Q&A: Alt-Pop Duo Nightly On Their Debut EP, ‘Honest’


From darkness, the sounds of a sampled voice fill the famous Troubadour Los Angeles. Rows of incredible vertical lights begin to pulse in sync with Nightly's first song, "Honest." After a minute into the song, the sold-out audience is clearly hooked, and everyone is soon bobbing their heads and waving their arms to the music. In real time, we've just visually witnessed Nightly fan conversion, right before our eyes.

With their name translating from "Night, love you," in text speak, their four song EP is a sonic journey through relationships–both good and bad. Singer Jonathan Capeci and guitarist Joey Beretta are cousins who've grown up writing songs and playing in bands together. After releasing their single "XO" on SoundCloud without a label or a "team" per se, the guys set the goal of getting just 100,000 spins in one month. Within six weeks, "XO" managed to hit a million spins–and far exceeded what Jonathan and Joey had originally sought out to achieve.

Fast forward to today: the guys are on tour with one of the hottest female artists of the last few years, the rap/rock genre-bending K.Flay, and they are working on their full-length debut. Jonathan insists there's no rush with new music, as they want to make sure their first EP is not overlooked by releasing anything else too quickly. And the truth of the matter is that the four songs on this EP deserve to be spun a million more times before moving onto something new.

Though Jonathan and Joey write their songs out of Nashville, the EP spans sonically from the more traditional pop sound of "XO," to the darker more EDM-influenced "Honest," and it doesn't seem to carry any of the predictable and traditional pop (or pop country) sounds coming out of Nashville as of late. "Talk To Me" has a great mixture of pop-synth melody, haunting vocals, and anthemic Coldplay-ish chanting, sure to get any live crowd singing along. "No Vacancy" would fit perfectly into the 'first kiss' scene of any 1980's John Hughes film, with its echoed harmonies and guitars–reminiscent of U2's "Where the Streets Have No Name." 

Joey's melodic guitar riffs are perhaps part of the biggest stand outs of each song, as they seem to be layered with both simple melodies and shred-worthy moments, a la Prince. While Jonathan's breathy, perfectly-toned vocals are a nice departure from the heavily filtered auto-tuned songs that fill the popular music streams - we do get some moments where his voice is sampled and used as an instrument in songs like "Honest."

Jonathan has also been quoted in saying that "It's easy to hide behind clever lyric writing without really getting to the truth of the emotion," Well, it seems that there's no need to worry, since the tunes seem to hold up–not only with clever lyrics that carry a deeper theme, but also with intricate melodies and production that complete an EP with four completely stellar tracks.

Check out our Q&A with Jonathan below, and be sure to check out Nightly's debut EP, Honest, available now on all platforms.

OTW: Describe your genre in sounds and pictures.

Jonathan: Sitting on a rooftop on a summer night or going for a midnight drive. Those are some of the visuals that I picture when I picture people listening to our music. I feel like the soundtrack to those kinds of moments would be a sick band to be, you know? 

Joey’s guitar playing [is] almost like John Buckman or even something older like, Appleseed Cats or something–[it's that] style that he pulls from. I think that kind of guitar mixed with my voice–I really like a lot of melodies from Miguel, and things like that. Maybe a combination of those two things.

OTW: How did you decide on the name, "Nightly"? I know it's text speak, but why that name?

Jonathan: You know, picking a band name is really hard, and it sucks. I think we wanted it all [to be] sort of honest and personal and liked the idea of texting someone, “Night, love you.” [It] just felt like it was a good summary of everything we’d written so far and just shortened that to "Nightly."

OTW: Who are some of your musical influences?

Jonathan: I think now is a fun time to be a musician, because more than ever, genre lines are sort of blending. We get inspired by a lot of stuff that doesn’t necessarily influence our sound, but it inspires an emotion or something. 

For example, I get really inspired by things that Twenty One Pilots are doing, or Kanye West, but you know, in no way do either of those two influence us sonically. I think there are lots of bands that we love, from the classics like U2 and The Killers, big bands that we both grew up loving. Just trying to figure out what it means to be a band in 2016 and beyond, because it’s different. 

I think blending a lot of the electronic elements and sampling my voice and using that almost like an instrument. It’s an exciting time, because it’s sort of like the wild west, but also, at times, standing out amongst a lot of other music is difficult. We get inspired by lots of bands, but some of our favorites are definitely The Killers, Coldplay, U2, bands like that.

OTW: Tell me about the release of "XO"…since it now has just under 3 million spins on Spotify. Would you credit it with your success up to this point?

Jonathan: We originally released that song independently. My highest goal was to try and get 100,000 streams within a month. I thought if we could do that then it'd be like impressive for a self-release with no team, no management, no label, nothing. 

What ended up happening was we got a million plays in six weeks. The people at Spotify reached out to us and they were big fans. The one guy who does the New Music Friday playlist said he had listened to it 10 times that week. It’s definitely a big piece of our success, but also a testament to us being true to ourselves. 

That and then, honestly, playing live. Live shows are a really big part of this band as well. Each time that we’ve played it seems like, at least in our hometown of Nashville, that we played to maybe 100 people the first time, then next show it was like 200. Then the next was like 500… I think everything’s sort of lining up at the appropriate time. "XO" was a huge launching point for us.

OTW: How did you choose the songs for this EP?

Jonathan: When we were trying to choose songs for this EP, we were choosing from quite a few songs. Over the last year, we’ve written a decent amount, and we had narrowed it down to maybe our favorite ten, of about twenty-five. Then from those ten, we had narrowed it down to six, and then to four. It was a pretty difficult job. 

I think with the EP as an introduction, we sort of wanted to show a few different sides, as opposed to just the "XO" side, which is a little bit brighter and more upbeat. Definitely, one of the sides of our band is "Honest." There are more songs to be written that I would say fit together with that. Then again, I don’t think that any of the four are so far apart that you wouldn’t know what band it is. Just trying to express the dynamics of a band within four songs is super difficult. 

OTW: What is the song "Honest" about?

Jonathan: That was probably me at my most raw or open. It’s about a relationship where there’s a lot of highs and lows. For me, that kind of thing is really fun, but it can also be very tiring. Essentially, what happened with me was that relationship ended poorly. Then after that, you tend to go for the safe choice where there’s not as many highs and lows, and it’s more like of a flatline thing, and it’s safer. That’s the emotion sort of bottled up into that song.

OTW: So, what you’re saying is you like dating crazy girls?

Jonathan: Yeah, I don’t know. I’m single, so I’m still trying to figure it out, I think. There’s probably some balance. Obviously you don’t want them too insane, but you don’t want them too boring either, you know? I mean really, what’s normal anyways? Everybody’s kind of crazy in some capacity.

OTW: You've been on tour with K.Flay–what has been one of your favorite cities to perform in so far?

Jonathan: Show wise, I’d say San Francisco–I think that that one just really surprised all of us. It was a bigger venue; it felt like twice as many people as Troubador [in Los Angeles]. It was totally sold out, just like bonkers, crazy show. That was awesome, from a crowd perspective.

From a city perspective, Seattle was super dope. It was two nights in a row, that were both sold out. It was just really cool to get to see all the different stuff in that area.

OTW: Let's talk about the light display that you have for when you play live–how did that come about?

Jonathan: Every aspect of what we do is something that we’ve put some thought into. It’s always evolving, but when we were creating our universe–whether it’s our Instagram, our EP artwork, or our merch for our live show–we just wanted it to be like, “Oh, this is Nightly." 

We originally built our own lights, then Joey programmed the show. It sort of slowly evolved–upgraded those lights to what they are now, but we still do all the programming and stuff like that.

OTW: Is it true you guys had matching fender strats when you were kids? How long have you guys known each other?

Jonathan: We’re cousins, actually. We grew up together. 

Yes, we did–Joey had a blue one, and I had a black one. One of those super shitty guitars that you buy for $150, and it comes with a guitar and an amp and a bunch of other little trinkets.

OTW: Now the important questions: Power Rangers or the Ninja Turtles?

Jonathan: Ninja Turtles.

OTW: Britney Spears or Beyonce?

Jonathan: Britney Spears.

OTW: What's the most embarrassing thing that's happened to you while on tour or while performing?

Jonathan: Nothing as Nightly, not yet. 

I remember when I was a kid, my mom used to make me do school plays. Joey and I were actually in this one little play. His mom had made all the costumes. I was some kind of a soldier from like back in the day, and the pants were way too big. I only had one little scene where I had to walk in and grab this guy by the arm and drag him out…my pants fell down. I was probably like seven, and I wasn’t wearing underwear. Actually, I was probably 10. Yeah. That was kind of embarrassing. It was probably a couple hundred people, just saw my johnson, you know.

OTW: What's next for you?

Jonathan: We’re probably about halfway done this tour. We shot a music video for "XO"–it’s super dope; I’m stoked on it. 

Then we’ll be touring more for sure in 2017, and we’re constantly writing. For a new band, exposing the music is a big task.

We just want to make sure that people get to hear the music. I think a lot of times, people can just put out records way too fast, and then everything that was on the EP sort of goes by the wayside. I think that there’s some special moments on the EP, and we want to maximize that. That being said, we got some cool content planned surround the EP that we’re going to unroll over the next six to eight months along with more touring as well.