When Nico Yaryan went on tour with his high school friend and fellow multi-instrumentalist Hanni El Khatib, he discovered his two greatest loves: guitar and a student from Amsterdam that sparked a miles-apart romance and an unlikely story. The Los Angeles-based artist explores both of his heart’s desires on the forthcoming album What a Tease, and now he’s teamed up with Billboard to stream the album in full ahead of its June 3 release date.
Although Yaryan departed from the band after the tour, he couldn’t forget his Dutch love and left his retail job to find more flexible work to fund his visits. That’s when he landed a gig trimming at a marijuana farm in Humboldt County, working straight for one month followed by a one-month visit to Amsterdam.
As the long-distance saga unfolded, so did Yaryan’s feelings of isolation, uncertainty and longing for his significant other, which went on to become the stories of What a Tease, a stagnant time capsule for the emotional rollercoaster that became a norm for the artist.
“It took three years of a weird life to make this record, two weeks of it in the former storied halls of Sound City Studios, now Fairfax Recordings,” said Yaryan in a statement to Billboard, noting it’s also where artists such as Neil Young and Fleetwood Mac had made records.
Kevin Agunas also produced the album and helped with pulling the songs from Yaryan — “as painful as that extraction was at times.” What a Tease takes his heavy thoughts and transforms them into distorted guitar riffs, bluesy cathartic melodies and stripped-down acoustic tracks that whale a relatable state of melancholia.
“I played almost all the instruments, Kevin played a few too. I couldn’t have done it without the help of my friends who pushed me to go through with it. I needed some pushing. I could have been still somewhere in the middle of the forests of Northern California, or back in Amsterdam, or somewhere in between, in purgatory forever. Maybe the songs still are.”
Stream the full album below.