New Music: Nightlights / Late Night Drive

Today marks the release of another cracker of a mini EP by UK’s Nightlights“Late Night Drive”.

Always a bright beacon on the synthwave landscape, she has been around since the beginning days of Echosynthetic, sharing reviews across social media, being supportive of the new artists we covered, and helping to shout out and grow the scene. So I’m very happy to give the support back, and draw your attention to the fun, vibrant, neon tapestry of sounds and feelings that is always found in a release from Nightlights.

We spoke to Nightlights heavy-lifter Nicky Rowe, after her signing to fast rising label Filtersweep Collective about her new release, future plans, and pizza.

Nicky, you’re based in the UK, arguably the birthplace of the 1980’s synthpop, new wave and electronica. With the new found popularity of synthwave and new retrowave, has it given more focus on that era of music, and does it make producing music easier for you, being that you fit perfectly into that classification?

It’s actually quite tricky to say for sure, because in the UK, many of the 1980s synthpop acts (Human League, Nik Kershaw, Howard Jones, OMD etc) have actually been doing reunion/comeback tours for a good few years now. And of course Depeche Mode and Erasure never went away! But I do like to think that the increasing popularity of synthwave has had some considerable impact somewhere along the line. After all, the influence on synthwave of some of those bands can’t be understated, and I’d be very surprised if followers of synthwave hadn’t checked out some of the bands that inspired so many of the synthwave acts! Also, though synthwave hasn’t taken hold as much as it has in America, there does seem to be an increasing number of UK acts and people who love the music, as well as several synthwave themed shows that happened recently or are due to happen fairly soon. So it’s certainly getting a strong foothold here!

I think it does make things that bit easier, because so many people – especially 80s kids – know the UK synthpop bands from their youth, even if the bands didn’t make it big outside of the UK. I may be wrong but I don’t remember Erasure taking the US by storm, but in the UK there can’t be many fans of 80s music that don’t know of them, especially with the obvious Vince Clarke connection. So if someone asks what kind of music I do, I can reel off several UK synthpop bands and a lot of people would know instantly what kind of music I meant.

The last album “Forever” was pure 80’s pop filled with memories of summer evenings sitting by the pool or driving through a neon filled landscape late at night. This single set sounds almost as if it’s the latter part of that same drive. Almost a companion release to “Forever”. Was this an aim of yours? Or if not, what is the inspiration behind it?

Yeah, it was kinda meant to be a companion to “Forever.” I always planned to put one of the tracks out from that album as a single, with an unreleased B side. But then, the unreleased track I was working on was diverted to the “Synthaid” charity album due out later in 2017. So I started over and while sketching out possible ideas, it led to three totally new tracks anyway. So it made more sense to stuff them all onto a 3 track single/mini EP.

The theme to “Forever” was definitely based around a late summer evening, with the light just fading and the imagined journey home was through a town or city awash with warm neon lights. I just felt the whole idea needed a little more exploring so these three new tracks seemed ideal for that. One of the most endearing 80s memories for me was being given lifts back home by my granddad at night, and in the distance we’d be able to see the lights of the nearby city of Birmingham. There was just something really special and memorable about that, so I wanted to try to capture that, in some way, with the music.

I see you’ve now signed to Filtersweep Collective. It’s a shift from being independent, why did this come about, and what are you plans for the future?

Yes! I can honestly say I am seriously excited about that, especially as, at the start of the year when Nightlights began to properly take shape, I’d never have imagined being able to say I’d been signed to a label. And the idea behind Filtersweep Collective seems like such a great one, in the genuine sense of the word “collective” – namely everyone on the label helping each other out whenever possible, lending a hand to make the label bigger and better.

It came about because of a friendship between me and JJ Christie, creator/founder of the label. He heard my Nightlights music and, bless him, seemed to really like it and took a chance on signing me to his label. I think that when we first started swapping messages on Twitter etc, the label may have been very new and very small, but it seems that it developed pretty rapidly into what it is now. You only have to look at the list of names it attracted for the Future Synths compilations and the huge roster for Stranger Synths, to see how much respect the label already has.

Plans for the future… Well, now the “Late Night Drive” mini EP is done and about to be released on an unsuspecting world, I have my tour of the stadiums to plan out. Hmm… maybe. No, the plan is to work on a full length album, ideally something based around a soundtrack for an imaginary 80s animated fantasy film. At this point I don’t know if it’ll work out, but I’m throwing a few ideas together and testing things out, so there’s that, with maybe some one-off singles along the way to keep things ticking along where releases etc are concerned.

Will we ever see a darkwave, or cyberpunk inspired release from Nightlights?

Ah, I won’t rule it out! It could happen one day, even if it isn’t on the cards right now. One thing I really don’t like is falling into the trap of repeating myself with music too much. So although it would be great if Nightlights finds a little niche, (if that doesn’t sound arrogant) I wouldn’t want to feel trapped into not being able to explore other types of music – such as darkwave etc – just because “that doesn’t sound like a Nightlights track.”

What would you put on a pizza. Pineapple or Anchovies?

Bleh! Anchovies are just so silvery and shiny. I don’t actually mind pineapple on pizza, so I think it’ll have to be that. Unless it goes cold, at which point it’s pure evil.

Anything else you’d like to add, or any shoutouts?

Well, first and foremost has to be Filtersweep of course, and JJ Christie, for signing me and for the friendship, which really does mean a huge amount. He’s been a huge help with support for my music, suggestions, and goodness knows how much else, and I really can’t thank him enough for that. Also, the mighty two, Echosynthetic and Watermelon Banzai, who both took the time to review several of my Nightlights releases. Again, they’re a really big help to the synthwave community in so many ways, so the more support they can be given, the better! And also I just want to add a really big thanks to my friends I’ve met over the years thanks to the internet, whether members of the synthwave family/community or not – their help and friendship has often been invaluable over the years, and Nightlights quite simply wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t for several of those friends. So thank you!

Nightlight’s new mini EP “Late Night Drive” can be purchased from her Bandcamp page.


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