Local Natives

With an upcoming tour and a critically acclaimed second album, Hummingbird , Local Natives are spending the summer soaking up the festival scene and planning new music. Influenced by the opposing feelings that came with their first album, Gorilla Manor , the second is a product of the band’s location physically and emotionally. Hailing from Los Angeles, California, Local Natives are Matt Frazier, Andy Hamm, Ryan Hahn, Taylor Rice and Kelcey Ayer. Rice speaks to Aesthetica  about the process of producing Hummingbird.

You referred to your new album as having been inspired by the feeling of being pulled between two opposite poles; what do you mean by that?
The two years leading up to Hummingbird  were full of the most incredible and difficult experiences. It was stunning to be playing our music all over the world, especially after being musicians for 10 years. Some very tough things also happened, though, as Kelcey’s mother passed away just as we were beginning to write full time, which made us take a big break. As a consequence, I think the album is stretched between moments of joy and intense sadness.

How did you reflect this ongoing emotional struggle in the instrumental elements of the music as well as within the lyrics?
I’d say that the songs seem to demand a large lofty bed along with a lot of open space. We ended up turning a lot of the guitar parts into big piano crescendos or synth chords instead, and this allowed us to experiment with sounds and expressions we hadn’t before. For example, we had a turning point with You & I  when we came up with the big swells and the electronic drum beat. The song just sounded so open and emotional once we’d developed those instrumental sections, and as a result it completely changed the mood.

The album was written in various locations; do all of these places make lasting imprints on the album?
Yes. I don’t think you can make music without the surroundings having some impact. Most of the record was done in a cosy neighbourhood of Brooklyn where Aaron from The National lives. We were living and recording in his house, and that area has such a family vibe.

Can you elaborate upon your approach to the music video for You & I  ?
When we were at the end of our recording sessions I was messing around on the piano playing a very sad sounding chord progression. Jokingly, Ryan said that it sounds like the soundtrack to “the last dog on earth.” That became a joke for a while, and then we came up with an idea to shoot a music video in which the last dog on earth was on its deathbed.

How involved are you in the production of your music videos?
We’ve been much more involved with most of our videos recently. The one we had the most input on was the music video for Breakers , which we co-directed with Jaffe Zinn. We are now about to film Ceilings   with Jaffe in Milan.

What plans do you have for the future?
Festival season this summer! It’s like a super-long summer camp for adults. The festival crowds in Britain are the best. It doesn’t matter if it’s raining sideways, or cold enough that your food won’t spoil for weeks; we always have a huge crowd willing and able to have an amazing time.

Hannah Clugston