Mixtape No. 28: Nico Yaryan
I know you as Nicky....Where does the name Nico Yaryan come from?
My mom calls me Nico and my last name is Yaryan. It’s just my name.
Fair enough. What makes your record worth me closing out my Netflix for?
Haha. This record was a long time coming. I've been making music since high school, started out drumming, then making beats on my MPC. I used to be really into digging for weird records and sampling stuff, then decided to teach myself to play some instruments so I didn't have to search for samples. Got my first music job drumming in my friend Hanni’s band on the road, did that for a few years. Got interested in writing songs that stood on their own rather than relying on production, even though my record has some pretty produced stuff too. So you should just pause Netflix for like an hour, smoke some weed, listen to the whole record on headphones, then get back to Master Of None.
What’s your favourite song on the record and what’s it about?
My favorite song is the title track "What A Tease." I think it contains a lot of my disparate influences and also kinda encapsulates the album’s themes. Also, it has a cool baseline.
You mentioned you used to be into sampling music. Were there any particular artists that represented a turning point in your artistic direction or style?
When I would look for stuff to sample I wouldn't discriminate in regards to genre. I would buy whatever had a cool looking cover or listing of weird instruments, and I would usually try and buy something I never heard of before, just to expand my knowledge. Also they had to be cheap! And I found that stuff from around the late sixties to the mid seventies I tended to like best. So the songs I write now take a little bit from soul, some from folk, a little psych weirdness and a little from pop, in the classic sense. I'm inspired by folksier soul like some Bill Sithers and Otis Redding and soulful folk, like Neil Young, Bob Dylan, California pop, or Fleetwood Mac.
After touring as a drummer with your longtime friend Hanni El Khatib, you’re now solo and on guitar. Can you tell us a bit about the experience of breaking out on your own as an artist?
It's awesome to be doing my own thing, but I love playing in other people's bands too. It's just another experience. Breaking out as a new artist has its challenges in today's musical climate, but it's easier than ever to find an audience of like-minded people; there's just no telling how long it will take for them to find it. Also it may just be like two people. But I'm gonna do a kickass show for them! I also play keys, and played most of the other instruments on my record, not just guitar.
If you could spend 6 months anywhere in the world writing and recording a record, where would you go and why?
If I was going to write and record a solo record, I'd pick somewhere super remote, like Alaska or maybe Iceland. I need a lot of alone time to write and tend to thrive in isolation, plus it would be cool to explore the landscape. But I would like to make a record with a lot of collaborators too, probably somewhere in Mexico where I could bring a bunch of friends. Now I'm just thinking about all the other places where it would be cool to do that.