Real talk and unreal expectations, sweet tunes and breaking that mold—we meet the 15-year-old frontwoman Lydia Night and her gang of awesome.
Photo by Jen Rosenstein
In an world of online body shaming and endless ways to filter yourself, girls and women still (sigh) face loads of pressure to mask and modify their bodies in pursuit of “perfection.” But LA-based garage pop quartet The Regrettes—comprised of 15-year-old frontwoman Lydia Night, 19-year-old Genessa Gariano (guitar), 17-year-old Maxx Morando (drums), and 18-year-old Sage Nicole (bass)—are here to call that spade a spade in the video for their irresistible debut single, “A Living Human Girl.”
But don't let the breezy, Chordettes-esque bum-ba-dums at the start of the song fool you—Night dives right in with confidence and candor: “I’ve got pimples on my face / And grease in my hair / And prickly legs / Go ahead and stare / An ass full of stretch-marks / And little boobs / A nice full belly that’s filled with food / Sometimes I’m pretty / And sometimes I’m not / So let’s take a listen / Hit me with your best shot.”
And when the jaunty, reverb-heavy guitar groove (think Hinds) really sets in, she gets right down to it: “I bleed once a month / and sometimes when I shave I get little red bumps / I wear short skirts / and sometimes long pants / I can dress how I want / not looking for a show of hands.”
The song’s video is also chock-full of (visual) real talk, exploring the idea of girls as paper dolls to be dressed and judged by others: “I feel like people want girls to be molded to their liking,” says Night, who penned the track about the challenges of starting high school in Los Angeles. While The Regrettes are still fairly new, it’s clear that Night and her crew are a swiftly developing force to be reckoned with: they’ve already opened for Kate Nash, played at this year's SXSW, and just finished up a tour with Tacocat. Their debut album (on Warner Records) is expected out late 2016 or early 2017.
We caught up with Night about the first song she ever wrote, societal double standards, and who she admires most in the industry. Plus check the premiere of the video for “A Living Human Girl.”
Noisey: You’re 15 years old, now—how old were you when you started writing songs and playing guitar?
Lydia Night: I got my first acoustic guitar for my sixth birthday, and then the next day I started guitar lessons. My guitar teacher was really big on writing—she taught me through writing music. So it’s really funny, I have old songs that I [wrote when I] was six or seven, and they were really crazy. The first song I ever wrote was for this baby—it’s called “Sweet Lila”—and listening to it now, it’s just really creepy because it’s like, talking about the little fingers and the little toes and the little eyes and the little nose! It’s really funny now, but then obviously it was very serious! I love babies, so it’s funny now.
Are your parents musicians?
No! God no. But they both have really good music taste and have always engrained good bands in my brain. My dad has an online radio station ad that was always playing in the house. [He played a] a bunch of 50s rock 'n' roll mixed with punk… and a lot of classics, too. The Ramones, David Bowie, The Stones. Everything every person should know and should have as a foundation.
How did you meet your bandmates and form The Regrettes?
A little over three years ago, we met [in Los Angeles] at a music school program called School of Rock. We kind of parted ways after that, even though we all still knew each other and saw each other around. But at the end of 2015 and start of 2016, we regrouped and became The Regrettes. By then, I had already [written] a batch of songs ready for us to all learn and go back to. There was a time period when I was writing so much that I had 50 songs, 50 demos. So we learned a lot of those and started playing shows.
How did you decide on the name The Regrettes?
I was in the car driving to get frozen yogurt, and brainstorming different names, and it just kind of popped up. I think I like it because it kind of represents our music. The word “regrets” is obviously a darker word, but then how we spell it—with “ettes” at the end—makes it kind of cutesier.
What’s the story behind the song “A Living Human Girl”?
I wrote it at a time when I was feeling a lot of built-up emotions about starting high school, about being in high school. I went to kindergarten through 8th grade at a really small school in Santa Monica that was super different from the high school I went to, [which was] a big art school. I met so many amazing incredible people [at my high school], but it really opened my eyes to the insecurity that lives in most teenage girls. It was heartbreaking to be surrounded by it, and to start to really feel it for yourself, too. It’s really scary and weird—having friends with eating disorders and having friends who just don’t treat themselves well and are not nice to their bodies. When you’re around people who are insecure, it makes you more insecure.
[For teenage girls], there’s also this fear of being confident because you’re scared you’re going to be considered conceited. And that’s huge, actually. I’ve had people over [to my house] and someone’s been like, “Oh, I think I look good in this!” Which is totally reasonable and good, you should feel good in what you’re wearing! And other people said, “Oh, that’s really cocky of you to say.” It’s like, what the fuck? There’s such a weird standard, like [as a teenage girl], if you’re not insecure, then you’re a dick. [There’s an expectation we have] to be very quiet and shy and sweet and small and not take up too much space.
I don’t remember exactly what triggered [writing the song], but I can remember really clearly sitting at my kitchen table and being extremely upset and just writing it. I think it had been building up inside of me for a long time.
Where did the concept for the video come from?
At first, I was thinking of doing some sort of claymation thing. Then I decided it would be better if it was hands putting clothes on a paper doll, because I feel like people want girls to be molded to their liking.
Who is the woman in the video?
That’s my best friend, Alithea Tuttle. She’s an amazing dancer. I met her my freshman year [of high school]—she was in my biology and geometry classes. It’s crazy because it feels like we’ve been friends for so much longer. I know a lot of people say that, but it’s so true in this case! I thought [having her star in the video] was so cool, too… she’s someone I’ve had many, many discussions with about this [topic].
There’s a part of the video where there are derogatory words falling over Alithea and she fights them off—slut, whore, etc.—where did you get those words?
A lot of them I already had in my head. But I also looked up derogatory words towards women, and used all the ones that me or a friend has been called, or that they could have been called… but [in the video], [Alithea] comes out of it in the end!
What’s the most exciting thing you've encountered in the band, so far?
The most fun thing has been making our [full-length] album. It was insanely fun and crazy because waking up and going into the studio felt like going to summer camp every day.
Are there any musicians whose careers you’d like to emulate?
That’s a hard question. I’ll say this, though—this is obviously the biggest scale, but I have a lot of respect for Taylor Swift. She’s been around for a long time and she keeps reinventing her sounds and her look, and she’s kept her giant fan base for so long. I think it’s important to be really smart in this business, and she’s a really smart woman. To think about how many slimy, shitty things she’s had to deal with… it’s really cool and inspirational, I think.
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