Nico Yaryan, a child of northern California hippies, grew up in a distinctly west coast environment in the 1980s. Inspire by his then-idols J Dilla and DJ Premier, he spent his adolescence skateboarding, working retail jobs, and rummaging through dollar bins for recordings to utilize as samples for his own hip-hop tracks.
When Hanni El Khatib, a blues-rock guitarist and Yaryan’s high school classmate, arrived seeking for a drummer for his impending tour, this somewhat meaningless existence was given an infusion of purpose. Yaryan spent over two years performing all around the world while honing his guitar skills. In Amsterdam, he first met a woman.
He returned to Amsterdam the moment he left Hanni El Khatib’s band to be with her, but after falling in love with her sincerely, he was forced to depart Europe a month later owing to visa constraints. He spent the following year working on a marijuana farm in Humboldt County, California, accumulating money for his next trip to Amsterdam, and then coming back to work a month later to repeat the process once more.
Yaryan’s first full-length album, What a Tease, released in 2016, was written during this up-and-down time in his life. However, the relationship didn’t last despite the obstacles he faced in terms of location and finances. The songs on the album are sincere reflections on the themes of hope, tenacity, and, in the end, heartbreak. They were inspired by the great soul and blues storytellers like Bill Withers and Al Green as well as the solo work of John Lennon and Neil Young.