Many people have this Woody Allen romantic view of New York City. It's a melting pot of different cultures merging together, creating many fascinating cultural diversities. After all it's the city that produced the beat poets, the city which shaped Bob Dylan and Andy Warhol and, well 'fuck it'; Louis CK is also an everlasting source of inspiration for many artists, I guess. So we decided to meet up with NYC's next big thing, Nick Rattigan of TELE/VISIONS.
3rd: Hi Nick, we know a lot of your work with Surf Curse but what achievements do you wish to accomplish with your new solo project,TELE/VISIONS?
TELE/VISIONS: I have a ton of small goals in mind, but I think one of the biggest that I would like to achieve is to play some sort of late night television. I grew up watching my favourite bands do amazing late night performances and I think it has always been a huge dream of mine to play something like that. It is a little bit delusional, but a boy can dream.
3rd: TELE/VISIONS is a solo project but recently you performed with a full band too. Do you want to get a band together?
TELE/VISIONS: The full band performance was sort of a one time thing I did with some friends as a special last show before moving away from Reno. It was great because I wrote most of those songs in 2013 with the intent to play with a full band, and I finally got to play some of those songs live. But overall I don't intend on playing with a full band very often. A lot of the point of TELE/VISIONS is that it is just me on the stage. It breaks down a lot of the normal conventions of a show when you just have one person performing. I always loved seeing performances from Dirty Beaches and John Mauswhere it is simply one focal point. It makes the performance more of an intimate experience than a traditional rock show.
3rd: You seem to be aiming for new musical future with greater sophistication, though your music has always been very DIY. Basements recordings, gigs in living rooms, using Garage band. Would you say you kept the DIY spirit with TELE/VISIONS?
TELE/VISIONS: I would say so. TELE/VISIONS has always just been me writing, recording and performing. So I guess you could say it is literally aDIY project because it is all me. The whole new album was recorded in bedrooms as I was travelling and moving around this year. I recorded a few songs with Andrew James MacKelvie who recorded the Surf Curse records, but even those were done in his room in Los Angeles.
3rd: A lot of the songs sound darker and more profound than Surf Curse. As you mature, your song writing matures with you?
TELE/VISIONS: Definitely. I've been working on this project for a while now. It has seen a few names and may see some more, but it has always just been me and my loop pedal. I feel like I've grown up with it. Mostly I've just become more comfortable expressing myself and what I want to say. In the past I always tried to bury what I was actually singing about under pop culture references...now I don't really care.
3rd: On the new album 'Me Oh My Mirror' there is a song called 'The Unbearable Lightness of Being'. Milan Kundera is one of our favourite writers. He talks about very serious dark issues with an incredible lightness. Are you trying to achieve that too? In what way has his work inspired you? Do you often seek for inspiration in other arts forms?
TELE/VISIONS: I don't know anyone who can read that book and not be inspired by it in some way. It is so moving on a romantic and philosophical level. The themes are so heavy, but also so easy to relate to. I would love for my music to reach that level one day, but I feel like Kundera does it a lot better. A lot of my inspiration comes from films and books. I'm jealous of people who can actually pull off making a film or writing a novel. I still try to make my music as cinematic as possible and to tell stories through my albums.
3rd: There is also a song called 'Life is Beautiful' quoting Gummo's 1997 film written and directed by Harmony Korine. Harmony wrote for Larry Clark's first movie 'Kids' about teenagers in New York Alcohol, drugs, sex and so on. What are your NYC experiences?
TELE/VISIONS: My New York experience has definitely not matched anything like 'Kids'. New York has done a lot of maturing from what it was years ago. People call it more of "a playground for the rich" than a cultural hub. It is kind of sad. I've always had a very romantic view of New York City growing up on the Velvet Underground and reading a lot of literature surrounding the city. Now that I've moved here I realise that not many people share my romance, but I try to ignore it. In every spare moment I get I try to write, record or go see a movie. On the weekends I used to walk around the city a lot and just listen to Lou Reed and Bob Dylan, but right now it is way too cold.
3rd: New York was at one point known for Hip Hop more than indie music. Is this still the case today?
TELE/VISIONS: I am still trying to get a grasp on the New York scene. It is going through a lot of changes right now with all of those Williamsburg venues shutting down, so it's kind of hard to put my finger on it. I can tell there are still a lot of things happening that are very exciting, but it is all a little scattered right now.
3rd: Nick, you studied Journalism, worked for Noisey and Impose and been in a successful band with Surf Curse. You've been in the music industry and know how hard it is to make it. What makes you confident that TELE/VISIONS will succeed or is that not important?
TELE/VISIONS: I think that I've already had many successes with TELE/VISIONS with what I am trying to create. However on a commercial level, I'm actually not very confident that TELE/VISIONS will succeed. I've been told so many times I need to change my name, I need a full band, I need to stop releasing so many songs, I need to release my music physically, I need more merchandise, I need a label, I need a manger...I've seen the music industry from a lot of different angles and I know how it works. I'm not very good at playing its game, but I am trying. In order to be successful you have to be able to brand, market and sell what you have created, which requires a lot of thought. The trick is to not let one influence the other.
3rd: What do you think then of bands such as Ride, The Libertines, The Replacements all reforming?
TELE/VISIONS: I kind of hate it. I mean, it is great for them but it really hurts new artists and pushing forward the genre. The music industry now would rather go with a sure thing than take a chance on new artists. If you look at any current music festival, most of the head-liners are reunited bands. How are we supposed to define our generation of music if it is being defined by a different generation of music. These reunions are happening at such an exponential rate that it makes me worry about the future of rock and roll. It sort of mimics the turn of the century when classical composers stopped composing new pieces and would only play the classical composers like Bach and Beethoven.
3rd: Final question, what is your desert island drink ?
TELE/VISIONS: A Breezy Bahama Mama. It's straight whisky blended with ice with an umbrella in it. I'm on a desert island. I'm not fucking around.