world. MGMT do that really well, and I feel like we’re trying to do that as well.
How would you guys describe your music then?
D: Everyone always asks you, and I always defer to someone else. I feel like somebody else would be able to label our music better as no artist wants to do that. I think that we try to be a combination of the industrial and natural. That's sort of why we live in Rockaway – it's a very small industrial town right on the sea. You can stand on the beach, see the housing, but also see the trains go by. It's a meeting of worlds.
M: That's what we try to do, make music that's a cohesive mix of things. We tend to combine our influences, so we have Latin music and percussion, a sampled style from a hip-hop background, and folk writing-style. There was one point in the creative process when we were literally sitting down with an actual drawing board just figuring out our sound after listening to some of our recordings. We ended up describing it as urban-vibey-jungle-folk at one point.
You’ve been in London since Tuesday; how are you finding it?
D: I love London. Especially the tea and food. I’ve ordered fish and chips two days in a row now. I’m drinking Earl Grey at the moment. I like green tea, but I feel like when I’m here, you have to drink the proper stuff. Green tea just doesn’t seem British enough.
M: We love the city too, it’s so friendly! It reminds us of New York, because New York’s pretty friendly too. It has a weird reputation for being so mean, and it is in a way. But in other ways I find New York to be so hopeful and so nice, so I just don’t know.
D: I think there’s bad people everywhere in any place or country, but there’s a weird thing that happens when you live in a city. People start to crave human interaction. You see so many people every day but you never talk to them, because they’re strangers and that’s ‘weird’. Everybody ends up putting their headphones in but not really listening to music just so people don’t mess with you.
Finally, are you guys happy about the new EP release that’s only named EP?
M: The EP is more of a preview. That’s why we didn’t think there needed to be a name for it. It’s like a run-up to the album. We didn’t want to make it feel like it is its own project.
D: Mentally, we’ve been conceiving all our songs as part of a record. The album is going to be the statement. We just felt like going ‘yeah, here’s the music’. Like, don’t read into it.
M: The album’s all finished and written, and we’re hoping to release the album this year.
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