Current Joys Isn’t Thinking About Nostalgia Anymore

Current Joys Interview by Conor Rooney for Northern Transmissions
Current Joys Photo by Brooke Barone

You know it when you hear it. Music infused with the homemade touch and DIY ethos exudes an undeniable charm, carrying a unique sweetness and genuine earnestness that captivates and enthrals listeners right from the first note. In many instances, Current Joys perfectly embodies this essence. The solo project of Nick Rattigan, the talented drummer/singer of Surf Curse and prolific producer, Current Joys stands as a shining example of this captivating musical distillation. Known for music with a deeply nostalgic and earnest twinge, Nick’s unique blend of indie bedroom pop sound has been nurtured for over a decade, with 2023 marking the 10-year anniversary of debut solo project Wild Heart. Now, as he releases his newest project LOVE + POP, Northern Transmissions caught up with Current Joys to discuss this newest chapter:

Northern Transmissions: Firstly, congratulations on the release of LOVE + POP. How would you describe your approach to making this record in contrast with any of your previous work?

Current Joys: I mean it was kind of similar in spirit, but not an execution. I’ve always just made records trying to recreate an essence of like… the music that I like at that time. [For] this record I happen to be listening to, like, a lot of modern, electronic + hip hop. This project just felt very homegrown and natural, and that’s just how a lot of my older projects have just felt. Just me in a room like making music. Thanks to the beautiful internet, it’s no longer just me in my room making music – I can email a friend a song to put a part on it or whatever. And so it also becomes this interesting communal experience.

NT: 2023 is also a special year for you with the 10 year anniversary of Wild Heart. How has time changed how you view that batch of songs?

CJ: Well for some reason, LOVE + POP just started becoming like a spiritual sequel to Wild Heart. This process of making this record just felt so… like a return to form for me of just getting back on my computer and making the songs myself; perfecting it in my own strange way.

There’s a lot of references, intentionally or unintentionally, to Wild Heart. Like ‘U R THE REASON’ is kind of like a nod to ‘You Broke My Heart,’ then the album cover which is almost like a graffiti version of the Wild Heart. But I mean my relationship with Wild Heart has drastically changed over the years and it feels like a distant cousin. Like I know that they’re out there, but we don’t call and talk very often. It’s actually like a distant cousin who pays my rent for me.

NT: How have you noticed those songs evolve over time through live performances?

CJ: They’ve always evolved. I remember when I got the four piece band – there’s a live record, like Live at Kilby Court that kind of was to show how the live shows were so different from the recordings. People would come to the shows and they’d be like “Oh, this is like so much more energetic.”

But then there’s the Voyager era, which kind of expands that even more to a five piece and like trying to fulfill that. And now we’re in the LOVE + POP era where it’s really fucked up and it’s me and Jackson (Brutus VIII) drumming and we have like backing tracks. We’re pretty much like, if Death Grips was trying to sound like Green Day.

NT: What I hear in some of your music is often an exploration of themes of nostalgia and longing. Do you think our collective relationship to nostalgia has changed in recent years?

CJ: Well, I think all of our concepts of time have changed, and nostalgia is just a concept of time. It’s like a romantic concept of time, and I think COVID really warped people’s perceptions of time because their lives, as they knew it, were drastically reformed in a really quick way. There’s actually a really good video about this, and it talks about COVID and the warped time perception, but it would answer your question way more articulately than I could.

I don’t really think about nostalgia too much Anymore. I feel like I’ve really been pilled by modernity, and I like to just like to know what’s happening now and [I’m] very much excited by what’s happening in art + music. I just hope that I can lean more into that than nostalgia, because [it] can be a trap in some ways.

NT: What does your curiosity look like when you encounter a fresh idea for a song or record, and how do you begin the process of exploration?

CJ: It just sparks. Maybe you’re working on a song and it kind of speaks to you. Like this one, it was doing the Lil Peep cover and something in it was just interesting to me. I just went down sort of a rabbit hole. It was almost like I was writing a book or something. I woke up every day, got my coffee, went downstairs and I sat in my studio like every day for hours just like making music, cooking music.

That’s kind of how all my albums have worked. At least now I feel like I’m making like genre movies or something like. My next album is like a folk country album, I have this other album that’s like a rock opera that I’ve been working on – very different from this one that I just put out. But they’re all they all stem from like an original idea that I think usually starts with the song. Once you start just writing music and throwing things at the wall, a song can really open up a whole world that you can start building, you know?


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