Badass Band 115: Nightjacket


Photo Credit: Diego Miranda

By Contributing Badass: Chris Camargo 

If Nicholas Winding Refin was making Drive in 2016 he would be hard-pressed to find a better song for when Carey Mulligan looks at Ryan Gosling in her subtle, tragic, and lovelorn way than “Never Gone to Give My Love Away” off of Nightjacket’s Eternal Phase EP.

Nightjacket, an LA band of varying and defying description that converges on words like spacey, ethereal, dynamic, dreamy, or like a mild trip where you can taste sound, recently released their latest piece of music majesty, a cover of Echo and the Bunnymen’s Killer Moon.

I recently sat down with lead singer, Holland Belle, and guitarist, Jordan Wiggins. We met at Broome Street General store located on the other side of the freeway from the backyard party in Atwater Village where Jordan once heard Holland play a solo set and the story of Nightjacket began.

At this point I willfully abandon all objectivity and journalistic professionalism. I’m a fan of Holland Belle. Like Jordan, I first heard her sing a solo acoustic set before being told that she was the lead singer for Nightjacket, and thought all the beautiful words associated with music and finally settled on salubrious. Her voice is that amazing.

Although, in the end, it was Jordan who was the driving force behind putting the band together and much of Eternal Phase. The EP feels like two things that would be just fine separately were mixed together to make something great. “There is a mixing of the light and dark elements. The poppy, hook-based sound that is bright and fun and the darker mysterious and moody element,” said Holland. “And a lot of reverb,” added Jordan. It harmonizes and intertwines perfectly. But what really separates the EP is the influence of folk music’s ability to tell stories. Where other groups would let the synth and layer upon layer of guitar do the heavy lifting while drowning out the vocals, Nightjacket uses their innovative sound and eagerness for experimentation to bolster their lead singer’s voice, and in so doing showcase their evocative lyrics which reveal the heart of their musical experience. Nightjacket truly tell stories and weave them into the listeners’ life experience. “The Right Way to Fall”, takes Holland’s inspired voice and mixes it with their trademark dreamy sound. It is a combination of stunning musical landscapes, sonorous vocals, and the detailed stories of the folk tradition that finishes in a dream pop wonder.

That their EP was done without any major – or minor – label/corporate support is all the more amazing. I felt confident that the answer to the how the first EP was made was going to involve some form of transforming a bedroom or shower into a recording studio, but I still had some doubt that maybe they spent money that they didn’t have to make the record as intricate and layered as the final product is. It sounds like someone spent a lot of money on it. Whatever the mix of technology, necessity, and talent that was used, the end result is a beautiful piece of music. This is the work of seriously talented musicians, not just people that play music, but musicians. People that take the craft seriously. This was just the beginning, the feeling of their next EP, which they hope to have out by Spring 2017, will be much more of a group dynamic/effort though still working through and exploring their current sound.

You only get so many shots to make your mark and Nightjacket made theirs with spectacular precision. However, they have no intention of standing still. The one sentiment that they kept bringing up was the need to experiment, which they’ve been doing with the new EP being recorded in Studio City with Adam Lasus, to Holland’s solo adventure away from folk music and toward electronic. Sitting with them it gave me the feeling of people who want to truly encompass the full spectrum of music. They have the souls of musicians who would like nothing better than to get lost for a while and create things far from the expectations of others.

It would seem that one of the few benefits to being left alone by the big music machine is that artists can be artists. They can take risks and record records the way they want them to sound. It is one thing for me to find it difficult to place Nightjacket in a particular category or genre of music, but when the band doesn’t quite know where they fit, there is a freedom being sought, a sound being developed that is all around a good thing for the art of music. It’s the duality of being an artist. You create in private hoping to do something you’ll be proud of and represent whatever feeling or truth is inside of you. While at the same time, you want others to feel something for about it as well.

Although, on second thought, UMG please send someone from Capitol Records to give them a bunch of money and let them make music. I promise they’ll be worth it. I’ll owe you. Don’t worry that I have a higher IQ than credit score, I’m good for it. So go ahead and put some of that unholy Bieber money to good use. Give them money and leave them alone. They know what they’re doing.

Regardless of label interest, the band is poised to keep on. They are considering kicking off the release of the second EP with a European tour sometime next year. This release will be worth the wait. However, should tragedy strike and Nightjacket not do anything else, should they all go off on their separate ways in music, Eternal Phase should be one of those things that marks an era in LA music, one of those rare things that can live on its own. One of those records that back in the era of records and CDs, would prove your legitimacy as a audiophile. It is beautiful. Go find it.

Find Nightjacket here: 




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