Some say that New Yorkers are too cool to dance but we can tell you first hand that just ain't true. Summer Love NYC was so damn good that it was impossible for anyone in attendance not to boogie with reckless abandon. On the banks of the Hudson, Crew Love showed us why they are experts at their namesake. The music, the venue, the people, the apparel, every touch point was a master class in putting a massive smile on the faces of all those in attendance. Without a doubt, you need to make it a priority to find yourself at their next show in your city.
Chicago, consider yourselves lucky, because the love train is heading to your hood this weekend to put on another excellent round of top-notch fun. This Sunday at the ESTATE Ultra Bar, Paradigm presents: Crew Love & The Myth of the Crystal Ball. In preparation for this outrageous event, we've continued our "Summer Love Series" by getting seriously deep with the ever-odd Nick Monaco. He's hooked it up with a dope playlist too, so you can prepare yourselves in more ways than one!
Nick Monaco has a stupefying presence, but you can’t really call it shyness. Instead, it’s more fitting to say he holds a tenderness towards the fact that he knows you are human too. Leading by example, he aspires to show us that there is more to life than being single sexed, or single minded. It’s as if it’s his life’s work to call out how far we’ve strayed from our truest selves.
His creative method is one seemingly based in fear; the fear that if he waits too long, he will lose sight of the moment that inspired him in the first place. Therein is pure artistry, and point and proof is the fact that his forthcoming album was written and produced in only two weeks. Previous releases of his were accompanied by functional statements, in the form of lipstick and fragrances, so it's very clear he truly believes in the art he creates. Vibrant and genuine in equal measure, Nick Monaco will continue to capture our attention for many years to come.
Magnetic Magazine: What have you been up to as of late?
Nick Monaco: I’ve been back in California for the last couple of weeks working on a new album. I’ve partnered with this guy named Emmet Kai, who is from my hometown, oddly enough. A town called Healdsburg in the thick of California Wine Country. Emmet and I locked ourselves in the house and made a beautiful album together over the last little bit. It’s about 90% live instrumentation and it’s got this California psychedelic feel going on. We did a bunch of acid when we made it and you can definitely feel it.
MM: Who is your favorite alter ego right now?
Nick Monaco: This old Italian man. I just bought this Alfa Romeo from the late 80s and I only play psychedelic Italian rock from the 60s in it. I drive around with my poodle and feel like I'm a douche-y Italian sleaze ball from the late 80s. Like a winemaker or some retired soccer player.
MM: When do you second guess yourself?
Nick Monaco: Hmm. I like to think I'm pretty good about sticking with my gut and not really wavering when it comes to other people's opinions. I feel like I'm in a good place with my art. People know me in my scene and I don't ever try to please people overtly. Simply put, I like making things that people enjoy, and you know pretty quickly when something is good. That said, you know just as quickly when something is bad, and I’m the first to say if a project I’m working on is shitty. So if something doesn't feel right, then I'm happy to be like "this is shit" and give it up right off the bat.
MM: You changed your sound significantly between your first album and your second. Would you classify this as a transformation, or as simply "opening up"?
Nick Monaco: I guess both. I would say I transform through opening up. Maybe there is some boredom, with dance music and house in general. But I sorta have a shit-stirring instinct and a restlessness so if I feel unchallenged then I’ll try something completely new. When I switched my sound after my first album it was a response to what I was feeling at the time; artistically complacent.
MM: Would you say that you're the captain or the ship?
Nick Monaco: I'd say I'm the ship, because to say I'm the captain kind-of implies that I know the direction I am going, or that I have this absolute control. But I don't genuinely feel like I have that much control over my creativity. To be honest, I don’t even like having that much control. I’m a very go-with-the-flow kind of person, especially when it comes to my art. When I make an album it happens in 2-3-4 weeks; it’s as if I’m going with the wind.
MM: Is the experience of artistic creation overtly pleasurable?
Nick Monaco: Totally, that’s where the good stuff is. The best moments are when you're in the studio with a fellow musician and you're just sitting there creating this beautiful song. It's not even for anyone else, it’s for you. It’s the same thing as when you make a really nice meal for yourself. It’s not for anyone else. You know, when I don't make music for a long time I start to get depressed. Working on new material gives me purpose; it makes me feel like this is what I'm supposed to be doing on this earth. It can feel like a very selfless thing.
MM: What is your natural state?
Nick Monaco: I would say oscillating between a light heart and an overthinking brain. Deep, emo, and I'm also a gemini so there’s this constant dichotomy.
MM: To me, the dichotomy is kind-of where life is. The only place you can find your true self is in between the two things that you think define you.
Nick Monaco: Well put. See, this is my technique for interviews. I always elicit really dope quotes from the interviewer and then get them to tell that it was me. Sociopathic interviewing.
MM: What do you do to center yourself when you’re out at parties?
Nick Monaco: I allow for there to be silence. You get to these parties and and there are all these people that each have their own little agenda, but I just kinda sit there and let it all happen. I used to get overwhelmed and anxious hanging out, even at the events that I would perform at. It’s taken some time, but with maturity I don't feel like I need to be anyone or say anything to impress anyone. Also, doing less drugs has been helping. All that shit does is excite you and that’s not really always a good thing.
MM: What does finding one’s self actually look like?
Nick Monaco: I think it looks like fucking up a lot. Listening and fucking up. Being daring enough to make a misstep, being bold enough to make a mistake, and then listening to the feedback from the waves that happen after. The aftermath of when you fuck up.
MM: What have you achieved that you're uniquely proud of?
Nick Monaco: I felt like I've been able to create my own little path within the scene that I'm in, and I feel like I've had the room to experiment. That’s in huge part due to the squad I’m with; Crew Love encourages me to experiment and find my own sound. So ultimately I’m content with the fact that I’ve created a few songs that truly feel like they’re in my own voice.
MM: Who sits on your shoulder?
Nick Monaco: I think my dad sits on my shoulder a little bit. He's an artist as well, so I think his voice helps guide me through the way I conceive art and space. Also, I hold David Byrne and Talking Heads as the coolest motherfuckers out there. So I would hope that David Byrne is sitting on my shoulder being my barometer of taste. Like, would David think this is cool? Alright, cool, let's roll with it.
MM: What's your favorite part about being a human?
Nick Monaco: I'd say laughing is a pretty amazing thing about being a human. It's pretty cool that whoever designed us gave us that ability to laugh at life. For me, that’s what keeps things in balance.
MM: What has surprised you about yourself this year?
Nick Monaco: The first thing that comes to my mind is that this year I set no hard goals. Normally at the beginning of every year I write out a list of goals for myself, which could be anything from working to specific artists, or being on a specific magazine cover. I aim big every year and I’m very adamant about writing those goals down. This year, I decided to see what I could learn when I had no goals whatsoever. My list of goals became a list of quotes that resonated with me instead of a list of things that I can maybe check off. As a result, I’m thinking bigger than what my brain can convince me is possible.