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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Lewis Del Mar talks musical influences, band name and tacos

Daniel Topete

After busting onto the alternative scene in 2015, experimental pop duo Lewis Del Mar quickly made a name for themselves with booked sets at Austin City Limits and Outside Lands music festivals just months after releasing their debut EP in January 2016. Lewis Del Mar opened for Young the Giant on Feb. 8 at the Rialto Theatre, and lead singer/guitarist Danny Miller spoke to the Daily Wildcat about the duo’s unique sonic influences, the artistic value of realism and most importantly, tacos.

Miller and drummer/producer Max Harwood met when they were just nine years old. After playing a garage cover of a Rage Against the Machine song, the two have pursued music together ever since and moved to New York three years ago to start the Lewis Del Mar project.

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Daily Wildcat: I know band names are often arbitrary, but can you give me some background on how “Lewis Del Mar” came about?

Danny Miller: “Lewis” is, coincidentally, the name of both of our fathers. “Del Mar” means “of the sea” in Spanish, and that significance is two-fold. The first is our connection to Latin America. My father is Nicaraguan and I grew up in a multi-cultural household, and Max’s father worked in international relations and currently lives in Panama. We’ve both traveled all over Central and South America for a long time, and the region’s rich musical cultures often find a place in our sound.

Second, we live in Rockaway Beach, NY which is next to the ocean outside of the city. We chose a single name to represent the coinciding of our two artistic identities into a single entity.

DW: You’ve been labeled by some as “experimental pop”. What kinds of sonic attributes make your sound more “experimental” than other kinds of indie and alternative bands?

DM: I’m not totally sure, to be honest. We set out to create something unique, that could only come from the two of us. So, in that sense, we did our best to avoid certain conventions. I would say the “experimental” nature of the project stems from a combination of the sounds we combine and song structures we employ.

DW: There seems to be a thematic feel of realism throughout the album’s lyrics; what kind of themes would you say your lyrics (intentional or not) touch on?

DM: On this first album I definitely tried to focus on writing about what I know. I don’t tend to write anything fictional, it’s difficult for me. So, in that sense, the lyrics and sentiments are certainly honest. On the whole, the songs on this first record are about coming of age in New York City, and coming to terms with my changing tastes, and ideas, and personalities. It’s sort of the story of believing you know yourself, finding out you don’t, realizing you will continually evolve, and then taking pride in that.

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DW: What were some of the influences that helped inspire Lewis Del Mar’s sound? More specifically, what vocalists influenced Danny to develop his soulful voice?

DM: Sonically we are inspired by a very wide range of artists. Everyone from authors like Gabriel García Márquez and the magical realists, to visual artists like Matisse, and, of course, a wide range of musicians. Sample-based music and early hip hop production played a large role in inspiring some of the more layered approach we took sonically. The Beastie Boys and Fugazi contributed to our notion of how to make something gritty. And songwriters like Jeff Buckley and Lauryn Hill played a large role in inspiring our song structures and delivery.

A lot of the vocal influence I take on does actually come from early soul music. One of the first artists that ever inspired me to sing was Otis Redding. But, I look to a wide range of singers for different ideas. Prince, Bob Dylan, Sade, Ben Harper, and Stevie Wonder to name a few.

DW: Have you ever been to Tucson or Arizona before?

DM: We haven’t. But, the only thing we really care about in life is tacos. Family, music, money, all come second to tacos. So, we should be right at home.

Follow Sean Orth on Twitter.

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