When talking about Nick Koenig, where does one start? The NYC-based musician, who performs under the name Hot Sugar, has a lot going on. You could start by talking about “Associative Music,” a movement that Koenig is at the forefront of, where he uses found sounds and field recordings—television static, a mammal’s heartbeat, a “rat stumbling across a piano keyboard,”—to meticulously craft melancholy, beautiful pop music. You could mention the fact that he’s been helping to soundtrack Broad City since the show’s first season, or that his new album, God’s Hand, comes out tomorrow. Then there’s that documentary about his artistic process called Hot Sugar’s Cold World that’s premiering next month at SXSW, or his immersive live show that he’s introducing tonight at Santos’ Party House in New York. And finally, there’s the following interview, which is as weird and honest as the musice he makes.
How did your career get started?
My first paid gig was performing for a two-year-old’s birthday party. None of the kids were really paying attention and all of their parents were talking loudly in the background so it wasnt the easiest gig. One kid started eating his shoe and I wanted to interrupt my song to tell him not to do that, but I stayed focused and finished the song like a pro.
What are you most proud of so far in terms of your career?
Championing the Associative Music movement has been the most rewarding aspect of my career.
What famous person dead or living do most wish you could have as a roommate?
I don’t like roommates so to be honest any dead person would work. They don’t have to be famous as long as they’re dead. We could put their skeleton in a cute little corner dressed in their favorite clothes but aside from that it would be my apartment.
Whose career would you most like to emulate?
Kenneth Anger and John Waters are very important to me. Their influence on modern culture is incalculable and their work is timelessly innovative.
If you had to live in a past time, what do you think would be the most fun era and why?
The past is dangerous. I’d rather live in the future. Even a couple generations ago in this country most of my friends wouldn’t be allowed to share a water fountain with me. As it stands right now, half my friends aren’t even allowed to get married. I’d rather cut to the future where tolerance and awareness are more widespread, plus we’ll all have cellphones that can project movies onto walls.
What activities do you most enjoy doing alone?
I like doing everything alone. Being alone is my favorite activity. Hell is other people.
What kind of person were you in high school?
I was both the school president and voted class clown. I was also a teenage alcoholic who buried handles of rum around the school grounds like a pirate and would dig them up during lunch and mix it in my Snapple. I also hung out with the lunch man who used to be a Hell’s Angel and would tell me stories about the ladies whose names were tattooed across his body.
Can you tell me a quality about yourself that you are genuinely proud of?
I think my eyes are pretty.
Do you have any phobias?
No, not really. I’m not afraid to die.
What are some new hobbies you would like to take on?
I want to make fonts. I can’t wait to make fonts.
What are some of your favorite Internet “memes” of all time?
I don’t really care for memes.
How do you hope to grow as a creative person?
When I was younger I was shorter than other kids in my class for some reason. I used to stay up at night stretching my arms up to the sky, hoping to stretch myself into growing faster. But “hope” doesn’t help you grow. Growing just happens on its own. Eventually the others stopped growing when they were like 17 and I think I’m probably still growing and am taller than them.
If there was a phrase that you think best sums up your approach to life what might it be?
God’s Hand LP in stores 2-24-15.