Music to Your Ears
An interview with the Alibi's first-ever Earwig playlist winner
Screen Name: grunge
Real Name: Nicholas Venaglia
Age: 23, Capricorn
Day Job: Customer service/cashier
Night Job: Artist
Winning Earwig Mix: "feels like home"
Hear It At: alibi.com/earwig
I see you split your time between Albuquerque and San Francisco. How do they compare?
I was born and raised in Albuquerque, where my dad owns La Esquina restaurant Downtown; I moved here to San Francisco to pursue my art. Albuquerque has all my family and close friends, whom I really miss—and, of course, the green chile, which is few and far between. Well, actually, there is a place called Green Chile Kitchen with "New Mexico-inspired" food, but it's not very good. San Francisco has a wonderful art scene with really supportive galleries and shops; it's really night and day compared to Albuquerque in that department. There are a lot of really inspirational, talented folks making and showing art here, which was a big reason why I decided to move. I would send my art zines to galleries and people back home and would get zero feedback, but I would get a lot of response from people here, so it was only natural for me to make the jump.
“I ended up with a mix that, to me, captured the times spent with my cousin driving around and hanging out in the desert.”
What are you reading?
Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain, Eat Me: The Food and Philosophy of Kenny Shopsin by Kenny Shopsin.
What are your vices?
Food, I love food. I lost a lot of weight–like 100-plus pounds over the last few years–so that was my big weakness, but I still love it. So it’s a constant struggle. One of the main reasons I check out the Alibi every week is for the new restaurant review.
Your website (nicholasvenaglia.com) displays an assortment of art you've made—photography, zines, collage, sketches, writing. Who do you admire as an artist?
I have too many favorites. Egon Schiele, Paul Urich, Maya Hayuk, Olafur Eliasson, Gary Fogelson, Mat O'Brien, Stephen Shore, Ray Johnson, Tucker Nichols, Danny Espinoza, Burk Uzzle, Scott Barry, Andy Warhol ...
Your playlist has some great underground finds. Tell me about your connection to groups like the Chant Ohs.
My girlfriend got me into them. They're from Sacramento and I don't believe have ever released a proper CD. She had a CD-R she bought from them at a concert, and I just fell in love with their sound. Another band, The Mall, were a great three-piece out of San Francisco. I became friends with their drummer through the website FecalFace.com. We would send each other CDs and zines and stuff, and always I try to include them in any mix I can because they are an amazing mix of Casio keyboards, noise, indiscernible vocals and some damn fine drumming.
Can you talk a little about your Earwig playlist theme—“feels like home"?
I was getting really homesick here and wanted to make a mix that reminded me of home, and I ended up with a mix that, to me, captured the times spent with my cousin Brandon driving around and hanging out in the desert.
You make music, too. How do you write songs and how do you play them?
All my music is sample-based, taking bits and pieces from vinyl, tapes and MP3s and pasting them together on my computer. I'm also in the band White Blanket. We put out a CD in 2007; it was for sale at Mecca Records and on our MySpace (myspace.com/whiteblanket) but has since gone out of print. I have never performed, I just make stuff in my bedroom and put it online.
The six songs I heard on your solo MySpace music page (myspace.com/nicholasvenaglia) were all about a minute long. Why so short?
I don't know.
What do you hope to accomplish?
I would like to make a living off my art, photography and music, but that's everyone's dream.
As a winner of the Alibi's Earwig playlist competition, Nick wins $10 in his choice of goodies at Charley's 33s and CDs. Visit alibi.com/earwig to hear his mix or make your own.