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Photo by Ryan Moraga
Nico Yaryan released his debut album What A Tease on June 3rd. It’s a soulful, compelling album that begs you to get your headphones and sink your teeth into it. It’s an album that NEEDS to be on your radar this Summer. He’s releasing a music video for “You Belong To Me” today – which you can check out at the bottom of the post.
We caught up with Nico to discuss the album’s backstory and evolution. He was also nice enough to put together a list of tracks he loves. Listen to his playlist while you read the interview below!
What Nico is currently digging
Before we get to the album, I have to dive into the backstory a bit, because it’s far more interesting than most album origin stories. So, you met a girl in Amsterdam while on tour…how did you meet and how long were you in Amsterdam? Was it a quick connection or were you there for a while?
We met through mutual friends, kept in touch until I was doing my final tour in Europe with Hanni, and I ended up staying in Amsterdam for a month after the tour falling in love. Then I went home and began the craziness that is long distance love.
You worked on a weed farm to be able to fly back and forth. Give us a picture of your day-to-day duties on the farm. What is that experience like compared to a 9-5 job or a restaurant gig?
It’s like being at camp for adults with problems with authority. You stay up for a month at a time in the wilderness, working long hours, like9am to 9pm or later if you felt like it. Sitting in a barn with a bunch of other folks clipping leaf matter off of buds, tossing em in a bag. Listened to a lot of podcasts!
This leads us to the music. What A Tease is fantastic. It’s soulful, compelling, and one of the most enjoyable albums I’ve heard this year. What was the first song you wrote for the album? When the album started coming together, what was your goal or hope for the finished product?
Thank you! That’s very kind. The first song I wrote was “You Belong to Me”, it was the one that made me feel like I was on the right track. I just wanted to put together a record that felt honest, even though not all the songs are literal or about me. I wanted the songs to feel pure and unadorned, and stand on their own regardless of the instrumentation I chose to use.
“Just Tell Me” was featured on Empire, one of the biggest shows on TV. How did you learn this was going to happen and what was your reaction to seeing your music featured? Had you seen the show before?
I was excited when I heard it was going to be used, but it wasn’t exactly “featured’, it was in the background of a scene and so quiet that I watched the episode and thought it was the wrong one, since I didn’t notice it. It was my first time watching the show.
So just tell us…what inspired “Just Tell Me”?
My long distance relationship was feeling some strain, and I didn’t feel like I was doing enough to keep it together. I hadn’t visited Amsterdam in over a year and she had visited me in LA twice in that time, I was trying to write a record and it was getting in the way.
“The Magic” has a certain ‘throwback’ feel to it that I really love. Who were your musical heroes growing up and what era of music do you draw inspiration from the most if you had to pick?
For that one I was channeling a little Marvin Gaye/ Al Green, but maybe in a dream, or under a love spell. I’ve got a million heroes, I’m a sucker for 60’s and 70s soul, folk, psych and AM pop, but I was led there through investigating the original samples from hip hop songs from the 90s I loved, so I can’t say that I wish I lived in any other time or anything. Every year brings something to offer!
I’m always interested in how artists choose to close their albums. Most songs “feel” like closers and yours is no different. When did “I’ll Stay With You When You Die” come along in the writing process and when did you decide to close the album with it?
I didn’t write it with the intention of being the last, it was somewhere in the middle, but when it was finally recorded in the studio it was pretty clear it was the ender. And that the relationship was over.
Connect with Nico online and watch his brand new video for “You Belong To Me” below!