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Friday, September 26, 2014

Nick Monaco on the Power of Wearing Lipstick and his New Album "Mating Call"

Posted By on Fri, Sep 26, 2014 at 9:34 AM

click to enlarge nickmonaco.jpg

From designing lipstick to producing a quirky new dance album titled Mating Call, young Bay Area producer/DJ Nick Monaco’s career choices have been as colorful as his musical palate. As a hip-hop aficionado in high school, Monaco concentrated on perfecting the art of turntablism, which eventually led to him to contribute to DJ Qbert’s Scratchlopedia Breaktannica. However, in 2011 he decided to submit a demo to Soul Clap records that truly set the direction of his career. Since then, he’s making his own brand of deep house and funky disco for labels Soul Clap, Dirtybird, and Wolf + Lamb. We chat with Monaco about his musical past, newest album, and designing a Freak Flag. He plays this Sunday, September 28, for the Pink Mammoth Boat Party with Crew Love and that night at Mighty for the afterparty.

Where did your eclectic tastes in music come from? What was the first song you heard that made you want to make music your career?
I think it partly came from my dad’s diverse record collection, it spanned from disco to folk. Also when I was a hip-hop head I used to dig a lot so that exposed me to all kinds of music and gave me a pretty unbiased ear. There wasn’t one record specifically but I remember hearing "Another One Bites The Dust," "Fly Like an Eagle," and Alan Parson’s Project “I Robot” when I was like 12 and knowing that I wanted to do music in some capacity.

How does it feel to make music for three of the most notoriously fun record labels around?
Nothing is better than being able to travel, make music, and hang out with your friends. It’s settling to know that a gang has your back. We’re like the Wu-Tang Clan of deep house. We all mesh so well together so we get mixed and matched all the time. I can’t imagine what it would be like to be just another cog in the industrial DJ machine. There’s something really authentic about all of the Wolf + Lamb, Soul Clap, and Dirtybird.

I see you have your own lipstick called Freak Flag to raise funding for gender-confirmation surgeries. How and why are you so passionate about this particular issue?
I think my sensitivity to LGBT issues stems from being from the Bay Area where sexuality and gender are heavily politicized. So naturally I think I’m more attune to these issues. It was when I started wearing lipstick at parties and in public that I started to feel resistance from what I perceive to be the dominant masculine ideology that’s still ever-present in our culture and even dance music sub-cultures, which shocked me because dance music was essentially and nurtured by the LGBT community. So the lipstick became a symbol of resistance to hyper masculinity in the dance community and an ode to the origins of the modern dance music (specifically disco and house). The lipstick will be available at next week. All of the proceeds go to the Jim Collins Foundation, check them out.

What's something you discovered since you started wearing lipstick?
I’ve noticed that people pay attention to what you say because they are focusing on your mouth. So I think if you have something important to say wear lipstick and people will perk up. Lipstick also has a very magnetic quality to it, it seems to draw people in, there are also the sexual connotations attached to lipstick that make it sexy and fun to play with. Try it out! Why does playing dress-up have to stop when you’re an adult?

As a San Francisco native, how would you spend a typical Friday night?
I would say I’m a Bay Area native, born in Santa Rosa and moved around the bay ever since, but nonetheless I still love cruising around Golden Gate Park in the evenings, stopping to watch a drum circle, interacting with the leftover hippies, and getting deep into some shabu-shabu on Clement. That just felt like I was selling myself on a dating site (laughs). I spend a lot of time in the East Bay as well; it feels more accessible to me. These days I’m usually performing in a different city on a Friday night, but if I’m home they usually involve hot tubs, Negronis,' hyphy music, and high-fives.

The title of your album is Mating Call – what does your mating call say, and who is it you’re looking to attract?
Great question! I was playing with the idea of music as a mating ritual, aural peacocking so to speak. My mating call is packaged in a ten track album — that’s out now coincidentally!

Which song was the most rewarding to make?
I would have to say “Ancient Ritual,” which features my good friend Brandon Cain. It’s the most complete song I’ve ever made. Working in the house genre can be pacifying as producer because you feel like you’re stuck to a rigid format so taking a more traditional approach to songwriting felt really refreshing and I was able to have a lot of room for whimsy in the creative process. I also felt challenged vocally, I’m really proud of that one. 

If you could design your own actual freak flag, what would it look like?
In fact I am making some freak flags, you’ll just have to wait and see… but when they manifest I encourage waving it high, raising it full mast for the young world to see.

Nick Monaco plays twice this Sunday, September 28 at the Pink Mammoth Boat Party (sold-out), and the afterparty at Mighty (9pm - late).
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Christina Li


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