By Brooke Magalis
Dark Waves is a relatively new project given life by Santa Barbara native, Nick Long. His music is a force to be reckoned with; it’s filled with lyrics written by a recently broken heart and contains many layers of intricately designed electronics meshed with guitar. The soundscapes are vast, with contemplative synths with anxious, but controlled drum beats.
Long got his start in punk bands prior to starting his latest project. His new sound partially stemmed from necessity. Long has a proclivity for late-night writing, and reflective synths capture the mood of the city at night.
Long is currently in the studio working on new material since coming off the Brutal Romantic tour. You can catch him in the UK in May.
Hey there. First off, I’m Brooke Magalis, one of the writers at Black on the Canvas. Thanks for taking a second to chat with me. I really appreciate it.
Dark Waves: Hey Brooke… thanks for having me.
So, let’s get to it.
You just wrapped up the Brutal Romantic tour with Brooke Fraser. How was that? Your music led me to hers, and it sounds like you all would have incredibly overlapping fan bases. What was the vibe like when you all were up there playing?
Dark Waves: The vibe was great. I think our music is similar enough that we complimented each other but not so similar that the shows felt monotonous. Her fans were awesome and really receptive.
I’ve read that you started in the punk arena (correct me if I’m wrong). Your Dark Waves project captures a really electronic soundscape; it’s incredibly atmospheric. It seems like you’ve completely broken away from punk. What prompted such a drastic sonic shift?
Dark Waves: I lived alone for the first couple years I was in LA and got into the habit of staying up all night working on music. The city just feels more still late at night, and I feel like I have it to myself. It’s a great time to write for me. I started writing more Dark Waves type stuff during that time. It just happened naturally. I love punk rock and I always will. I think there will always be some punk spirit in my music.
Along similar lines, what made you start this project? It’s not your first musical effort. What makes this one different?
Dark Waves: My last band had fallen apart, and I had just gone through a breakup. I was spending a lot of time alone writing music and started recording some stuff with my friend Yeti Beats at his studio in Echo Park in LA. I didn’t really have a plan, but I was really inspired and just kept writing. I felt like I was evolving a lot as a writer and finding a new sound. I grew up playing in bands and the whole process of Dark Waves has been a new one for me because I’m the only consistent element of the project. It has been challenging but also really inspiring to do something new.
Can you walk me through your writing process? What goes into making a Dark a Waves song?
Dark Waves: My process varies. I record a ton of ideas on my phone as they come. I also write a lot in the studio. Most of the stuff I do now is produced by my friend Tommy English and we write a lot together as we’re recording. I usually start with melody and music and then a lyric idea and build from there.
I’ve found muse strikes artists at particular times. Do you prefer to write during the day or late at night? Or are you a musician who is always writing?
Dark Waves: I am always writing. Constantly getting out of bed at night to record an idea on my phone or write down some lines. If only I could record my thoughts as I’m falling asleep. I mentioned before that I love writing late at night because the city feels still, the earth feels quiet. I also love writing in the morning because the whole day is ahead of me and I feel more alert. It’s just a different feeling to write during the day versus late at night. Each is special in its own way.
What’s next for Dark Waves?
Dark Waves: I’m in the studio working on my full length and playing shows. I’m going to the UK in May to play a bunch of shows and then I have some festivals this summer. I’m just really excited to put out more music and play as much as possible.
And a little rapid fire just to wrap things up–
Touring or in the studio:
Dark Waves: Studio
Favorite city to play for:
Dark Waves: Toronto
Dark Waves: Santa Barbara Bowl
Best genre of music:
Dark Waves: Whatever makes you feel alive