Indra Dunis and Aaron Coyes, the married duo behind Peaking Lights, say they plan to get “2011 tattoos.” 2011 was the year they moved from Wisconsin, where she grew up, back to California, where he did, and where, up the coast in the San Francisco Bay Area, the two originally met. It’s also the year Dunis and Coyes released Peaking Lights’ breakout album, 936, welcomed their son, Mikko, into the world, and started recording their nocturnally-themed follow-up, Lucifer.
Though the title’s devilish connotations might seem out of character for a couple of new parents, Dunis and Coyes explain that the word’s original Latin meaning refers to Venus: literally, “the Morning Star.” Appropriately, Lucifer maintains the mesmerizing pull and finely tuned sonic detail of Peaking Lights’ earlier work. The recording quality, however — with engineering by Al Carlson (Light Asylum, Oneohtrix Point Never, Lady Gaga) — is their most sparkling yet, and the lyrics, written by both group members, embrace the types of new beginnings that have characterized their lives together the past dozen or so months.
eMusic’s Marc Hogan, himself a proud recent father, caught up with Dunis and Coyes via Skype a few days into their European tour, just minutes after they had arrived at a friend’s house in London. Occasionally finishing each others’ thoughts in that way longtime couples often do, Peaking Lights discussed Mikko’s musical tastes, how parenthood affected Lucifer, and the importance of a good vibe.
On what it’s like taking an infant on tour:
Indra Dunis: We’ve actually gotten really lucky in that so far, two of the three shows have been in places that have playgrounds. InParis, the festival was in a big park, so there was this incredible kids’ playground there. And then yesterday inGhent [Belgium] it was an outdoor theater and they had a playground next door, so it was a lot of fun for him. Our tours end up being half tour of parks and half playing shows at night.
On their son’s musical tastes:
Aaron Coyes: He’s really into [disco-funk artist Hamilton] Bohannon. We just made a mixtape of his stuff. He really liked Bohannon.
Dunis: He likes New Order. He likes stuff with a good beat and a good bass line. But sort of a specific kind of beat, more of a disco, techno kind of beat.
Coyes: Kind of, but he also likes throbby bass dub stuff. And he likes some doo wop, or really sweet soul songs. But he’s not really a fan of more like horn, funk — I don’t know how to describe it.
Dunis: It’s funny. He’s really specific. He doesn’t seem to like indie rock all that much. He likes dance-oriented stuff mostly. I think he likes the Beach Boys — well, I don’t know if he likes the Beach Boys anymore. He liked them when he was really little.
Coyes: He used to sleep to Pet Sounds.
On how having a baby influenced Lucifer:
Coyes: We started writing it when he was still in utero, and we recorded it when he was 6 months old.
Dunis: He’s been with us the whole time, so he’s always been a big part of the process. Definitely a big inspiration for us. Having a child, as you know now, totally changes your life and just really opens your mind to some bigger things.
On recording Lucifer in New York:
Coyes: I thinkNew York is more hectic when you don’t live there or something. When we were living there we got into our routine pretty quick.
Dunis: It felt like an inspiring place to create. We had a good setup. We subletted an apartment in Greenpoint. We could walk to the studio every day, and we brought a nanny with us, so we had Mikko and she took care of him during the day. There was a lounge in the studio so they would hang out there a lot and we were able to see Mikko throughout the day. So it worked out really well. We wrote a lot of the album in the studio because it was an opportunity for us to try to spend time together and be creative. At home, as you know, it was a little more difficult, with a baby!
On making the leap to Mexican Summer (home to Best Coast, Washed Out, Real Estate, Marissa Nadler, the Tallest Man on Earth):
Coyes: After we wrote 936 and people started saying, “Hey, what’s your guys’ deal?” we just took our time, you know? We took our time meeting people and we liked them. A lot of it for us is about vibe, you know, and how we get on with people. Their vibe was awesome.
Dunis: We really liked them. That was the main reason. Their label is cool, too, so we felt like it would be a good match. But we definitely went by vibe.
Coyes: I would say it was like 98 percent vibe.