Nico Play On 'Desilusion'


(Photo by Frances Grinnan)

 

Rapid-fire Questions


1. What have you been listening to lately?

A lot of songs that have stuck with me since childhood - mainly latin hits. The type of songs I’d hear my parents blasting at 2am while I was trying to sleep cause I had a soccer game at 7am. I’m going to make a playlist soon and share it.


2. Who is winning this World Cup?

Argentina.


3. If you could see anyone alive or dead in concert who would it be?

Hm that’s tough, probably The Cure or David Bowie.


4. Pros and cons of growing out my mustache?

Cons - it will look bad until it doesn’t (which may never happen).


Pros - you might get some compliments.


5. Any spanish songwriters that you look up to?

Silvio Rodriguez from Cuba. If you mean from Spain, I like Jarabe De Palo.


6. Which movie do you think is massively underrated?

Goal! The Dream Begins lol


7. What are you currently looking forward to?

Playing some shows, the World Cup, going to Mexico and spending time with family.


8. 2014 World Cup. Era penal, o no era penal? (IYKYK.)

Nombre para nada, que robo.


9. Years ago, I missed Modern Baseball opened up for Daniel Johnston in Philly and I’ve regretted it ever since. Do you have a show you regret not going to ?

In college I lived at this place called The Underground Orchard - the band Warehouse was supposed to play there but had to cancel their tour. I think about it all the time, would’ve loved to see them live.


10. Any bands or artists that you think are doing something cool/interesting in music?

Andru from Mexico City. We met in New York recently and they sent me their new record which I liked a lot. Malice K as well.

 

I think our last interview was back in June of 2021. What have you been up to since then?

I feel like a lot has happened! I’ve been moving around a lot - spent some time in Chicago, New York, Mexico. I’ve met new people, seen new places, and played my first two shows. I’ve been trying to make music a sustainable full time thing, and of course wrote/recorded the EP in that time.





Congratulations on your debut EP, Desilusion! It feels like not too long ago we were talking about your first release as Nico Play and now you have an entire EP coming out. I’m really happy for you!

Thank you! Yeah it feels like ages ago, but it’s been a little over a year. I suppose it was a bit of a different era - I was blonde, clean shaven, and living in Virginia.





What does it mean to you to finally be able to share a full release as Nico Play?

It’s special, I’ve never released music like this before. I feel like it’s the best thing I’ve done. It’s deeply fulfilling for me to connect with my family and culture through these songs. It feels ‘right’.





Can you talk to us a bit about the inspirations behind the EP? What was the writing/recording process like?

I wrote these songs as a way to process my mom’s passing and the subsequent grief that followed. I wanted to make an EP of acoustic songs that were bare, honest, and could stand on their own. I did two recording sessions - one in Chicago at Palisade Studios and one in Richmond at Montrose Recording. The process was the same for both, I just played the songs live and picked the best take. It’s very human - imperfect, but it’s real and I’m proud of how it turned out.





Do you listen to alot of other music while writing/recording? Or is that more of a distraction?

No, not really. I definitely get sort of tunnel vision whenever I’m working on something. I find myself listening to voice memos and demos a lot when I’m trying to work out songs.





What has the music scene in Chicago been like?

I haven’t been here too long and only played one show so far, but I think Chicago’s got a great music scene. There’s a lot of great venues and great artists here. I hope to get more immersed in it as time goes on.





I’ve been following you since you were in Camp Howard, and I feel like there’s a clear distinction in sound from then to now. Would you say that you’ve found yourself as far as being a singer/songwriter?

Yes, I think so. There’s more freedom to explore outside the context of a band. I think with Camp Howard I was writing within certain bounds of the group, whereas now I just write whatever comes out. I’ve also just gone through a lot, I don’t feel like the same person I was two years ago. I feel more connected to my roots musically and personally.





Talk to us about the live performance of Desilusion that you filmed. How did that all come together?

That was in Tlacotalpan, Veracruz, Mexico in August. I was there for a family reunion/memorial. There’s a church in the town square called Santuario de la Virgen de la Candelaria, which is where my parents and grandparents got married. I had the idea of filming a live session there, so my cousin Pablo (who filmed it) and I went to the Church and asked if we could do a quick video. We were only there for about 10 minutes, but a couple came in from the street and listened while I performed. It was pretty special singing in that church - I’d love to do a little concert there one day.





You really kill it on guitar. Are you classically trained??

Thank you! No, the opposite really - I learned by playing around. Although my dad used to play classical guitar when I was kid so maybe that rubbed off a bit.





Is there a difference to you when it comes to songwriting in Spanish or english?

Kind of yeah, there are some things that I feel more compelled to express in one language or the other. I think Spanish is a more poetic language, or maybe I’m just more comfortable being poetic in Spanish? For example I would never write the lyrics for “La Ciruela” for a song in English.





How’d the name for La Ciruela come about?

‘La Ciruela’, meaning ‘The Plum’, is a lyric from the song that felt representative of the track as a whole, and so I made it the title. I always pick the titles last after all the lyrics are finished. By that point the title sort of reveals itself.



(Photo by Frances Grinnan)

I love this EP so much. It has such a nostalgic feel to it. (It reminds me of being a kid and watching films from Mexico’s golden age of cinema with my parents.) Did you have a defined sound in mind when you were working on the songs for the EP?

I’m so glad, thank you! Yes, I knew I wanted the EP to just be me playing guitar and singing - back to the way I began playing music and recording. I feel I’ve gone full circle regarding a defined sound.





I love the original version of Vivir Sin Ti, but man the acoustic version just hits different. It feels a lot more bare and vulnerable. As a singer songwriter do you feel like writing about difficult topics helps you better understand the situation or even yourself?

Thank you, I agree - I like the acoustic version better. I think so, yes. Writing has helped me process, communicate, and connect in a way that wouldn’t be possible for me otherwise.





Is allowing your listeners in, or I guess sharing personal experiences with us ever difficult or even intimidating?

Definitely when it comes to performing live - I had a tough time playing these songs in front of people at my first show. I choked up, but the crowd was very sweet and supportive. However, there’s no audience when I’m writing songs, so I just write what comes out. I don’t think about who is going to hear the songs while I’m making them.






You just had a release show for the EP, how did that go?

It was great! People seemed to really connect with the music, and I felt I performed well so I’m happy. I feel like my audience has been growing, particularly with Spanish speaking people, and I feel incredibly grateful for that. I’m excited to play more shows, I’ll be announcing a handful of dates around Thanksgiving very soon!





What are a few ways that we as listeners can support you and other bands?

Buying merch for sure. Sharing the music with others who might like it, buying tickets for the shows, inviting friends to the shows, keeping up with announcements on social media. Also, every now and then I get really sweet messages from people saying how much my music means to them, and that makes my day.







What can we expect to see/hear from Nico Play in the near future?


(Photo by Frances Grinnan)

I’m releasing a music video for “La Ciruela” very soon! I’ll be playing a handful of shows around Thanksgiving and am planning a tour for early next year. I’m going to try and get out as much as I can, while also continuing to write and record new music.





To wrap things up, do you have any questions for me?

Who do you think is going to win the World Cup?

Mexico. I blindly believe that every 4 years.

Do you have a favorite song off the EP?

La Ciruela is probably my favorite right now.

Any artists I should check out?

I've been listening to h.pruz's latest EP. I never get the chance to recommend any Spanish speaking artists so I'd recommend Perras On The Beach, and Prietto viaja al cosmos con Mariano.

 
 

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