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They're Flying High: Lost Valentinos

Sydney band Lost Valentinos have been getting plenty of airplay in both Australia and the UK. They released their debut LP Cities of Gold last month, and we sat down with the bands lead singer, Nik Yiannikas, to talk about it.

You’ve released a couple of EPs previously but Cities of Gold is your first full-length album. Ummm, what took so long?
We were taking the concept thing a little too seriously, and thought the album wouldn't be the authentic, epic journey that we wanted it to be unless it took a long time to make. Maybe.

The video for Serio has lots of Incan dudes running around, you’ve referred to the music on the album as being ‘Conquistadisco’ and it’s called ‘Cities of Gold’ of course. What is it about the Incan culture that has influenced you so much?
I'm glad you said Incan. Normally we get asked about our 'Aztec influences', as though it’s the same thing! Anyway, when we were working on the record, we were getting quite deep into this old French/Japanese cartoon called ‘Mysterious Cities of Gold'. Hence the name of the album, and the Incan dudes (us??) running around in the Serio video. Plus the brothers Santamaria [Andrew-guitar and Patrick-bass] are of South American descent, so I guess there were in fact actual Incan dudes running around in the video.


The album seems to traverse from the light summery vibe of Serio to the cool, darkness of songs like ‘Between the Squalls’ and ‘Dark That I Love.’ What was your headspace while writing the album?
Well the writing/recording period kind of overlapped. Around this time we were experiencing a lot of ups and downs – things like losing a drummer, losing a record label and running out of money, which were all very disruptive (and ended up making the record take a little longer than initially anticipated). But then again it was summer and we were working with an amazing producer and a lovely human being, Ewan Pearson, and these things kept us going. So I guess there were many different thoughts over the whole process, and the end result reflects that.

What was the sweetest, most unexpected moment you had while making the album?
The final track on the album, ‘Happiness Made Easy.’ It was a studio collaboration between us and Ewan on an old idea that had never quite worked. And then with Ewan it just clicked. Magic.

The ‘Augmented Reality’ music video on your website is pretty uber-tech. Are you really closet nerds hiding behind that rockstar veneer? Why did you want to make this sort of get-touchy-feely-with-your-audience type thing?
There's nothing closet about our nerdiness – its’ all out in the open! The motivation behind doing the AR video was simple really. We were going to be part of something that had never been done before. A world first. And of course we love being touched by our audience...

You’ve done a fair bit of touring recently and have whole raft of shows coming up over the next few months. What are your tour bus must-haves to keep you sane?
Luke Bertoz in the driver's seat. That guy keeps it together.


When making an album, do you need the craziness of the city to drive your creativity or are you more about escaping the intensity?
We're definitely for escaping the intensity. When we're in the city we get too easily distracted by the other things in our life. When we escape, we can focus and get more done.

In the cartoon, ‘Cities of Gold’, Esteban was searching for lost treasure. What are you searching for?
Actually, Esteban was searching for his father. WE, are searching for lost treasure. And we're close.

Do you think you achieved the vision you had planned for the album from the beginning or did it take you somewhere unexpected?
We definitely had a loose vision for the album and the making of the album itself was an epic journey of sorts, and in turn the finished product loosely reflects a voyage too. Perhaps a voyage to the New World in search of El Dorado, with all the highs and lows, storms and battles, gold, riches and heartbreak that such a journey would have entailed. And I believe all the unexpected events that happened while we were making the record only contributed to the aesthetic.

If you could program your own dream summer music festival, who would you invite to play and why?
Joy Division, Nirvana, Love, Stone Roses, Can, Slowdive, Ride, The Kinks, The Beatles. All bands that have greatly influenced me as a musician, but I never got to see perform in the flesh.


What is your favourite secret squirrel spot in Sydney that you love to go to? What’s so great about it?
Well, allegedly there's a portal between Surry Hills in Sydney and Shoreditch in London. I've seen potential evidence of it, but as of yet have had no luck finding it. Do I need to explain what would be so great about that?

Lost Valentinos are playing at The Wall (aka the Bald Faced Stag) in Leichhardt this Friday the 27th, at Peats Ridge in December, at Luna Park on NYE and at Days Like This (in Moore Park) on January 10.

You can get tickets for this Friday’s gig for $16 (sweet!) at the door or online.



words: Kristen Hodges

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