Honesty, an open mind, and big dreams: When cousins Jonathan Capeci and Joey Beretta began a series of songwriting sessions in Los Angeles in late 2015, they had no agenda. The two remaining members of Dinner and a Suit had recently decided to dissolve their former band, but what that meant for their futures, they could not say.
A ‘clean break’ is far easier said than done, but Capeci and Beretta took advantage of their newfound freedom, embracing the mentality to “just have fun [and] do whatever we want.” For vocalist/lyricist Capeci, that meant approaching each song with honesty and authenticity. Playing off that mentality, Beretta broke away from his typical guitar styles, searching for sounds and chord progressions that could best complement his cousin’s evocative words.
The pair returned home with a renewed vigor, and soon after, Nightly was born. Night, love you; “It’s like something you would text to somebody,” describes Capeci. Everything about Nightly invokes the personal and intimate – from the band’s social media posts to the way they walk, talk, and dress – but nowhere is this more powerful than in the music itself.
You say you want it all
I feel it half the time
I’m still trying to find myself
You make me lose my mind
I can’t focus when you’re with me
I can’t sleep when I’m alone
In this half life that I’m living
I love you but I gotta let go, XO
The opening lyrics to Nightly’s debut single “XO” are a complete surrender of self. The band captures internal conflict in a humbling with-or-without-you confessional that has to-date garnered over 3.7 million Spotify streams. Having signed to Interscope and released their debut EP in late October 2016, the band credit their early successes to their dedication to keeping things genuine and sincere.
Put simply, it’s no coincidence that Nightly’s EP is called Honest. There’s an allure to music that comes straight from the heart, and Nightly embody that sentiment. A definite artist to watch in 2017, Nightly are already confirmed to perform at Bonnaroo 2017 this summer, and are likely to spend the majority of the year touring throughout North America. You can catch Nightly on tour this spring supporting Kesha and The Struts (full tour dates at end of article)!
Nightly and their Honest EP are not to be slept on. The band delivers a fresh, pulsing vibe that is best described by Jonathan Capeci’s own vivid illustration:
“On Friday nights, we would go to the Jersey shore. A lot of our friends had beach houses during the summer that they would rent, so we would drive. That drive, at like 8 PM on a Friday night, when the sun’s set, near dark, and the windows down and you can smell the salt air… We would just vibe out to music, whatever it was. If I could be the music that kids vibe out to…”
Get to know Nightly through Atwood Magazine’s exclusive interview, and stay tuned for more from this promising 2017 artist to watch!
Honest – Nightly
A CONVERSATION WITH NIGHTLY
Atwood Magazine: So, I knew you guys as Dinner and a Suit. What happened over the past two years?
Joey Beretta: That’s a loaded question!
Jonathan Capeci: No, I mean we did Dinner and a Suit for a while…
Jonathan: Yeah, I mean that was kind of our first – well, technically our second band together – there’s one that nobody knows about, thank god.
What was it called?
Jonathan: We didn’t have any recordings, so you can’t find anything. But Dinner and a Suit, we did that for a long time and we had a lot of member changes and stuff. One of our other best friends was in Dinner and a Suit. He decided to move on, and we’re still super close with him… but at that point it felt like one of the main members was gone, so it just felt weird to continue on as that. I think we had also matured and evolved in our songwriting and what we wanted to accomplish and how we wanted to present ourselves, so we went through a short period of what do we want to do, you know? We decided to rebrand and give this thing a proper, fresh start. I think a lot of times, when you have something that’s been around forever, you have the baggage and the catalog. Like, we didn’t want to be playing stuff from 2008 in 2016. So it wasn’t any bad thing that happened; to be really honest, when that ended, Joe and I were a little bit like, what do we want to do man? We had this trip to LA booked as a writing trip, and we were like, maybe we’ll just write songs and pitch them to somebody else…
Joey: Or like, maybe we won’t go!
It's sort of one of those different internal questions, is this it?
Jonathan: Yeah, so we went out there and we were like, let’s just have fun, do whatever we want while we’re out there, and we had these four or five demos at the end of that, that we loved. We were just like, well we have to do something with these, and that was the birthplace of our act. That’s where it started – long answer, but –
No, as distinct as Nightly's music is, I can hear the influence of the past several years. It's evident - you didn't say goodbye to it completely; you evolved.
Jonathan: Right, I mean it’s still me singing and him playing guitar; it’s just a little bit different. Towards the end of Dinner and a Suit, we did our last EP live to tape, essentially – which, I don’t think a lot of people know that – and that’s clearly not the vibe that we have going right now.
Joey: Honestly this was the first time that we didn’t try for anything; we were just honest with whatever we wanted to do. I think because of members leaving and us having an open book to do whatever we want, I feel like you can feel that in the music. It was just honest; whatever we wanted to do, whatever we were feeling at the time, is exactly what we did – which is interesting.
Jonathan: And in a way, when you’re a part of a group for a while, you feel these boundaries that aren’t necessarily real, but you feel this pressure to stay true to what you’ve done in the past, and it sometimes can hold you back.
This was the first time that we didn’t try for anything; we were just honest with whatever we wanted to do.
Watch: “XO” (live) – Nightly
So how did you move on and take the fresh opportunity by the horns?
Jonathan: Honestly, it all happened very quickly. The first song we ever wrote and recorded was in October of last year. It’s not on the EP, but of the EP songs, “Talk to Me” and “No Vacancy” were in those first four. Anyway, we went home and started fresh: No management, no nothing. We made a private SoundCloud link, and sent it to two people – one was a booking agent, one was a manager-type dude – and within a month, each song on the private playlist had over 2000 plays, and we started getting hit up by people. This was probably in February, March-ish. And then we were like, we should probably make a band!
Joey: We spent all of January and February building a light show and stuff, programming it all – it was really important to us.
Jonathan: So we just started creating the band. Each step from there was really exponential; we played a show, and we got a booking agent from that show, and then he got us on a radio show in Nashville that started spinning our song, then we released “XO,” and we were thinking if we could get 100,000 plays in a month as a brand new band, that would be insane – just totally independent. It ended up doing really well; within 6 weeks, we got over a million, so at that point we knew it was a real thing. We were able to get some partners like Interscope and our management, who just really believed in what we were doing. That’s sort of the last year, if you will.
It's been very fast.
Jonathan: It has! You know we’ve been doing this for a long time, but this band so far has been really fast. In a way, I feel like it was our undergrad being in other bands; you prepare all this time to learn all this stuff, and now, like, wow, it’s actually working?!
Joey: It still doesn’t seem real, yeah.
You did your time, and you feel like you did your time.
Joey: Absolutely. On paper it may not seem like it – if you’re looking at Nightly, it looks like we just wrote our first song a year ago and then got signed, but… yeah.
It's so funny, a ton of blogs talk about you being fresh and new.
Jonathan: Exactly, and there’s something to be said for, like… We didn’t want to make a big stink about this being an old band that is new; we posted a few vague posts, an email blast, etc, but we didn’t want to harp on it. Let this be a new thing; if people want to come, that’s cool, but we’re not bringing our baggage with us.
Your band name stands for Night, Love You. Where did that name come from?
Jonathan: (A) Everything we wrote about in that October 2015 time was inspired by relationships. We wrote everything in bedrooms and apartments; it was that kind of a vibe, spending time on rooftops looking at the sunset and really just enjoying our time. We wanted it to all have that personal touch, as if any of these songs are like me talking to one person. I feel like the band name is like talking to one person: Night, love you – it’s like something you would text to somebody. (B) The first song we ever wrote is called “Good night,” so that’s sort of tied together. (C) It’s really hard to find band names these days, especially one-word band names. If anything, it feels right with everything we’re doing.
Joey: It all makes sense; it’s cohesive. My mom wanted us to be called J2. I said, “Mom, one of the most massive bands in the world is called U2,” so she said, “Okay, how about J2 squared?”
Jonathan: So it’s four Js? (laughs)
How do you feel about the idea that, to really find success, a band has to be so much more than just a music-making entity these days?
Joey: Oh, 100%!
Jonathan: Yeah, I think there’s two ways you can look at it. You can be sad about it and essentially complain, like oh man, back in the day you could just write a good song and whatever, which is true; I mean, today I’d say that’s still true! Or you can be like, Hey, this is the world we live in now, and move forward; nobody’s going to get anywhere by complaining and bitching that things were better in the old days. If you look at it that way, it’s a negative outlook; for us, we like to look at it with a positive outlook, because there’s so many more modes of expression when it comes to (our) art. Now, we can communicate with people in lots of different ways, whether it’s through our social media, or with lights… We built our own lights and programmed each color, so if we hand-pick a color for the EP, we can integrate that color live. It’s little things like that, utilizing it as as much of an artistic expression as song.
Joey: There’s more music accessible now than ever before. People consume music so much and so differently now; it’s an opportunity to have people hear your stuff. You don’t have to spend $2 million on an album and get the record label to print out a bunch of CDs; you can just meet someone on the street, and tell them to check your band out on Spotify! It’s awesome; I love the current situation that we’re in because there are so many opportunities.
You definitely embrace a less is more aesthetic.
Jonathan: I think that just comes with having done the more
Joey: More is more?
Jonathan: That is a way that I like to communicate, in general.
Joey: Even lyrically, I mean it’s not like there’s a lot. We like to keep it sincere, honest, and to the point – which I feel like is also what we do with our design.
It's difficult to write a modern pop song.
Jonathan: Yeah, I dunno; I’ll let you know (laughs) if we have a successful one.
But you were always writing that way... What do you think about when you're writing a song? How do you go about it?
Jonathan: It depends on the song, for one; I usually start any number of ways, but the best songs we’ve written have been where we come in knowing what we want to say beforehand. For example, we’ve probably written no less than 60-80 songs – granted, not full start-to-finish, but at least started an idea – verse, chorus. Because of the volume, there are so many terrible ones, but the best ones… The example that I talk about is “XO.” I woke up early one morning and was doing my thing in LA, when we were writing, and just had that line, I love you but I gotta let go, so I just came in and sang it, with the XO on the end, and it sort of built from there. I can’t really explain where that came from – I was just trying to see what would come of it, and it just came! I know exactly what this is about; at the time, this was a super-specific relationship, so it was easy to write. There are a lot of other times where I need, like 16 cups of coffee and I have nothing, so we’ll start with a progression or guitar part or sound and try to be inspired. Then you work backwards, which can be difficult. When you’ve created this progression or song, what does it make you feel? or what do you want to say? That’s a little tricky; we’ve gotten a few like that, but I feel like for us, that’s harder. If I come in and say I want to write a song about this, and this is the title –
Joey: Yeah, that’s always best-case scenario. Lyrically, everything is cohesive as well. Like, it doesn’t work if some random person gives us an idea because it’s not real – it’s not something Jon’s experienced, so if he’s singing it, you’re not going to believe it, anyway.
As a songwriter, my iPhone notes pad is filled with ideas.
Jonathan: Yeah, same – and voice memos as well.
Of these four songs you put out, there's sort of a vibe to them all. How do you put words to that vibe?
Jonathan: Honestly, it’s even tied in with the name, you know what I mean? And we’re both very visual… It’s weird, I haven’t told anybody this because I don’t know how to express it, but when we were driving in October around LA, we were driving on this road we didn’t know and I saw this house in Hollywood. It was on a corner in a very residential area. There was a window, and it had Post-It notes in the window in the shape of a heart, and it reminded me of something from my childhood. Actually, one of my sisters had something similar in her window. And just like that nostalgia, of like the young summer love kind of thing, really inspired me in that moment. I think about that a lot, so a lot of our original Instagram photos are like two people, and you see their legs sitting on a rooftop. That’s sort of how my and Joe’s relationships have been; those little snapshots of important moments. That’s a place of inspiration for me to draw from; it’s what’s real to me. Some people want to write about politics, or screw the man. For us, it’s more just like love, and how we’re dealing with love, and how I’m a piece of shit; you know what I mean? All these feelings that you feel as an 18-to-20-something-year-old, since I’ve been writing songs, so… I don’t even remember the original question!
I don't either.
Jonathan: Oh, how do you describe the vibe! When Joe and I first started writing music, I moved in with him and his family when I was maybe 18 or 19, when we dropped out of college –
Joey: Stay in school, kids!
Jonathan: – (laughs) and we would work during the week, and then on Friday nights, ’cause he lived in Jersey and was forty-five minutes from the shore, we would go… A lot of our friends had beach houses during the summer that they would rent, so we would drive. That drive, at like 8 PM on a Friday night, when the sun’s set, near dark, and the windows down and you can smell the salt air… We would just vibe out to music, whatever it was. If I could be the music that kids vibe out to when they’re, like that’s –
- That's Nightly.
Jonathan: Yeah! And that’s hard to put into words because it’s a long-winded explanation, –
but it's an image.
Jonathan: Yep. That’s what I picture, and what we try and write.
If I could be the music that kids vibe out to…
Everything's happened so fast; have you had time to ask yourselves where is this going?
Jonathan: A little bit; I don’t want to overthink it too much, because we can get in our way. We’ve literally just had so much fun the entire life of Nightly. We love writing, we love touring, we love playing live, we love recording, we love our team… As long as we keep doing that. We know when we write something terrible, so as long as we keep that in check. The only little thing that I hold in the back of my head as far as challenging myself is like… right now, it’s a weird time to be a band in 2016/2017. There aren’t that many “bands,” in the classic sense; there are a few that are doing an awesome job, like I’d say The 1975 and a few others, but there’s something super special about The Rolling Stones – the relationship between Keith Richards and Mick Jagger, and Coldplay – the relationship between Jonny Buckland and Chris Martin, and U2, with The Edge and Bono. I often think, what would it be like to be that band just starting now? and keep that as like a North Star, in a way. If there’s any indication of where I would like to go, it would be like, the new classic, as far as that goes – which is aiming very high, but…
Joey: Why not aim high?
Jonathan: That’s kind of what I like to think about.
What was your biggest challenge of this year?
Joey: Honestly, the hardest part for me was the first trip to LA. I wasn’t sure if I even wanted to do it anymore, so that was tough for me to do that. But since then, it’s been about working as hard as we can, because we absolutely love what we ended up with.
Jonathan: And I think being patient during the process when there was buzz and interest. We were super lucky to have the most amazing lawyer, and our booking agent too. You hear nightmare scenarios about people being shelved, so I think just being patient… I think patience, and then figuring out the bullshit. Figuring out who’s real, and who’s just looking at what’s hot at the time. That was kind of a weird process – deciding who to work with.
You told me a little bit about “XO”; what's your favorite aspect of that song?
Jonathan: I think the simplicity. It’s so dumb, but like, I think it’s so hard to strike that simple, but not dumb… meaningful balance. They’re all real stories, but that’s a real thought that happened.
“Talk to Me”?
Joey: Both of those songs we wrote and recorded in an hour and a half to two hours, so that was a really great experience both times. “Talk to Me” has a different, more swaggy feel to it than the other ones. What’s another word for swag? Can’t think of the word in my head; it’s got a different feel to it, that’s interesting
Jonathan: Like confident?
Joey: Confidence! That’s the word I was looking for. You see a pretty girl, and if you’re feeling confident, you go talk to her – potentially.
Watch: “Talk to Me” (live) – Nightly
“Honest”? That's a personal one.
Jonathan: That’s probably my favorite song on the EP. I don’t know if you’re allowed to have favorites, but… It’s super real, I love the beat, I love Joey’s guitar solo in that one.
Jonathan: I don’t know how to say this without sounding douchey, but the bridge, the guitar part, I just love that. That, to me, is just like… exactly that glimpse of what I was talking about, that feels epic in a way that you’re like, I can’t believe we just made that! Again that sounds super douchey to say and I don’t mean it like that, but it’s just a cool… a cool thing that isn’t happening right now in music, that I’m proud of. So ironically all my favorite parts are the guitar, which I did none of! (laughs)
How are you keeping this from getting to your heads?
Jonathan: I don’t know, when you’ve been doing it like this, you just sort of expect it all to go away like (snaps) any second. I don’t think any of us really have big heads about anything.
Joey: At the end of the day, we’re best friends working together having a great time.
Jonathan: Plus, you get back into the van, and everybody’s just shredding farts, and you’re like, dude, this is it.
This is the real life!
Joey: We’re just really grateful, honestly. We have really great family and friends who have been influential in shaping us as people, and we’re just happy. We’re having a good time.
Jonathan: When I come in here next year in a mink coat, just smoking out of a long cigarette, then you can be like, “Man, you’ve changed.” Like, Cruella Deville style.
That's good, I feel as though you have to get kicked down a couple of times if you're ever going to really enjoy what you're doing in the long term.
Joey: Plus, you learn so much about how to do things by failing; it’s such a crucial part of growing as a person. You have to fail a thousand times to be able to be successful one time, I think anyway.
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