Lewis Del Mar on their first time in London

Indie | Friday 29th January 2016 | Christina

Rockaway Beach-based duo Lewis Del Mar – Max Harwood and Danny Miller – only burst onto the scene last summer when they uploaded their debut track ‘Loud(y)’ to SoundCloud. Immediate buzz followed, as did comparisons to the likes of Foals and Alt-J. Now they’ve just dropped their first EP and have cemented themselves as ones to watch in 2016. We had a chat with the guys ahead of their first-ever London show at the Waiting Room in Stoke Newington.

How’s it going? What have you been doing since you arrived in London?
This morning some of us went to the Tate, we walked around a bit, it’s so beautiful. I think we were sort of expecting to wake up and have it be grey again but it’s perfect right now, and we’ve just been meeting some other people that we work with over here and wandering around. This is our first time over here actually. Max and I always had this goal of coming over here to play a rock show, so we sort of held off on coming here for a bit, and it seems like it was well worth it.
Max: So far we’ve just been hanging out, our show isn’t until tonight, we got in on Tuesday. It’s been cool, just relaxing, hanging out.

And how long have you got over here? Are you going back to America afterwards?
Yeah we leave on Sunday.

What are your plans for the weekend?
Hopefully we’ll meet some people at the shows and stuff, and hang out with them and find out what their word is and see what’s going on. We’re gonna go to some vintage shops on Saturday. I don’t know what else.
Max: We went to Denmark Street and checked out all those music stores, so far resisted temptation, but we might go back!

The show tonight is sold-out, you must be really excited.
Yeah it’s basically a dream come true. You dream about travelling and playing music for other people, and to come over here for the first time and have the show be sold-out is really incredible.

You only uploaded your first track in the summer and this is your first time playing in London, so you’re still relatively new to us, but it must have taken a lot of work to get to this point right?
Absolutely. On the one hand, this is all very new to us as well, in the sense of playing shows like this and travelling to different countries, but no this process has been a while in the making, for Dan and I.
Danny: We basically moved to Rockaway a little less than two years ago and just started working on this project, and really it took us all of that time to really sort out the sound and channel it into the project it is now. We sort of had the music figured out before everything else and then began to develop everything around that in the last couple of months.
Max: Yeah when we first started it was very much like a creative vacuum, where like all we did was write and record music over and over again, day in and day out. So now it’s kinda cool to bring it out into the world and to develop some of the other sides of it, like the artwork and the releases and things like that.

The mix of indie and electronic, has that always been your style or did that really only come into play when you started this project?
So Max and I have actually been best friends since we were like nine years old or so, and we played in a bunch of different bands together, and I think that the mix you’re talking about really came into life in this project, when Max and I started talking about trying to make the music that only the two of us could make. When we got down to it and really considered all of our influences and the places where we began our interest in music, we traced those paths back to the sound where we currently are. I’m playing acoustic guitar and doing things that are more folk-centric, and Max is sampling percussion and building the worlds around the songs, that are also very, for us at least, like Latin-inspired percussion. So yeah that mix really came about for this project specifically.

You just touched on it there, you both have strong connections with South America. What kind of influence has this had on you and on the music?
I think for me personally, the connection is sort of in my blood and I feel that resonates and feels right when it’s set into motion in the music.
Max: For me there’s definitely a personal side of it, in that my parents are actually living in Panama currently, and my dad spent a bunch of time there throughout his life. But also the syncopations and rhythms that are in Latin American music have always appealed to me, they’re just musically and artistically a really cool thing to bring into the musical canon that currently exists. I just think it’s something that’s a way to set our music apart, and I don’t think that influence is that strong typically in this time of music.
Danny: Yeah like indie music or electronic music. I think also for us, one of our goals is to forge a global music community that experiences innovation at the same time, and I think that, for us, that was a big part of it. We’ve lived in South America together at some points, we go there a lot, and you get to see the worlds in which other people live. We want to bring that music together to a lot of people at once.

And what about moving to Rockaway, has that influenced the sound at all?
I think 100%. It first came about just because we were going out there to surf and we were hanging out there. We had started the process but it was fairly early on, and we started to realise that the one thing that Rockaway has that we felt really embodied our music was the combination of the natural world with the beach, and the industrial grit of the city. We came to see that as embodying our sound. I think that the Lewis Del Mar sound, in a lot of ways, is that exactly; it’s the combination of the industrial world and the natural world, represented in the acoustic guitar and the live drums, but also the sample drums and the sample percussion and the electronic production that we use.
Danny: It’s like a very real world blending of influences and I think that’s what we strive to embody in our music.

And your new EP, called EP, has just come out. You must be really pleased with the reaction that it’s getting?
Yeah it’s pretty incredible. I think that whenever you work so hard on something on your own for a long time, just to be able to share it with anybody feels great. And for Max and I, who have been struggling to figure out how to do this for a long time together, to have this new project and feel like people are really embracing it and loving it, it does feel great. I think that at the end of the day, Max and I write songs to help other people figure things out, not just for ourselves, so to know that it’s having an impact at all feels really great.
Max: I think part of comes from the fact that we’ve been sitting on this project for so long, and for so long it only existed as a studio project, like we’re the only ones that heard the music. The people that heard the music were like us, our girlfriends, our producer and our mixing engineer, so to finally have people experience it and reacting to it is really nice. It’s a really nice release. I think also having songs like ‘Malt Liquor’, which were to us a little bit more adventurous, it was us pushing ourselves and really trying to do things in a new direction, and to see that people are reacting to that and that it’s resonating with them is really cool, it’s really exciting.

And are you working on an album?
We are yes, it’s almost finished actually.
Max: We’re deep in an album.
Danny: Actually when we released ‘Loud(y)’, we had like a full album already written basically, so we’ve continued writing and we have a bunch of new stuff but pretty much all the songs are more or less written for it. We actually head into the studio to start post-production on Monday.

And are you playing some of that new stuff at the show?
We are yeah. The London folks are gonna get some shit that no-one’s heard before!

Good! You’re coming back over in May for the Great Escape, have you got a full on schedule for the summer in terms of shows?
It’s still developing.
Danny: Yeah we’re still sorting it out right now, but that run is going to be really fun. We love it here so far. We haven’t played yet but hopefully tonight will be really fun and we can’t wait to come back frankly, already.
Max: Yeah. We’ll definitely be here obviously for Great Escape and then I think around that time we’ll jump over to a few other countries in Europe. We don’t have that totally nailed down yet but we should be here, absolutely.

Great. So, other than music, what would you say you know the most about?
We know the most about? That’s a great question. Max and I both studied English Literature, and I think that we know a good amount about, I don’t wanna say books, I’ll say authors and writing, in England and the UK as well, but specifically North America and South America.
Max: No lie, I downloaded Virginia Woolf’s Mrs Dalloway on the way over here because I was like “I should read some classic British literature’. I like making smoothies, I make some pretty good smoothies.
Danny: Max knows a good amount about making smoothies.
Max: Like a nice blueberry and banana smoothie, but just the perfect combination of blueberries. It’s a really important thing.
Danny: It is.
Max: Dan knows a good amount about surfing. I mean we both surf but I don’t know what the hell I’m doing, I just go out there and do it. Dan knows about it.
Dan: Yeah. I know a good amount about grilling. I like to grill food. We don’t know much else!

That’s a pretty good spread though.
There’s not much else because we spend 90% of our time in a studio making music. Our living room, we have a tiny house by the beach in Rockaway, our living room is our recording studio. We record everything in our house so we live it in the most literal way! Sometimes in a very overwhelming way.

If you could fill a swimming pool with anything in the world, what would it be and why?
Wow, that’s really great. I like that one as well. Can we answer separately?

Yeah, and it doesn’t have to be liquid either, it’s about the quantity.
That’s really good. I don’t wanna get too caught up in it. My first thought was Sour Patch Kids.

We don’t have those over here. What are they? Like a sour candy?
Yeah. That’s not a good one though because if I had to feel a swimming pool with something, I think I would fill it with…
Max: It’s a good question.
Danny: What are you going to say?
Max: I don’t know, my head’s jumped to a few different places. I love coffee. I could just fill it with coffee, roll out of bed and jump into it.
Danny: So Max is filling his swimming pool with coffee, and I’m going to fill my swimming pool….I’m going to fill my swimming pool with gingerbread carrot cake. Does that make sense?

Like I just want it to be like a pool of carrot cake but like solid, like one piece that I can actually just jump into.
Max: No lie, can we get it set up so that Dan’s pool and my pool are right next to each other. Jump into some cake and jump into some coffee as well!
Danny: Oh man, that was a great question, and I feel like now I really wanna do this. You’ll have to set this up next time we’re here. We’ll be rockstars by then, we’ll call you, “we need both our pools set up, we’re coming over”.
Max: We’ll do a photo shoot in the carrot cake pool.

Perfect! So my last question is, what are most looking forward to for 2016?
It’s kind of a simple album but honestly, putting out that album I think is going to feel amazing. We’ve been working on it for so long.
Danny: We have such a great crew of people that are with us right now, playing the live band and helping us realise the vision for this project. I’m really looking forward to making great music and art and great work with them, they’re all such talented people and strong minds, and I think it’s going to be really fun to see the world with them. I can’t wait. When you do these things, they’re only as fun as the people around you are having fun and enjoying themselves, so I think that that’s been one of the best things for Max and I, sharing it with people around us.
Max: Yeah we chose really good dudes for our live band. They’re quality people.
Danny: Yeah just travelling, like I said we’ve been in the studio for so much this past two years that to finally get back out into the world and see places, and come here and meet people from London, it’s exciting.

Follow Lewis Del Mar on Twitter