2016 Artist Survey: Nick Valensi of The Strokes and CRX | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
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2016 Artist Survey: Nick Valensi of The Strokes and CRX

Valensi on Trump, First Kisses, Brexit, and Scary Movies

Feb 16, 2017 Issue # 59 - 15th Anniversary
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For Under the Radar's 14th annual Artist Survey we emailed some of our favorite artists a few questions relating to 2016. We asked them about their favorite albums of the year and their thoughts on various notable 2016 news stories involving either the music industry or world events, as well as some quirkier personal questions. Here are some answers from Nick Valensi, a founding member of The Strokes who is also in CRX. In 2016 The Strokes released the Future Present Past EP via Cult. CRX released their debut album, New Skin, in 2016 via Columbia.

For our annual Artist Surveys we emailed the same set of questions to musicians about Trump and the election, 2016's deaths, self-driving cars, Stranger Things, first kisses, scary movies they shouldn't have seen as a child, which Friends character they are most like, and much more.

Pick up or download Under the Radar's Best of 2016 / 15th Anniversary Issue for Artist Survey interviews with Amber Arcades, Austra, Faris Badwan of Cat's Eyes and The Horrors, Boxed In, Caveman, The Charlatans, Cursive, Lucy Dacus, The Dears, C Duncan, Sadie Dupuis of Sad13 and Speedy Ortiz, Dutch Uncles, Ezra Furman, Robyn Hitchcock, The Invisible, Justin Lockey of Editors and Minor Victories, Lost Under Heaven (LUH), Lush, Midlake, Phantogram, The Range, Springtime Carnivore, Sunflower Bean, Surfer Blood, TEEN, The Thermals, Nick Valensi of CRX and The Strokes, Jenn Wasner of Flock of Dimes and Wye Oak, and Yuck.

A shorter version of Valensi's survey appeared in the print version of Under the Radar's Best of 2016 / 15th Anniversary Issue, this is the full unedited version.

Top 10 Albums of 2016

1. Iggy Pop: Post Pop DepressionI love the guitar playing on this record. 
2. David Bowie: Black StarWho would've thought that the top two albums of 2016 would be by Bowie and Iggy? 
3. Kanye West: The Life of PabloThis gets my vote for best production of the year. 
4. A Tribe Called Quest: We Got It From Here...Thank You 4 Your ServiceIsn't it great to have these guys back in the game? 
5. The Birth Defects: First 8 MistakesThis is heavy-ass party music. 
6. Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds: Skeleton TreeThis is the most emotionally intense album of the year. 
7. Radiohead: A Moon Shaped PoolI listened to this a lot while I was stuck in 2016 traffic. 
8. Rey Pila: The Future SugarThis is a great band that's on my friend's record label. 
9. The Strokes: Future Present Past EPHow could I not include this? 
10. CRX: New SkinAaaand.... how could I not include this too? 

2016 was regarded by many as a fairly tough and negative year. Was it also a hard year for you personally? If so, how? And also what were the high points for you?

Personally, 2016 has been all right. I can't complain. But the presidential election kind of messed things up for everyone. The entire year was suffused with anger and division, and it killed the vibe for the whole country. Everyone seems to agree that the campaign seasons are ridiculously long, that they hijack public consciousness with nonsense and rhetoric, but no one appears to be doing anything about it. 

What are your thoughts on how the U.S. presidential election played out?

It seems like our hunger for entertainment has taken over government. We've elected a guy who says whatever pops into his head. Are you not entertained? 

Let's discuss Donald Trump. What does the rise of Trump tell you about America in 2016? What concerns you most about a Trump presidency? How do you think his presidency might personally change your life? What message do you have for those who voted for Trump? What actions will you take over the course of the next four years to either protest a Trump presidency or support it?

It seems like the best punk rock is made during times of right-wing control, so hopefully the Trump administration will be good for punk rock. There are too many concerns to list-countless social and civil rights issues that are at risk, income equality, environmentalism, terrorism, it goes on and on. But at this point, it's all speculation. Maybe once he's inaugurated he'll become a Democrat again. 

What reality TV star would you have rather been elected president?

Howard Stern. 

If you were president, what would you try to accomplish in your first 100 days in office?

No way dude. I don't wanna. 

What are your thoughts on Brexit and the future of the European Union? To what extent do you think the Brexit vote and the election of Donald Trump were motivated by the same factors?

It seems like there were similar factors at play, sure, the xenophobia, the Islamophobia. Perhaps there is also issues with voter turnout or even vote tampering. I don't know, man. The whole thing is bonkers. 

We lost three highly influential music icons in 2016. What are your thoughts on the passing of David Bowie, Prince, and Leonard Cohen? And what are your favorite albums by each artist?

Well, it's a supreme bummer isn't it? My fave albums by these guys are Station to Station, Purple Rain soundtrack, and Songs of Love and Hate

What do you think Prince and Bowie's afterlife project sounds like?

Um, really? 

Which Friends character are you most like?

I don't watch that shit. 

What scary movie did you see way too young as a child, how'd you end up seeing it, and does it still scare you now?

I love scary movies. I've been watching horror movies since I was 8 or 9 years old. I have an older sister who showed me stuff. I remember the first few Nightmare on Elm Streets were very scary, but I always could handle it. The Shining kind of fucked me up, to be honest. 

Are you ready for self-driving cars and a more automated future?

Sure, yeah, bring it on. 

Tell us about your first kiss.

My first make out sesh was with a girl named Chanel in the fifth grade. I remember thinking her lips and tongue felt like a cloud. 

Under the Radar has been around for 15 years now, since December 2001. How do you feel the music industry has most changed in that time, both for the better and the worst?

From a consumer point of view, it's become way more convenient. But from the artist perspective, it's way more difficult to make a living. It's no secret. 





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