Emerge Music + Impact Conference is created and produced by ABP Media’s parent company, A Beautiful Perspective. Leading up to the conference, we’re featuring some of the musicians and speakers who’ll be performing in Las Vegas November 16-18. Check out the lineup and purchase tickets here.
Pigeonhole Los Angeles quartet The Regrettes at your peril. The band’s debut full-length, Feel Your Feelings Fool!, is a dizzying, fuzzed-out cyclone of raucous punk, kicky garage-pop, rockabilly riots and ’60s girl-group harmonizing.
Frontwoman Lydia Night in particular is a force of nature who asserts her truth in smart, honest ways. On standout “A Living Human Girl,” the 16-year-old ticks off imperfections—greasy hair, stretch marks—and proudly admits to having vacillating moods, all with the goal of asserting that women don’t need to always possess (or put forth) a flawless veneer.
The members of The Regrettes first met about four years ago, while taking classes at a Los Angeles School of Rock location. They weren’t super close then, Night says—until the musicians reconnected at a show while playing in different bands “When I wanted to start a new project, a new band, it was perfect timing and a perfect fit,” she says.
Although Feel Your Feelings Fool! was released in January, she hints that there might be something new from the band coming in the fall, in advance of an East Coast tour with SWMRS and the Interrupters. After that? Night isn’t sure, beyond continued promotion of Feel Your Feelings Fool! and (eventually) recording a second album.
ABP caught up with the LA teen while she was hanging at her best friend’s house to talk musical roots and what drives her to be so outspoken.
What made you want to get into music originally? Were there any albums or artists that really spurred you on?
My dad used to own a nightclub in New Orleans when I was really, really little, like a toddler. My favorite band at the time was the Ramones. I would always soundcheck earlier in the night before the band got there. I would go on stage and just sing different Ramones songs.
And then I was always putting on little shows for my parents and my family. There are so many videos of me mimicking Shirley Temple and all of these different things. Then when I was five, my dad took me to a Donnas concert, and that’s what really pushed it. From there on, I knew that’s exactly what I needed to be doing.
How old were you when you started lessons?
For my sixth birthday, I started taking guitar lessons. My guitar teacher was very big on songwriting, and taught me how to play guitar through doing that.
As a band, The Regrettes have really gelled and taken off fast. The song of yours I think a lot of people gravitate toward is “A Living Human Girl. When I heard it, I was immediately like, “I totally relate to that.” Why is that song important to you?
Because it’s talking about something that isn’t really talked about, at least musically. And, in general, not enough. And I knew now all of a sudden we have this platform, because we signed with Warner Bros. I want to use it to help people feel good about themselves, and that makes me feel better about myself. That’s why it’s really important.
I was such an insecure teenager and worried about how I looked and my weight. But there wasn’t really anyone talking about, “Hey, this is okay. You’re not alone. You’re not a weirdo.”
Totally. And there are so many things that girls are scared to talk about because they think it’s gross, or they don’t think other people can actually relate to [it]. But that’s just not true. Everyone’s going through really similar things.
I read the article that you wrote on Cuepoint, “Finding My Strength to Conquer Body Insecurity,” and I think that touches on some of the same things as well. In the process of doing that essay, what did you learn about yourself? What did it mean to you to be able to write that?
I don’t think I could have written that at any other point in my life, because I wouldn’t be ready to, and not confident enough to do that. For me, that article is important because it wasn’t from a viewpoint of, like, “Hey, look, I’m this super-confident, perfect person who doesn’t worry about any of these things.” It was from a very real and honest place of, “I used to think about these things, now I think this. It’s constantly going to be something that I struggle with, but these are the ways it’s getting better.”
That last aspect is important too: It’s a process, and nothing is forever. And that’s also just so hard to grasp.
Exactly. Yeah, oh my god, I know. But being okay with those ups and downs, because it used to freak me so much, when one day I would feel so good in my skin, and so good looking in the mirror, and then the next day I would wake up and feel a little bloated. It would seriously fuck up my entire day. That stuff can really fuck with you. And what should be so silly and stupid turns into something that really just takes over.
Has that been difficult to reconcile, because you are in a band and you guys have had a higher profile recently? How have you been able to reconcile that? I mean, I work at home, so if I wake up and look and feel like shit, I can stay at home in yoga pants.
It used to be really, really hard for me to wake up and, if I was feeling gross that day, have to go and do press. What I wear, and looking how I want to look, is always something that’s important to me. I want to have everyone else know that I care about where I am. And I feel like that’s a way to show that I care, and I’m not waking up, putting on sweats and going.
But now my viewpoint has kind of changed, because I don’t do things to please others anymore. Now if we do press, and I’m having a day where I just am not feeling too great, I’ll put on a T-shirt and jeans. I think it’s important for me to represent all the different sides of myself.
That’s so true. You look at people on Instagram, or online, and they look perfect, or their lives look amazing, but …
They’ll always have full face makeup that their makeup artist did. It’s crazy to me when I see celebrities out in public, and they always are dressed, because they know they’re going to be on camera. I want to see a celebrity who is in their sweatpants leaving the house one day, and doesn’t care.
But when you do see that, [there’s] so much bashing. It’s so ridiculous to me. Like, all of a sudden they’re having a breakdown if they leave the house in sweatpants.
What’s been the most unexpected or surprising thing that’s come along as the band has gained momentum this year?
We’re going to Europe and the U.K. with SWMRS next month, and I really didn’t think that was going to happen. That’s a lot to ask from your label to send you out there when you don’t really have a fan base yet out there, or a big one at least. And so I was very happily surprised that happened. We were on Conan, and that was really surprising and amazing.
What was it like being on Conan?
It was really crazy. I’ve never been so nervous. It’s just weird. Trying to be as comfortable as you are onstage in that setting is really difficult, and probably near impossible. It’s really hard.
Before, I was a nervous wreck. I was freaking out: I was shaking, and I was just sitting in this room by myself because I couldn’t deal with it. But besides that, it was amazing. He is so, so nice, and such a cool dude. The food’s great, the environment’s great. There’s a massage chair backstage that helped me calm down. It’s great.
What I think I like best about Feel Your Feelings Fool! is that it distills so many different styles, but in really interesting ways. When you were recording it, what did you guys want to achieve with the music?
The one thing that I can say is we wanted to achieve a live-sounding record—not completely, like, a live album, but we did record everything pretty much live, except for background vocals. We recorded all of my vocals at the same time as we recorded all of the instruments. And I think you can really hear that, and it adds something really interesting. And it was all analog, so it has a very raw kind of feel to it.
But music-wise, like how you were saying it sounds like a bunch of different genres, that just comes from me listening to a million different genres. It was never a planned thing. It was pieced together that way.
Because you’re so outspoken and honest, people are really looking up to you. Do you feel any newfound responsibility toward them?
Social media is a big thing, because it’s really easy to fuck up. It’s really easy to say the wrong thing and to be attacked for it. When people are now watching your every move, it does add a lot of pressure. But I think I’m a smart enough person to be aware of them; I’m not oblivious to that. So that’s one thing.
The other thing is, like I said before, I don’t want people to think that I’m always put together, and that I always have makeup on, that I always dress well. That’s just not realistic. And I don’t want other people to think that they need to do that, ever, especially if there’s a young girl looking up to me or something. I don’t want her to start changing herself.
Idolizing someone is a really crazy thing, and being obsessed with someone is a really crazy thing that I think most of us have experienced in some form or another. And it makes you want to change, and it makes you want to become that person. And if it gets to the point where there are people idolizing us, I at least want us to come off as normal, where they don’t have to change anything.
It’s like you guys aren’t on a pedestal or anything.
Yeah, exactly. Because we shouldn’t be. No.