Nick Monaco’s new album Half Naked comes with its own fragrance line. Listen to it exclusively while watching the artist take a long, relaxing bath
Nick Monaco wants you to smell his new album Half Naked. This isn’t a metaphor: the San Francisco-dwelling DJ, producer, and songwriter has literally created a series of perfume fragrances to accompany each track on the album. “I wanted people to inhale my album, to push the threshold of intimacy,” Monaco explains, “These aren’t scents that were made to wear necessarily, they’re rather like perfume manifestations of sounds and emotions.”
This isn’t the first time that Monaco has dabbled in cosmetics: when he released his debut album Mating Call in 2014, he produced the Freak Flag lipstick line to accompany it, with all proceeds going to the Jim Collins Foundation to raise awareness around LGBT issues. But otherwise the two records take a very different approach. Where Mating Call was a product of Monaco’s background spinning house music with the Soul Clap and Wolf + Lamb crews, Half Naked feels somewhat closer to pop music, albeit pop music made by someone with a very different way of looking at the world.
Listen to the album below while watching Monaco take a nice, long, relaxing bath. For all the bores out there, you can scroll down the page for a conventional Soundcloud playlist.
Tell us about your musical journey up until now.
Nick Monaco: Oh, the places that music has taken me. The last five years – since I graduated university – have been somewhat cinematic. I’ve been touring the world non-stop as a DJ and live act with an outfit called Crew Love. I’ve been producing and DJing before I even hit puberty, so it’s been a long journey. I’ve always stuck to my gut and made music that was personal to me regardless of genre or anything, so I’ve been happy that people have followed my Gemini ass for this long.
Your first EP was called Naked Is My Nature and your new album is called Half Naked. Talk to us about nudity.
Nick Monaco: Those that know me know how much I like to get naked. I keep referencing the word ‘naked’ in my music because it seems to work as a metaphor on so many levels... It somehow helps me relate to sexuality, innocence, vulnerability, and playfulness.
“Those that know me know how much I like to get naked” — Nick Monaco
How did you approach this album differently to your debut?
Nick Monaco: I write music really fast, mostly because I’m touring so much that I’m never in on place long enough to write a big body of music. So this album came together in three weeks in San Francisco. I wanted to experiment with pop – or at least my interpretation of it. The last album was in more of a house music format, but that felt really restricting to me, so I broke free and this is what came out.
You’ve known dancefloors since you were a teenager, but Half Naked isn’t necessarily a dancefloor record. Why did you want to move away from that?
Nick Monaco: It wasn’t always an intentional choice. I love dance music, but it wasn’t speaking to me at the moment. I’ll always enjoy DJing and rocking parties – that’ll never go away, I’m good at that – but I wasn’t feeling challenged as an artist or producer making that music. Talk to me next week and it might be a different story. I have to feel challenged and uncomfortable to feel excited about what I’m doing.
Can you talk about some of the album’s lyrical themes?
Nick Monaco: Now that I’ve had some space from this record, I listen to it and think it feels like an opus for runaway lovers. I wanted you feel to me, my bipolar nature, the push and pull. Escapism, fleeing, finding refuge in someone else, that feeling broken, then not knowing where to go. This is a log of where I was at at that period. If people relate to it that’s great, if not that’s fine too, but I’m giving you my highest form of expression for that moment. That shit’s real.
So how did you design the fragrance range? And how would you describe it?
Nick Monaco: Have you ever smelled music before? I hadn’t either. I wanted people to inhale my album, to push the threshold of intimacy. As fate has it, I met this gifted perfumer named San Saruj in Thailand; we exchanged notes and he created a perfume for every song on the album. These aren’t scents that were made to wear necessarily, they’re rather like perfume manifestations of sounds and emotions.
“I wanted people to inhale my album, to push the threshold of intimacy” — Nick Monaco
Having previously created a lipstick range and now perfume, what do you think you’ll release alongside album three?
Nick Monaco: I guess I’m just left with hairspray or nail polish, right? I didn’t intend to do cosmetics, this stuff just happens. But people seem to really connect with it because it’s more physical and intimate, which seems to juxtapose our physically disconnected digital lives.
The world seems to be particularly volatile right now. Are you scared, or excited, for the future?
Nick Monaco: I’m scared for America right now, like WTF is going on?! I don’t want to be ashamed to say I’m American when I travel. I might join Mos Def and get a global passport and bounce to South Africa. Beyond that, I do my best to live in the moment and quietly observe the world turning.
Crew Love Records release Half Naked on June 10