The first time we caught The Regrettes, they were channeling the Powerpuff Girls with a sweet punk vibe. Lydia Night, the band's frontwoman, was dressed in a bubblegum pink with guitar to match. Genessa Gariano (guitar), to her right, opted for a seafoam green while Sage Nicole (bass) stuck to all-black ensemble. The next day, while we were at Comic-Con, three giant inflatables of the superhero girls flew above the fountain directly across from the coveted convention. At the time, we didn't realize it was a symbol for their future to come.
The Regrettes, along with Maxx Morando on drums, originally met when they attended School of Rock together a couple years back. They separated to their own lives when the program ended until Night called each with a proposition: Let's start a band. The four began playing shows together at the start of the year including gigs at SXSW, going on tour with Tacocat during the summer (where we caught them), and joined up with other local bands to Save The Smell. Now, they've recorded their yet-to-be-titled debut record with Warner Bros. Big things are on definitely the horizon.
Most talk of the group focuses largely on their age, perhaps because there's a lot of honesty in their music that tends to get more phased out as bands feel under a microscope. Two of the songs we've had on heavy rotation, "A Living Human Doll" and "Hey Now," were both born out of frustration. One at the pressure girls feel with their body and the second with a boy who might now have some regrets. They're frank and point blank. Overall, they're both about sticking up for what's right, a feeling that can resonate with all ages. We caught up to Lydia to discuss moving to a label, songwriting, and the duty to use your voice.
The band, as it stands, officially formed at the end of last year but you did a couple dates in October 2015 supporting Jack Off Jill in the U.K. How did that come to be and what did you learn from the experience? That was when I was in a two-piece. The singer of Jack Off Jill, Jessicka [Addams], saw me play at an event and really liked us. We were up for the tour already so she offered [it to us]. It was amazing because all of Jack Off Jill are just so cool. Those shows were so much bigger than any shows I'd ever played before. I think the main thing that I learned from that was, just watching their stage presence, each and every one of them is so amazing. It would push me to push myself more every night.
You recently signed to Warner Brothers and recorded your debut album with them. What was it like transitioning from working independently to working with a label? It's super different. Independently, obviously, you're paying for everything yourself. You're doing everything yourself so transitioning and starting to work with a label was actually... It was super different but it was way easier than I thought it was going to be. I thought it was going to be a lot more of answering to other people and having a lot of people say no to my ideas when really it was the opposite. Whenever we have an idea, everyone just wants to make it possible and make it happen, try and bring your ideas to life rather than shoot them down. Recording the album was just amazing and unlike anything we've ever done. I know we've all had some experience in recording studios but more like backyard recording studios, nothing like a real super professional studio. The best part about it was the fact that we were in this amazing space that was super fancy and had all these insane things but the atmosphere was so home-y. It literally just felt like summer camp because Mike [Elizondo], our producer, and Alonzo and Brent–who were the two guys who were working at the studio–they're all so cool and so fun to be around. It literally was just like summer camp every day.
How do you coordinate doing practices and writing sessions with your various school and life schedules? We have rehearsals twice a week. Pretty much now if we don't have a gig that we're preparing for then we'll make it a writing session usually if we have time or are in the mood. We'll just decide that it's a writing session. It kind of just happens organically but, yeah, everyone's super busy. Luckily, Genessa and Sage are graduated from high school and I'm home schooled so that all is a little easier but it's really hard for Maxx. He's juggling so much because he's a senior at a college prep school plus being in bands and stuff is a lot but we all make it work.
You've written since you were seven after the encouragement of your guitar teacher. A lot of people start off writing from a very personal space then their approach changes. What is your approach now versus when you started? When I started it was definitely always from a personal place because that's how I was taught, that you write about the things that are going on for you and nobody else. Now I've kind of learned about how it's interesting to write from other people's perspectives. I'll write from my friend's perspectives. If somebody is telling me about their life, sometimes I'll turn it into a song. I think I've learned that it's okay to not only write from your personal experience but it's okay to also write from someone else's perspective, whether they are a real person or not, because it's also fun to make up a character from that perspective.
Are any of the songs you've released so far more about a character rather than yourself? Yeah, for sure. There's some songs on the record that are about characters or at least I can think of one right now in my head but yeah, there's at least one.
The video for "Hey Now" you recently released has an awesome 50's throwback to it but also touches on issues of sexism, racism and bisexuality. How did you conceptualize the video? Actually, my dad came up with the treatment. He's the one that directed and wrote it but I had been talking about wanting to have a video that had us performing in that setting, in an old kind of dance show similar to the one in the original Hairspray. We were trying to figure out a way to use that but have a twist on it and have it shine a light on some issues that people recognized that were super alive back then but realizing that they're also very alive now. He wrote the treatment for the video and we all loved it.
One thing I've noticed through your music and your social media presence is that you take it upon yourself to speak up on various issues. In my experience, I'm very fortunate that a lot of people I know are very outspoken on women's rights, Black Lives Matter, and more. Do you find that's commonplace nowadays with your peers or do people tend to be not as outspoken?
I think that it's kind of half and half. I do have a lot of friends that are extremely outspoken and like talking about that but I also have the other side of the spectrum which is a lot of teenagers that are insecure and don't want to be judged for having opinions which is interesting to me.
Why is it interesting?
I don't know, since I'm not like that. I have no problem talking about things that are going on. I think it's important to talk about stuff that's happening in the world. It's interesting to have people in my life that are not like that and to kind of learn why they're not like that. I like having conversations with people that aren't comfortable doing that just to see why.
Most of the record is comprised of songs you wrote in the past but more recently you've started writing as a group. Has that maybe changed the general direction of your sound?
We all write music separately and I think it's obviously different because it's a collaboration. Everything that we've written so far has been really... It all kind of is in the same genre. It all follows under the same type of music but at the same time the content and actual music itself is different because we're all incorporating different ideas. But it's really cool. I'm really excited about it. It's been really fun. We all really enjoy writing together.
What is one of your favorite shows that you've been to that's helped impact how you want to be as a performer?
Kate Nash, for sure, who I've seen a bunch of times is super inspiring. I actually just went to Beyonce which was an entire different genre and thing in itself but so empowering and inspiring, just listening to her talk about the things that matter to her. She said this one thing, "A lot of women think that it's possible to be born weak when there's no such thing as being born as a weak woman." It was super powering.
What are your thoughts on people speaking up, like how you were inspired by Beyonce? Do you feel like being part of the media, you have a responsibility to speak your mind?
I do for sure. I wouldn't know if it's necessarily a responsibility but I think it's super important for artists and for people who have a voice and are listened to to speak out about things because that's a lot of times the only way that younger people and all ages get educated about things. I think a lot of people don't watch the news anymore and also a lot of the news is totally biased. Seeing someone on social media that you really look up to talk about a certain issue is empowering and cool to see and is educating.
What are the issues that are most important to you?
Right now, self-love. The things that fall under that [are] body image and equality of the sexes. I think that self-love in general is extremely important because it affects everything else. I think that a lot of people have a lot of hate inside of them because they don't love themselves and that's where a lot of horrible crimes come from, them not having any self-love. If everyone were to love themselves a little more [then] the world would be a much better place.
So you're still fifteen but you're going to be sixteen soon. Are you getting your driver's license or are you hoping to avoid the whole thing?
Well, I really want to but I'm a huge procrastinator and I just haven't gotten my permit yet. Me and my best friend, our birthdays are pretty close to each other. She just turned sixteen and we both haven't gotten our permits yet. We've been talking about how we're going to get them together and we just haven't so hopefully soon though. Just busy.
And lastly, I saw that you tweeted about Corey Feldman's "Go 4 It" performance. Would you ever be open to a collaboration?
Oh my god, yes! Absolutely. Are you kidding me? That would be the fucking craziest thing. At first I got so fascinated with him and I watched so many videos of Corey Feldman. I thought it was so intriguing, all these things he had done. Him talking about women and shit, it was crazy. He's so obsessed with wanting to be a mixture of Michael Jackson meets Hugh Hefner. It's insane.