Thank you for taking the time to interview with me today. Your band is simply amazing. A true work of Art.
Let’s start with your name.
How did you come up with the name Night Powers?
We started calling ourselves “Night Paints”, but it didn't land well when we mentioned it to friends - people kept mishearing it, which is never good for a band name. We had already begun developing our sound and liked the idea of channeling the darkness, but giving it some oomph. So we landed on Night Powers. Plus, we had already gotten matching “NP” tattoos, so we needed to stick with those letters. (From Inbar. Rob, we got those tattoos to remember our mantra: NO PROBLEM aka Never Apologize)
Being from New York how has It influenced your band and the kind of music that you make today?
We all love New York City, both emotionally and, in a way, professionally (if you Google us you will see what we mean). Lots of people move to New York to make music but now most of us have actually been here a long time, so the grime and chaos has really seeped in at this point. Night Powers is not really connected musically to typical New York City rock traditions (Velvet Underground, Glam, Punk, CBGBs, Disco, Post-punk revival etc) but we think we draw a lot of inspiration from the glamour, sexiness, stories, spectacle and diversity of the tribes, art, vice and nightlife that are always a part of New York City.
With such difference sounds from all of you I’m so curious, How did you find each other?
Rob and Inbar met in grad school at Columbia University in 2007. We had been talking about playing music for a while, but we only finally got started about 6 years ago after a heated debate one night about if you could actually play music in New York. The next day, Rob emailed Inbar and they had their first practice within the week with Inbar on keys and Rob on drums. We decided early on that we wanted dual male and female vocals and we went through a few iterations before the lineup on our first album. We landed on the current version of the band about two years ago. Gabe and Rob had known each other for a while so he joined to play bass. Soon after Dan joined to play drums and then we closed it out when Nat joined. (Dan left for the West Coast once our album was released and we recently replaced him with Steve, who we love dearly.)
It seems like each of you hold a artistic background tell me more about this as how it’s impacted you all as a band today.
Absolutely. We have a range of backgrounds ranging from DIY creative to formal art training to writing to digital media. Natalie is constantly delving into new digital expression and is kind of a craft-McGyver. Inbar was always in art, woodshop, and writing classes as a kid so now she does everything from sew her own dresses to embroidery to professional cartography. Gabriel formally studied studio art and graphic design. Steve has done digital creative and writing for years. Rob has played in bands since his teens and had some jack of all trades tech stints, picking up some of the tricks that went into making the album cover. He also did a bit of acting and screenwriting too. And we all have a shared passion for cinema across a range of genres including silent film, noir, horror, and black comedy. In fact, before the holidays, we’re all getting together for a screening of the original Suspiria. It’s the mixture of our different visual, performance, and sonic sensibilities that come together to create a sound and aesthetic that is rather eclectic. It’s hard to pin us down.
Your music videos are brilliantly done.
Do you also produce your videos?
Thank you. The two full length videos were conceived by us and then really produced/directed by Pavel Ezrohi, who has really been brilliant in capturing what we are all about. The videos nice encapsulate the dark world we are trying to draw the listener into...our first, for “We Will Always Be Together” took you into the scene of decadent horror and beauty, sometime in the distant past. The second video, for “Tonight We Fly” is more rock and roll and also more about seduction and vice. Lesley Garrison, a phenomenal dancer from the Mark Morris Dance Group in Brooklyn, pulled in all the dancers (also from Mark Morris) and created the amazing choreography just for the video. The short Clouzot-inspired clips we produced to promote the album were all directed by Catrin Hedström, who is also phenomenal...she is currently working on a music video for “Like Lovers Do” and we will probably do more with her in the future!
What makes you get into the mood when you’re writing?
Rob: For me, I am always in the mood to write...I have a cheap classical guitar at home and I try to pick it up everyday and when I do, I always start generating little parts. It can be very inconvenient in the morning as I end up being very late for work. Lyrics I often write on the train, just tapping into my phone...none if the commuters have any idea of the vile tales I am telling right by them. Inspiration for those usually comes from film, journalism or select naughty bits of real life.
Inbar: I like to think of someone’s secret and then go from there. What are they hiding? What are they ashamed (or secretly proud) of? And what do they really think about everyone and everything around them? Musically, I hum to myself when I’m walking around or riding my bike. The only time you’ll ever hear me sing actually is when I’m alone on my bike in the middle of the night, so good luck with that! A lot of the music I write only comes together when I’ve got the rest of the band with me. I need to play off what they’re doing to really get my part set. It’s highly possible that this writing style makes them all crazy!
I find it hard to place your band in one specific genre.
What genre would you say your band best fits into? Garage Noir? Gothic Spaghetti Western? Theme songs for James Bond villains? Something in that zone. Isn’t it obvious? Who were your musical influences growing up and do you feel they made you the musician you are today?
Rob: My main inspirations growing up were rock and roll bands like The Rolling Stones and The Replacements, then getting into indie rock like Pavement and Superchunk, then post-rock and the inevitable jazz phase, which of course dovetailed into “difficult” electronic material like Aphex Twin and Fourtet...but in terms of what informs Night Powers, I would say it’s my interest in flamenco, surf music, uncool 60’s ethnic pop and French Ye-ye girls (record collector nerd classics.)
Inbar: My roots are in punk rock, but as I went to college, my world naturally expanded. We had a good college radio station and I had some friends make me some good mixtapes. So my world expanded into bands like Television, Gang of Four, the Make-Up and Pulp. And lots of Serge Gainsbourg. I worked at a record store and got really into basically every kind of music: post-punk, proto-punk, glam rock, all the 2000’s dance bands, 70’s and 80’s hip hop, 1950s easy listening/exotica, and I started to get involved in the local music scene in my town (Boulder/Denver) which was full of everything from art punk to dance bands to power pop. I also got really into movie soundtracks, specifically Nino Rota’s Fellini scores. When I got to New York, the world of WFMU blew my mind and went into a wormhole with Beware of the Blog’s compilations of Lux & Ivy’s Favorites. I may have just listened to those compilations for four years straight. That plus their Ichiban Rock & Soul streaming radio. Those guys really know what they’re doing. (Donate all your money to them!) I’ve regularly attended Jonathan Toubin’s Soul Clap parties since they were at Glasslands, so I’m sure that influenced me as well (though I will say, despite how hard I’ve tried, I have NEVER won the dance contest).
Gabe: I was very fortunate to grow up in a household where music was a part of our fabric. My father plays guitar and loves jazz and blues, my mother sings and is into the Beatles, Credence, and the Doors and stuff from the 50s and 60s. They both love Motown and early R&B. So I grew up with an appreciation for those styles. As I started to strike out on my own, I got into bands like Talking Heads, B52’s, the Clash, Bad Brains, The Violent Femmes, then moved into 90’s-land with My Bloody Valentine, PJ Harvey, Pavement, Fugazi, Sebadoh - basically just give me indie rock. Nowadays, I listen to as much as possible. I recently went down a wormhole with 20th century classical music - stuff like Feldman’s Rothko Chapel. Right now, Ed Schraeder’s Music Beat is in heavy rotation. In terms of bass playing - James Jamerson and Paul McCartney rise to the top for me. Throw in a little Geezer Butler and John Entwistle for taste.
What would be your perfect tour line up and what states and cities are you looking forward to visiting?
(bands you’d like to tour with)
Rob: Looking forward to touring with Bruce Springsteen in the late 1970s, Nick Cave in the mid 1990s and Portishead in the late 2000s. A band I would actually love love love to play with today would be Juniore from France. They are just boss. Let’s go through all of Texas, spend a week in Mexico, tour up the California coast, hop on an airplane and close off the tour in Berlin playing as part Kabarett Der Namenlosen.
Inbar: Rob’s tour sounds great to me, but let’s add in my fave Jarvis Cocker to our tourmates. And Baxter Dury. And Kyle Avallone.
Gabe: Beach House for me!
Do you have anything coming up that you’d like to share with us? We play at Coney Island Baby (first time!) in the East Village in New York City on January 25th. Come and see it all for yourself...