Josh Giroux

All About Nikolai Fraiture’s Strokes Offshoot, Summer Moon

A supergroup with high quality production on a new EP and the OG band with concerts selling out all over… this bass player is cruising through the year.

It’s the early 2000s just when nu metal was losing its luster and a new rock revolution stepped in. It may have not had the forceful impact Nirvana had on grunge, but The Strokes definitely created a cultural shift on rock music in the new millennium with alternative edginess and a throwback to the heyday of garage rock. The Converse All-Star sneakers, the long shaggy hair, and the lo-fi sounds of Julian Casablancas and company shook the dull scene up… and they still are. The Strokes have confined to churn out hit and revamp the classics that we love. The Vines, The Hives, and White Stripes may have helped fill the void of what our ears were missing then, but The Strokes are the only ones still carrying that torch from the early aughts.

Fast forwarding from their start in 1998 to to 2015, bassist Nikolai Fraiture spun an offshoot that would complement The Strokes’ style and grace. That band, Summer Moon, is a supergroup of alternative talent. Keyboardist and vocalist Camila Grey (Uh Huh Her), drummer Stephen Perkins (Jane’s Addiction and Porno for Pyros), and guitarist Noah Harmon (Airborne Toxic Event), gelled together so well with Fraiture that they created 2017’s lush With You Tonight LP. With eighties-style “Cleopatra” and “Happenin,” the mainstream must have forgotten how cool that 40-year-old rock scene was. Fraiture didn’t, though, and recreated a rich backdrop from that decade for those songs, somehow still modern and forward-thinking, too. 

Now, Summer Moon is kicking their summery, synth-tinged vibe into high gear once again with this new EP. Casino Days is a bi-coastal creation, was produced by Fraiture himself, and mixed by Paul Hicks, known for his work with Elliot Smith, Coldplay, and Paul McCartney. Fraiture spent a lot of time working on this splendid, rocking new wave record, and it shows the work ethic of the band – one that carries the spirit of true rock and roll throughout 2023.

The Aquarian’s Robert Frezza sat down with Nikolai Fraiture via Zoom from New York City to talk about Summer Moon’s formation, the work behind Casino Days, and how he thrives within the creative sphere of both bands.

How did you get Summer Moon together?

This band was kind of Los Angeles based. I had a friend that knew a bunch of people. I went out to Los Angeles and met Stephen, Noah, and Camila and we got together on the songs I already had, then we started on some new music, and we just gelled really well.

What were the studio sessions like for the making of this new EP, Casino Days?

It was really fun. We were all on the same page. We all like similar music and we are all fans of each other’s bands. I was a huge fan of Porno for Pyros and Jane’s Addiction, so working with Stephen Perkins was really cool. Noah’s guitar playing fit, and it all just gelled. Paul Hicks was the engineer and producer of the project. We are all about the same age and hang in the same circles. We all got along and understood what we were all going for. We gave each other creative space and pointers; it felt really natural. 

Who does most of the writing on this project? How does it all come together?

Mostly I will work on it at home in New York City, and then I’ll bring it to Los Angeles, and then we would work on stuff. There were a couple songs that we jammed on and really cool stuff came out of it. Here and there other members bring stuff in, and I’ll bring it back to Los Angeles when I can make it there.

Summer Moon is a bit more melodic than your work with The Strokes. Was that intentional?

There was no kind of intention with this project. It was just exploring ideas, instruments, keyboards, and samplers. We experimented and it was a back and forth from New York to Los Angeles to work with the band. These things kind of develop more naturally rather than a specific intention. 

What other sounds were you exploring with this EP versus 2017’s With You Tonight?

After With You Tonight, I was getting a bunch of gear – modular things and samplers – I was working on another project with my brother, which was way more experimental. I brought those in with a more honed in song format with Summer Moon. It was mainly really going out there and bringing it back in to a more a song format. 

What are your goals for the band?

We obviously have other projects that are taking up our full time at the moment, but anytime we have time off and anytime we can explore our interests… I finally feel we have a group of very like-minded people who are really excited about this project. I’ve learned in life to have friends, but not rigid ones. Sometimes we find each other in the same city, and we will work on stuff. At the moment, it’s more exploring what we have going on now. We do have other material we are working on and other pieces of parts of music. It’s really to explore what we are doing and continue doing what we are doing.

Did you listen to anything before going into the studio for Casino Days?

I listen to so many different things. For me it’s always been it’s all the influences that filter through the moment when whatever we are doing is happening. That’s kind of been the process. 

Can we expect a live tour from the band?

We were talking about it – definitely New York and Los Angeles in the fall – when things sort of wrap up with our full time gigs. When we have that moment or window. 

Do side projects keep the Strokes creative juices going?

That… I could only speak for myself. I see it as more as all music that I make is part of the whole. I don’t think in terms of specific projects but just more as making music all the time, experimenting, and trying different things. Each configuration brings about something happened that wouldn’t have happened in a different scenario. It’s about staying active and staying in the flow of making music and listening to it and playing with musicians. 

What does Summer Moon add to the rock scene in 2023?

I personally think it’s a sound with such different people and when we come together it makes something that I believe is unique and hasn’t been heard before. I don’t know if it’s the rock scene or the synth scene, but whichever it is, it’s something that’s unique and am excited to share it and play it for people.