Lydia Night of The Regrettes
Lydia Night of The Regrettes
Danny Liao

Teen Rocker Lydia Night Is Empowering Women by Not Giving a Shit

Lydia Night is only 17 years old, but The Regrettes' lead singer-guitarist has already inspired a legion of passionate fans who look up to her as a role model and hang on her every word at concerts.

Part of the reason for all the excitement is that her L.A. band — which includes lead guitarist Genessa Gariano and bassist Sage Chavis — compose unusually catchy pop songs driven by a thrilling punk-rock ferocity. But much of the growing fascination about The Regrettes centers on Night's bold lyrics. Whether she's reveling in the sheer exuberance of a new romance in "Hey Now" or rejecting society's assumptions about women in the feminist anthem "Ladylike/Whatta Bitch" ("Be insecure, be a wife, cater to a man for the rest of your life," she purrs sarcastically), Night writes with a wit and wisdom that belie her young age.

"Most of our songs are written right after something happens in my life," Night explains by phone from a tour van as the band drive past Coalinga on their way to a show in San Francisco. Discussing her juiced-up remake of Dion & the Belmonts' 1959 eternal lamentation "A Teenager in Love," from The Regrettes' recent EP Attention Seeker, Night says, "It's always been one of my favorite songs — Oh my god! We just drove by a lot of cows — I'm a teenager, I'm in love, I can relate.

"I feel lucky to have my life," she continues. "I don't feel like I've had a typical miserable high school time, but I've gone through a lot of shit — classic teenage miseries — but I'm happy now. That cover touches on the more intimate sides of being a teenager. That's what's cool about our music. It's written as a personal diary entry. It's not a skewed memory."

Night, who splits her time between Eagle Rock and Century City, was born in New Orleans but spent her early years in Santa Monica before her family moved to Los Angeles. At age 7, she started performing with a group called LILA (Little Independent Loving Artists) at the school carnival and even McCabe's; she later was half of a duo called Pretty Little Demons with early Regrettes drummer Marlhy Murphy.

"I grew up listening to a lot of Britney Spears. And also Gwen Stefani, when she does pop. Spice Girls, of course. I like Beyoncé; I like a lot of Rihanna's songs. ... My No. 1 influence has been The Ronettes, The Crystals and so many incredible girl groups [from the 1960s] who are timeless. My first favorite band was The Ramones. When I was 2 or 3, I'd run around singing 'Beat on the Brat' or 'Blitzkrieg Bop' because I could easily pick them up. I could remember them."

Did Night have any idea what she was singing about? "God, no!," she laughs.

Despite the anger in some of her own songs, Night always seems to be having fun onstage, joking and whispering secrets midsong to Chavis. "Usually, I'll say things like, 'I'm so nervous!' or 'My arm hurts!' Sometimes, I'll look at her, and I'm like, 'Is this in the key of A? What am I doing?' There's a lot of 'Oh my God, oh my God, oh my God!' There's so much adrenaline going through me."

But performing hasn't always been so carefree for Night. "The more I played shows, the more I noticed, because of my age and gender, I was more of a target. ... I know how to stand up for myself. Men are scared of us because we are so powerful. Women have to apologize for themselves. ... When you stop giving a shit, the world is yours."

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