It took nearly three years for Nite Jewel—headed up by Los Angeles born-and-based musician Ramona Gonzalez—to release a full-length follow-up to her 2009 debut Good Morning, but it was worth the wait; One Second of Love brims over with moody, ‘90s-inflected electro-pop gems. “I was recording things for this record very slowly and carefully, deciding what direction I wanted to take it,” explains Gonzalez, adding, “There was a moment when I realized that the music I was making was going to be able to lend itself towards pop structure.” This isn’t, however, completely traditional pop—while Gonzalez admits she’s got a soft spot for R&B musicians like Aaliyah, she didn’t set out to have her music blasting in mega-clubs. “I definitely never intended to make dance music, but my mom is a dancer and I grew up dancing to music, so I yearn to make music that you can move physically to. It doesn’t have to be club music, but something that you can feel in your body,” she says. ELLE.com spoke with the Nite Jewel mastermind about the influx of online relationships and why releasing an album is a bit like seeing your kid get married.
ELLE: What does someone who has never listened to Nite Jewel before need to know about the band?
Ramona Gonzalez: Definitely [that] the band goes a bit against the grain from time to time. We intentionally do this thing because we want to provide music that’s in some ways counter to what is popular, at least in our sphere. So on the first record I felt like we were definitely coming from influences, like Arthur Russell, that hadn’t yet been traversed. And now we’re bringing back other sides of black pop that aren’t fully being realized. Research is kind of a good word for [the process of finding these music genres], because we have so many friends who are avid record collectors who will send us LPs or music that is just in the junk pile of record stores across the nation—they’ll send us choice cuts from these records, and it’s music that no one knows, it’s things that haven’t been discovered. I know it sounds weird, but there’s really a lot out there!
ELLE: When’s the ideal time to listen to One Second of Love?
RG: I feel like something that we were going for was kind of cerebral pop music, in the vein of stuff that was coming out of New York in the ‘70s and ‘80s. I think it’s more polished than that stuff, but it’s music to think to and relax to and get into your head.
ELLE: What’s the story behind the album’s name?
RG: When we were recording the album, I had been in the music industry very marginally at the time and was seeing how communication—not only in the music industry, but [for] young people in general—is this rapid-speed thing where you don’t make strong, long connections with people online; it’s a weak connection thing that’s really powerful for a short period of time. The name is a reference to the rapid fire and intense connections we experience daily.
ELLE: Does the fact that these connections do exist online affect you as a musician?
RG: I started my band on MySpace, and my connection to my fans has always been online-based. It’s really shocking, being in Finland and having no sense of knowing anyone and then someone who comes up to you with two copies of your LP that’s out of print and wants you to sign them…it’s a rare thing. It wouldn’t have happened long ago to someone at my level.
ELLE: When was the moment when you realized you were doing something right?
RG: I feel like I have a lot of trouble being outside of myself at times. I was really unaware of the amount of popularity I was gaining, I didn’t understand it fully. I thought it was a fluke accident and I was going along for the ride. I feel like I’m doing something right when I don’t have to work a shitty job, and I can enjoy my life doing what I do. Any day that’s the case, I feel like I’m doing something right.
ELLE: Your album came out this week—do you celebrate, or just feel relieved that it’s finally out there?
RG: Cole [M.G.N., her bandmate and husband] and I drank some wine last night and clinked glasses and stuff. We’re just really happy—this is the point when the baby gets married and goes off with somebody else. You’re still connected with it, but you’re moving on with another period of your life.