Growing up is really hard. Add doing so in the public eye as you undergo a rapid rise to the top of your music career, a series of band member changes and a global pandemic that brings any sense of normalcy to a sudden halt, and it becomes rather unfathomable. Enter The Regrettes who, all things applicable, have and continue to prove to be as adaptable and ready to thrive in the face of uncertainty as they come.
Coming into formation in 2015 and harboring a record deal just a year after, 2020 was set out to position the young LA-based band for their biggest year yet. With the rather immediate shut down of the music industry as a result of COVID-19, they swapped the would-be center stage of music’s most coveted stages in front of crowded audiences to the quarantined and often isolated spaces of their individual homes. However, The Regrettes are using their new found gift of time in a halted music world to go inward and step into their most autonomous outward voice yet. Learning to live in the moment alongside the production of their upcoming third studio record, the raw power pop-punk quartet is recentering themselves to reimagine their creative voice for what’s set out to be their best album yet.
LADYGUNN spoke with The Regrettes’ front woman Lydia Night on the importance of learning to live in the moment during quarantine, why The Regrettes next record will be their best and their latest mini-doc collaboration with Dr. Martens Presents: Music & Film Series.
First off, an obvious but needed question and a good way to check-in. With everything going on with the world, how are you, really?
Totally, I appreciate you asking. The best way to put it is; I feel like I am doing a lot better, which is great. I’ve especially been better in the past two weeks than I think I’ve been for over a year. I think I just finally started to get into a sort of pace with my mental health and a bit of routine. Finding solutions and taking action when I start feeling anxious or down or whatever is going on instead of stewing in it, which has been me on and off for the past year or so. So it’s been really good – I don’t know. It’s been the silly things that you hear about or see a Tik Tok or whatever, but it’s not silly and they actually kind of help. I’ve been sort of taking away any judgement on trying new things to feel good and feel normal and it’s been great.
I completely agree. It seems like a very common theme to feel a bit of an upswing lately for a lot of people.
Yeah – I think there’s a restoration of hope. There’s like a light at the end of the tunnel, finally. Whether consciously thinking about it or not, I think with my subconscious at least, it’s allowed me to be like “Ok, let’s kick it in gear. Things are about to (in theory) be back to a new normal. So let’s figure out the problem this time has created.”
Absolutely. Expanding a bit more on the things that have helped you navigate this time moving from touring musician to an industry on pause, have you picked up any interesting new hobbies or talents?
I feel like the hobby I’ve picked up is just doing things for myself. Taking time everyday to journal, even if I don’t know what to write. I’ve always tried to do this on and off but never got into it. In High School, it was very much like “this is what happened” and it never did anything for me so it would die out. Now, it’s just like, I’m going to write whatever the fuck I feel like writing that day. It’s helped me set intentions and just take a second to be in the moment. Just staying in the moment has been my biggest focus because the world we’ve been living in has been so focused on waiting around for something. At least most conversations I’ve been having are like “I can’t wait for [blank] again!” or “When we finally get to do [blank] again…” and nothing has been in the moment because it’s just really hard to accept. I think it can just fuck you up when you’re so fixated on the past or whats to come. It’s great to have memories, but for me personally, I’m just trying to live in the moment.
Being a songwriter already, it seems like journaling would be a natural hobby to pick up with a common denominator of writing. Do you feel like since you’ve started, it has helped inspire new music or provided a new perspective in the songwriting process?
I feel the only way it is affecting my songwriting is by how it’s affected my confidence. Staying in the moment and journaling has really helped me feel confident. I think in the past, where I would fall short with journaling is trying to force it into being a part of my creative process and tie both worlds together. Now, I just want to do this for myself and not anything else. It’s been huge for me to learn that hobbies can still be productive, even if it isn’t “productive” in a work way. Learning that working on myself is equally productive to practicing my skills on the guitar. Overall, I think it will end up helping me because it’s just me working out my thoughts and feelings, which always ends up in our music naturally. So it’s definitely connected, but maybe not in ways that I can pinpoint.
I feel that’s something really positive during this time for a lot of artists. All too often musicians live a very on-the-go lifestyle that doesn’t allow much time to stop and have extended moments for themselves outside of work. I hope you get to take these new hobbies with you once live music returns.
Exactly. And really just getting the opportunity to do things selfishly! I mean that in a good way of course. But yeah, exactly. Thank you. I really hope so too.
Touching on music side of things, your last record release came at the end of 2019, right before the world shut down. Yet, The Regrettes have seemed to stay incredibly active in creating much unreleased music throughout 2020 and into this new year. Can you give us some insight on what’s to come?
I have been writing more than ever and we have all been working harder than ever on what’s to come next. Like you said, it’s such an on-the-go lifestyle when you’re touring all the time and then you get this rough break where you’re creating, producing and then touring the new. Yes we could’ve written a new record in just a month or two, I mean, we had a records worth of songs at the beginning of quarantine alone. But what’s amazing is the space and patience we now have to work on one. Having this extended period of time is allowing myself as a songwriter to sit in that uncomfortable space to really take a look at what you’ve done and say “I can do better, I’m going to do better,” and then you do better. It feels like the first time I’ve really been able to do that. I have also been doing a lot of writing on zoom with other songwriters which I had always been opposed to and would judge, but I think that only came from a place of fear that people would think that wasn’t real or cool enough. But oh my god, I have learned so much about songwriting! I have written some of my favorite songs ever just because you have so many brains and perspectives coming together and it’s game changing. I mean our next record will just be our best. It’s finally the four of us coming together and making the exact music we want to be making without any fears that may have influenced us in the past. Things like not wanting to sound too pop-y because we’ll lose a certain crowd, or that we might get shunned out of LA’s punk community – just so many damn fears. I’m so proud of what we’ve done and I wouldn’t change it. I just think it all set us up in a really great way to now really experiment and do something totally new.
It’s like you’re experiencing social distancing in a different perspective than most. Instead of space from people, it’s allowed you space away from opinions and judgement that may have influenced your musical decisions in the past. Sounds like this next record will be reintroducing and representing the true essence of The Regrettes.
That’s a great way to put it! It really does feel like that. When you’re sitting alone with your thoughts about how scary the world is and think about what you’re choosing to put your creative energy into, there’s no room to not do exactly what you want. When we talk about it as a band, it just makes sense. There’s no point in dipping your toe anymore, we just have to take the dive and do what we want because that’s the only way we’re going to feel fulfilled.
Feeling this in sync in vision, do you feel like the only way quarantine has affected your creative process as a band has been the physical limitations to see each other frequently in the way you did prior to COVID?
Yeah, I think it’s that. It’s also just the amount of time we’re being given to really be meticulous when it comes to, well, everything. The four of us just took a ten day trip to Joshua Tree, where we got to write a ton of music. But we also just really got the chance to discuss in depth what we wanted the next record to be like visually, conceptually and how we want people to feel when listening to it. We may not be around each other as often, but we’re just really lucky to have this break from touring to really take the time to prepare everything and not have to rush out anything. There’s so much room to experiment before having to release songs or visuals. This time we’ve been given has just been a blessing in a lot of ways.
Getting to spend intimate time with your bandmates after a long period of time apart, did you find that the band has begun to pull inspiration from new places or faces because you’re all getting more time to stop and look at things in a new way? If so, what are they?
Absolutely. I mean we’re inspired by a lot of new things. I was super inspired by the 1975 as a songwriter, and as a band we’re very inspired by their visuals and live show. Charlie XCX is someone who I’ve also gotten extremely into over the last year. Most recently, I have been listening to Ashnikko obsessively, oh my god she is so cool! So that’s been influencing us a lot musically too. Then there’s movies. I mean we’re influenced by Mary Poppins right now. Also there’s so much inspiration from a lot of peoples merch, visuals and just clothes we love and are into overall. So fashion in general as well. We’re experimenting and playing with it all, but more importantly finding our space in it. All of it.
It’s always really exciting to see artists let down their guards and have a creative breakthrough. I’m really excited to see what comes from all the experimentation.
I know – me too! I’m really excited for what’s to come.
Exploring new frontiers during this time, you’ve partnered with some very special projects that fuse all those worlds together. Including your latest, a special collaboration with Dr. Martens and their filmmaker series that highlights rising artists and offers a very intimate look into the personal lives of musicians in this rather bleak time. It’s a space that not a lot of people get to access often. Can you talk a bit about this partnership and why you found it important to be a part of something like this?
The collaboration sounded really exciting to me, first off, because it presented an opportunity for all of us to get to be together. The idea of spending a day with each other was so exciting. Then after looking at what the director (Ali Roberto) had already done, we just knew she was so talented and would create a really cool piece. I found it important because I love the idea of showing people what we’re like right now and getting a chance to talk about it in a vulnerable way. I find videos like this from artists I love really helpful because they make me feel more heard and comforted. It’s just nice to have those barriers come down and show a side of people in the public eye that aren’t usually on display. So this was one of the most fun videos of this nature that we’ve done because it felt very real. There was no “we need you to say this or act this way,” it was just the four of us getting to see each other for the first time in forever and having so much fun doing it. I love watching the video because it’s such a sweet moment in time that captures the joy we continue to bring each other after so much weirdness going on in the world. Plus it’s Dr. Martens, the amount of docs I own is just ridiculous, so of course we had to do it.
I want to circle back to your newfound optimism during this very tumultuous year. What are some words of hope you’d like to extend during this time?
This last year, at least to me, has clearly proved that literally anything can happen and we never know what’s around the corner for the world. I know it sounds corny, but life is fucking short and opinions are relative. There’s no reason to not take every day as it comes. All we have and all we can focus on is today, who we are today and who we want to choose to be today. I think that’s super important to remember.
CONNECT WITH THE REGRETTES
Photos / Emma Cole (@MissEmmaCole)
Video / Courtesy of Dr. Martens
Director / Ali Roberto (@AliRoberto)
Story / Jeanette Diaz (@JaynetDiaz)