Nostalgia lulls over us all like the undulation of the tides. The longing for a past season, that special song that takes you back to a certain time, or the yearning that comes when we leave home for the first time; we all feel nostalgia in one way or another— a feeling painted by a palette of memories in our minds. Weaved between the threads of the psychedelic sounds of your dreams, bedroom tape-recorder intimacy, and deep house influence, the New York-based band field trip has sought to capture the pervading feeling of nostalgia, a feeling that is very real to them, having recently transplanted to the city from California. Through oozing synthesizers, kaleidoscopic guitar, and celestial vocals, the five-piece band fronted by Noah Davies (vocals) (ND) and made up of Phillip Braun (synth), Nico Geyer (Guitar), Jason Park (drums), and Skylar Young (bass) has developed a sound that explores each of our feelings, creating a universal, though deeply intimate musicality; a longing, while ecstatic soundtrack for today’s vulnerable youth.
You recently moved from California to New York in 2014. What was it about the city that brought you here and did you start the band here or was it pre-existing in California?
ND – I had been wanting to come to New York since I was very young because I had been there once in the fourth grade, but I didn’t have much cognitive memory about it. Then as a twelve year old, I thought there was something really romantic about, and that [feeling] was kind of prolonged. Then when I was a junior and senior in high school, I was like, ‘I don’t really know if I actually want to go to New York,’ but I got into school and it was a really specialized school for music, so it’s a good opportunity and a means of getting an education, while working on music simultaneously. A lot of bands that I love, I’ve been watching them play in New York on the Internet. I’ve always been following the scene, and I was interested in what it was like out here as compared to L.A. I played in bands in L.A., but playing live was kind of shoddy. It was hard to book shows that felt satisfying and then once we came here it was like immediate— so to answer the second part of the question, we started the band here.
In what ways does your music draw from both California and New York?
ND – It’s odd, because at first, I automatically associated all of the aspects of my music that evoke nostalgia, ecstasy, mind-manifestation, and whimsy with home (L.A.), and the more cold, anxious, claustrophobic, schizophrenic evocations with my new home (New York), but I constantly find overlap, and that, in fact, all of these attributes transmit constantly from both locales, in invigoratingly different ways. That’s why traveling is my favorite thing, and I want to tour a lot more: places are often more revelatory than people. And the same goes for more technical attributes of the recordings. I initially associated the harder, meaner, boom-bap leaning sounds with New York and the garage/psych/surf influences with stuff I was into growing up in L.A. (Thee Oh Sees , Ty Segall band, etc.). It’s the same situation in that I’m constantly realizing that these influences are coming from everywhere, and it’s so exciting that I can see them coming from both NY and L.A. with total distinction. They are both direly integral to the aesthetic/creative fibers that make up field trip.
What first drew you to psychedelic music?
ND – I think that’s a gravitation I’ve had naturally for as long as I can remember consciously listening to music. When I was young and before I could even really comprehend the notion of music production, I always got jazzed over the stuff that allowed for total immersion, that allowed for paracosm if I closed my eyes and focused on the sound, which very often was the more abstract and dense production centric recordings. I eventually realized that this special attribute was often times indebted to experimentation and Promethean tendency as a recordist. field trip is very much a result of solitude, so the bedroom production has been really conducive to me trying things out with no restraint, which has materialized in a lot of weirdness that I love. It really excites me when I see certain people getting really stoked about it and certain people getting sort of spooked by it.
Was there a moment that was like, “This is ‘field trip?’”
ND – Yeah, sort of. I was playing drums and rhythm guitar for a couple bands back home, but I was song writing a lot so when I came here I kind of wanted to try singing my own songs. As great as it is to write songs for other people, it feels a little strange sometimes, especially because the songs I write are very personal and filled with personal artifacts and emotion, so I felt like they would be communicated the best if I tried singing them. So, Phil I knew from home. Jason I met once in L.A. before we came to school— we go to the same school, [The Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music at New York University]— and Jason introduced me to Skylar because we all had a class together. I find out Skylar is a killin’ bassist, Jason plays a lot of instruments, and Phil I had been jamming in kind of a joke cover band called Pink Lemon, it was just fun, but he actually had chops on the keyboard, so I was like, ‘Want to play keyboard?’ Then Nico, we had been jamming together for years and [our song] “Never” actually came out of a jam that we had been playing together for like five years. It’s pretty cool that we all ended up here. We were like, ‘Let’s try it out’, so we rented a shitty rehearsal place and started practicing and it was really fun. Then I met [our manager] Ben outside of a Foxygen concert at Webster Hall and we were talking because I had known of him because he started the NYU Music Exchange online and I was like, ‘Oh, you’re that kid who invited me to that thing.’ I was like, ‘So, what do you want to do?’ and he said, ‘I want to manage bands,’ and I was like ‘Oh, I have a band, do you want to manage me?’ and he was like, ‘Hell yeah!’ Then very shortly after we booked Palisades, which was our first show out here and fucking awesome. That was the beginning.
Where does the name ‘field trip’ come from?
ND – Initially, my older brother who is a visual artist had made this really, really trippy marble design that he had just written ‘field trip’ on just arbitrarily because he thought it sounded cool. It was just a trippy visual, but when I looked at it, it struck me. That was a while ago, too, so I put that in my back burner— ‘If I’m ever going to start a band, keep ‘field trip’ in mind.’ I don’t want to say it means one thing, but it is a good allusion to nostalgia because my music is very nostalgic.
What draws you to capture nostalgia in your music?
ND – I think it is one of the most interesting and confounding [feelings]. Memory in general is really fastening to me and I feel like there is a really ethereal vulnerability involved with remembering and human experience in general. I think it is good from a lyrical standpoint because there is a lot to draw on for me personally and I think it speaks to the kind of production and sound that I’m going for. In a really strange way, I strive to make the music sound sort of like the memories melting out of your brain and I think it’s been working. It’s felt natural so far.
What sort of space does music provide for you to explore your personal thoughts and anxieties?
ND – Music is the absolute best place for me to explore personal thought and anxiety. My songs are a function of the in-articulable. Existence is cosmically confounding and the best catharsis is to let my words and thoughts resound across the fibers of my reality with as much of myself and those I’ve seen, as much humanism, fascination, and emotion, as I can possibly infuse. Even better when they’re enriched and buttressed by music, the most invigorating language there is.
Since your music is so intimate and vulnerable, what do you hope your listeners get from that?
ND – I don’t want it to come across as too bleak. I think that it should be a companion to anyone who wants to listen to it. It should be there to sympathize with people when they feel vulnerable, but it should also be a means of celebration and a means of using your mind. My music is very indebted to groove, too. Some songs like “Never” aren’t really like that, but there’s another dimension of the music that is very much influenced by 90s hip hop and deep house. In addition to the sympathizing and feeling that somebody is also feeling vulnerable, I think there is a less cynical side to the music, too.
Your EP is called The Sounds Inside Your Mind, what do the sounds inside your mind sound like?
ND – It’s pseudo-conceptual that whole thing. Each song is supposed to be a different psychological feeling. Each song is supposed to represent a different state of anxiety or ecstasy; they manifest personally as sounds inside my head. I physically hear mental sensation and emotion in my head as physical sound. I titled it the Sounds Inside Your Mind because I want people to hear it themselves and hopefully they can identify it with feelings, too.
What are your hopes for the band going forward?
ND – I’m working on our first proper record and my hope is that we can get it pushed well and promoted well. I just want to get more people involved. I would like a professional mix perspective, maybe. Mixing is a never-ending process for me because I just never think it’s done, which I think is a fault. I think if a professional somebody were to help me, it would go a long way. I also want to tour more. We’ve recently played at SXSW. We’ve also played in New Orleans and Philadelphia there and back so that was our first jaunt with more than one show. Hopefully from SXSW we get an agent to tour. I would love to do some more support stuff. It’s been really great to open for people, which we haven’t been doing as much lately. We’ve been booking a lot of headlining shows around the city. I just want to play more music and connect more people and travel the world, hopefully to play music in different places.