Artist Spotlight: Multi-genre indie band Civil Twilight

Indie alternative band Civil Twilight are natives of Cape Town, South Africa, but currently residing in California. The band of indie rockers bring sounds of multiple genres into each song. (Kikishua/Flickr)

Today’s artist spotlight is on the indie alternative band Civil Twilight. Natives of Cape Town, South Africa, but currently residing in California, this band of indie rockers bring sounds of multiple genres into each song.

They released their third album, “Story of an Immigrant” on July 10 via iTunes and Spotify. Their songs are dynamic and include incredibly innovative production. The album’s sound and message is cohesive, as the band masterfully balanced sound and silence with high production and stripped down segments.

Their sound is arena-ready and message authentic as ever. As immigrants in the United States themselves and constant travelers due to touring, their latest record has a unique story to tell about their own journey and of the people they’ve met along the way.

Civil Twilight consists of guitarist Andrew McKellar, drummer Richard Wouters, singer/keyboardist/bassist Kevin Dailey and keyboardist/vocalist Steven McKellar.

Their new record includes their newest band mate, Kevin Dailey’s, writing contributions, which was a big factor for the band according to their interview with Diffuser. They also decided to record the album live, which was the first time they’ve decided to do that since their debut record.

“We took a long time to write this record and not rush the writing process. We took almost a year and a half probably. We didn’t do much. We just focused on writing. We worked on a lot of ideas, like 50-plus product demos. Then we went into the studio with a producer and cut it down to 12 or 13 (songs),” said Wouters in his interview with Diffuser.

Civil Twilight has also released a self-titled album in 2010 and their sophomore album, “Holy Weather” in 2012. Fans of U2, The Killers and MUTEMATH will especially enjoy Civil Twilight’s music.

The record, like the band, is dynamic, atmospheric and high-adrenaline when the song calls for it. Their staccato guitar pickings, unapologetic distorted bass lines and soaring synth pads mesh into a beautiful medley of modern alternative music, giving them a darker, Coldplay-esque sound.

They worked with Ben H. Allen, a Grammy-winning producer who had previously worked with Cee-Lo Green, on their new record. Speaking on working with Allen in an interview with Diffuser, McKellar said, “When we were (initially) working with him, we were sussing him out. And what we liked about him is the fact he had a specific vision for every song and had an idea for what the record could be. And I think we needed somebody who was going to be a little more forceful, a little more opinionated and willing to fight for their opinion but at the same time was also willing to work with us.”

Collaborating with a producer with a shared fresh and focused vision, Civil Twilight has gone back to the excitement of their early garage-playing days, yet have evolved as songwriters and musical innovators.   

Speaking on the fresh energy in the studio when creating their newest album with Diffuser, McKellar said, “You know it’s going well if you feel like a kid in a toy store, you know? That’s when you know it’s going well.”


Brett Steinberg is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at brett.steinberg@uconn.edu. He tweets @officialbrett.