Kat: We got the word “Darlings” from the creative writing expression “kill your darlings”—meaning, don’t be too precious or attached to your works of art. You need a degree of irreverence to create and to edit. At the time we started our band, this was really resonating with me. I had spent a lot of time learning and listening to different heroes and genres. It was time to both honor my work and also to throw it to the wolves.
Then the word “Goodnight” has the perfect blend of darkness and love. And quite simply- we are in love with each amazing night on stage, in love with the audience, in love with each other. It’s like an inherent mission statement. We just want to have a Goodnight—all the time!
SE) How did you two meet? What’s the story?
Kat: I was bar-tending at Sine rock club and Wilson’s last band, BonBomb, came in and played. I had seen so many bands from working that room—but they really grabbed my attention. Wilson was the best guitarist I’d ever seen, and I really loved his singing and vocal effects. I needed to know all about his pedal set-up, so I sought him out after their show.
I was leaving town for a shoot with MTV in Colorado, and he was leaving to open up for Berlin, so thank goodness he found me through my band’s website a few months later and we’ve been together ever since.
SE) For each of you, what is your past history with music? Any previous bands? How similar were they to yours today?
Wilson: After September 11th, I started writing songs about humanity, politics, anti-politics, false worship/religion, true worship/money, racism..It started with a drum machine and my guitar; then it turned into a trio. My pedal collection grew after meditating with 2 delay pedals set at different speeds. “BonBomb” was inspired by: Punk Rock, New Wave, Electro, Noise, Ambient, Reggae, and Dub. An A&R from Epic Records really liked us, but we received a letter saying we were a little too risky because we weren’t pop enough.
Lauryn Hill showed up to one of our shows at Siberia in Hell’s Kitchen and she loved us—our energy and vibe. She told us to go to the penthouse at Chung King Studios. She played guitar and sang a couple of new songs, then kept me because she really liked my sound and punk energy. I recorded for a couple of unreleased Fugees tracks, and later was hired to tour as the guitarist for the Fugees Reunion Tour. After that I was hired to play as a session and live guitarist, because of my crazy sounds and playing, for Mary J. Blige, Patti LaBelle, Melky Sedeck, Lordz of Brooklyn/Lordz, Second Sun, and CBS’ “48 Hours.”
By touring with The Fugees, Wyclef taught me the kindness of Pop…My music in BonBomb was more Anti-Pop because I didn’t follow all the rock “Songwriting Rules.”
The similarity of GND and BonBomb are the layers of music creating a wall of sound and the energy and attack of my guitar.
I’ve been in two previous bands. Each one holds a special place in my heart. Each one revealed a key. With“Blend Engine,“ I felt true punk- unedited, volatile, and complete dis-ease about myself fitting into this crazy world. With “Majorette,” I got to meet amazing skilled workers in music- people who could write and produce the shiniest songs. I was learning how to make musical sense out of my raw elations arriving in New York, and also my discontent at growing up..My hope with The Goodnight Darlings is that I’m able to assimilate both the raw power and technique.
SE) Who handles the beats, guitar, vocals, etc., in the Goodnight Darlings? What would you say each of you bring to the table?
Wilson: Beats start from my head—imagining a real drummer playing on top of a drum machine. Then they’re executed either on an old Roland R8, an old G4 with Reason, MacBook Pro with Reason, and now my phone with iMaschine.
For live guitar, I’ve got 2 Teles, a hollow body Epiphone, and 14 guitar pedals… For recording, I have more pedals and I use unconventional instruments for texture.
Kat: I have the honor of writing stories and melodies. I get to write poems and theater, confessions, and anthems. I treat our live show like an athletic event of voice, emotion, and connection.
SE) Describe your genre, your sound.
Kat: We’ve said we’re “Like Karen O and Robert Smith falling in love to a Timbaland beat.” We’ve been called Electronic Pop Rock Dance Punk! Noise Pop! Indie-tronic with some post-punk moodiness..Sleek, mysterious, haunting electro-rock, sweaty, passionate..Art-influenced punk spirit.. Although my favorite lately was when Wilson described his writing like a firework exploding inside his head- and he has to write fast before each flare fades away..impossible to catch it all, but we try…
SE) Has your sound evolved or pretty much stayed the same since you started? Do you think it will hold over time?
Wilson: We definitely evolved.. I evolve all the time. I never want to stay the same, but I always want to keep my own signature too. Our first songs were a bit more pop..our newer songs have more nuances- highs and lows. So far it has..
If we stay the same, we would all still be trying to sound like Frank Sinatra..It’s great when certain movements—like rock n roll, punk rock, and hip hop- become musical take-overs and disrupt what you’re used to..
Kat: When someone stands their ground and says on some level “I know this is weird- but this is me.”
SE) Who are your big influences? Would you compare your sound to any of them?
Wilson: The Clash for not being afraid to evolve and use their rock, reggae, disco, hip-hop influences. Also Bad Brains, NIN, The Cure, Siouxsie, Blondie, Sonic Youth, lots of Hip-Hop and Reggae. Sometimes these bands come into play with my sound, energy, attitude, and vibe.
Kat: Wanda Jackson changed my life. My dad used to play her old records and I thought she was the most brazen bat out of hell. I love the nerve of her voice. Then seeing Madonna on MTV flipped me out. Her bold style- I loved the idea that you could be the movie star of your music. I also got into the Doors at that time too. I loved their strangeness and his poems seemed like rap for surrealists.. Now when I write- I need to stay turned on by going to see an art or fashion exhibit, or a great play- to stir and deliver heightened emotions. I don’t think I sound like these artists- but they inspire my own instrument.
SE) How often do you practice?
Wilson: With GND once or twice a week. With just me—at least 5 times a week.
SE) Every musician has a certain way of using their instrument. What do you consider to be your unique musical techniques?
Wilson: My use of all my pedals to create different textures live and recorded. My rhythmic picking.
Kat: My training at the Juilliard School really began my awareness of breathing and diction. I’ve picked up so many tricks along the way from voice teachers and other singers. I’m always investigating.
SE) Are you signed with any record labels?
Kat: Not currently. I have been signed before to EMI and Sony/Red. I used to think it was the be-all end-all. But now I think there are so many creative ways to market music. I think all that’s important is finding people you can really share a vision with, and expand that vision to full potential.. I’d love to find the right label for GND. I hope it’s a natural partnership at the right time..
SE) Your debut EP, Doll Drums, was released just last month. Can you give listeners an idea of what to expect from it?
Kat: I hope you listen to it on headphones so you can listen to all the ear-candy Wilson has arranged through the production of it. I’m very proud of our first effort together. I’d like you to think, “Aww, what a thoughtful gift.” We had the listener in our hearts creating lots of layers and dance beats..
I’ll take some lyrics from the title track Doll Drums to give you an idea.. “Let me be your doll–action figurine. Let me be your bells and whistles, silver scream..We’ve got the doll, oh we bring the drums, ennui, we fight the boredom! The Doll Drums.”
SE) Are there certain underlying themes within your lyrics?
Kat: It’s funny. I aim to write point blank from my heart. And it still comes out weighted with mysterious echoes- shades of longing, grandiosity, compulsive behaviors, and late nights in NYC. That’s ok though. I feel that it lends it enough space for everyone to hopefully personalize it in their own way.
SE) Is there a particular song of yours that sticks out to you as unique from the rest?
Kat: Probably “Red Hot”, it was unusual for me; it was written in a half dream one morning listening to the sports news. Also- Wilson and I are big fans of the half time beat in the chorus of “Doll Drums”. It makes us thrash when we play it live.
SE) Who handles your artwork?
Kat: Wilson is our main graphic designer. He makes awesome flyers for our live shows. I’ve been saving a scrapbook; they are each a unique piece of art.. I can’t draw- so I pull some art stunts. For our first album cover, I created the photo shoot set by finding giant toys from all over Brooklyn and Manhattan Magic shops. And then for our first music video- I got us into a NYC Parade. Also- we’ve worked quite a bit with our wonderful brother-in-law. He happens to be a renowned hip-hop photographer, Robert Adam Mayer (Jay-Z at the Barclay, Nas at Radio City).
SE) Where have you performed? Any favorite venues, cities? Most memorable experiences?
Kat: Tours with the Goodnight Darlings are the truest, best times of my life. I can’t even say how much I love the adventure of new people and a new town. We’ve played two extensive, rigorous tours of the Southern US and back up the East Coast. There was that dance contest in Lafayette, the voodoo lady singer in New Orleans, the cool big daddy club owner at Walnut Street Blues in MS.. it’s a fun question- my mind flashes.. to desert drives in Marfa, TX. (We shot a video that we’re gonna release for the song “July” there)…Maybe our favorite venue would be SXSW. Austin is just wonderful. We had booked one show and ended up playing four more shows! We had all our gear on us and we’d get invited to play the next party again and again. Musically, I felt so in shape.
Wilson: Make music always, tour the Earth, be loved by not trying to be or sound like anyone else..
SE) What shows and tours are you planning in the near future?
Kat: We’re looking to open up for one of our favorite national acts. We’re also encouraged and excited by some interest from UK writers. I’d love to play overseas. We’ve also started experimenting with a new secret weapon of instrumentation that will be revealed in time!!
SE) What’s the best way to access your music?
Wilson: Get our debut “Doll Drums” on iTunes, or get to a show and leave with a cd!