Professional musicians these days must own “the hustle.” The economics of record sales are dismal. Streaming services could not be any less artist-friendly. Year round touring is a grind. To make it in the music industry and keep his sanity, an artist must keep busy with other things. Produce, mix, and master. Form numerous bands. Arrange other people’s songs. Sell merch. Teach music lessons. The list goes on.
Durham-based artists Chris Boerner and Matt Douglas are two musicians who have mastered the hustle. As an engineer and producer, Boerner has made his mark in the studio on countless records, including the recent Blank Range debut full-length and Hallalujah Anyhow, the upcoming Merge Records release from Hiss Golden Messenger. He’s also an accomplished guitarist who has toured with Aaron Freeman and the Grammy-nominated hip hop group The Foreign Exchange. Douglas is a horn player who has bounced around in jazz and hip hop bands, teaching music lessons in the interim. More recently, he became a full-time member of The Mountain Goats, another band on the Merge roster with a 2017 record (called Goths and released in May). This year, like every year, has been busy.
Boerner and Douglas also make up two thirds of The Hot at Nights, an instrumental trio specializing in jazz with hints of funk and hip hop with electronic flourishes. The trio released Three Kids earlier this year, the fifth record they’ve done together since forming in 2010. Joined by drummer Nick Baglio, Boerner plays eight-string guitar and mult-instrumentalist Douglas does the rest.
The Hot at Nights will be in Charlotte on Tuesday, September 5th as the opening act for The Mountain Goats. In advance of this exciting double bill, we caught up with Chris Boerner and Matt Douglas to discuss their approach to the hustle, the history of The Hot at Nights, and that time Matt played with Talib Kweli back in the day.