LANY, a bi-coastal phenomenon moving beyond pop music boundaries

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LANY/Courtesy

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Starting off in 2014, LANY creates indie-leaning pop that transcends genres, locations and aesthetics. Three friends, Paul Jason Klein (lead vocals), Les Priest (keyboard and guitar) and Jake Goss (drums), met up in Nashville and later moved to Los Angeles to create songs together as LANY (pronounced “Lay-nee”). LANY’s name, a portmanteau of L.A. and N.Y., was inspired by the idea of their music spanning across two coasts. In the course of four days, the band was able to churn out two songs, “Hot Lights” and “Walk Away,” which they debuted on SoundCloud. The story of LANY has humble beginnings.

When they first planted the seeds of their own grassroots movement, Klein, Priest and Goss made their music in a tiny one-bedroom apartment. After the trio dropped their debut EP Acronyms, they distributed their EP on CDs they burned themselves during their first shows. The band’s breakthrough song “ILYSB” crept up on the internet airwaves, with 27 million Spotify streams. It evokes the small joys of a summer romance, slow dancing, holding hands on a nighttime drive and the feeling of simply falling head over heels for someone.  Fans, ahem, love it so bad that they even get tattoos of the song’s title.

With a sprinkle of throwbacks to ‘80s synthpop akin to Spandau Ballet and a dash of ‘90s R&B, LANY’s visceral music hearkens back to something very familiar. Genre-wise, the band is idiosyncratic and in every sense of the word, alternative. The range of LANY’s music has the magical ability to tug at your heartstrings while the underlying melodic thrums make you bounce on your heels. Listeners are swept up in total fantasy, riding the sonic waves of the highs and lows of first love.

Since signing to Polydor Records in October 2015, LANY has still managed to maintain a DIY attitude. Frontman, Paul Jason Klein, is a jack of all trades, designing the band’s merchandise to curating a zine for fans.  While opening up for Troye Sivan, Oh Wonder, Ellie Goulding and Halsey over the past year, the band’s path to making a name for itself has come with its own set of challenges for the young band.

Nevertheless, LANY’s journey is one that continues to be driven by the passion of its band members. After LANY released its kinda EP this past June, the band has been caught up in a whirlwind tour of the same name. The Daily Californian had the chance to speak with Paul Jason Klein to catch a glimpse of LANY’s life on tour and the band’s future plans for a debut album in 2017.

DC: You all started out making music together in a one-bedroom apartment, how much have you felt that LANY has progressed in the past two years since your first EP Acronyms dropped in 2014?

PJK: It’s progressed in a sense that we’ve been able to get on the road, get in front of more people and be on tour. Songs just naturally kind of spread over the internet. But it’s still very much the three of us in whatever room we find ourselves in making music. It started in this one-bedroom apartment and moved to the kitchen of our house in Malibu, and yesterday it was a hotel room in Detroit. So everything is still happening in the same way that it used to happen but we’ve definitely been growing since Acronyms.

DC: The kinda EP was released this past June. What was the inspiration and creative process behind the inception of the six songs?

PJK: In October 2015, we signed to Polydor Records. When you sign to a record label, they give you a recording budget. And like I mentioned before, we do everything ourselves — we write, we sing, we record, we mix, at a point, we were even mastering our own songs. So we’re a pretty self-sufficient band, which is a true luxury. Les is our guy that engineers everything and mixes things for us, and it’s really amazing. That being said, we don’t really need a recording budget because if you put us in a really nice studio with a bunch of really nice gear, we wouldn’t know what we’d do with it. We just have a way that we do things, but we were living in a one-bedroom apartment in Hollywood without air conditioning and without a lot of things, and it was really hot and small and cramped.

I felt it was imperative for us, creatively, to get out of that one-bedroom apartment, so I asked if we could use that recording budget to get us out and use it for rent. We found a little house in the hills of Malibu and we moved in. We knew that we needed to start writing songs and recording our debut album. And then, we started accumulating songs that we were making in the kitchen of this house. The label wanted to put out a single “Where the Hell Are My Friends?” and we did that and they wanted to put out another single, but I, at that point, felt like a single wasn’t enough anymore. I wanted to give our people something a little more to dive into and to live with. We picked six songs that we felt really meshed together and felt cohesive, and then we decided to put out kinda to give people a chance to make it the soundtrack of their summer.

DC: You all have come out with really striking visuals for EP cover art, music videos and everything down to the merch and zine. Who in the band has the biggest hand in driving these aesthetics?

PJK: I do all of that. I’ve always been visually driven and visually inspired. At certain points in my life, I thought that I couldn’t be a musician because I felt like I saw things so much stronger than I heard them, but I’ve always enjoyed taking photos. The cover art for kinda is a photo that I took on my little point-shoot camera that was like $49 on Amazon, and it was the same camera that I shot the cover for Make Out on. And I did all the stuff for the zine with my friend Mel, who is our tour photographer and he helped me with the layout. I design all of our merch on my laptop. It sounds like a lot but I just really enjoy doing it so much. I just want to make stuff that I would would want to wear, listen to and look at. It does take a lot of time, but I think that’s part of the reason this band is successful right now because everybody knows that it’s coming from the three of us. It’s not being manufactured by someone in a cubicle of a record label.

DC: Since you’ve all been on the road this fall, how is the kinda tour going for you? What sets it apart from previous tours?

PJK: It’s been such an amazing experience. However, on the tour we were on before this, and nobody loves this band more than me, I was ready to quit the band. It was so tough. We were in a van and we were doing The Make Out Tour, which was really fun, but then we had to jump on the road with Oh Wonder directly after and they’re amazing. But they were on a bus, we were in a van. We had to do monstrous strides just to make it to the next show. We drove around four circles around the country on the tour and I saw every inch of the road. There were times we were in Canada for a week and a half and had no cellphone service at all. Just driving through the middle of Canada and having nothing to do or look at, it was awful. But we paid our dues and we were on the road for a year just supporting people and playing for 25 minutes before the main act. But this tour, we were finally able to get on a bus, and it’s been so nice. It changes everything. There are logistical roles that need to be filled on the road, and I just took my friends in those positions. It’s just been so fun having eight boys out on the road having the time of our lives. It’s awesome to play your own shows and to have your own production. We have three screens behind us that I’ve hand-picked all the content for or made the content for. I’m actually really sad that it’s coming to an end. There are 14 shows left, and we’ve been out since Aug. 25. It just feels kind of crazy that it’s coming to an end.

DC: Are there any favorite songs you like to perform live?

PJK: In Europe, “like you lots,” “quit,” “yea, babe, no way,” I don’t know if we just play those songs better over there or they just dance a little differently, but when we play those songs, people are just bobbing up and down and it’s the best thing ever. Here, “4EVER” is fun and “ILYSB” is always going off. “pink skies” has been consistently so cool to watch people light up when we play that song.

DC: During this past year, LANY played at Outside Lands back in August. In October 2015, you announced that you signed to Polydor Records during one your shows at the Rickshaw Stop. That being said, how do you all resonate with San Francisco? What can fans expect to experience at The Regency Ballroom Show in SF on the the 17th?

PJK: I love San Francisco so much. I wish I had a reason to live there. Every time we pull into that city, it has such a nice vibe to it and I really enjoy my time there. I think SF is the last show that we play before we come back to LA. It’ll be kind of coming to the end of our tour. I’ll probably get pretty emotional. At some point, with these last few shows, I don’t know what’s going to happen. I can’t wait to play in SF.

DC: With 2016 coming to a close, what plans does LANY have in store for 2017?

PJK: We’re going to put out a debut album in 2017. I like to just tell everybody that 2017 is the year of LANY. It’s going to be so full-on. This year has already been so crazy thinking of all that we’ve done. We toured with Troye, Ellie, did our own Make Out tour, went out with Oh Wonder, played like 12 festivals. … Next year is going to be even more intense. We’re headed to the Philippines for a huge festival in March. We’re playing Australia for the first time in 2017. We’ll probably do two tours in America and Europe, all with our debut album.

LANY will perform at The Regency Ballroom tonight.

Contact Abigail Balingit at [email protected].