Freeform Fridays: Nick Monaco gifts KCRW with a musical portrait of summer 2020

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For this final installment of KCRW’s Freeform Fridays, we are thrilled to welcome Nick Monaco to our airwaves. The Bay-area producer and DJ has returned this year with a new project, “POP WORKS.” A kaleidoscope body of electronic sounds to accompany his most rarefied and exclusive product — a peek into his mind. This set paints a personal musical portrait of summer 2020, a historical moment in music and every other sphere of life — as only Monaco could see it. Read on to find out what tunes are on deck, the personal anecdote behind his track “Garden,” his go-to house tune to satisfy the urge while dancefloors stay cold, and his recommendation for how best to enjoy his mix. Cheers!

Return of the DJ:

I’ve been into darker and more psychedelic dub sounds lately, so the mix has a lot of those strokes. It’s an interesting exercise to make a mix right now since I haven’t DJed in a club in months. I was able to really stretch out and play music that I’ve been listening to around the house and music that feels like it speaks to this unsettling summer we’re having.

Reflections of “Garden”:

The last song I put in this mix is a song of mine called “Garden,” which I released last year. I wrote it amidst a week where I was taking a lot of LSD and feeling really exhausted from touring so much, but I feel like it’s one of my best songs. It reminds me of last summer and flying back and forth from The Bay to LA and looking for home. 

A timeless house track for our times:

I included house legend and pioneer Ron Trent’s “I Feel The Rhythm.” Having been deprived of dancing with other people, I felt like a classic warm house tune like this would allow us to satisfy some of that energy. That era of house music was untouchable, the music is timeless and still holds up today. 

A musical portrait of Summer 2020:

I wanted to make a mix that was a musical portrait of this summer, so I’d say take this on a long bike ride around sunset or make yourself a negroni and blast it around to accompany aperitif hour. 






Nick Monaco


Stephanie Barbosa