Gilbert's Lydia to Perform With Full String Section at Mesa Arts Center

LydiaEXPAND
Lydia
Cory Davis

Don’t ask Leighton Antelman to explain how his dream-pop outfit, Lydia, composes songs. Like Lydia’s music, which is full of hazy edges and misty melodies, Antelman’s answer provides a vague guide to the band’s musical aspiration.

“There’s a lot of different randomness. I’m not really sure,” he says inconclusively. “We all have our own mini studios in our houses, and we all write our first ideas — the melodies or harmonies — separately. Once we have these, we get together and try and mash together a couple ideas and go with one of whatever and see what happens. I think that’s a lot where it comes from.”

Whatever the process, the outcome works for the Gilbert-based threesome. The sound is both dreamy and poppy, yet it has an alt-edge to it. There are unexpected harmonies and lush passages, moments of longing and angst. Vocals float in the ether above the music, creating a roller coaster of emotions.

The generally sunny disposition that permeates Lydia’s earlier work took a darker turn on Run Wild, the band’s most recent effort. Plodding and brooding at times, Antelman says Run Wild isn’t as “summer-ish” as 2013’s Devil.

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“I don’t know if they’re drastically different. We don’t go into each record trying to make them drastically different, but we’re not trying to make the same record. I’d say Run Wild is a little darker,” he says. “It never came across as light-hearted as Devil. Everyone has their own opinion, but that’s how it felt to me.”

Antelman is the lone original member of a group of Gilbert high school friends that formed a band in 2003 over the love of making music. There was no real aspiration.

“I don’t think I was hoping to get something out of it. I was just trying to make it art,” he says. “That’s just what came naturally to me, and it’s not like I was good at it. I was terrible at the start. That’s just what kinda kept me up at night. Everyone has the thing that keeps them up at night. I don’t know why, but it just kinda stuck with me.

“Not to sound cheesy or anything, but we just really liked playing music,” he adds. “That’s just what it comes down to. We didn’t really care how it went or where it went. I think even if nobody gave a shit about it, we’d still be playing in the basement.”

Yet, once they became “good at it,” garnering attention in the form of radio airplay and expanded concert tours, musical differences and stresses surfaced, and Lydia splintered, dissolving completely in 2010. Just over a year later, the second iteration of Lydia appeared as Antelman carried forth with Matt Keller and Justin Camacho.

The current tour finds the band expanding even further, adding a complete string section for the first time, something the band’s wanted to do for several years.

“We finally got the opportunity,” Antelman says excitedly.

The strings will give the music a more up-close and personal feel by removing the electronic adaptations inherent on the band’s albums.

“We put a lot of strings and MIDI stuff on our songs either way, so we’ve just kinda … made them into real live parts,” he says. “It will be more alive and right in front of you.”

Antelman adds that even though the home turf has become “just another tour stop,” he’s excited to play locally the night before Thanksgiving.

“It should be sort of rowdy,” he says. “Everyone’s home for Thanksgiving with nothing to do. It should be really fun.”

Lydia is scheduled to play Mesa Arts Center on Wednesday, November 23.

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