In late September of 2022, my friend Eunice and I sat down in her living room with our friend Nic Lara AKA Marni to discuss the release of his latest EP, Whiskey Girl. Whiskey Girl was released less than a month before, and we were eager to know all about it. The plan was to meet earlier in the day at the park to take photos and record the interview, but as life usually goes, things didn’t work out as planned. Our improvised setup proved to be much better, though. The three of us sat comfortably on the sofa in the dimly lit room, snacking and talking.
Gaby: Introduce yourself. Why Marni?
Nic: Marni is named after a street in Palm Springs. The address is 2055 Marni Court, but I thought Marni just sounded like a cooler name than “Marni Court.”
Eunice: Is Marni you or the band collectively?
N: It’s mainly just me. I mean, I have a band now, but I pretty much wrote everything with my other friend named Nick.
E: Tell us about yourself.
G:What do you want people to know about Marni or about Nic?
N: I’m from Palm Springs, born and raised in Palm Springs. Moved out here, to LA, last year in April so I’ve been out here for like a year. I’ve been writing music under the name Marni for four years now. Released a good amount of stuff, but the most recent album that I released is the thing I’m most proud of I guess (laughs).
G: So you just moved to LA about a year ago. Does it feel lonely being a musician from out of town?
N: Yeah. Well, I think it feels kind of cool to be honest because… I feel like if you’re from LA, you have this view of certain places like venues, bars, and people, but I feel like being from— not being from here is kind of cool because I don’t have that view. Everything seems pretty fresh to me. So it’s not super lonely. I think being out here is actually kind of crazy because it’s a lot more connected than I thought it would be. So yeah. I think it’s kind of cool. I don’t think it’s super lonely. If anything, it’s a lot fresher for me because I don’t know these certain spots and I don’t know everyone so it’s nice meeting people.
E: Did you already know your band or did you meet them out here?
N: Kai, he’s from Palm Springs too. Well, he’s originally from the Bay, but I met him while he was living in Palm Springs and he plays bass. Nick (drums), I know him from the desert. He’s recorded all of Marni’s stuff. And then Mic I met – she plays guitar and sings with me – I met her through the internet. Then Manny is on guitar. He was in a band that this other band that I play in played with a long time ago, but their band broke up and we always just stayed in touch. He’s from San Bernardino.
G: Your last release under Marni was your 2018 EP Ruiner. In your Whiskey Girl announcement on Instagram, you stated that you started writing this EP at the beginning of 2019. What led to that gap between the releases?
N: Well, I wrote something in between those two. It was during the pandemic, it’s a little EP called Heaven Knows We’re Real. It was just something I recorded on my phone and I sent it to my friend Nick and we mixed and mastered it. It was fun. But it wasn’t like– I feel like it wasn’t a proper release. Like for Ruiner, when I wrote that, I played a bunch of shows for it. I had a release party for it.
But yeah, I think the gap of time was because I was taking a lot of time to gather influences and kind of just live my life. Because I feel like for me, the way I get influenced, especially when it comes to writing, I have to just have life experiences, you know? Like I can listen to a bunch of music, but for me to really get inspired to write, I have to live life and just do what I do. So I was writing the whole time. I was writing songs, throwing away songs, and just doing my day-to-day thing.
G: We spoke about the LP before its release and you said it’d be different from your first EP. When you played a snippet you described it as more “dreamy”. What influenced this decision?
N: When I first started writing music I taught myself how to play with my fingers so it was very folk style. Then, I got into a bunch of different artists like Alex G so I think for Ruiner and then the EP in between, Heaven Knows We’re Real, for those two, I was writing more songs that were full band, but they were not as cohesive. I think for this, I was thinking like for live [performances] when I was writing these songs. I was thinking, “I want to write these songs to have a band with” you know what I mean? So yeah, it was just kind of writing songs with a band in mind. I wanted it to sound super cohesive too.
E: Is the EP Heaven Knows We’re Real still available?
N: It is. I think it’s on Spotify maybe. If it’s not on Spotify or Apple Music, it’s definitely on Bandcamp. I’ve taken off a lot of things that I have on Spotify and Apple Music and just put it on Bandcamp because I want Whiskey Girl to be the only thing, just so people can get acquainted with it.
G: There is a recurring theme of home in the album. You’ve moved around a few times in the past year. Do you think these changes have altered your perspective of home?
N: Hmm. I don’t know. Maybe a little bit? When I first moved here, it was the first time I’d ever moved away from home like living with my parents and living near my family, so that was a change. Then when I moved here, I had to change locations as well. I moved to Boyle Heights, and then after Boyle Heights, I moved to K Town. So yeah, I guess maybe there’s some underlying message of “home” and not knowing where your home is, but I don’t know. I think writing it, it definitely wasn’t a decision I was making, but maybe it might’ve shaped it. It might mean something I guess but it wasn’t a conscious effort.
E: What does home mean to you right now?
N: (Laughs) Shit. I don’t know to be honest. Where I live doesn’t feel like home yet, because I moved there in June, so it doesn’t feel like home. I think for me, home mainly feels like a sense of being calm and secure in myself. I think that’s what it means.
G: Is there a story behind the title “Whiskey Girl?”
N: Yes, I was dating someone during 2020/2021 and I had expressed to them that I like the show New Girl. And in the show New Girl, the character Nick is at a bar – the bar that he works at – and he’s talking to Olivia Munn’s character. He comes up to her and he’s like, “Oh, you want a whiskey right?” and she’s like, “yeah how do you know?” and he’s like, “because you’re a whiskey girl like me.” and she’s like, “you’re a whiskey girl?” And then that person who I told that to, made a cake for my birthday in 2020 and it had the name “whiskey girl.” I think it was fitting and it meant a lot more than just that joke at the time. That’s the whole thing behind it.
E: In your words what do you think Whiskey Girl is about? Like what were you consciously thinking about?
N: The whole record is kind of like a look at myself as a person.
E: As a whiskey girl?
N: (Laughs) Yeah. It’s kind of like a look at myself as a person. Kind of just revealing a lot of things. Like revealing the worst parts about me and the best parts about me. It’s kind of like me spilling all the fucking– the tea or something.
E: The tea on yourself? (laughs)
N: Yeah, it’s kind of like that.
E: Like putting it all on the table?
N: Yeah, just like saying everything that I’ve been through, that I’ve done, that I’ve experienced, and that I’m working on. It’s like a therapy session since like late 2019 until now pretty much.
E: So you said you’ve been in Garb for four years. Wait, no. How long have you been in Garb?
N: I’ve been in Garb since about 2019.
E: You guys have been touring since then?
N: No, we’ve just been playing a ton of shows trying to get the word out.
E: But like with your experience with doing shows in different spots and stuff, with that experience what are you most excited about and least excited about for Marni shows?
N: Oh, I’m most excited about getting really tight as a band and being able to deliver while playing shows. Like being able to play a show as a band and being really fucking in sync and really tight and it just sounding really good and everyone like having a lot of fun.
I think the thing that I’m not looking forward to is having to be the person that is calling the shots and being like, “don’t do that, do this. Do that.” because I haven’t done that in a while. I’ve kind of taken the backseat in Garb as I’m just the guitar player in that band. That’s the part that I’m anxious about but I’ve seen Carrick, the singer in Garb, he’s good at that and I’ve learned a bunch of shit from him.
G: Speaking of shows, when is the next Marni show?
E: Okay, here’s the fun part.
At this point of the interview, Eunice brought out the paper fortune teller we’d created specifically for Marni. The fortune teller was labeled with song titles from the Whiskey Girl EP. Under each song title, there was a question Nic had to answer.
E:If you weren’t doing music what would you want to do right now? Or what would you be doing I guess?
N: I want a simple job. No, I want to paint houses or something, like super manual labor.
E: When was the last time you washed your jeans that you have on right now?
N: So these particular ones *points to pants* they’re called Rustlers. I bought my first pair of these at a thrift store in Palm Springs called Revivals – shout out to them they’re sick – and I cut the bottoms, as I do. And then the last time I was in Palm Springs I went to Walmart and bought three more pairs. They have a flair to them and they get all fucked up a little so yeah. [I’ve been wearing them for] like 3 and a half weeks, almost a month.
I wear them to work, I wear them out, I wear them the next day to work, but I wear clean boxers and clean socks. That’s one thing I do keep clean. Yeah.
What are your big three?
N: I know I’m a Cap. I think my rising–
E: Didn’t you say Virgo or Pisces?
N: Pisces.*looks at Eunice* That’s what people perceive you as right? People perceive you as a Pisces.
N: That’s one of them. And the other one I think is like Cap because I have a ton of Cap in my chart. Like SO much it’s crazy I guess.
E: Did you say I guess?
N: I don’t know what it means! I don’t know what it means!
*bumps Eunice’s fist*
I don’t know why I’m bumping your fist for.
E: Well, Cap is the greatest one so, duh (Eunice says as a Capricorn).
N: Yeah, I mean sometimes I feel like that, and sometimes I definitely don’t.
G: Last question. Is there anything new we should look forward to from Marni?
We’re in the process of writing and recording our first full-length record. 10-11 songs. So that and just more shows. Working on a tour in the summer for us!