AN INTERVIEW WITH NIGHT SCHOOL
Night School will bring you straight back to the shaky hands and flushed cheeks of flirting with your highschool crush. Lush and lovesick, the Oakland based band sounds like The Shangri-La’s gone shoegaze. The perfect soundtrack for sleepovers and painting your nails, their most recent release, Blush, drenches 60’s style sugar-pop in an ethereal fuzz. From the heart melting acoustic track “Teen Feelings” to the nostalgia of “City Kiss,” the whole album is entranced in a romantic haze. I had the opportunity to talk to Alexandra (guitar/vocals) and Cheyenne (guitar/vocals) about Graveface records, friendship, and growing up on The Shirelles…
CHEY: True Love Kills the Fairytale - The Casket Girls
LEXY: Same as Chey
RECORD FROM CHILDHOOD?
C: Appetite for Destruction- Guns N Roses lol
L: Little Earthquakes - Tori Amos
C: Star - Belly
L: Diary - Sunny Day Real Estate
WHO ARE YOU OUTSIDE OF THE BAND!
C: I’m a bartender and a barista studying holistic nutrition. My favorite pastime is grocery shopping.
L: I’m currently studying to be a middle school English teacher. I’m doing a teaching residency while I go to school to get my teaching credential and masters in education. I’m also the mom of a middle schooler haha. So my life is filled with pre-teens at the moment.
YOU’VE MANAGED TO CREATE A REALLY UNIQUE BLEND OF ROUGHER GARAGE ROCK AND SOFTER SHOEGAZE/DOO-WOP ELEMENTS. WHAT ELEMENTS FROM EACH GENRE DO YOU REALLY LOVE? WHERE DO THOSE INDIVIDUAL SIDES COME FROM?
L: I love the multi part harmonies that a lot of doo-wop music has, also the chord progressions. I just like loud guitars when it comes to shoegaze haha.
C: I’m drawn to the slow and sad vocal melodies of shoegaze and the doo-wop music is always fun even when its about someone being cheated on a million times.
YOU CITE TONES OF 60’S GIRL GROUPS LIKE THE RONETTES, THE CRYSTALS, THE SHANGRI-LAS. WHAT IS IT ABOUT THAT STYLE/TIME PERIOD THAT REALLY DRAWS YOU TO THEM? WERE YOU RAISED ON THAT KIND OF MUSIC?
L: I was raised with a lot of those bands. My mom and my aunt were always listening to all of that music. My cousin’s middle name is actually Shirelle (after The Shirelles) and I’m jealous because I wish it was my middle name haha. It just brings me back to my childhood and singing along to songs like “My Boyfriend’s Back” and “Foolish Little Girl.” I think listening to (and singing to) those bands is part of what shaped my love of singing.
C: I owe my interest in this genre all to Lexy and Baylie. I was raised on hair metal.
YOU’VE ALSO SAID THAT YOU LOVE THE NOSTALGIA OF THOSE 60’S GROUPS. WHAT TYPE OF NOSTALGIA ARE YOU TRYING TO EXPRESS? IS IT FOR ANOTHER TIME/PLACE? DOES BLUSH FEEL NOSTALGIC?
L: I suppose, in part, I meant that as a personal nostalgia for my childhood. I also think the sound of the 60’s just brings people back to a time in history when things felt more carefree and innocent. I don’t know if Blush feels nostalgic for me, I would hope that it evokes those kinds of feelings in others though.
WHAT WAS GOING ON IN YOUR LIVES WHEN YOU MADE BLUSH? IT’S BEEN ABOUT 2 YEARS SINCE IT CAME OUT. LOOKING BACK ON IT WHAT HAS THAT ALBUM COME TO REPRESENT TO YOU GUYS?
L: I was going to school at the time studying psychology for my undergrad. I was happy and busy and in the beginning stages of a relationship which helped with inspiration for some of the more personal love songs.
C: My life was really boring at that time outside of recording, practicing, and playing shows, and contrasting with Lexy, I was at the ending stages of a relationship so all my good energy was put into the band. Recording Blush was the best part of my days.
WHAT’S IT LIKE WRITING THOSE REALLY EMOTIONAL LOVE SONGS? WHAT’S THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE IN BEING THAT HONEST? FOR EXAMPLE HOW DID YOU WRITE “CITY KISS?”
L: “City Kiss” is actually one of the few songs on the record that is a direct inspiration from my personal life. A lot of the songs are from interactions I’ve seen with others or drawn from experiences I’ve had in the past with people. “City Kiss” however, is just a plain old sappy love song I wrote while my boyfriend was living in Philadelphia and I would fly out to see him as often as I could. I think a lot of the emotions of that song are drawn from the loneliness of being away from someone you love and the excitement and anticipation of finally getting to see them. It can be difficult to be so personal and honest in songwriting, but I think it’s important anyway.
“CASSANOVA” AND “LAST DISASTER” DEAL WITH LOVE IN A DIFFERENT WAY. WHAT INSPIRED THOSE SONGS? EVEN WHEN YOU’RE WRITING ABOUT THE MESSIER SIDE OF LOVE, YOU STILL MAKE IT SOUND SWEET. HOW DO YOU DO THAT?
L: The sweet sound and sad lyrics were definitely intentional with “Last Disaster.” I just like that kind of contrast in songwriting. The song is just an exploration of how badly people can treat each other and the dark side of being in love. I was studying psychology at the time so I think some of the inspiration came from studying personality disorders haha.
YOU END THE ALBUM WITH “PINK” WHICH IS ALL INSTRUMENTAL AND A LITTLE MORE EXPERIMENTAL. WHY DID YOU DECIDE TO DO THAT? WHERE DID THAT SONG COME FROM?
L: I wanted to include a piano song because piano was the first instrument I learned as a kid and I love to write piano songs. I wasn’t sure how a full band piano song would fit into the record so I decided to include a piano ending. Some of the inspiration on that came from the ending song of the Cardigans record Gran Turismo. It’s a creepy, distorted sounded, and a really pretty piano song.
NIGHT SCHOOL FORMED OVER EATING ORANGES IN THE PARK AND YOU PENNED “HEARTBEAT” WHILE YOU WERE HANGING OUT AND PAINTING YOUR TOENAILS. WHAT ARE THOSE LITTLE MOMENTS THAT YOU FEEL NIGHT SCHOOL EMBODIES? WHAT KIND OF MOMENTS DO YOU IMAGINE YOUR MUSIC PLAYING IN THE BACKGROUND OF?
L: I’d like to imagine Night School playing in the background of a summer pool party or something like that. Cheesy as it sounds, I think the music sounds summery and carefree. I think a lot of the little moments that make up Night School are just us goofing around being as ridiculous as possible trying to make each other laugh.
STORY THAT EMBODIES WHO NIGHT SCHOOL IS AS A BAND?
L: There was one time when we had a show coming up but hadn’t seen each other in weeks or practiced in a while. We all got to practice, went over the set once, then decided we’d rather just hang out than practice. We’re all about having fun and hanging out really. The music is secondary to the friendship.