Turn Up Friday - Curated by Nico Ghost
Melbourne hip hop act Nico Ghost takes the reins for the latest Turn Up Friday.
After appearing as a support act for artists such as Wu-Tang Clan and G-Eazy, among others, Melbourne's Nico Ghost has thrust his name forward as one of the most exciting young acts in Australian hip hop. Considered a roleplayer in the scene's so-called 'New Wave', including having featured in Turn Up Friday's own Australian hip hop list, the intriguing and alluring artist stands itself apart through a combination of both his fresh sound and equally unique personality — both of which take center stage on the artist's latest release, How U Feel.
For these reasons, Nico Ghost stood head and shoulders above as an ideal artist to take the reins for a curated playlist of Pilerats' own Turn Up Fridays. In conversation with fellow Melbournite James Schofield, Nico Ghost explores his personal interpretation of 'Turn Up', teases a few special appearances and talks life changing music.
Nico Ghost: The term turn up, to me, kind of just means letting go. It's almost like meditation in a way. You lose yourself to the music, the atmosphere, the whole vibe around you. It doesn't matter where you are, alone or in a crowd, [or] what is happening - when you turn up, you’re gone...
James Schofield: I dig that, totally, it's like giving yourself over to wherever the music and the environment can take you, as opposed to something stuck in one genre or another. So PARTYNEXTDOOR's Transparency? New release, only a week old now and probably, in my opinion, the highlight of a really dope album from Party. What are your thoughts on this track?
Party has really matured in this album and it's evident throughout. This track is the vibe though, the 4AM vibe..... Dark and menacing, self indulgent, dripping in sauce... This is playing on the way home from wherever you’re at.
And the bass on this track alone is just so powerful, it elevates the track so totally.
It's almost empty in a way, but the way Party's voice swerves through it, it's magical.
Totally! Next up you've got The Smiths with I Know It's Over. Interesting choice, but I feel like, at the same time, it really falls in line behind your interpretation of turn up. It's so communicative, so sultry and yet so sullen. What made you pick this track out?
Alright firstly, if you're going to listen to this song, you have to listen to the Rank Live version. This is storytelling at its finest. The way that Morrissey crafts tales and shares them with you is untouched. This is when you turn up with sorrow in your heart; the soil is falling over your head and you are just trying to escape. This song has carried me through my darkest turn ups and gives me hope. If another soul can convey and feel this emotion, I'm not so alone.
I get that 100%. Not only with Morrissey and The Smiths, who I'm a fan of, but for me Ian Curtis and Joy Division were a lot the same. Really transformative storytelling that was so sorrowful, but comforting in its own way.
Exactly. Music like that has a way of healing and inspiring like none other.
Without a doubt. Next on deck though, we've got dvsn and With Me, which is a lot different to the Smiths but a hell of a way to open a debut album. Even just those opening lines, "fuck with me now, fuck with me now", dvsn are inviting their listeners into the album's experience. It's so alluring. What's your reading on this track?
When I first heard this track I was kind of taken aback. It imprinted on me during a flight to Sydney and I haven't been the same since. The production is so simple but so full and you don't expect a flip like that. Dude just kills the vocals too, the track is too smooth.
The album itself was stellar, I'm actually stoked to see you select a cut from that album and see that I'm not the only one who connected with their sound like that. Which is actually pretty similar to how I feel seeing you select a Travis Scott track next up, with Nightcrawler. I love Travis Scott, man, I think he might be my favourite artist out here doing it right now. What's the story behind that selection?
I've been following Travis since before the Owl Pharaoh days and hearing a track like Nightcrawler makes me very happy. Everything about the song — the melodies, the features - it makes you feel like you can have it all. I like that. He lets you share with him. Travis is one of my favourite artists as well, I'm excited to see his journey.
Yes! I'm exactly the same, I remember being hyped for Owl Pharaoh to come out and it's crazy to see where he is now from that point. Actually, funnily enough, the ending for your track Silent really gave me a lot of Travis Scott vibes, is he an inspiration for some elements to your sound?
I wouldn't say Travis is an inspiration. I think we are both inspired by a lot of the same things. Rather than musically, his hustle inspires me, his control of his sound.
That's dope! I mean I think I really feel a similar energy from you that I do from him and that's what I found particularly striking on Silent. Speaking of striking too, Sade's No Ordinary Love really takes me back. What does this track mean to you?
I think this song kind of resembles a new chapter in my life. After I copped this album, the whole way I looked at songwriting changed. In particular this song builds and sounds so powerful. The guitars scratch at your soul. Sade also sends me into a peaceful deep slumber. It's all going to be okay.
It really is that, man, it's like an exquisite exploration of tranquility, in a way. Can we weirdly call Lil Uzi Vert the Sade of the rap game? I personally find his music so affirming, and uplifting in a way. Particularly Erase Your Social just feels so honest and so refreshing to me. In fact most of The Perfect Luv Tape feels that way in all honesty. How do you feel about this one?
Yeah I feel that. His music definitely uplifts me, Perfect Luv makes me feel happy when I'm sad. I think I just agree with what Lil Uzi is saying in this track. I barely use snapchat for that same reason, it's too personal, and if you want personal, hit the Twitter. It makes you feel like the world is yours.
Yeah, definitely. For me too, this track just reminded me of getting into a fight with my girlfriend, or my best friend, and wanting to quit social media just to disappear. Maybe I feel that way because Uzi Vert split from his girlfriend about a month before the tape dropped but it just hit me in such an emotional place.
I still feel like Lil Uzi Vert vs. the World has a different vibe that kind of overshadows this tape because it feels so cohesive and polished. That tape really can make you disappear.
Yes, 100%. I revisited the Scott Pilgrim vs. the World movie pretty much straight after that but I think Uzi Vert did a better job than Michael Cera personally. I've got to be honest, seeing Weeknd on this list really made me happy, especially a track from House of Balloons where it all began. I remember finding House of Balloons a couple days after its release and it just grabbed me totally. I mean, with lines like "put your mind in a dream world" on Loft Music here, and then just Weeknd's vocals, Weeknd's music really feels like it could almost be from another planet. What's your take on Loft Music?
I was 16 when I first heard this and I knew exactly what I wanted out of life. What got me was the way [that] he infused rapping and singing and it felt so effortless. The Weeknd influenced me a lot around these years, he was all I would listen to. You can tell he's just having fun with it; young and reckless. This is what dreams are made of. I'll fall asleep smoking a blunt to this on the first night in my new loft.
I don't think that I've ever felt as close to an artist as I did with Weeknd through those first three mixtapes. The way he sung, and what he spoke about, it really felt like I was growing up beside him there.
I totally feel you with that. You feel like you are the Weeknd.
Exactly! People talk so freely about how intimate Weeknd's lyrics are in how they relate to sexuality but I think it's far more extraordinary how intimate his music is in the way it transports you to where the Weeknd is.
"And my niggas, man these bitches can't touch what we got" - that line is straight up the ultimate bromance line for lack of better words. I feel you.
Yo, Jazz Cartier is the most underrated artist in the game right now, I've got to call it. Another Toronto artist, I don't think he's ever sounded more inspired than on Guardian Angel. It's so confronting, so challenging but in a unique and beautiful way. What attracts you to this track?
Exactly that. The passion, the anger, the honesty. The explicit reaction of a person who's pushed to the edge. He goes as crazy as you want to go. He paints his picture so honestly that you can't deny his pain, his struggle and his victory over all that. This song inspires me to keep pushing on when all of it seems lost and astray.
I feel like that leads me into my final question, man, and I'm just dying to know what's next for Nico Ghost? What can we look forward to seeing from you?
You can just expect me to be me. We don't really know what that means yet but come to a show and I can show you. That's where it all goes down.
You've got some shows in the pipeline for us? Anything you can share?
Boney, August 25th is the next one. I'll be dropping some new ones and I'm very excited.
Dope. Anything you want to add just to wrap things up?
Thanks for having me a part of the program, shout out to all the artists making cool stuff.
Thursday August 25 is set to be a busy night for Melbourne, as not only does Nico Ghost perform at Melbourne venue Boney via THANK GUARD, but Turn Up Fridays' own James Schofield, in partnership with Smart Base Entertainment and The Toff in Town, presents the launch of brand new event night LEAN DREAMS. Inspired by the spirit, grace and attitudes of turning up, growing up and having fun, LEAN DREAMS marks the emergence of Melbourne's new underground. With FREE ENTRY until 1AM, and a roster of some of Melbourne's most talented hip hop DJs, you can find further information about LEAN DREAMS here.