On Neon Brown (out summer 2019 on 4AD), Velvet Negroni is a griot relaying the life and times of his own island—it’s a singular place, with the squeak and thrum of guitar strings looped over drum machine beats accented by steely marimbas, all creating a pocket for one of the most authentic and original artistic voices ever committed to tape.
You follow his voice as it rhymes in double time, or hiccups and la-las through a break, or croons from a room down the hall, as it unfolds into another story of lost love, or another joke about lost drugs, as he tries to make sense of a life spent in the (sometimes harrowing) pursuit of communion.
Turns out what sounds like a lonely island is in fact the city of Minneapolis. Velvet Negroni grew up in an outer suburb of the Twin Cities as Jeremy Nutzman, a black kid adopted into a white evangelical Christian family. His fundamentalist missionary of a mother drove him to virtuosity, both as a classically trained concert pianist and a competitive figure skater, but he had to climb out his bedroom window to play guitar in his first band.
In 2016 after years of performing under a schizophrenic rotation of various aliases, Nutzman finally landed on a persona that he felt he could be proud of. It was in a fancy cocktail bar in Austin, Texas that he hatched Velvet Negroni. A tour opening for Bon Iver followed, as well as a writing credit on Kid Cudi and Kanye West’s “Feel the Love” off their 2018 album Kids See Ghosts. That same year, he released his first singles on B4 sounds, “First Time” and “Crybaby.”
It was in the summer of 2018, together with his friends, producers Psymun (Future, Young Thug, Dua Saleh) and Tickle Torture’s Elliott Kozel, that Velvet Negroni composed the stories on Neon Brown, stories he’s been waiting a lifetime to tell.