Niki Colet shares a chunk of her soul with the world as she delivers her latest EP Endless Summer.
On Friday (05/31), the FIlipina singer-songwriter unveiled her 6-track EP, which includes the singles 'I Wish' and 'Big City.'
"Music is my first love and oldest friend," the Bandwagon Brunch alum writes on Tumblr. "I dedicated my early twenties to making the music in this record. I wrote about things that happened, moments that changed me. This part of life feels, at least to me, exactly like an endless summer. Floating, languid, confusing, uncertain, exciting. A summer of new things. A summer of intense feelings."
Bandwagon caught up with Colet to go into detail about each track off her Endless Summer EP.
'The Sound' is about the unglamorous reality of following your dreams, not giving up on yourself, and finding purpose. Influenced by a range of musical inspiration--from Florence Welch to Rusted Root to Johnny Clegg's 'Dela' and Brigitte Bardot's 'Moi je joue'—'The Sound' is a glorious, hopeful song that also acknowledges sadness and exhaustion. Ultimately the "sound" referenced in the lyrics is the sound of one's heart, a calling to something greater.
This song took me more than a year to write. I started it when I was feeling depressed and dejected—I have loved music and the process of songwriting since I was a kid, but for a period, I was so consumed by my insecurities and anxiety that I couldn’t even bring myself to be excited about opportunities ahead of me. I was confused and burned out and I didn’t even want to admit it to myself. I let the song go, for the time being.
And then I returned to it much later, when things had changed and I was picking myself up and feeling better again, and continued to write it in a more encouraging light. Through the journey of writing 'The Sound,' I came to realize that the music would never leave me. Sometimes, as artists, we can get tired, discouraged, insecure, and burnt out. This can leave us questioning whether we’re really meant to do whatever it is we want to do. But I believe that when you love something, it will find you again. No matter how many times I tried to quit, music would come back to me, whether in the form of a half-dreamed verse or a small melody. I’d break away from it, and later find myself tapping my fingers to a beat only I could hear, singing in the shower as boldly as my range would let me.
One of my favorite producers and musicians, Jack Antonoff, talks about Robyn’s brilliance as a songwriter in her ability to create music where the “sadness is sewed into the glory.” That’s something I tried to do with this one. Ultimately, 'The Sound' is about following your dreams and being your most authentic self even when it’s difficult.
My relationship with music has felt like a long hike or an expedition through unknown terrain. Sometimes I cross through dark valleys; other times I climb up arduous slopes only to find myself at the top of a mountain, relishing in a splendorous view. The lyrics in 'The Sound' represent that. The path towards following your dreams can sometimes feel like a weary traveler’s adventure around the world. That’s why the verses talk about walking for miles and miles, to being at sea, leaving home. No matter how lost and unmoored you may feel, I’ve learned, the sound of your heart, the call of your dreams, will never leave you.
'Big City' is about the sentiment of “being alone in a crowded room,” but on a bigger scale—feeling alone in a huge city. It’s about living in a city full of people who all know each other, but are so detached. The isolation that comes with being around a culture that is cliquish and exclusive. Where we don’t really interact with strangers or go out of our comfort zones enough to make an effort with new people. We end up objectifying and using each other. This song is about a deep and painful loneliness, wanting to be somewhere else, and feeling stuck.
I drew inspiration from a lot of different things aside from music. The Bret Easton Ellis novel Less than Zero, Lux Lisbon in The Virgin Suicides, the way a street looks at night after the rain. I wanted to capture the feeling of numb indifference. Every verse is about something that happened that made me feel that way, made me so acutely aware of a jarring sort of isolation. I wanted the song to be plain and melancholic, with emotionally impactful percussions. Mikee’s drums on this track sound like a slow motion marching forward. The simple little notes on the lead guitar sound like a sad lullaby.
Could Be Love
Having a crush feels indulgent, and I wanted to write a song that was as saccharine and idealistic as love at first sight. An intentionally sentimental anthem for hopeless romantics. It’s about the highest point of being infatuated, when you’re still drunk on the “what ifs” and “maybe this could happen” and you’re completely spellbound, telling yourself, “Hey, this could be the real thing.” When you’re kind of making fun of yourself a little, because you’re head over heels for someone who is kind of mysterious and broody, and you already know you’re making up a story in your head and getting ahead of yourself.
The story behind the song is that it takes place on a very early morning – you’ve just arrived home after a night out, feeling kind of empty still, so late it’s early. I wanted 'Good Morning' to have a numb “I’m sick of the world” feeling to it, for moments where you feel more in touch with inanimate objects, more comfortable in her loneliness, than you do with other people. It’s about a detached kind of sadness and isolation. When you can’t help but feel cynical towards the world.
For this song, I was really inspired by the kind of harmonies and arrangements in '60s and '70s folk/folk-rock. I was influenced by artists like Simon & Garfunkel, Nico, Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan, etc. I wanted this song to feel trippy and psychedelic but subtly so-like a sonic inebriated stupor. We even tried to do some effects with the vocals that would add the “trippiness”—like panning certain parts from one side of the speakers to another—but in retrospect, I’m not sure how effective it was. We had fun, but there’s another, simpler version of the song that I also love, which I will be releasing as a remix later on. I think my playlist (for all my musical influences/pegs for this song) is the most cohesive in terms of artist, genre, and time period.
This song is about wanting something that (or someone who) isn’t good for you. It’s about being infatuated by something that is completely appealing on the surface, knowing you shouldn’t say yes to it, but also the pull towards it (or that person) is strong, because you’ve been good all your life and just want to know for once what would happen if you caved and made some bad decisions. Maybe there’s a lot of chemistry, a lot of electricity, but you know from the get go that it isn’t going to work out. Kind of like cake that’s all icing and sprinkles but no actual cake. You shouldn’t say yes, but you really kind of want to.
When I first wrote this song, I was completely smitten with someone, and I couldn’t stop listening to songs that were about people like him, or the kind of crazy, ecstatic feelings this crush made me feel. Three songs, in particular, were on repeat: “Cut to the Feeling” by Carly Rae Jepsen, “Bad Liar” by Selena Gomez, and “Second Nature” by my friend BP Valenzuela. But the song turned out to be kind of different in spirit, I think. It was a little rougher around the edges. Sonically, I drew a lot of inspiration from surf rock, lo-fi bedroom pop, indie rock, and old school indie favorites. There’s The Ramones and Violent Femmes, but also The Drums and Mac de Marco.
I can't believe where this song has gone since I released it—almost 200,000 streams, it's insane! I started writing 'I Wish' a few years ago. It was also February, around Valentine's season, and I wanted to capture a feeling I had never been able to find the words for, and bottle up that feeling into a song. Being kilig is wonderful (and I love that there's also no word for it in the English language), but the feeling I was attempting to crystallize was something else. I was trying to make a piece of music that captured the slow simmer of falling in love that happens in the mundane, everyday moments. In the movie Before Sunrise, Julie Delpy's character, Celine, says, "I believe if there's any kind of God it wouldn't be in any of us, not you or me but just,"—here she gestures between herself and Jesse, the boy in the leather jacket she met on the train and says—"this little space in between."
"If there's any kind of magic in this world," she says, "it must be in the attempt of understanding someone sharing something. I know, it's almost impossible to succeed, but who cares really? The answer must be in the attempt."
I wanted to make a song that was that. A song that occupied that space between. Both melodically and lyrically. Like when someone understands you in a really specific way that nobody else does. Like when your person takes a leaf out of your hair, or carries your things, or falls asleep on your shoulder, and you feel like floating. Like something Frances says in the movie Frances Ha, "It's that thing when you're with someone, and you love them and they know it, and they love you and you know it... but it's a party... and you're both talking to other people, and you're laughing and shining... and you look across the room and catch each other's eyes... but—but not because you're possessive, or it's precisely sexual... but because... that is your person in this life. And it's funny and sad, but only because this life will end, and it's this secret world that exists right there in public, unnoticed, that no one else knows about. It's sort of like how they say that other dimensions exist all around us, but we don't have the ability to perceive them." Like when somebody who is special to you makes life feel kind of like a movie and a dream all at once, and your head's in the clouds.
I finished the bare bones of that piece of music—the basic chord structure on the acoustic guitar, the melody, the lyrics—within a few months. But I knew there was something missing. Sometimes I would take it out of my song bank and tinker around with it, but it wasn't until I started jamming with Mikee (who is an amazing guitarist and drummer), that I began to find the sound I wanted to develop. In the recording studio, she developed a beautiful theme on the electric guitar and we ran with it.
This song is precious to me because, for the longest time, I wasn't sure what to do with it—I just knew that it had potential, and I knew what I wanted it to capture. It was a big road bump for a while. It almost wasn't supposed to be a part of this record. But I decided to include it at the last minute, with a lot of encouragement from Mikee. We jammed to 'I Wish' at a gig in Cebu, and I remembered how much I loved putting this song together when it first came into my head. The lead guitar riff she started playing was small, but magical, and almost powerful in how understated it was. It reminded me of what this song was all about, and why I wrote it in the first place.
The song is simple, but it also has elements that are unexpectedly complex, if you listen closely. Kind of like the feeling I was trying to capture with it. I wrote it so that each verse captured a different part of a relationship. The first verse is about the first time two strangers meet eyes at a party and feel that spark of mutual longing. The second verse is a glimpse into the beginnings of a relationship, daydreams and Friday nights and all the floaty feelings. There’s a third verse in lieu of a bridge, and this one is my favorite. It’s a little snippet of a life together, with all the worn comfortable edges, two people sitting by each other in silence, doing their own thing, and forgetting to leave. With the outro, I like to imagine an old couple staring out onto the view before them, smiling at the memories and saying things like, “Remember when we were young…?”
I know it’s not the most conventional pop song or even the most conventional love song, and I don’t really know what category it falls into, but I’m very proud of it and really hope you guys like this one.
Get Niki Colet's new EP Endless Summer here.