Nightbox haven’t happened yet. As of right now the world seems relatively oblivious to synth-pop troupe’s existence – other than having their deliciously catchy and energetic single Pyramid featured on Kitsune Maison’s ‘Indie Dance’ compilation they have yet to quite crossover – and for now that is the world’s loss, because Nightbox are making pop music as interesting as any NME cover star or chart topper right now. But frankly this is no problem, as the band seem set to achieve one or the other in the near future; their fanbase has been growing through their tour with the Canadian popstar Lights (think Ellie Goulding but interesting) and even as I met the band outside London’s Scala they were being courted by a mysterious man from an enormous label, the name of which I’m not supposed to mention.
I talked to the band’s singer and songwriter Jake Bitove who prides himself upon his “Russian sniper”-esque dress sense, and the self-confessed Van Gough look-alike in charge of the electronic aspect of Nightbox; James Shelly, who joked to me that if he was a cheap snack he’d be a Yorkie “because I’m not for girls.” When quizzed about his lyrics, Jake attested “I usually don’t even know what I’m writing about… I just write whatever I’m thinking at that time,” and after James joked about how “he does these sessions where he doesn’t emerge for 3 days, nobody knows what he does” he mysteriously replied “yeah I don’t talk about my lyrics…”
So far Nightbox have released one self-titled ep, made of 4 solid hits from the same boxing ring as Friendly Fires’ best tracks, but dealing out their blows backed by a solid wall of synthesized 00’s dance music influenced by the likes of Vitalic, held up by a backbone of the kind of indie rock that everyone got excited about in 2001, and then again in 2005; “we started off in high school playing guitar rock, our favourite bands were like Franz Ferdinand and Bloc Party.” This works perfectly live; the unreleased fan-favourite Utopia in particular tends to go down a storm at Nightbox shows, with its tropically-flavoured calypso feel. This is thanks in part to the fact that – despite having one foot firmly in heavily produced dance – all the music is entirely live; “It was really important to me to not be one of those bands that just has a bunch of backing tracks going, it’s actually all happening live, I run ableton with a bunch of MIDI controllers, so if you hear a sound then I’ll have at least have triggered it.”
The best thing about Nightbox is that you get the impression they would make a perfectly good straight-up indie rock band in the vein of Two Door Cinema Club and they could also make a beguiling experimental dance group, but they chose to mash the two together, and the end result is pop music in its best form. As Jake explained to me; “dance music is all about the pursuit of ‘that new sound,’ it doesn’t have any lyrics to give it that timeless feel, it’s all very immediate… we’re aiming to be these kind of collage musicians that incorporate things that are good about all kinds of music and synthesize them into our own” whilst James emphasized that “our stuff if always going to have that backbone of that driving beat that comes from dance.”
If their live sets are anything to go by, the soon-to-be-recorded Nightbox album is going to be laden with hits; Nightbox haven’t happened yet, but it won’t be long now.