The Happy Little Minimalist

Rebecca Milzoff in New York Magazine:

Screenhunter_01_oct_10_1750“Isn’t the East Village sort of like Beauty and the Beast in the summer?” Nico Muhly exclaims. “You know, ‘Bonjour, good day, how is your family, how is your wife … ’ ” It’s our first outing of several together, and we are walking at typical Nico pace—an excitable, bouncier version of the New York Walk. In the span of three blocks, we have passed four people he knows, including a member of the indie rock band Ratatat, and soon we will be picking up a score from composer Philip Glass, Muhly’s de facto boss, who’s eating dinner at the vegetarian kosher Indian joint Madras.

In Muhly’s world, Houston Street as Disney movie makes sense. His life is an odd fairy tale in which he inhabits several characters at all times. There is, first and foremost, Nico the Composer, who has since age 18 assisted Glass, conducting and editing his film scores, and has also emerged as a star in his own right, with an album of his own work, Speaks Volumes; Nico the Helper to Famous Singers, who “enables” the likes of Björk, Antony, and Rufus Wainwright; and Nico Himself, the sweet, gleeful downtown kid, the 26-year-old Columbia and Juilliard graduate in perpetual motion. That last Nico lives in a Chinatown loft (above a sweatshop–cum–mah-jongg parlor), with his cats Duane and Reade and a roommate, Liz, whom he’s known since they were kids.

More here.