How Yasmin Haddad Brought Solo project NightNight to Life

Still from NightNight’s video for “Ashes” by Frank Coleman

On Love Decayed, her debut album as NightNight, Yasmin Haddad digs into dark sounds and introspective themes. “It’s not a very happy record,” she says by phone. “And it comes from a place of being very isolated. This was before COVID, but moving around as much as I did, there’s long periods of time when you don’t know anybody.”

Haddad grew up in Las Vegas and later moved to Seattle, then to Los Angeles. She headed to New York for a job producing radio shows after finishing the album.

But, it was more than the moves that inspired the album. “Also, there were a couple of relationships I was in at the time that were really not healthy,” she adds. “So, beyond being alone, because you’re just not around people, there’s also that extra aspect of being isolated because you’re attached to somebody who’s very negative and who doesn’t want you in contact with other people.”

With these experiences in mind, two themes developed as Haddad was writing Love Decayed. “There’s one theme of this longing or wanting for a person who doesn’t really exist or isn’t available,” she explains. “And then the other half is talking about the situation you’re in right now, which is like a trapped sort of isolated situation. So I would say it started with the trapped isolated situation and then morphed into the dreaming longing of a different situation.”

Her songs begin with world-building and imagining different scenarios. “I’ll start with something and then that will remind me of being on a train,” she says. “There’s one example that will remind me of being on a train sitting by myself and looking over at somebody and then that whole concept will get that song going.”

Haddad likes to use unusual elements, like found sounds, in her music. “There’s a lot of things like actual noise from the environment,” she says. “There’s a lot of synthesizers and sounds that I create to give the feeling of being in the place that I was in. That’s kind of how I go about I go about it, like seeing it in my head and then making it sound like it matches that place.”

Despite this being her first album as NightNight, Haddad, who also plays bass in Brooklyn-based band The Wants, has been making music, and working in production, for a long time. A violinist since childhood, she played in youth orchestras and, later, a college symphony orchestra. She also played with bands on the Las Vegas Strip and did session work, notably, on The Killers’ album Sam’s Town. “I was always a fan. When I was really young, we used to sneak into clubs to see them,” she says of the band. “We used to make fake IDs to see them.”

But, the most fortuitous thing that came out of her session with The Killers was some advice she received from the album’s producer, Flood. “I asked him about going to college for music production. I asked him if it was a good idea because I wanted to move to New York and go to college to be a music producer,” Haddad recalls. “He told me that’s not how it works… no one is going to care that you went to college because that’s not how this profession is. You need to start doing it.”

Haddad took Flood’s advice and got to work. She landed an internship at a studio in Las Vegas. “It was a big, world class facility. I was the person wrapping up cables and writing down charts,” she says. “I was not the person doing the sessions.”

Eventually, she moved to Seattle, where she worked at Clatter & Din Studios. “By that time, I had enough experience to start recording other people and in that studio, I ended up being the music studios manager after a while,” she says.

Haddad never stopped making music, though. In Seattle, she tried to start a band, but nothing materialized. That’s when she began writing on her own. After moving to Los Angeles, she decided to produce that music on her own, too. She passed a few completed songs along to some friends, and through one of them, her music ended up catching the ear of Schubert Publishing, who wanted to release it. “This wasn’t ever really supposed to be put out,” she says. “It’s just my demos. It was finished, but I thought that it could be better.”

As it turns out, Haddad would have another fateful encounter when a pal back in Seattle got her in touch with the legendary producer and engineer Sylvia Massy, known for her work with artists like Tool and System of a Down. “I looked up to her as a little girl for sure,” says Haddad of Massy. “There weren’t that many examples that you saw all the time of women doing that job. I remember seeing her specifically doing the Johnny Cash sessions at Sound City when I was a kid, and thinking that is so cool. This woman is amazing.”

Massy then came in as a producer for Love Decayed. “Sylvia added her crazy, magical touch to everything,” says Haddad. “We worked together with the engineer there and brought everything to life, from something you do in your bedroom by yourself to something you complete in the studio.”

Follow NightNight on Instagram for ongoing updates.

RSVP HERE: Godcaster Play Baby’s All Right + MORE

Welcome to our weekly show recommendation column RSVP HERE – your source for the best NYC shows and interviews with some of our favorite local live bands.

After seeing Godcaster for the first time, I imagined they all grew up together on a purple mountain surrounded by space dragons on one of Saturns moons. Turns out I was half right: they have been playing music together since they were kids and called themselves a band before they even played instruments. Their members are split between Philadelphia and Brooklyn, and played 25 shows of their well-composed glam chaos in NYC  last year, landing themselves on Oh My Rockness’ list of Hardest Working Bands of 2019. Their first show of the new decade is on 1/10 at Baby’s All Right with many of the other bands on this list including Cindy Cane, Darkwing, Gesserit, Top Nachos, and New Myths. We chatted with Godcaster about flute solos, Europa and the hand seekers…

AF: What was your favorite moment of your 2019 shows? Who was the best dancer you saw at one of your shows? Where and with what band do you want to play in the next year that you haven’t yet?

GC: When the piston misfired in the old van / big wheelie across Utah. Best dancer: David! Who we want to play with: Deerhoof!

AF: How large is your collection of fringe jackets? What’s the most creative use of the fringe on your jacket?

GC: Keeping in terms with the hand seekers, we are big we are valid

AF: If you could play on any planet, moon, black hole or another celestial variety in the universe, where would it be & why?

GC: Europa the frozen moon with the elves!

AF: What is the most inspirational flute solo you have ever heard?

GC: Keeping in terms with the hand seekers! Delving quick and valid

AF: What are your plans for 2020 + beyond?

GC: Continue commencing big velocity undergoing valid dirth and keep rockin around!

RSVP HERE for Oh My Rockness Hardest Working Bands Showcase with Godcaster, Cindy Cane, Darkwing, Gesserit, Top Nachos, and New Myths @ Baby’s All Right. 21+ / $10

More great shows this week:

1/10 The Wants, Beeef, Gift @ Berlin. 21+ / $10 RSVP HERE

1/10 Emily Ritz, Anna Fox, Scout Gillett, Katy Rea @ The Broadway. 21+ / $12 RSVP HERE

1/11 Cup (feat. Nels Cline + Yuka C Honda), Anna Webber, Susan Alcorn, UNHOLY ROW, Helen Sung @ The Dance (Winter Jazzfest). $60 RSVP HERE

1/15 Futurebirds (Record Release) @ Bowery Ballroom. 21+ / $18 RSVP HERE

1/15 Hypemom, Premiums, Bad Weird, Minaxi @ Alphaville. 21+ / $10 RSVP HERE

1/15 Rhys Tivey (residency), Tiny Guns, beds @ C’mon Everybody. 21+ / $10-13 RSVP HERE

1/15 Shadow Monster, North By North, Desert Sharks, Lily Mao @ Our Wicked Lady. 21+ / $10 RSVP HERE

1/15 Thick, Gymshorts, Dropper @ Rough Trade. 18+ / $10 RSVP HERE


RSVP HERE: Safer Plays Our Wicked Lady+ MORE

Welcome to our weekly show recommendation column RSVP HERE – your source for the best NYC shows and interviews with some of our favorite local live bands.

photo by Kevin Condon

My first impression of Mattie Safer, bassist/frontman of the new disco-punk project Safer, is that he has a much calmer presence than you would expect from someone who has been living and working as a musician in NYC for 20 years. Along with pursuing his solo project, he’s the bassist and singer in Poolside (who recently toured with Kasey Musgraves), and was a pivotal member of the The Rapture from 1999-2009, in which he played bass and shared vocal duties with founding member Luke Jenner. Safer released debut EP Sleepless Nights earlier this year and their latest single “Countercultural Savior” came out last month. He will be celebrating his birthday on the rooftop of Our Wicked Lady on Wednesday, December 11th with The Wants, Godcaster and Extra Special, and we got to chat with him about what he would want to hear on his ideal birthday party playlist, craziest moment on tour and what’s next for him in 2020…

AF: Who are your favorite bassists? What are your favorite dance moves? Favorite style of hat?

MS: Favorite bass players are James Jamerson, Verdine White, Tina Weymouth, Robbie Shakespeare, and Deborah Scroggins. Favorite dance move, I keep it to a simple two step for the most part, but if could do the Harlem Shake or had a sturdy milly rock I would definitely break them out. With hats it’s really the bigger the better. Why stop at ten gallons?

AF: What’s been your craziest moment on stage? Craziest moment on tour this year?

MS: I mean, there have been amps that blew up and stage invasions, but the craziest thing that happened to me on stage happened this year, playing at a festival with Poolside in Mexico City. We finished “Harvest Moon” and the crowd just kept cheering and getting louder, and we let it run for couple of minutes, not really sure of what to do, but it wasn’t letting up and we had one more song to play so Vito just started it up. It was an incredibly touching moment, to feel that kind of connection and joy with a crowd of ten thousand plus people. Transformative.

AF: Someone throws you a surprise party — what’s on the playlist?

MS: I want to hear some Earth, Wind & Fire, some Marvin Gaye, Cymande, Janet Jackson, SWV, Gladys Knight & The Pips, Diana Ross, Chaka Khan… Basically a lot of things that make me want to put my hands up in the air and sing along like a diva. Oh, and who doesn’t love the B-52s?

AF: What’s the saddest disco song you know?

MS: The Donna Summer version of “MacArthur Park”.

AF: What are your plans for Safer and any other projects in the next decade? Lastly, if you could choose any brand of coffee can as an instrument, what would it be?

MS: There is a finished Safer album that is looking for a home. I just want to keep making music, performing and connecting with audiences. More touring – there’s still a lot of places I haven’t been, and a lot of cool cities that have changed a lot since I was last in them. As far as coffee cans go, some people like Café Bustelo, but I really feel like the resonance on a Chock full o’Nuts can is something magical that deserves more shine and attention.

RSVP HERE for The Wants, Godcaster, Safer, & Extra Special @ Our Wicked Lady. 21+ / $10

More great shows this week:

12/6 Twin Peaks, Lala Lala, OHMME @ Webster Hall. 16+ $25 RSVP HERE.

12/6 Pet Rescue 6th Anniversary with Shelter Dogs, Desert Sharks, Venus Twins, Colin Leeds @ Pet Rescue. RSVP HERE

12/7 Lez Zeppelin @ Gramercy Theatre. 16+ / $20-$59 RSVP HERE

12/7 Lightning Bolt, USAISAMONSTER, Animental, Baby; Baby @ Pioneer Works. $20 RSVP HERE

12/7 Jelly Kelly, Whiner, Cindy Cane, Pink Mexico @ Trans Pecos. All Ages / $10 RSVP HERE

12/8 Oceanator, Calyx, Frog @ Alphaville. 21+ / $11 RSVP HERE

12/9 Bass Drum of Death, Brion Starr @ The Broadway. 21+ $15 RSVP HERE

12/10 Battles, Guerrilla Toss @ Music Hall of Williamsburg. 18+ / $25 RSVP HERE

12/12 GRLwood @ Alphaville. 18+ / $10 RSVP HERE

12/12 The Nude Party, Native Sun, Dropper @ Sultan Room. 21+ $20 RSVP HERE