Nick Rattigan went back to basics on LOVE + POP, his latest record under the Current Joys moniker. In contrast to 2021’s more polished Voyager, the new album was home-recorded and self-produced, making it more akin to the project’s earliest releases from a decade ago.
Current Joys – ‘LOVE + POP’
LOVE + POP is out now via Secretly Canadian, and to coincide with its release, Rattigan and Boyd spoke to each other about collaborating, the changing nature of music distribution and Lil Yachty’s guest appearance on the album track ‘Gatsby’.
YOUR ANGEL: I think I should ask you a question first.
Current Joys: I only wrote two questions. I should have written more.
YA: You can just do them off the dome.
CJ: Yeah, let’s do them off the dome.
YA: How did this project, LOVE + POP, begin for you?
CJ: Well, I watched the Lil Peep documentary after a very chaotic party that I threw at my house. All of Los Angeles was there and they destroyed my house. In the midst of trying to clean my house, I put my television next to my bed and I watched the Lil Peep doc. I had not been that inspired by anything in so long.
I decided to do a cover of one of his songs and for the cover I knew I couldn’t rap over it, so I decided to get someone else to do it and then I hit you up – my frequent collaborator.
I was listening back to the song a hundred times as you do when you record a song. I was like, “This song is okay but the Maddy part is so sick.” I wanted to write another song and have you do a sort of rapping flow again. So I wrote ‘LOVE + POP’. We got together and started making that and then you texted me saying, “I feel like a whole record of this would be great”.
That planted the seed in my head and I spent a month making a song every day and sending you a song every day. I wondered if I was annoying you. Was it annoying that I was sending you songs every day?
YA: Honestly, it wasn’t because Jackson [Katz, Brutus VII] and I, for probably a year now, had had multiple conversations about it. You were always saying you felt like everyone really loved your old bedroom pop shit and maybe you should just do that again. We thought, “Damn that would be a good idea,” plus you were super into 100 gecs and electronic music.
I remember one specific time, Jackson and I went to Sweetgreen and were like, “Dude it would be so sick if Nick made another album in his bedroom but added 808s and more electronic production.”
CJ: Did you guys predict the record?
YA: Yes, we’ve been talking about this for a year. That’s why I told you to keep doing this. It makes sense to have old school Current Joys with low-key, modern electronic production.
CJ: That’s crazy you predicted this record at a Sweetgreen and I didn’t see it coming until it was done.
YA: I kept saying I was going to talk to you about it and I never did then you sent me that song and I thought, “Oh my god. It’s happening!”
Current Joys – ‘CIGARETTES’
CJ: You and Jackson were my biggest cheerleaders on this record. I don’t know if I could have done it without you guys.
YA: It was so fun. I feel like there’s been a lot of distance, time-wise, between all of us touring together and it felt weirdly nostalgic and serendipitous. Our relationship started by making music together so it felt very pure and fun. So, no, it was not annoying.
CJ: That’s so sweet. The band was back together. It was a very different vibe than making Voyager though.
YA: Very different vibe. I guess the band is somewhat back together – you and Jackson are playing live together in the new Current Joys set.
CJ: You should see the new set, it’s crazy.
YA: I want to see it so bad. Another question – why did you send Lil Yachty the recording of the song ‘Gatsby’?
CJ: Here’s the story – I got a hold of Lil Yachty and he wanted to hear the song. He told me to send it and you wanted to come over and beef it up to make it sound better. You said I can’t just send this shitty sounding song to Lil Yachty, but I got really stoned and anxious and just sent it to him anyway. Simple as that.
A week went by and then I followed up with him and he said he loved it. Another week went by and then he sent me the track back with a verse over it.
YA: He’s so real for doing that.
CJ: Jackson and I got a little greedy and sent him three more songs. He didn’t reply to any of those, which is okay and understandable. Jackson ended up doing the part on “Rock n Roll Dreams’ but we changed it so it wasn’t rapping.
YA: It doesn’t really sound like he’s rapping at all. It’s very Brutus VIII. Do you think you’ll ever release the other version of ‘Gatsby’ we made? We called it the ‘Dance Dance Revolution’ version.
CJ: You came over to beef up the track but then we made another version and we were like this is the DDR version. Altogether on the album, there were 30 songs and I cut it down to 10. I was thinking I would make a part two.
Current Joys w/ Lil Yachty – ‘Gatsby’
CJ: Leading up to the release, you said you felt like the fans would really fuck with this. What do you have to say to the people who really don’t fuck with it at all, who say it’s not “Current Joys”?
YA: If you expect somebody to make the same music that they were making 10 years ago you’re an idiot. If artists don’t evolve, they’re shitty artists. You’re damned if you do, damned if you don’t. If you were making the same music you used to, people would have something to say about that too.
CJ: I don’t even think I could.
YA: I find it so ignorant for people to expect you to make the same music you did in college.
CJ: Maybe you would expect this record to be the one I made in college as opposed to now. Haha.
YA: I think this record is the most similar to your older music which is so funny.
CJ: That’s what I’m so surprised about. It’s super lo-fi home recording. They’re going to really freak out when the country album comes out.
YA: Yeah! You can’t please everyone. Sometimes music fans feel entitled in a way that’s not fair. I think if you’re not evolving in a way, you’re not a good artist.
YA: Period. What do you feel the difference was in making this record as opposed to say Voyager? Especially because Voyager was such a collaborative record as well?
CJ: We were both there for the making of both of them. It’s literally the polar opposite. What was awesome about this record was I was listening to so much music and a lot of music now feels like production is what makes it interesting. You can do so many things with production now that make the song transform in a way. The Lil Peep, home recording, DIY thing – I was like, “That’s what I do. I could just do this myself again.”
Voyager had a producer, live tracking and was super crisp. It just felt like a return to form of Current Joys. Since I’m not a thoroughly trained producer, I say I do “emotional producing” and feel it out.
YA: I feel like Voyager was your stadium rock moment. It’s big.
Current Joys – ‘Voyager Pt 1’
CJ: One question I have – do you think TikTok is evil or good?
YA: I think TikTok has drained humanity from art. It is a really amazing tool and to some extent has put the power back in the artist’s hands. It puts labels out in a way – any one can blow up at any time – but I feel like music is so algorithmic now.
If you’re a small artist, virality can be a curse. You get signed and dropped. I feel like TikTok is on the way out in terms of being the only thing people in the music industry think of as a way to make it. There are artists getting signed who can’t perform live and they can’t sell out a 100 cap room. An artist is not an artist if they can’t perform or play a live show.
CJ: Do you think there is a craving for a live, unique experience because so many people don’t know how to play their music live?
YA: With the internet and after COVID especially, I think people are craving genuine human interaction and live music is a great way to get that. Obviously recorded music can move you, but the true humanity in music is standing in front of people and playing. I think that’s what can make or break a career.
YA: Both of your bands were already big and went viral on TikTok. How do you feel like that’s changed your shows? Your crowds have always been so rowdy.
CJ: It almost made them a little tamer. I remember doing the last Current Joys tour and wondering why people weren’t going crazy. I was freaking out every night. I think it was because the rooms were bigger and maybe we got more of a crowd just coming for those TikTok songs. Maybe it’s a little different with Surf Curse because the music is easier to just go crazy to.
Virality is a curse but at the same time it’s like mini-fame. Fame is a curse. Success is a curse. They’re all what our society deems to be the goal, but I think it’s taught me that things blowing up on TikTok cannot really affect you and you can’t think about it too much. The only thing that is important is your art and making something that means something to you. That’s the only way it will move or shock or create a response in someone else.
So, you have to do it for yourself first. Everything else is a game, a lie, a fantasy. People get caught up in that and forget about the music. It’s hubris that happens with everyone who gets a viral hit or something blowing up on the internet. It’s a giant dopamine hit.
YA: It’s mass validation and you can only go down from there.
CJ: Yeah, and if you go up I guess good for you.
YA: I really think it’s very few and far between to go up. Most of the time it’s hard to follow it up.
CJ: I think that everyone forgets that they already have worth and value without it.
YA: In a way, I relate to it. You want something so bad and you’re looking for that one thing that’s going to put you on this path, but at the end of the day that’s not really how it works. It usually takes getting lucky a few times and fighting really hard. If you talk to anyone who has success, they’re still depressed and it doesn’t change anything.
CJ: Paul Newman says “luck is an art” and I think that means that you do have to be lucky but there’s also so much work and stamina required, especially in this industry with rejection and failure and loss. You have to put yourself in those positions to get lucky.
YA: Yeah, it’s who can take the hardest beating at the end of the day? Who is going to get up over and over again and blindly believe in themselves even if the world isn’t reflecting that back at them?
CJ: You said something to me a long time ago that’s so true. You said musicians are extremely insecure ego maniacs or something like that.
YA: Musicians are egomaniacs with an inferiority complex.
CJ: Yeah, I think about that all the time.
YA: It’s true. At the end of day, you have to go to bed thinking you’re the shit even if you don’t think so.
CJ: You have to like your work.
YA: Why would you pursue something if you don’t believe people should like it? How egotistical is it to think that anyone should give a fuck about the art that you make? But you have to. It’s crazy!
CJ: In this world you have to. In a perfect world, you wouldn’t have to.
- LOVE + POP by Current Joys – with guests Your Angel, Lil Yachty, Oddbody, Brutus VII and Slow Hollows – is out now via Secretly Canadian.