Listening to the new collaboration between Theoretics and Whitney Lyman is like being thrust into the future where nothing’s left but a young woman with her robotic blocks calling out to a barren universe for contact.
Seattle’s five-piece livetronica band reunites with the dream pop songbird for “Nightwalker,” which debuts at Sunset Tavern February 11 with an official release date (“mid-late January”) and albums on both sides to follow.
Pairing up an instrumental band with a lyricist is definitely the sign of the times, and Seattle’s already ratcheted up that digital niche in style. The EDM/hip-hop instrumentalists of the Theoretics started its One a Month project with some of the hottest song stylists in the Northwest a little over a year ago — eight total collaborations thus far — and Lyman’s a favorite go-to.
“Nightwalker” is their second single together, combining the band’s programmed electronica with Lyman’s other-worldly vocal climbs. Their first single with Lyman, the lively “Passionate Paradise,” jumped the bridge between EDM and dream pop EMO for a City Arts Magazine and KEXP debut several months ago.
In 2014, Theoretics went in an entirely inventive direction on their One a Month project by collaborating with vocalists Whitney Lyman, Maiah Manser, Tazlyn Gue, and Hanna Stevens for an electronic dance trip, and Grynch, Moe Betta, Shelton Harris, and The Bad Tenants for the hip-hop action.
Currently, the instrumental arm of Theoretics is comprised of band producer Birch Pereira (bass, synths), Ben Krulewitch (Rhodes/lead synth), Cameron Peace (guitar, synth), Arthur Brown (saxophone), and Adam Gross (drums).
Whitney Lyman and Theoretics got together earlier today to shed more light on their second single, the quietly, powerfully mesmerizing “Nightwalker,” and what’s to come.
AXS: Can you tell me more about the genesis of this single, "Nightwalker?" How does Theoretics fit into it and another single you did earlier last year?
Theoretics: The song was crafted from a beat we wrote over a series of rehearsals. We played it live for a while as an instrumental, but for the most part, we weren't really sure how it would sound on a record, as we knew something was missing. We honestly forgot about it for a while, but at some point, we shared it with Whitney Lyman who'd collaborated with us on another song. She wrote a beautiful part for "Nightwalker," and we're really proud of how the whole thing turned out.
Whitney Lyman: Theoretics work with a lot of different vocalists and when they asked me to collaborate with them, they sent me a playlist of instrumental songs, told me to pick one that inspired me, and then I wrote the vocals and lyrics over it, then we fleshed out the arrangement and produced it together. I liked working with them, so a few months later, I was listening to more of their instrumentals and this one was already titled, "Nightwalker," so that's what sparked my inspiration for this song.
AXS: What was that earlier single?
WL: That was "Passionate Paradise."
AXS: What exactly is livetronica, and how does this band affect your original music? It's a little more EDM yet still dream pop-ish. What kind of synergy comes about from the new single "Nightwalker" that maybe the listener can't find in your solo effort or with other bands?
T: Livetronica is a genre of music that blends elements of live bands and electronica, but there's more to it than that for us. We've had a lot of conversations about how to label our music, but when it comes down to it, we're trying to combine electronic sounds with live instruments to make music that appeals to all of us in the band, and livetronica is the genre that seems to fit the best.
WL: The direction that my own music is heading is more electronic-infused with my live instruments, so working with Theoretics is almost bridging the gap for my own compositions to stretch further into that realm. I think of every new song as an opportunity to explore further into my songwriting, so writing with other musicians pushes me beyond my own limits and forces me to go deeper. I think that's where the synergy comes in that it still fits in with my sound, it's just an extension of myself.
AXS: Are these singles teasers for an upcoming album?
WL: Yes! I plan to release an album of all my recent electronic collaborations! The songs will also be included on the upcoming Thoeoretics album.
T: Yes, these will be on our follow-up EP to last year's release, "Fugue State."
AXS: Have you narrowed down the exact release date?
WL: Not yet. I am still working on a couple of new tracks with other producers.
T: Not as of yet, since we're still finishing up collaborations with other great vocalists.
AXS: Sunset Tavern — is this the premiere concert for the new single? What's special about this venue?
T: Yes, this show will be the first time we'll be playing the single live, and the Sunset is the perfect venue for it. It's historic, it's an icon of the Ballard neighborhood, and when you go to a show there, you don't feel the distance or separation from the bands that you feel at other venues. When we were deciding where to try to book the show, the Sunset was the best choice.
Enjoy the world premiere of "Nightwalker," the first single of the new year by Theoretics, featuring Whitney Lyman here.