Prior to a stint working in the television production industry, University of Nevada, Reno graduate Nick Rattigan’s solo music project was called Televisions. These days, it goes by the name Current Joys. Yet, in spite of the name change, the influence of narrative filmmaking still shines through the songs.
“With my music, I try to make it very cinematic, a lot of ups and downs, especially with a full album” said Rattigan. “I want to make it a story. I get a lot more ideas and inspiration from movies than music.”
If Televisions was a romantic movie, Current Joys would be a foreign film. Current Joys’ most recent album, Me Oh My Mirror, follows in a tradition followed by Televisions and Rattigan’s band Surf Curse, where the title of an inspirational film is incorporated in the title of the music. In this case, Andrei Tarkovsky’s The Mirror.
The film struck Rattigan with its depiction of the surreal and nostalgic comforts of home, family and heritage. These themes resonated with him during a difficult period of adjusting to life in New York City, where he often found himself missing his friends and parents.
Unlike Tarkovsky, Rattigan didn’t grow up in an aesthetically minded family. Both his parents work in the medical industry and live in Henderson. Rattigan recalls them as supportive, but uncertain of whether to be optimistic of their son’s artistic ambitions.
“I moved to New York and was really missing home, but I was also trying to embrace a new life,” said Rattigan. “That’s when I wrote most of the album, after I saw that movie, while I went through this really emotional move, feeling my relationship with my family change.”
On “Home,” the album’s first track, Rattigan sings, “The world is so big now/It’s hard not to feel alone/Without no direction/I don’t know where I’ll go/ Don’t worry about tomorrow/We’ll find our way home.”
In New York, Rattigan was able to land a good job, working production for such successful indie programs as HBO’s Girls and Elle Fanning-starred About Ray. He remembers that period as a blur of 14-hour shifts, five times a week, leaving him with only two days to get everything he needed done. After flying back to Los Angeles for a weekend to play a set as Current Joys, he’d find himself back in New York, working, doing everything from driving around the city to pick people up, to taking lunch orders, to cleaning up around the office.
“It feels like a trap,” said Rattigan.
Reality differed from the elegant future painted by his superiors, as he struggled to draw crowds to performances in the city, and found himself with less time to devote to music.
One day, he found himself in a theater watching the 1946 version of Beauty & The Beast. This French version of the classic tale was notable for having been filmed during the Nazi occupation.
“The director was spending a lot of money to get his vision across, for set design and all that,” explained Rattigan. “People kept telling him, ’We need this money for the war, for rations.’ He said, ’No, this is art!’”
Rattigan made a difficult decision to stop rationing such small amounts of time for his music. He quit his job, and moved back West. Since then, Current Joys has played to large crowds in Reno and Los Angeles, and has been widely supported both financially and emotionally. Still, he admits it’s hard to tell if he made the right choice.
“I dunno,” Rattigan said with a laugh. “You can’t really know which alternative future would’ve been the best.”