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G#’s Musical Radar: Local Natives talks about mixing politics and music

Vocalist Kelcey Ayer said the band’s latest album “stands as a symbol of hope for change and a better future.”

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With its 2010 debut record, Gorilla Manor, Local Natives established itself as an up-and-coming indie rock band that fans should know. Two albums later, the indie rock quintet from Los Angeles released its LP, Sunlit Youth, in 2016. The album is more experimental in terms of music and more political in terms of lyrical content.

Vocalist Kelcey Ayer said that the group needed to make a statement about the modern political climate. He said that the band’s previous two records were more introspective and personal, and that’s how Sunlit Youth differentiates itself from the other records.

“I think it’s just kind of a combination of us becoming more confident and comfortable in our own skin,” Ayer said. “It’s our third record, and we’re starting to put less importance on our own personal problems.”

Ayer said that because everyone in the band is starting to enter their 30s, he believes it’s difficult to ignore what’s going on in politics. He said that aging is a process that fosters a greater sense of awareness.

Ayer thinks more artists are going to infuse politics into their music in the President Trump era. He finds it hard to think about anything but the current political state and said more artists will feel the need to express their opinions through music.

“I think [the election of Trump] is going to awaken a mass of artists and creative people to express their frustrations and their sadness and their passion,” Ayer said. “I think we’re just going to get a ton of stuff coming out.”

Not only is Sunlit Youth far more political than Local Natives’ previous LPs, but the creative process behind it was also different. Ayer said that with this record, the band members had more time to focus on writing individually.

Ayer said he and vocalist Taylor Rice would write songs in their own time and then show them to the rest of the band later. This is unlike the writing process for Gorilla Manor and Hummingbird, which were written collectively with all band members present. The band also wrote more songs for this record.

“Before, we would write 15 songs for a 12-song album and there would be like eight months of banging our heads against the wall trying to write something in the room,” Ayer said. “But this time we wrote around 50 songs, and it was really easy to be able to choose what people were into.”

Out of the 50 songs the band wrote for the album, 12 made the final cut. Ayer’s personal favorite, “Everything All at Once,” was almost cut from the final tracklist. He said that it’s a song he brought to the band and insisted that it be on the record.

Overall, Ayer said Sunlit Youth stands as a symbol of hope for change and a better future.

“The fight is never over,” Ayer said. “It’s an ongoing thing where we just keep moving the needle little by little, but I think as long as we’re moving, then we’re succeeding.”

Local Natives will perform with Little Scream at The Blue Note tomorrow to promote its latest record.

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