Shady Nasty swerve yet again on new EP ‘CLUBSMOKE’

The Sydney band’s new project is steeped in an intense ambivalence to soulless luxury. They tell NME about the characters behind its creation and their 2010s EDM inspirations

Today, Shady Nasty have released their second EP ‘CLUBSMOKE’, a voyeuristic survey of the wealthy members of the Zoomer generation in their home city of Sydney.

The trio’s sound is as inscrutable as ever: lyrics are written like text exchanges between gym junkies while the instrumentals are jenga towers of hip-hop beats, slowcore guitars and punk vocals.

Shady Nasty recorded the four-track EP in what they described to NME as “a World War Two bunker concrete dome in Camden Airport” with The Rubens’ bassist William Zeglis, whom they took on in a bid to escape preconceptions of who the band were after their 2018 debut ‘Bad Posture’.

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“We didn’t want to just sound like a guitar, bass and drums band,” drummer Luca Watson says. “We wanted it to be very confusing as to how these sounds were made.”

Watson and bassist Haydn Green (the last Shady Nasty member being Kevin Stathis) chatted to NME about the vapid aesthetics of vlogging, being inspired by EDM of the 2010s and a collegiate relationship with a Gold Coast bodybuilder.

‘CLUBSMOKE’ feels less aggressive than any music you’ve made before.

Luca Watson: That first EP was written while we were playing shows and was definitely geared towards playing to a live audience. This EP was conceived in a zone completely devoid of any sort of live shows.

Haydn Green: We’re still gonna have to figure out how to perform [‘CLUBSMOKE’]. We have played some of it live but it’s the nuances that I think will be difficult to replicate. My phone is part of the performance instruments now. I use recordings I’ve looped on the bass, and run through a pedal. I don’t want to have to replicate them each time playing them live. So I have an app on my phone where I can change the tempo and pitch of it all and play it off an mp3 through the bass amp.

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You’re also incorporating a lot more samples. What is that at the beginning of ‘IBIZA’? It reminded me of the Will Ferrell Blades of Glory sample from Kanye and Jay-Z’s ‘Watch The Throne’.

Haydn: This is unbelievable, this one. He’s a South African guy I work with and he’s nuts. He’s just such an enigmatic human being. He invited Luca and I to a high-up apartment in the Meriton. Because he just does this – he’ll just impulsively book a room in the Meriton. Luca wanted to get some footage of it for some videos. And that little sample happened to be on it. He just goes on these rants.

Does he know he’s on the record?

Haydn: Oh yeah. He loved it. He was so happy it was being played on the radio, so smitten. He’s one of these guys who cannot handle things being stale. The other day, he came in, and he’s a tennis coach, right? So we’re not millionaires, and he’s bought a $12,000 watch… And he’s like, “Listen, don’t tell anybody about this. But I’ve just bought a $12,000 watch”. This crazy German titanium watch. And he’s never gonna wear it.

He really does fit the mould of characters appearing across the EP, which often feels like a grab bag of surface-level indulgence. Are you looking at these people with existential horror or do you admire them?

Luca: The whole EP was based on a deep attraction to the aesthetic of luxury, cosmetics, and beautification and all that sort of shit. But also being deeply revolted by it at the same time. I’m so glad that this [luxury] exists. It’s hypnotizing. It’s like drinking a Slurpee; a crazy sugary hit. But you feel like pretty shit after it.

Haydn: I know some of the people that would be considered to be in that category aren’t necessarily the most desirable human beings but I don’t think it would really work as well if you were having a go at them.

Luca: I appreciate the point of difference that it has with my own life. But it’s also very similar to how I experience things. My fucking Instagram algorithm is cooked and I just see thousands and thousands of these images every week.

Have you been to Ibiza, like you say in the song?

Luca: No. Oh, that’s the other thing. We were so fucking inspired by music from our teens like David Guetta and Avicii. I just went back and started listening to all this 2010s EDM. Unironically, I remember sitting at my computer, playing Runescape when I was 12 years old, just smashing ‘Sexy Bitch’ featuring Akon. I feel like the expectation returning to it is to be like “Haha oh how corny, how lame”, but it’s so fire – some of it.

Not a lot of cynicism in that music.

Luca: That’s definitely something we didn’t want to do. We tried to make it sound like an EDM track a little bit, with guitar loops.

Hadyn: That stuff is so digital. It’s funny to try and recreate it with normal instruments.

Tell me about the music videos for ‘PRETTYB0YZ’ and ‘IBIZA’. They have a deeply uncanny feeling.

Luca: I watch a lot of videos on YouTube, hours and hours of just whatever. And at the time [of recording], I was just watching so much vlogging. I think there’s a new sort of visual language that has emerged as a result of people using iPhones to capture their lives, different camera angles and gadgets and gizmos.

I just saw this object [a ring light] and it was just so beautiful and ethereal – holy, even.

Haydn: Like a halo.

Luca: Yeah! You can see it in people’s eyes when they are talking to the camera because it’s just behind the camera. Sometimes people would even brazenly just leave it in the shot. To me, it’s so haunting but also so hypnotizing. It’s like the fucking Eye of Sauron.

Haydn: I love the fact that they know it makes them look good, but there’s no shame.

Luca: The other thing I’d been watching was a lot of wealthy people in LA doing very scheduled pranks. There were always these black Range Rovers in them. So for the ‘IBIZA’ video, we flew this guy named Jarrah Martin down from the Gold Coast.

You flew a random guy down from the Gold Coast?

Luca: My friend Harry [Welsh], who makes the videos with me, we were searching gym tags on Instagram and this dude came up. He had a fairly aggressive build and tattoos which seemed very fitting, and so we just DM’d him. He literally had no fucking idea who we were or anything, we didn’t call him. He just literally got on a fucking plane. So ballsy on his part.

And he was honestly such a sweet dude. It was really nice to humanise the lifestyle. It’s so easy to be cynical about who this guy is from his presence online and shit. Of course, there’s a point to being cynical about that lifestyle. But I think the nuance that maybe often gets missed is he’s just a fucking person.

Shady Nasty’s ‘CLUBSMOKE’ EP is out now via [PIAS] Australia

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