Interview: Lewis Del Mar On Meeting in Fourth Grade, Playing Festivals and The Internet

You’ve probably heard the name Lewis Del Mar, or at least seen it on a festival bill, but Lewis Del Mar isn’t actually a person. Rather, it’s a play off the fact that their father’s share the name Lewis, they have family in Del Mar, California, and roots in Spanish-speaking countries (‘del mar’ means ‘from the sea’).

Lewis Del Mar is singer and guitarist Danny Miller and drummer and producer Max Harwood, perhaps best known for their trippy, folky single “Loud(y).” The duo met as kids but just recently gained buzz for a series of songs they wrote while living together in Rockaway Beach, New York. Now, after releasing a series of additional singles (they often first gain traction on Soundcloud and Hype Machine) the band is making the rounds on the festival circuit. We caught up with them at MoPop in Detroit, but they’ll also be at Outside Lands in San Francisco, Bumbershoot in Seattle, Reading and Leeds in the UK, and back home in Queens at The Meadows. A full list of dates is available here.

You met when you were kids, and this isn’t your first project together. Were you always interested in making music? Is that what brought you together to start with?
When we met in fourth grade we bonded over a mutual desire to cause shit. Before we ever picked up instruments we were getting into unfathomable amounts of trouble together. So, we’d known each other for a couple years before we ever started playing. The first time was in Max’s basement, jamming on a sloppy cover of “Sleep Now In The Fire” by Rage Against The Machine.

We lived at punk and ska shows for a long time, fan-girling over lead singers and writing letters to bands. That led us to start writing our own songs. And that led to us forming a group in high school that went on to tour for a couple of years. We were in a station wagon, just mapping our way around the country and sleeping on our friends’ floors. At the time, it felt like a major accomplishment anytime we played in front of more than three people. It was a low point, but it didn’t really feel that way while we were doing it.

lewis1

You find that when you cross that threshold, where being at the bottom doesn’t bother you because your pursuit has become inextricably intertwined with your identity, the decision over what you’re going to do for the rest of your life sort of makes itself.

So, no. Music wasn’t something we always knew we wanted to do. We were never virtuosos or art school kids. But over time it proved to be the only option for us.

Do you feel like a “new band” still? Has knowing each other and even working on this project for a long time made touring and performing and working together easier or more difficult?

We do feel like a new project. We are a new project. Lewis Del Mar was a huge turning point in our identities and understandings of what we wanted to achieve. We self-recorded this entire album in our bedrooms while we were working shit jobs in the city, and when we uploaded our music to the internet last summer we were the only ones that had heard it. It definitely felt like a fresh start.

At the same time, we acknowledge that the success we’ve enjoyed in a fairly short amount of time is largely due to the fact that Lewis Del Mar was built on the mistakes and failures of our past experience. Past and present are fluid in that sense. And the fact that we’ve been trying to make this work for years has afforded us a lot of opportunities to develop sustainable and efficient ways of doing things. We are extremely grateful for that. Still, each day this project grows we find ourselves in newer and increasingly unfamiliar territory. The two of us are the only constants, and in that sense our friendship is extremely beneficial in keeping things in perspective.

IMG_3323

I think it’s hard to gauge how you feel about the Internet… You talk about Twitter in Loud(y) and you found your first success on Hype Machine and other sites but never really seemed focused on promoting yourself online. Has the Internet been a blessing or a curse for you?

You’d be hard pressed to pinpoint a relevant new artist that doesn’t owe a good portion of their success to the internet. It’s how the vast majority of information is disseminated nowadays. It also provides very tangible metrics that the industry uses to determine whether they want to invest in a band or not. For instance, when “Loud(y)” reached the top of the Hype Machine chart we were contacted by managers, booking agents, publishers, and labels from all corners. Much of that initial interest translated into permanent team members that have helped us to get this project off the ground. So, thank you, internet.

All that being said, the two of us aren’t really blog kids either. We’ve never dressed on trend or spent time chasing the cultures that spawn on social media. Until this project launched neither of us had instagram. We were sort of anti-that which is narrow-minded in the sense that there are so many relevant subcultures that exist only on those mediums that you are blind to when you don’t engage with them. As artists that generate pop culture it almost feels irresponsible not to inform yourself. But, the truth is that it was never at the basis of our art.

At the basis of our art was being in a band with our friends. At the basis of our art was being literature nerds and traveling a lot. It’s still that way for us. So, while we engage with the internet as a means of spreading awareness about the project and educating ourselves, it will never be something that defines us. Nor do we want it to be.

You’ve said you’re excited to see Radiohead at festivals your playing. Any other sets you’re trying to catch?

Always. We just caught Father John Misty yesterday and it was the best show we’ve seen this year. Joey Purp plays the same day as us at Lollapalooza and we’ll definitely see him. We’re also playing a couple festivals with Hiatus Kaiyote this summer and really want to see that set. Lastly, we’ll certainly be making it to at least one of the stops on this Digable Planets reunion tour.

Brian Benton

Brian is the founder and editor of Respect Your Youngers. He currently lives in New York City, and previously lived in St. Louis and San Francisco. He enjoys public transportation and coffee, and can be found online at brianfbenton.com

Interview: Lewis Del Mar On Meeting in Fourth Grade, Playing Festivals and The Internet

You’ve probably heard the name Lewis Del Mar, or at least seen it on a festival bill, but Lewis Del Mar isn’t actually a person. Rather, it’s a play off the fact that their father’s share the name Lewis, they have family in Del Mar, California, and roots in Spanish-speaking countries (‘del mar’ means ‘from the sea’).

Lewis Del Mar is singer and guitarist Danny Miller and drummer and producer Max Harwood, perhaps best known for their trippy, folky single “Loud(y).” The duo met as kids but just recently gained buzz for a series of songs they wrote while living together in Rockaway Beach, New York. Now, after releasing a series of additional singles (they often first gain traction on Soundcloud and Hype Machine) the band is making the rounds on the festival circuit. We caught up with them at MoPop in Detroit, but they’ll also be at Outside Lands in San Francisco, Bumbershoot in Seattle, Reading and Leeds in the UK, and back home in Queens at The Meadows. A full list of dates is available here.

You met when you were kids, and this isn’t your first project together. Were you always interested in making music? Is that what brought you together to start with?
When we met in fourth grade we bonded over a mutual desire to cause shit. Before we ever picked up instruments we were getting into unfathomable amounts of trouble together. So, we’d known each other for a couple years before we ever started playing. The first time was in Max’s basement, jamming on a sloppy cover of “Sleep Now In The Fire” by Rage Against The Machine.

We lived at punk and ska shows for a long time, fan-girling over lead singers and writing letters to bands. That led us to start writing our own songs. And that led to us forming a group in high school that went on to tour for a couple of years. We were in a station wagon, just mapping our way around the country and sleeping on our friends’ floors. At the time, it felt like a major accomplishment anytime we played in front of more than three people. It was a low point, but it didn’t really feel that way while we were doing it.

lewis1

You find that when you cross that threshold, where being at the bottom doesn’t bother you because your pursuit has become inextricably intertwined with your identity, the decision over what you’re going to do for the rest of your life sort of makes itself.

So, no. Music wasn’t something we always knew we wanted to do. We were never virtuosos or art school kids. But over time it proved to be the only option for us.

Do you feel like a “new band” still? Has knowing each other and even working on this project for a long time made touring and performing and working together easier or more difficult?

We do feel like a new project. We are a new project. Lewis Del Mar was a huge turning point in our identities and understandings of what we wanted to achieve. We self-recorded this entire album in our bedrooms while we were working shit jobs in the city, and when we uploaded our music to the internet last summer we were the only ones that had heard it. It definitely felt like a fresh start.

At the same time, we acknowledge that the success we’ve enjoyed in a fairly short amount of time is largely due to the fact that Lewis Del Mar was built on the mistakes and failures of our past experience. Past and present are fluid in that sense. And the fact that we’ve been trying to make this work for years has afforded us a lot of opportunities to develop sustainable and efficient ways of doing things. We are extremely grateful for that. Still, each day this project grows we find ourselves in newer and increasingly unfamiliar territory. The two of us are the only constants, and in that sense our friendship is extremely beneficial in keeping things in perspective.

IMG_3323

I think it’s hard to gauge how you feel about the Internet… You talk about Twitter in Loud(y) and you found your first success on Hype Machine and other sites but never really seemed focused on promoting yourself online. Has the Internet been a blessing or a curse for you?

You’d be hard pressed to pinpoint a relevant new artist that doesn’t owe a good portion of their success to the internet. It’s how the vast majority of information is disseminated nowadays. It also provides very tangible metrics that the industry uses to determine whether they want to invest in a band or not. For instance, when “Loud(y)” reached the top of the Hype Machine chart we were contacted by managers, booking agents, publishers, and labels from all corners. Much of that initial interest translated into permanent team members that have helped us to get this project off the ground. So, thank you, internet.

All that being said, the two of us aren’t really blog kids either. We’ve never dressed on trend or spent time chasing the cultures that spawn on social media. Until this project launched neither of us had instagram. We were sort of anti-that which is narrow-minded in the sense that there are so many relevant subcultures that exist only on those mediums that you are blind to when you don’t engage with them. As artists that generate pop culture it almost feels irresponsible not to inform yourself. But, the truth is that it was never at the basis of our art.

At the basis of our art was being in a band with our friends. At the basis of our art was being literature nerds and traveling a lot. It’s still that way for us. So, while we engage with the internet as a means of spreading awareness about the project and educating ourselves, it will never be something that defines us. Nor do we want it to be.

You’ve said you’re excited to see Radiohead at festivals your playing. Any other sets you’re trying to catch?

Always. We just caught Father John Misty yesterday and it was the best show we’ve seen this year. Joey Purp plays the same day as us at Lollapalooza and we’ll definitely see him. We’re also playing a couple festivals with Hiatus Kaiyote this summer and really want to see that set. Lastly, we’ll certainly be making it to at least one of the stops on this Digable Planets reunion tour.

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