From open mics in cafes to performance venues like the Industry Lounge & Gallery in Huntington, Coffee Nap is sure making its mark on Long Island. They played at Industry on Jan. 13 as part of the Indie Rock Adjacent Show..
Interestingly, when listening to Coffee Nap, the style ranges from more electronic to ukulele-heavy indie rock.
“I think about music as being a community project,” said Mike Nowotarski, Coffee Nap founder, who is originally from West Islip. “I really feel like every Coffee Nap show is different. Sometimes, we’re playing with different people. We’re playing different songs, or different styles. If you listen to the first EP, [Dandelion Wishes,] it’s very electronic. The album, [“(Of) Smoke Rings and Tenderness”] is really like a rock band. Everyone’s in the room together.”
Coffee Nap has a single coming out on Jan. 20 that will consist of just band members Nowotarski and Rene Sanchez of Brentwood, a multi-instrumentalist and vocalist who brings ukulele and a variety of vocal ranges to the band. The new single will return to the Coffee Nap roots, an electronic sound.
When it comes to the inspiration behind the music, Sanchez and Nowotarski each write their own music and brings it to the band to play.
“There’s this not really well known artist, his name is Khai Dreams, and that’s where I take from because he also plays ukulele,” Sanchez said, adding that Nowotarski is a big fan of Bruce Springsteen. “Mike likes a lot of things. Right now he’s trying to go a bit more electronic in his music.”
And it’s this individuality of each member of the band that makes it unique.
“I went to school in Upstate New York and I was really lucky to be surrounded by a lot of musicians, because I was a music student, and there was also a very vibrant music scene in Ithaca. When I moved back home to Long Island it took a long time to find people to play with and shows to go to.” Nowotarski said when asked about his experience of being part of a band.
Eventually, Nowotarski found himself going to the music scene in Brooklyn, as well as attending open mics on Long Island. He performed under the Coffee Nap name and released his first EP on his own.
“I was in a very strange place when I started with this project,” Nowotarski said. “I was working in Queens, and I was living at my mom’s place on Long Island, and I was living this insane lifestyle where I would wake up at 6 in the morning, work, drive back to Long Island, sleep for a half-hour or 15 minutes. I would sleep in my car. I’d drive to Shea Stadium or Bushwick or the Silent Barn in Brooklyn and I would drink a cup of coffee and sleep for 10 minutes in my car.”
It was a time of trying to figure out how to be a working adult while balancing love for musicianship.
“It’s really almost impossible to be a functioning adult and to fulfill your responsibilities, give to the community and be a well-rounded person and also pursue art,” Nowotarski said. “I think that continues to be at the heart of Coffee Nap.”
It was an open mic at the Babylon Bean Coffee House that Nowotarski met Sanchez. He used to be part of a band called You Guys.
“I think he’s just an incredibly talented musician who can blend in to anything,” Nowotarski said. “He just really has a gift for adding the perfect thing to the music without really disrupting it in anyway. And he’s an excellent songwriter himself, so he’s been really great to play with.”
Currently, the lineup consists of drummer Jake Charvat and bassist and background vocalist Christina Paladino, who also plays in the band Gamblers. Paladino used to play violin for Sanchez’s former band You Guys.
“I got her to join Coffee Nap from that,” Sanchez said. “I really love the way we all connect. Me and Christina have been playing for a minute, and Mike and I have been playing for a minute, and when Jake joined the mix, he blended very well…but it’s not in a way that overtakes anything. It… just meshes with everyone else.”
To listen to Coffee Nap’s music, visit coffeenap.bandcamp.com.