There’s a certain contrast between the newness of Night Glitter and the two musician-lifers who make up its membership. The band’s a fascinating indie rock duo that exists comfortably and distinctively in the vast, indeterminate space between the quirky left-of-center electro-pop of Sylvan Esso and the serenely sprawling dream-pop of Beach House.
The Paris, France-raised LouLou Ghelichkhani, who takes the majority of the lead vocals, has long been known in indie rock and electronica circles for collaborating with the dub and lounge electronica duo Thievery Corporation, as well as various forays in the D.C. music scene. Her musical partner in Night Glitter is the multi-instrumentalist John Michael Schoepf, a prominent player and producer in the Austin, Texas music scene who famously played bass with both Roky Erickson and Hayes Carll. Together, they bring an expansive and disparate set of sonic influences to the warmly ensconcing tunes they’ve crafted together.
Ghelichkhani recalls “being a fan” of Schoepf when she first relocated to Austin from D.C. about six years ago.
“I had gone to see him play with The Happen-Ins at a release show — a friend of mine was doing backing vocals for the band at the time,” she recalls. “She invited me to the show, and it was my first time seeing them live. And [Schoepf]’s just one of those really charismatic players. And just with throwing down those awesome bass and guitar moves. So I kind of fell for the playing and then, later on, fell for the man.”
Nevertheless, the two were dating in earnest (and, to be fair, “jamming” together) before they really conceived a true collaborative project.
“Originally we said we were not going to do that,” Schoepf admits, “but as more songs came along, we felt like it was a kind of force of nature, that we had to do it. There’s only been a handful of bands where I’ve been the leading force creatively, and I didn’t have one at the moment. And LouLou had Bonefur, but they were kind of defunct as well. So [I] think we were both looking for an outlet, and it was just good timing.”
The distinctive sound of the project came together in a similarly organic fashion and continues to evolve without much long-term vision.
“I think it really has to do with how inspired we are with certain instruments in the studio and, honestly, what’s really around when we’re making music,” Ghelichkhani muses. Much of their groove-driven, synth-heavy takes on dream-pop stem from their shared love of vintage analog drum machines and keyboards rather than any desire to slip away from their previous sounds. The singer also says the soft-glow nature that pervades so much of their music stems from the fact that they had to jam quietly while writing and recording so as to not wake their children.
“Also, I’m first-off a bass player, and from what people have told me, I kind of like to play very behind the beat,” Schoepf adds. “So I think that whenever I’m programming drums or picking out a beat, it’s always going to tend to be a little bit lazy. I think that’s just natural to my personality to play a little lazy. Even if it’s a rock song, it’s not going to be super on-top and aggressive.”
As for her long history with Thievery Corporation and her voice’s association with that particular brand of downtempo, world-beat lounge electronica, Ghelichkhani seems fairly blasé.
“Thievery is a collective of a lot of musicians,” she notes. “When you listen to my songs that I’ve done with Eric and Rob, songs that I co-wrote with them, they are very much a big part of the type of music that I make. I feel like Night Glitter is — you’re getting a vein of that sound that’s developed more.”
“I think sometimes I do worry that people have this expectation when they see the words like ‘Thievery’ that it’s going to be like dub, but if you actually take apart and look at the catalog of things that I’ve done with Thievery, there’s definitely electronic elements that carry over, a lot of it in French and English, and there’s actually a little bit more indie rock and spaced-out electronics with those songs,” she continues. “And I’d like to think that the whole thing with Thievery is that the audience is very open-minded and very eclectic. Because the music is so eclectic and attracts people that are open-minded to listening to new sounds and new music and not get stuck in a certain genre.”
And the same is likely to be true for where Night Glitter goes in the future. Ghelichkhani and Schoepf have experimented with a variety of live lineups that lead to different sounds, and there’s already a clear distinction between the more traditional guitar-centered dream-pop of their first EP Hangin’ on a Dream and the more groove-heavy synth beds that recent singles have utilized.
“A lot of the songs that Lou and I started out writing were just on guitar and vocals,” says Schoepf. “It’s fun now that we spend more time playing together, we can kind of start from a groove and build on top of it. So hopefully there will be some more deep grooves on the full-length album that are very danceable and fun to play live. That’s definitely a goal.”