Talks with Nikki Layne from Lucid Fly
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CEV: Tell me about what role music played in your life growing up and how it influenced you in the choices that you made.
NL: Music played a significant role in my life growing up! Most of my immediate family members (on both sides) were musicians in bands...My dad played acoustic guitar, harmonica and sang in a few southern rock bands, my maternal grandparents were both in a country band together (my grandpa was the guitarist and my grandma sang, my aunt, uncles & cousins were also in bands as vocalists)! Basically, music has always been…and will be my life.
CEV: When did you know that you wanted to write and perform music and not just listeners and was there something or someone who helped you make that decision?
NL: Yes, I remember being at a family gathering in St. Pete, FL. My family was jamming on the acoustic guitars and singing covers, and I decided to chime in on vocals, along with my aunt. I think we were singing “Love Song” by Tesla, but when my family heard me, they were shocked!
I guess I was always a little shy and reserved, so this was the first time they really heard me SING! My family was the ones that said I should be a singer…which planted the seed. I was living in Orlando, FL at the time, so when I got home, I put an ad in a local musicians classified to see about either joining or forming a band.
CEV: Did you ever consider doing the solo female artist before Lucid Fly was formed or was being part of a group your vision from the start?
NL: No, I originally envisioned being a part of a group. I like the creativity and ideas the different chemistry brings, the fullness and energy of a live band, and I like the camaraderie with my mates!
CEV: How did you and Doug hook up musically and what was it about his playing or musical ideas that drew you to him? Same question to Doug if he would like to answer.
NL: Doug was the first response to my Musicians Wanted ad, and he was also the first audition I went on! He and his drummer at the time had just relocated from Tampa, FL to Orlando and they were looking to find a bassist and vocalist. Our musical influences are definitely what brought us together. Doug said he responded to the ad because I listed, K’s Choice (a Belgian rock band from the mid-90’s) as one of my influences at the time. She was kind of obscure at that time, so he was intrigued.
CEV: Were the two of you in agreement as to what kind of music that you were going to write and perform as a group?
NL: Yea, we always wanted to do some form of rock. For the audition, we decided to learn a song that was rock with female vocals…we chose Tracy Bonham’s song “Mother Mother” – gritty and heavy. We all dug it and decided to continue to play together and look for a bassist to complete the lineup.
CEV: When did you actually form Lucid Fly and how was it that you came up with such an unusual name?
NL: Doug and I formed Lucid Fly in 1999. The name "Lucid Fly" came from this newspaper headline “Lucid Flies into the Record Book”..about America's most experienced astronaut, female pioneer Dr. Shannon Lucid. We felt we had exhausted all the possibilities and got tired of pulling randomly out of the dictionary, so when a friend saw the headline and mentioned it to us...the name just kind of stuck!
CEV: Who is in the current lineup of Lucid Fly and as a group how do you make decisions about the songs that you write and perform/record?
NL: The lineup is me (Nikki) on lead vocals, Doug Mecca on guitar, Go Nakabayashi on bass, and Aaron Ficca on drums. Decisions about the songs we perform are made collectively by the band as a whole. Each person must feel confident and solid in their parts and we all have to agree that the song is tight overall in order to perform it in front of an audience.
As far as recording, certain songs make the decision for us! There are usually a few songs that the band unanimously agrees needs to be recorded. And other times, we just try and choose the songs that represent us the most and that we all “feel” the most at that time.
CEV: The group started out in the Orlando, FL area. What made you decide to move to the West Coast and how disruptive was it to the music of Lucid Fly starting over again in a new city?
NL: Yes, Doug and I relocated to Los Angeles in 2007. We were in the Orlando music scene for over 8 years, and although Florida brought us many great opportunities to play and meet new friends & fans, we felt that it was time to take our music career to the next level. We knew that LA fit our lifestyle and that there was plenty of opportunity there, so we didn’t hesitate in making the decision! The move was the best thing we could have done…2 months after relocating, we found Go and Aaron who had been playing together in a band for 3 yrs prior, and they were looking to join/start a band with a singer/guitarist…we have been playing together ever since ~ I would say ‘it was meant to be’ ;)
CEV: Tell me about the music that you have recorded and released so far. What do you see as far as growth between the 1st and 2nd release in terms of band cohesion and songwriting strength?
NL: Adapting to Gravity was a collection of songs that we wrote from 2002-2004. This was the beginning for us as a band and a defining moment for the direction and style our music was taking. This was my first attempt at recording and working with a producer/engineer. It was a huge learning experience and it really set the bar for the future of our music writing and recording.
With The Escape Stage in 2009, I really feel we took it to the next level. With the addition of Go and Aaron, our chemistry, the musicianship and our attention to detail, as well as, our overlapping musical influences and goals, there was a huge amount of growth and evolution in our style. And moving forward with our new material, I feel our songwriting is stronger than ever!
CEV: Has the move to the West Coast been a good move for the group so far?
NL: Yes, it has been an awesome experience! Our fan base has definitely expanded...but still able to keep in touch with our loyal east coast followers online, thanks to the interweb ;) The west coast has more of everything: diversity, opportunity, nature, artists and creativity around every corner. Definitely inspiring!
CEV: How goes the work on the new full length album that you are working on? How do you feel about the new material you are working on? Any speculation about a release date yet?
NL: We are very excited about the new material we have been working on. We really pushed ourselves musically and creatively with each idea. Now we are fine tuning the details...Most of our rehearsals recently have been us just trying to play these new songs live! They are fun AND challenging ~ we can’t wait to share
We are currently recording with Brendan Dekora at East West Studios in Hollywood, CA. This is the second time we’ve worked with him; the first time was on “The Escape Stage” EP. Not only is he a great engineer (he recently worked with Muse and Mute Math!), he is a good friend, so we are very comfortable working together. No release date set just yet!
CEV: If someone who had never heard your music before asked you to describe it to them what would you say?
NL: I would describe our music as progressive alt rock… melodic dark and heavy, combining distinctive melodies with intricate songwriting and unique odd-time grooves.
CEV: When you write new songs where do you draw from for the inspiration? Personal experiences or life in general?
NL: Our inspiration comes from everywhere…music, life experiences and just the love of creating! Lyrically, our songs are often introspective, but each song is written totally different. Sometimes we jam at rehearsal and the ideas morph into a song, sometimes there is a guitar/bass riff and then I add melodies/lyrics, and sometimes there are vocal melodies and we add guitar/bass/drums. We don’t have a “formula” per se, we just try and write music that we love, and hope that others enjoy it too.
CEV: Has the Internet and social media become an important part of an indie bands efforts to get noticed beyond their geographic area? Do you do a lot of interacting with your fans online?
NL: Social media and the Internet has definitely become an important tool in spreading the word about our music and building our fan base. It has given us a chance to promote our music to potential fans all over the world, yet remain in creative control of everything we do. I interact with fans on a daily basis and have been fortunate enough to connect with some amazing people who will be life long friends/fans! Social media can be seem like a daunting task, but with the Internet, the resources and possibilities are endless.
CEV: What is directly ahead for Lucid Fly and what would you like to achieve that you haven't been able to do just yet?
NL: So far, 2013 has been an amazing…we just released our very first music video for our song “Means to an End” from our EP The Escape Stage, we just returned from a southwest tour from CA to TX, we started recording and did a location photo shoot! We hope to continue on this very productive path we’ve been on. We want to finish our full length, shoot more videos, perform on a bigger tour (opening for a national act would be nice!). The main goal of the band is to tour internationally! Fingers crossed.
CEV: Any final thoughts for your fans as we say goodbye?
NL: I just want to thank all the fans for going to our shows, buying our music and for spreading the word about Lucid Fly! Music is discovered and shared best by word of mouth – We couldn’t do any of this without ! Much Love! Also, to any new supporters...please check out our newly revamped website, new music video, new merch and sign up for the mailing list there if you dig the music!
CEV: Thanks so much Nikki for taking the time out to answer these questions. Wishing you much success in the years to come.