In Conversation | Dublin dream pop outfit TNLYF begin again

It’s often interesting to watch bands and artists grow and change. Some make it look like a natural progression, others can’t hide the cynicism and there are notable musical careers that carefully and relentlessly tread a safe path from start to finish.

In the case of Dublin shoegaze/dream pop outfit TNLYF, a marked transition has arrived at a rather nascent stage. Having previously operated under the guise of The Nightlife, the quartet tapped into pop sensibilities on ‘Defeated’, a pleasant enough track but one that traced a familiar line to that of The Script and similar contemporaries.

Leap forward just a handful of months and The Nightlife are now TNLYF and their music is markedly different and a good deal stronger. ‘Reflect’, the first track to emerge from debut EP i is a beautiful burst of light, anchored by rich production and a building, emotive vocal that leads the charge for their switch to more esoteric territory.

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The Nightlife is dead, long live TNLYF. Why the rebrand?

Greg: I like to call it a ‘Superficial Abbreviation’. The Nightlife was affiliated with the ‘Defeated’ sound, and I guess changing the name slightly was an opportunity to distance ourselves from that more. I feel like the aesthetic of the name is a lot more in line with the new material. Plus, It looks so much better on paper, so that’s how I justify it.

Stephen: Plus, TNLYF is far easier to search for online. The previous name brought up – as you would expect – actual nightlife events when searched.

Were there any dodgy name suggestions bandied about? 

Greg: Tonnes. Every good name ever is taken. Motley Crue, Guns ‘n’ Roses, Queens of the Stone Age, even Perfect Pussy. You name it. A lot of heartbreak.

Stephen: Even before TNLYF, we spent a long, LONG time deciding on ‘The Nightlife’. As Greg said, every good name ever is taken!

The name does bring WU LYF to mind, but they’re gone now so it’s grand. Can you please do a cover of ‘Heavy Pop’ at some point?

Greg: WU LYF were a great band, but there’s no affiliation. I don’t think I could do their vocal swagger any justice unfortunately…

Take us through the writing and recording of the EP. What did you set out to achieve? 

Greg: Long story short, I wasn’t in a great place mentally for a while. I was going through terrible writer’s block, too. Writing became really erratic and I kept changing everything. I’d come in with a bunch of songs and a week later, they’d either be something completely different or scrapped. I really didn’t wanna be a pop act, so ‘Defeated’ kinda felt like a cop-out, simply because I couldn’t actually convey what I wanted the songs to sound like. It was torture. It’s catchy and really accessible, but it doesn’t say anything about me as a songwriter or an artist.

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It was a product of terrible writers block and indecisiveness. It took me so long to ‘settle’ on a sound. I’m not prolific at all. When I write, I tend to let songs live with me for a while and work them out. This EP is essentially a window to a particular time. I like to think that the words and instrumentation fall in-line with it all. The lyrics are very personal. Overall, I’m happy with the first EP. It’s a start.

Stephen: In terms of the recording & production side of things, we decided to also switch producer and studio (compared to the sessions that ‘Defeated’ came from). This time around we knew we wanted to work with Neal Calderwood in Manor Park Studios, as we thought he would be a great choice for the direction we wanted to go in sonically.

There’s a notable shift between ‘Defeated’ and the material on i.

Greg: ‘Defeated’ is essentially a pop single and catered to a different audience than what we  wanted. We wanted to write music that has more longevity and was in line with what we wanted to hear.

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Is there a story behind the title or are you just really big Kendrick Lamar fans? 

Greg: The title ‘i’ comes from the introverted nature of the lyrics. Plus, it’s the starting point of the band, so it was a happy coincidence i guess. Kendrick is great too, though.

Aside from TNYLF, who’s a particularly promising Irish act to look out for? 

Greg: A few friends of ours in Only Rivals and The Winter Passing released their debut albums recently, and they’re both awesome records. They’re gonna do so well.

Stephen: There’s so many amazing Irish acts at the moment. Two that immediately come to mind are Versive and Pleasure Beach.

We spoke to Bitch Falcon recently, who echoed Nialler9’s thoughts on how Irish acts and artists are in desperate need of government support. What’s your take on the situation? 

Greg: The Irish music industry does have a lot of work to do.. There are so many great Irish bands around at the moment and a lot of eyes in the industry looking at what’s going on, but the government are doing nothing to cultivate and support it. There’s so, so much more opportunity in the UK than here, and that’s kinda depressing. The full potential of the Irish music scene definitely hasn’t be realised by the higher powers, but there are signs that it’s changing.

You have to listen to one song for 24 hours straight, bathroom breaks permitted. What and why? 

Greg: Spacemen 3 – ‘I Love You’. I’m listening to their album Recurring for the first time in ages and I keep going back to it.

Stephen: Totally clichéd answer, but Pink Floyd – ‘Comfortably Numb’. Such an incredible song.

And seeing as we’re coming to the end of the year, what gets the TNLYF vote for Song and Album of 2015? 

Greg: For me, Song of 2015 goes to ‘Beautiful Blue Sky’ by Ought and I got a few albums in mind, but Panda Bear and Kendrick Lamar’s latest are definitely up there.