Nico Stai

Nico Stai is a remarkable artist based out of Los Angeles, California. His voice is energetic and beautiful while simultaneously haunting in songs like “Maybe Maybe” and “The King Aside”. Growing up in Spain, Nico has a unique sound that challenges the traditional pop/alt rock formula and is infused with the indie rock flavor of a West Coast artist. Redefining what qualifies as “good” indie music, Nico’s sound is perfect when married with lyrics that move, inspire, and intrigue his audience.Whether playing with his band or performing solo, the resulting music is raw and real, capturing the heart of the stories he tells through song. His most recent hit, “3000 Dollar Girl” highlights Nico’s ability to masterfully communicate and understand human emotion through his art. The more upbeat, “Miss Friday,” reflects Nico’s drive to overcome and succeed in life. Another fan favorite, “Scream” features a skilled mariachi band, throwing another twist on the already diverse listening experience.

I recently had the good fortune of interviewing Nico. It was a light-hearted phone conversation that, after a few dropped calls, offered insight to how Nico has gotten where he is and shed light on where this Indie rocker is headed. Here are some highlights:

Emma: Where does the inspiration for your songs come from?
Nico: I don’t give it that much thought as to where it’s coming from- it’s just always there. I am constantly writing songs, it’s all one big f*cking mess (laughs) I don’t go ‘okay I’m going to write a song about something, now here it is.’ I just write a lot, I write a lot of poetry and short story stuff. My songs are a quick snippet of two or three different poems. If there are two characters in a song, there might be another song there for the other character to share from a different view point. An example of that would be ‘Like Alcohol’ and ‘Hole The Size Of’

E: What are your thoughts on the LA music scene?
N: There is some great stuff happening here. There are some great bands and acts and it changes a lot. The music industry is very close to the skin here so it’s a very different experience. If you’re doing well in this city then you’re very soon to be under the microscope. And that’s not always a good thing but having said so, it also gives it a different edge. It’s good for the arts to be able to simmer in their own sauce.

E: When did you begin playing music?
N: I’ve been playing music pretty much my whole life. I started when I was a teenager, making my own stuff from the get go. When I first got a guitar, the first thing I did was write a little melody. I didn’t even know how to tune the thing. I wasn’t interested in learning everyone else’s shit (laughs). I just wanted to do my own thing.

E: What inspired you to make your own music? What is music to you?
N: For me it was a frustration of hearing things with the scene or hearing things I didn’t like. I wanted to make something that makes you feel good and if I don’t hear something the way I want it then I’m going to do it the way I want to. A lot of the time, it is just self-medicating. You use music because it makes you feel better. The greatest thing about art is that you can create this thing for yourself and if it cures you then it can cure other people too. If you create something that’s going to help you then you put it out there to the universe, to the world and other people can apply it to themselves too. That’s the line I try to hold to when I’m thinking music. “Is this really moving me or not?” If I listen many times and it feels like it’s moving me then I go with it until it stops and then I stop and I do something else that moves me.

E: Do you listen to your own music or do you have to just walk away from it?
N: Once I’ve finished something, I do kind of walk away because you never really finish a work of art. You just have to walk from it otherwise it will never end. Once it’s mastered, I stay away. I was listening to Park Place the other day, for the first time in years, and I really dug it. It’s funny because at the time I didn’t have much appreciation for it but now I like it.

E: So what’s next for you?
N: I’m working on a lot of new material – stuff is coming out next year. How it will look, I’m not sure but there’s a lot of new songs and I’m excited about getting it all out there. It’s not going to be self-released anymore and there’s probably over two full length works of material right now. I might just do an acoustic thing and then do another one at the same time.

E: What can we expect for future tours?
N: I’ve done some one-off shows in New York and South By Southwest but otherwise just small California stuff. So, I’m hoping to see a more full-blown thing next year, we want to get this orchestrated and get the music to everyone.

E: Who are the artists that inspire you? Who do you look up to?
N: Growing up, as a very young kid, my dad used to listen to a lot of Elvis Presley and I was four or five years old so that was some of the first stuff that made me really think music was just magical. I wanted all things Elvis, books about him, and everything. Later on I was into stuff like The Cure, Robert Smith was a big influence, Bruce Springsteen. Current personas that I admire and like are people like Jack White. I really like how he does things and the legacy that he has put in place. I am also a big Oasis fan- especially the early stuff.

E: Of all of the music you have created, what is your favorite song?
N: I think probably this new song called “Top of The World”. But then I also think “Miss Friday” might be my favorite. It’s my favorite to play, an all encompassing song. The words and melody all combine really well. Writing “Miss Friday” was a very quick thing. I woke up one morning and it was just there. 10 or 15 minutes and it was something that was just close to my heart.

Having grilled Nico for answers as to how he does what he does, why he does what he does, and other insights to the heart and soul of his indie rock mind, he didn’t miss the opportunity to turn the tables on me. “What song of mine is your favorite?” He asked. After thinking for a moment I responded: “Can I pick three?” Nico allowed me that and I revealed that my three favorite Nico Stai songs are as follows:

1. Miss Friday
2. The Skies Over Your Head
3. 12 Thousand Years

With four albums complete, and another in the works, Nico is well on his way to owning the success that he deserves. The truth is, Nico Stai is an amazing talent who has come a long way and will go as far as he desires. As his career continues, Nico Stai is one mariachi band toting indie rock artist that will certainly remain on our radar.

Miss Friday | 12 Thousand Years | The Skies Over Your Head
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Photo Credit: Julie Ling • Review Written By: Emma Peterson

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  • I randomly came upon one of Nico Stai’s performance at Spaceland in Silver Lake, Ca. Earlier in the day I was on the phone with a friend who lives in Hollywood saying I would like to go hear some music and heard this place in Silver Lake was a good bet and I would like to go check it out. We went that evening and to my surprise I heard the best music from an L.A. band in a very long time!!~ NICO STAI
    As I am a photographer and my eyes just needed a break from shooting it was one of those evenings I left my main camera at home ( which will never happen again) I regretted not having my Canon 5D Mark 11 on hand. Luckily! I had a small camera Canon G10 and captured a few images of Nico shinning bright as a ROCK N ROLL STAR in the making! Nico is captivating and one can sense a real down to earth artist with a deep love of music resonates in his performance on every song. So worth experiencing!!! I am thrilled things are going in the direction it is for him. Well DESERVED!! : D

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