When musicians Nina Lim and Adrian Cunningham met in the summer of 2020, they had no idea that a year later they would form the band, Lotte Lemon, and release their first single, “Fever Dream,” just as the spring quarter came to an end.
The second-year UC Santa Barbara (UCSB) students grew up with vastly different relationships with music. Lim, a communication and percussion performance double major, started playing the violin at the age of five and fell in love with performing. This led her and her sister, Mikki Lim, to start a cover band called Classically Contempo, which now has over 12,600 followers on Instagram and over 9,300 monthly listeners on Spotify.
In high school, Lim joined the marching band and shifted from playing the strings to percussion. She also enjoyed singing, but noted that she was “never really confident” in her abilities until she joined her high school choir during her senior year. Lim’s only experience creating music was for a middle school project, but meeting Cunningham last summer encouraged her to take the leap in making music.
Meanwhile, Cunningham, an English and music composition double major, began making music in his sophomore year of high school. He was classically trained in playing the bass throughout high school and one of his close friends, who also happened to be a percussionist, encouraged him to start producing music. Starting with GarageBand and eventually upgrading to Logic Pro, Cunningham began making rap songs and posting them on SoundCloud as AdrianQMC.
Cunningham delved into pop music after finding more success in that genre which led him to record “Blush,” a song that currently has over 12,000 plays on Spotify. This was a pivotal point in his music career and gave him the confidence to use his own voice. He continued to make music during his time at UCSB and during the pandemic, he wrote and recorded a six-song EP (extended play record) called “Stella,” which Cunningham described as “a reflection of [his] time” during COVID-19.
When Lim and Cunningham met and started making music together, their complementary skill sets opened many doors on both sides. Lim was impressed by Cunningham’s ability to mix music on a highly professional level, while Cunningham found Lim’s drumming and keyboard skills to be a new and exciting addition to music production. Their unique and diverse range of skills would soon blossom into the two-person band, Lotte Lemon, which is named after the UCSB Lotte Lehmann Concert Hall — the place that brought them together.
After discovering the song “On One” by Joyce Wrice and Freddie Gibbs, two of their favorite artists, Lim began drumming along and the drum groove evolved to become the bass drum foundation for “Fever Dream.” Using the theories he learned from his music composition courses, Cunningham began to add onto the bassline, building his own synthesizer for the song. They described the entire music-making process as spontaneous and collaborative — each carefully contributing and revising each other’s pieces that eventually formed the final product.
They emphasized the role of constructive criticism throughout the process. “Communication is absolutely key,” Cunningham noted. Lim added that it was important to not take any of the feedback personally.
“When we’re giving each other criticism about things that we’re writing, there’s no hard feelings because we’re a team … We’re trying to make the best that we possibly can together.”
All of this is done in Cunningham’s apartment where they have Lim’s drum kit and Cunningham’s recording equipment. They call it their studio, explaining how “everything [they] need to be making an entire song is right here.”
Lim and Cunningham hope to continue making music together throughout the summer, both collaboratively and individually. Cunningham hopes to work on “developing [his] craft” as AdrianQMC, while Lim plans to start an individual Spotify profile and learn how to produce and mix music on her own.
They are both excited about the prospect of performing live together in the near future and working on an EP that will feature “Fever Dream” over the summer. The single is set to be released on Friday, June 11 on Spotify, Apple Music, SoundCloud, Amazon, YouTube, Pandora, Deezer, and several other platforms.