“We’re Always On Our Sexy Girly Shit”: Rico Nasty, in Conversation With Boys Noize

rico nasty boys noize

Boys Noize and Rico Nasty, photographed by Jamie-Lee Boyd.

Rico Nasty is in girly pop mode. Six years after popularizing her trademark “sugar trap” flavor of bubblegum screamo with the hit “Smack a Bitch,” the Maryland native is ready to switch it up. In her newest EP, HARDC0RE DR3AMZ, she loses the raspy rage for three syrupy dance tracks with heavyweight electronic producer Boys Noize, aka Alex Ridha. “You’ve allowed me to create another identity within myself,” she says of their collab, which has been years in the making after their first industrial trap foray with “Girl Crush” in 2020. After the two parted ways following a string of cruise ship raves and Paris fêtes, they hopped on Zoom to talk healing records, Berghain, and music industry politics.


RICO NASTY: Alex, where are you from?

BOYS NOIZE: I’m from Berlin. I’m half-Iraqi, half-German.

NASTY: If you guys don’t know, Germany is one of the coolest places in the world. It’s where I experienced my first rave. 

NOIZE: Wait, did we go to Berghain?

NASTY: I think it was. They had all those different rooms. That was when I went to Germany to do Colors.

NOIZE: That was six years ago, wow.  The first time we met was on a cruise ship like eight years ago.

NASTY: And when we were on the cruise, we were obsessed with remixing all these songs and had all these ideas already.

NOIZE: Yeah, we started to mess around with these old 2 Live Crew songs. I’m not sure I’ve ever told you, Rico, but for me, the coolest thing we ever did was recording “Girl Crush,” because of that slow industrial techno beat with you singing over it and doing all the hard rap stuff too. It was the most unique combination of music that I’ve heard in a long, long time. I’ve been in the studio with some rappers, like [A$AP] Rocky, and every time I play them techno beats. 99 percent of the time, they’re like, “Yeah, it’s cool, but, you know…”

NASTY: “Can we make it more trap?”

NOIZE: Yeah.

NASTY: I always felt like that too. When we first started working together, I wanted to be more hip-hop. But then I went to Europe and I saw how big the world is. There’s a very niche but big group of people that listen to straight techno. They don’t listen to nothing else. There’s some people that really die about that shit. “Girl Crush” was my first song in that space, doing a sound that I had never done before. It’s my fave, too, because it was used for the Fenty Beauty ad. I love Rihanna.

NOIZE: That is cool.

NASTY: Shout out to Rihanna. I was working with Savage x Fenty for a while, but I need her to make me a part of Fenty Beauty. That’s the collab I’m looking for.

NOIZE: From day one, though, you would always experiment with me. Obviously, you’re on a major label, so you probably have a lot more pressure than I do. But the fact that you’re trying all this crazy stuff is amazing, and I haven’t had that with anyone but you.

NASTY: Aww. We’ve never had a bad session. We’ve never had a session where I didn’t make a song. We always make multiple songs in one day, and it’s always so much fun. It’s never forced.

NOIZE: Yeah. 

NASTY: I love that I’m always a student. You put me onto horsegiirL, you put me onto Arca. It feels amazing to experiment when, like you said, there’s so much pressure to make hits, hits, hits. It’s been a really long time since I made a project like this where I get to just be myself and make the songs about whatever I want. Sometimes I will give you eight bars, or literally the most repetitive shit, and you will make it so insane. 

NOIZE: When we get together, I have no idea what we’re going to do, I just know it’s going to bang hard.

NASTY: It was so fun being on the Friendship cruise. I’m so happy that they were the first to hear the music. Everybody reacted when you did Dial-a-DJ. Everybody in the hallway was like, “Who’s that?” Yeah, eat it up. That’s me.

NOIZE: It came full circle from the first time we met on the cruise ship eight years ago, and then presenting our project for the first time on a cruise ship rave. That’s why I love DJing.  It’s so nice to get an honest reaction from people hearing something for the first time. I’ve had that with “Arintintin” and the other songs. When I tested them out, I was like, “Man, this shit is going to go down, because it’s already really working well in the small clubs I’m playing.”

NASTY: I feel that too. I like to look at the reactions, and everybody’s always just really happy listening to it. My fans call it my happy fun song, and I love that. We were in the studio like, “We just want to make something so fucking annoying that you’re going to be singing it all day.” And that’s all I do is sing that damn song.

NOIZE: Yeah.

NASTY: I love it. What have you been doing since we got back from Paris?

NOIZE: We played this crazy show in Paris and Berlin. In Berlin, the consensus feedback that I got—I mean, I don’t want to shit on anyone, but everybody I talk to in Berlin, and I’ve lived there most of my life, they’re like, “Berghain is not the same. Everywhere we go is repetitive and boring.” After our show, everybody in the crowd was like, “This is what Berlin needs more of.”

NASTY: Yeah, it felt like a full show. And I loved when we were mixing the songs that are already out now, like “Rage,” and “Smack A Bitch,” with other shit that was more techno. They loved that shit.

NOIZE: They really did.

NASTY: I’ve seen so many artists perform, and it’s always a surprise to see how they bring to life an old song. That’s why I texted you before I had my other show like, “You need to send me that mix.” That needs to go on SoundCloud or YouTube or something. The girls need that.

NOIZE: Yeah, but even better would be a live recording, because it’s also about the energy you’re bringing.

NASTY: Yes! We should get a little studio and just record it in there. Where are you at right now?

NOIZE: I’m home. This is my studio in Portugal now.

NASTY: Oh my god, it’s so cool.

NOIZE: Look, I can change the lights. It’s the first time I built a studio. I’m all the way in the south. I’m a countryside boy now. 

NASTY: How are you liking it, being from Berlin? Are you looking for peace?

NOIZE: I would always escape Berlin as much as I could, especially in the summer. Because in Berlin, I go crazy. It’s a new chapter of my life now. I feel like a little crab in a shell.

rico nasty boys noize

Boys Noize and Rico Nasty, photographed by Jamie-Lee Boyd.

NASTY: Yeah, I’m also at that stage of wanting some sense of consistency. I feel like our life is so random. Your schedule is always evolving and there really is no stability in that. When a great opportunity comes up, you’re not thinking about stability. Right now I want to do things that I genuinely enjoy. I want to be around people I enjoy. I’m so tired of faking like I like stuff.

NOIZE: Yeah. For me as a producer, it would be nice to be in L.A. and be around the big artists, but you know what? I don’t give a shit. If someone wants to work with me, come down here and we’ll make bangers.

NASTY: I think new artists need to hear that there is a golden pot at the end of the rainbow. There is freedom in not giving a fuck. I feel so free. I genuinely don’t give a fuck to do the people pleasing and be in sessions like, “Hey, my name’s Rico.” Music is in a very weird place right now, especially in female rap. You need to be hardcore, but don’t be a slut, but be sexy. You learn to stop living for that.

NOIZE: It doesn’t matter.

NASTY: Nothing really matters, besides sitting on the beach in Belize and people that never heard this song before are singing it the second time the hook goes around. Those are the moments that matter. It’s been real, man. You taught me so much, I swear.

NOIZE: Oh, come on. I love everything you’re saying. You are so real and you are so confident about what you do that it really doesn’t matter what’s going on around you, because it’s about creating the shit you like. 

NASTY: And every time we make something, we’re always earlier than everybody else. So I’ve learned to stop overthinking because people will catch on two years later like they always do. Like our song, “Money.”

NOIZE: Exactly.

NASTY: When we met, Flo Milli had two songs out, and I was like, “I want to get this girl on the song.” And we waited and waited and kept telling the label, “This is the moment,” and they were not hearing us out. Then one day out of nowhere, they were like, “Can we get that song?” It was a whole 180, and that’s when I realized I should trust myself on my more outlandish things. And I will say, we do not make like my popular screamo stuff. We always on our sexy girly shit. We do not make no “Smack a Bitch.” We’re always on our girly pop. You’ve allowed me to create another identity within myself.

NOIZE: Honestly, I would love to make some metal shit with you, but who am I to make something like that. You and Kenny [Beats] killed that.

NASTY: Yeah. We want to do something different. I felt like I was kind of trapped in that for a minute. Me and Kenny even talked about it. People were trying to make me super aggressive to where it’s almost scary, and that was never the vibe. We want to be sexy, cool, crazy. 

NOIZE: Shout out to Kenny.

NASTY: Shout out to Kenny, man. I’m going to ask you a crazy question. Have you ever gotten kicked out of somewhere?

NOIZE: Yeah.

NASTY: I can’t imagine you getting kicked out of a hotel. For what? 

NOIZE: It was in South Korea.

NASTY: Oh my god. You’re bad. 

NOIZE: Well, we were drunk. It was a label celebration party in Seoul and we all went back to the hotel. It was around Christmas, so they had a big Christmas tree, and we were tackling the Christmas tree and it fell over. Someone probably smoked in the room too.

NASTY: Oh, that was me in Ireland. I had a little mark on my passport because I was smoking in the hotel and the smoke alarm went off. I thought I could just pull it out the wall, but they charged us so much for ripping it out. I thought it was going to stop after I did that, and it didn’t. It kept going. The whole hotel evacuated. I was so embarrassed.

NOIZE: Yeah, that’s bad. You got to blast the AC, go into the bathroom, and turn on the shower. The steam has to go somewhere, so you smoke under the thing where the steam goes out. That always works for me.

NASTY: I’ve been traumatized after that. I won’t smoke in a hotel. It was in a small town, so you could hear the ambulance coming from so far away. I was like, “Please, they’re not coming for me,” and they definitely were.

NOIZE: Oh my god.

NASTY: What are you doing the next couple of months?

NOIZE: I’m going to Miami with you.

NASTY: Yay. I see you in two weeks?


NASTY: And we just got back from Europe. One thing that I love about Berlin that I feel like people don’t talk enough about is their Italian food. Their spaghetti is so good. You could be up at 3 AM, drunk as fuck, it doesn’t matter. If you order spaghetti, specifically bolognese, it’s going to be good every time. You guys put cheese on your spaghetti. And—

NOIZE: Maybe it’s a point of view thing though. I don’t know, man. I think your spaghetti has been really bad all your life, and you got an average one.

NASTY: No, it tastes like my dad made it. It doesn’t taste like if you come to the States and you eat fucking pasta at Olive Garden.

NOIZE: You can get good pasta in L.A. Come on.

NASTY: I don’t want to go to Pasta Sisters or Eataly. I want some homemade spaghetti. My mom knows how to garden. Once you’re in charge of your own food like that, possibilities are endless.

NOIZE: Yeah, that’s a really good skill. I want to grow my own.

NASTY: I want to start learning how to not kill my plants, because they’re always gasping for air.

NOIZE: You need to talk to them. 

NASTY: Oh. Maybe that’s the problem. I’m playing screamo music at 9 AM. They’re listening to Korn. That’s why they’re dying.

NOIZE: You know Stevie Wonder made an album for the plants? 

NASTY: That’s crazy. I’m about to listen to it. Speaking of people who make ambient music, did you get a chance to listen to André 3000’s flute album? That shit was really fire.

NOIZE: I love André 3000, man.

NASTY: I was subconsciously listening to it in the car, and I just felt lighter on my feet. He talks about the frequencies that he was using when making the songs. Eventually I would like to get into stuff like that. Just peaceful shit. When I’m 50 years old, please expect a Rico Nasty album like that. And I’m going to call it “For The Birds,” and it’s going to be me making bird noises and ASMR. I think that’s so timeless.

NOIZE: You can make a healing record. 

NASTY: Yeah, something super, super positive. I can’t wait to make music when I’m older.

NOIZE: Music is the best. Let’s end with that.