Kip Nelson Turns The Tide From Reggae To Lo-Fi Psych

After Cole Leksan spent over five years playing lead guitar in the reggae band The Olés, he found himself getting more and more into indie and psych rock. So he followed his heart and started his own project—and Kip Nelson was born.

The lo-fi psychedelic indie project debuts next month with the EP Waves After Work on Centagon Records.

BTRtoday caught up with Nelson during his lunch break one day in sunny California. Though a true west coast surfer as well as a musician, he tells us that he actually grew up landlocked in Northern California. “I always fantasized about living near the water and on the beach,” he says. “I just always associated reggae music with that sort of fantasy—that really really laid back sunny lifestyle type of thing.”

Only after he found his way closer to the coast did he become the man of the waves. In fact, the Waves After Work EP was called that to show his love for the tides of the ocean and the sound waves of music.

“For me it’s always waves after work,” Nelson says. “I have to work first and then when I get home that’s when I try to find some fun—whether it be from sound waves for music or surfing and being outside and in my own space.”

The EP is Nelsons attempt at a completely new genre for him. He even goes as far to say that he hopes his experience in reggae didn’t influence this project. Still, it’s filled with beachy vibes and free-flowing melodies that’ll make you feel the warm sand between your toes no matter where you’re standing. Plus, the lo-fi approach Nelson decided to take provides that psych/garage edge in Waves After Work with hazey static and echoing vocals.

Read the entire interview with Kip Nelson below.

Kip Nelson “Mexico”

BTRtoday (BTR): Since this is your solo project, why did you choose an alias?

Kip Nelson (KN): I just really feel uncomfortable with self-promotion in a way. I don’t want anyone to take my music too seriously. I make it fun and I thought that name was goofy. My friends all laugh whenever I say it, so it’s kind of hard to be taken seriously, so that’s why.

BTR: What do you currently have in the works?

KN: I have five more songs coming out on the Waves After Work EP. I’m super excited about that release. This record has been done for like a year now, so I’ve got twenty more tracks that I’m finishing up—always working on music.

BTR: Tell me more about this new EP Waves After Work that’s coming out next month.

KN: The name is about the two things I do for fun, surfing and playing music, both of which involves waves in some sort. I’m not a professional surfer or musician, so for me it’s always waves after work. I have to work first and then when I get home that’s when I try to find some fun—whether it be from sound waves for music or surfing and being outside and in my own space.

It was the first time I did a home recording. I also play in a band called The Olés; we do our stuff in studios and go excessive with the recording process. But this EP I wanted to experiment with really lo-fi production techniques. So like, I didn’t use a microphone over $150 and I ran everything through a cassette tape player just to get weird sounds out of it and make it sound super lo-fi, but still listenable. So, like I said, it’s not supposed to be taken really seriously, it’s an experiment and I would love it if people would latch onto the idea behind the experiment and also listen to the music and enjoy it. Whether they’re listening critically or just listening to it as background music. That’s sort of the foundation of it.

BTR: So, is this a totally new sound your working with?

KN: It is, like a totally new genre. I’ve been playing in reggae bands for like seven or eight years and I find myself listening to more indie rock/ psychedelic music, a lot of lo-fi stuff like Mac DeMarco and Tame Impala. I wanted to try and see if I could recreate any of that sound.

BTR: Wow! Tell me more about your experience with reggae music.

KN: I grew up listening to a lot of reggae; my parents listened to it a lot. Then, for me, I’m from Northern California and growing up in a small town I was really landlocked and I always fantasize about living near the water and on the beach. I just always associated reggae music with that sort of fantasy—that really really laid back sunny lifestyle type of thing. And I really love the different rhythms you find in reggae. So I started and still play in a band called The Olés.

BTR: Does reggae influence the music you make as Kip Nelson at all?

KN: I don’t think so. I was trying to step away from all that with this record. I’d say it’s more of me trying to see what I can do with a different type of genre and see if I enjoy it.

BTR: So you have yet to play a live set as Kip Nelson, but what would be your ideal gig?

KN: I think it would be a small tightly packed show. Where the energy is shared between the artists and the crowd. In my time playing with The Olés, we’ve played festivals and bigger shows where you’re way up high on a big stage with a bunch of people just sitting there observing you.

For me, the most fun shows have always been when the band is at the same height as the crowd, maybe just barely on a small stage. The crowd is like right there, and it’s packed and there are too many people for a place that small. The energy is relentless and it’s hot and it smells like shit. So I’d say for the Kip Nelson stuff hopefully I can pack a room for like 50 people or something—get my friends going nuts.

Kip Nelson ‘Waves After Work’ Trailer

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