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Starting Off with Nation of Language

Brooklyn new wave-inspired act Nation of Language have been playing heavily around new york circuit for the last couple of years amassing a reputation and a following for their propulsive, electrifying songwriting. With only a smattering of singles to their name, they are poised to be one of brooklyn’s best new break out acts

The band will playing with Holy Ghost! 1/24 at Elsewhere. Ahead of the show, the band took the time to answer a few of our questions.

What setting is the most conducive to writing new Nation of Language music?

I only ever write in my own apartment at my desk – but the best time to do it is definitely late at night. I’d like to imagine the setting most conducive is an elegant Parisian apartment or some German industrial space but I’ll just never know.

In looking through the coverage of you music online, it seems the most frequent genre descriptor for band is “new wave.” What do you make of that? Is the 80’s new wave era one of the band’s chief inspirations?

It’s definitely an influence, and probably the genre I would most closely associate our current songs with – bands like OMD and the Human League were really important to me when I first started writing songs for this project years ago. Aside from that, to get inspired I listen to a lot of krautrock, post-punk, and shoegaze records.

So far, you’ve released a string of one-off singles. What’s gone into the decision to not release a full-length? Will the singles you’ve released recently have a presence on a future full-length?

I think even if we had had the money to record more than a few songs at a time at the beginning, it was important to not just release them all together – when we started putting these songs out, there was really no audience waiting for them. I’m no good at self promotion or social media, so the entirety of the promotion for the album basically would have amounted to one social media post that no one would have seen. Breaking it up into singles allowed us to establish momentum and slowly grow our fanbase through our live show so more and more people were paying attention each time we put a new song out.
We’ve been recording a handful of songs that will become a full length, funded primarily thanks to the money we were gifted from our family and friends when Aidan (our synth player) and I got married this summer. The plan right now is to include the singles we’ve released as a part of it. Some of the songs have been out for a while, but they’ve been heard by relatively few people, so it seemed right that they would have their place on the first album.

On January 24th, you’re playing with Holy Ghost! At Elsewhere. Can you speak a bit to the influence of their music on yours? Do you make an effort to alter your live show at all depending on the other acts you’re playing with?

They’re definitely influential for us – not only do they write great songs, but they actually had a studio connected to the studio where we record so we’ve gotten to peer into their world and their insane synth collection and just kind of exist in the same creative space which was very cool.
I don’t make a conscious effort to change our live show to work with other acts, but the vibe of the evening can definitely influence how I’m going to perform – playing with Holy Ghost! at Elsewhere will probably draw different things out of me than I would get from playing a basement show with noise bands.

What feelings were you channeling on your latest track, “Reality”?

Reality is all about mundane existence and the ways we turn to technology and the internet either to make our life exciting or to make our life seem exciting to other people to feel validated. In the case of this song it’s mostly the latter. The protagonist has designed their own world to which they can retreat at the end of the day and so they travel through real life completely tuned out. It’s presented without real judgement – at some point, the weight of not having much money, or a job you care about, or significant relationships – it can pile up. I think people need to feel like they control something good in their lives, and the way people see you on the internet or the hyper-specific communities you can join are relatively easy ways to find that sense of identity and influence over your own existence.

Interview by Joseph Gershony

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