As you walk up to a secluded recording studio that’s tucked away in the back of an old clothing outlet in a small alleyway in Downtown Los Angeles, you can’t help but hear the banging of drums and the reverb of guitars as you make your way through the halls of the building. You then walk into the LUCYS studio and hear a track that they’ve been currently working on and you know they’re in the process of completing a synth-pop masterpiece. The music might wallow with lyricism, but the music soars in its element of synth-pop soundscapes- and that’s what LUCYS want you to feel with each track.
I had the pleasure of sitting down at the studio with Alexis Villalobos from LUCYS to discuss their newest release “Amor,” the creative process, and how it all seamlessly came together after a North Hollywood warehouse show late one night.
LUCYS are Alexis Villalobos on vocals and guitar, Jesse Vargas on bass, and Angel Diego on drums.
ALTANGELES: So i’m dying to know how LUCYS truly became LUCYS. How did it all start?
ALEXIS: It’s crazy because we’ve been at this project even before the first single. We just didn’t have the name LUCYS yet. We were The Lucys before all of this and we used to play a ridiculous amount of backyard shows. I had to be 18 or 19 at the time while going to college and all I wanted to do was play music. I actually didn’t know anything about music during that time yet. I just remember going out and trying to meet people and play. Then everything changed when a homie of mine told me about a show that was happening at a local venue in Los Angeles. That’s when I heard The Watts play for the first time and I instantly fell in love. Jesse and I were already making music together and long story short, we got Angel from The Watts to come on board to do drums and that’s when everything started to fall into place.
Where did the vision of becoming a lo-fi dream pop group come from? Did you guys know that was the sound you wanted?
ALEXIS: So basically I hosted a huge warehouse show back in early 2017 in North Hollywood with Cuco, The Red Pears, Beach Bums and The Watts. I remember watching Cuco and I already knew how well the Youtube thing was working for him with releasing music online and I remember thinking while watching his set that it’s somewhat a waste of time to go gigging while breaking your back in the backyard scene. Granted yes, you’ll get a solid amount of people to come to the shows but then they’re not coming back home to listen to you. So after that we stopped gigging for the majority of the summer and spent the whole summer just focusing on our sound. Then August rolled around and we recorded.
Wow, so that must have happened without you realizing it essentially then?
ALEXIS: Yeah but the funny thing about it all is that I wasn’t going for a lo-fi dream pop sound because at the time I didn’t know what dream-pop was, let alone any pop sound. I was just trying to sound like Al Green but on a budget. I’ve always really liked motown and the way the bass lines sound. We combined all that and we basically got the sound we have today.
I was actually on YouTube and I noticed you guys have over 200,000 plays on your track “Maybe.” I forget how solid that platform can be when it comes to gaining traffic. Did YouTube help in some ways with that?
ALEXIS: I feel like at the time anyone that was listening to the bedroom-pop scene was also checking out YouTube for artists like that a lot. I got in my head that this would be a great way for us to really get out there so I messaged this one YouTuber to get one of our songs on his channel and he ended up sharing it which started a chain reaction. Another YouTube channel called “The Worst Taste” shared it and that just gave us more exposure.
The newest track “Amor” that just dropped has a very personal and acoustic touch to it which is different from your usual LUCYS feel. Did you intend for it to be that way?
ALEXIS: Well it was actually a radio session at UCLA and we liked the take of it so I just ended up cutting the interview part of it and thought, “Well why not release it?”. So I ended up just releasing it on Soundcloud and I’m actually really happy with the turnout. But the actual studio version will be coming out on February 14th so look out for that!
Do you guys draw any inspiration from Los Angeles given you guys are from here? I know you guys are LA natives so I have to ask.
ALEXIS: In a sense because the overall indie scene here is very strong in Los Angeles, so I feel like people who make music in the city all inspire each other. Everybody is kind of in the same sound so when you’re in the scene you really just start taking inspiration from each other.
I know within the DIY Los Angeles community it’s somewhat uncommon to see a lo-fi dream pop band at backyard shows around the area. Artists such as Pink $ock and Katzu Oso have that same touch but do you guys feel like outsiders in a way?
ALEXIS: When we were first starting out in the backyard scene, I always wanted to write the music we’re writing now. I love slow paced music. I never cared about creating punk or fast-paced tunes even though I also love that style too. I love Nirvana and hard stuff like that but I always knew I wanted the slow stuff instead. So at first we were catering a bit more to the post-punk sound but I knew it wasn’t what I truly wanted.
Makes sense. So because of that do you feel like as of now you gravitate towards a different crowd?
ALEXIS: I think we fit in where we wanted to be. Because a lot of the people we played with are creating that same fit or vibe. When we played with Michael Seyer last year it was the crowd and people that want to be there for your sound and you have their attention which feels great.
How is the creative process usually for when you guys produce a song?
ALEXIS: For the most part it varies but it’s usually me and Angel coming up with the ideas and writing the actual songs. We’ll have Jesse come and lay down the bass line so that’s pretty much it.
For the younger generation that is trying to make it in the scene or at least wanting to start a DIY lo-fi band such as yours, what advice would you give them?
ALEXIS: Don’t try to be anyone else, just do what you want to do. If someone would have told me “just do you” in the beginning stages of when I was first starting out, I would have done this so much sooner. Honestly, just be you and do it in your own way.
I’m Mexican myself and I know you guys are as well, so I have to ask if Hispanic culture has had any influence when it comes to your music as well? Considering the title of this new track is “Amor.”
ALEXIS: Not initially in the first EP but I’m not going to lie, I started noticing how the Spanish indie artists were coming up but it was very original when it started. I wanted to but at the same time I didn’t because I wanted it to be completely genuine. That’s why I did that now with Amor which is in English but if you hear the song itself it has Spanish influence. It has the undertones of other Spanish genres without having to fully go into those genres and having to sing in Spanish. Because you can hear the Mexican trumpets in the chorus and the acoustic guitar. It’s all Spanish influence while still maintaining our sound so it was a perfect balance.
What’s your favorite track of the week? It can be someone in the underground world or even a bit bigger. I just want to see what’s been on repeat for you.
ALEXIS: Oh you already know it’s Mac Miller with the new track “Good News.” It just dropped so it’s been heavy on my rotation.
Is there anyone that you absolutely love playing with that you got the chance to be on the same bill with?
ALEXIS: I’m going to say Vansire. They’re just really cool dudes and we really kicked it off with them. I was actually pretty excited because I’ve listened to their music prior to that show. Talking to them was just hilarious because they came up to me and said, “You’re here because of YouTube, huh,” and we just started cracking jokes about it.
Any big plans for LUCYS this year you want to let ALTANGELES know about?
ALEXIS: Well we’re recording a bunch, which is something to keep an eye on. Our first music video is coming out this year around March, dropping a new EP and releasing the “Amor” single in February. So we’re releasing a lot this year which im stoked about. So look out for it all!