London-based indie-pop three piece LuxJury released their debut single ‘Hot Mess’ recently, catapulting the band into the spotlight. Fronted by lead singer Nicole Fermie, who is a self-professed latecomer to the queer party but made great cliff notes along the way. The cliff notes were put to music which translated into alternative, extremely positive, autobiographical pop guitar music. Like if Prince went down more of a singer songwriter route than outright sex machine.
Naming George Michael, Angel Olsen and the Vampyros Lesbos soundtrack as their main inspirations, LuxJury draws from their combined influences, fusing elements of pop, rock and soul baring lyricism to create their own distinctively captivating sound. To help celebrate the release of their debut single, we chatted with Nicole about how the started making music, what inspires them, and what's next.
Hi all, lovely to be chatting with you! When did you first start making music?
"The first piece of music I created was a piece called ‘Wall and Pipe’. ‘Wall and Pipe’ was a medley of all the songs in the Sound of Music, which I performed by beating a metal pipe against a wall and singing acapella over it. I was four years old."
"Being raised a South Asian Catholic girl, I wasn’t allowed out the house past 7pm which can only be described as ample conditions for investing 10,000 hours learning to play guitar in the basement."
How would you describe your sound?
"I have a weakness for major chord progressions from the 60s, circles of fifths, and honeyed harmonies. I love putting serious and sometimes crushing lived experiences to major music. Maybe it’s all an act of self-preservation. But that’s just the way it comes out in the wash: 'Happysad' is what I’d call my sound."
Do you have any set influences that help define your music?
"In terms of vibe and the feels that come with it, I’m a die hard fan of 60s doo wop from Maurice Williams to Dion & The Belmonts to the Temptations. I’ve been in a band since I was 15 and was most influenced by the repetitiveness of Krautrock and 60s guitar wailing from people like James Gurley from the band Big Brother and The Holding Company."
"I’m big on songwriting and only bother putting effort into tracks that stick in my head. That’s mostly thanks to influences like Marvin Gaye, the Bee Gees, Frankie Vallie, Nina Simone, Angel Olsen and Bruce Springsteen."
What is your songwriting process? How does it all come together?
"There is no single process. Some songs write themselves. Others are just vignettes that live with you until a jam session with the band finally builds a home for them. I’m constantly writing via the notes app in my phone where I record everything from inspiring lines in poetry, books or the things people say, through to great rhythms generated by escalators in the tube."
What’s the most important thing for you when you’re writing a song?
"That something about it sticks in my head the day after - whether it’s a riff, or a groove or a line.
Tell us a bit about your new project 'Hot Mess'.
"'Hot Mess' is a love song for those who fall victim to the dopamine of new love and end up allowing themselves to be strung along. It actually refers to quite a dark time in my life where I really did abandon a lot of self respect holding out for the love of someone who just couldn’t make up their mind quite enough to let me go."
"The song might as well also be a love song to London: the city where you wake up tired and go to be wired. It started its life as a punk song and gradually mellowed out into a Fleetwood Mac-style driving song. I guess that sometimes happens with emotions: when they first appear they are visceral and raw and then with time get distilled into their essence."
What advice would you give to band’s who are looking to make it?
"Stop trying to make it. Make music because you love it and send it to people who you think will actually get it. Do your research into those people who could actually help you develop your music career in a meaningful way, whenever you can, and don’t be afraid to ask people for advice."
What has been your best moment as a band so far?
"When Nathan joined the band on bass and we finally had three part harmonies for all the tracks when we play them live. It made the doo-wop fan in me do mental cartwheels of joy. "
Recorded and mixed at Hermitage Works and produced by Nathan Ridley, ‘Hot Mess’ explores the complexities of toxic love and addiction, but with an undeniably sexy undertone. LuxJury lure in their listeners by telling stories with expression and relatability, but with an angsty yet playfully roguish honesty at its core.
Having moved to London 2018 with drummer Howey who she met at university in Bath, they dived head first into the Hackney Wick warehouse scene where they met Florence and the Machine’s tour manager who introduced them to the eclectic queer rock scene created by producer and studio owner Margo Broom (Hermitage Works - Goat Girl, Big Joanie, Fat White Family). Whilst recording at the studio they met a young, eager and roguishly handsome studio engineer called Nathan. Nathan later became their trusted producer, co-writer, and eventually, after some encouragement - bassist. Nathan is first and foremost a drummer - but really he’s a musician that can play pretty much anything. They all sing, they all play, they all dance. It’s quite the live spectacle.
With ‘Hot Mess’ being the first of a string of releases for LuxJury this year, 2023 shows no signs of slowing down for the multi-faceted trio.
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