Hache: Nicky, welcome and thank you so much for agreeing to the interview. Let’s start by talking a little about your early life. You are still a very young man but already you have achieved great things. You clearly have a passion for music, so how old were you when you became aware of that passion ?
Nicky: I can’t pinpoint a moment where I thought that exactly, music has just always been a big part of my life. Even when I was younger I was always fascinated by lyrics and melodies. I started writing lyrics for ‘songs’ when I was about 7, although I’m not entirely sure any of them made much sense…
Hache: And who were your earliest musical influences ?
Nicky: I think in terms of influences on my own music, I started appreciating music in that way when I first started playing piano and writing songs properly at the age of 13. Around that time I was listening to a lot of Mika and James Blunt, so I guess I’d say those are the two that influenced me in quite a big way around that time.
Hache: Is music something that runs in your family ?
Nicky: Not that I know of! I heard a story that one of my great-great aunts (or something like that) was a violinist in the BBC Symphony Orchestra but that’s about it as far as I‘m aware!
Hache: What about your education ? Did your studies take second place to your music or were you academically talented too ?
Nicky: If anything, music has had to take a second place to education. Education has always been important to me. I did alright at school I guess and I’m about to start my final year studying English Language and Literature at university so I’m pretty busy balancing those two main things in my life right now.
Hache: Okay, so let’s focus now on the present time. Do you have a daily routine ? And if so, describe it.
Nicky: Honestly, my daily routine at the moment is wake up, record, go to sleep. Maybe some days I’ll throw a bit of writing in there just to spice things up but it’s pretty flat out recording at the moment. I’m not complaining though!
Hache: I know that you play keyboards a lot but what other instruments do you play ?
Nicky: I actually went on holiday a few weeks ago and whilst I was away I made a spontaneous decision to buy a ukulele. Within a few days I’d taught myself some simple chords and written a song on it. I’m still learning new bits each day so that’s a new little hobby I have.
Hache: Ukulele. Wow – you’re in good company. Johnny Depp is rumoured to being playing ukulele now too. Are you classically trained or self-taught ?
Nicky: I’m self taught at everything musical I do, from playing instruments to producing and engineering. For me, music has always been a hobby and I wouldn’t want for it to seem educational because that would take the fun out of it.
Hache: Your voice has a very lyrical quality and is a delight to listen to. Have you ever really pushed it though to see just what you could do with it?
Nicky: Thank you! Well let’s just say I don’t think I’ll be the next Pavarotti…
Hache: You’re working on a new album now, “California Skies”. How is that coming along?
Nicky: It is the most fun thing I’ve made. I’m at the stage now where I’m doing the final mixdown of all the songs. With this album I’ve been collaborating with musicians from around the world which has just taken the songs to a whole new level. The songs are stronger than they’ve ever been, the production sounds great and the album has a lot of heart. I can’t wait for you to hear it.
Hache: I’ll be including a link at the end of this interview so that your fans can go and pre-order the album. What about your earlier work, “This is Everything”? Did sales of that go well, and is it still selling?
Nicky: This Is Everything was my second album and one that took two years to make, so it was really quite a big part of my life. It sold better than I’d hoped and I do still get the odd message occasionally from people telling me that they’ve just bought it or bought a song or two off it, which is really nice. At the moment though sales figures aren’t that important to me. Sure, I’d like to eventually make some profit to make this a financially viable career path but I know that will take time. At the moment it’s all about spreading the music!
Hache: You are clearly a very enterprising young man and very pro-active. I’m assuming that you do have some help though. Does that help come from your parents? Others?
Nicky: Everything you see, whether it’s online or music-wise comes from me. I manage everything from my website to promotion to CD artwork, design etc, it’s very much a one-man show. I’m lucky that my parents are supportive of me but they’re not pushy, like some people’s. That must be a complete nightmare!
Hache: Looking forward now, what are your longer term hopes and dreams?
Nicky: The 3 year plan is to put out an album, sell millions, tour the world and end up as the emperor of Earth. I’m just kidding. But a world tour would be good! Even if it was self-funded. I’m in love with idea of doing a worldwide busking tour so if I can find some people to tag along then that would be great. Also, I just want to keep making music, keep making the music better and spreading the music to a wider audience. I think as long as that’s happening then I’ll be happy.
Hache: Would you embrace fame and fortune if (or rather, when) it comes?
Nicky: I guess if you put yourself in a position where that could happen then you’d have no option but to. Luckily, I’m not in this game for either of those two things. Just an active audience and a nice little bit of an income would be good enough for me!
Hache: I’ve watched a couple of your broadcasts from the bedroom now and what always strikes me about them is how much of a natural you are in front of a camera. You speak to your fans as though you know them all personally and the way the broadcasts work, your fans have the chance to communicate with you in real time. It is a very intimate experience. One that I have enjoyed immensely. So, given that, if you suddenly found yourself on stage at Wembley Stadium in front of a 90,000 strong audience, would you be just as calm or would you own up to a little butterfly or two?
Nicky: Thank you for saying that! I’m glad you’ve said that, I like to think that I do have a good relationship with the people who watch my broadcasts. I’d definitely say that I do regard most, if not all, of the people who watch them as my friends and people that I talk to on a regular basis; so it does have a really nice, friendly atmosphere about it. It does just feel like singing songs for a few friends and I really love having that kind of interaction. I’ll definitely be doing more live streams soon, possibly one next month! As for the Wembley question, I think there’s always going to be adrenaline before any performance. There needs to be adrenaline to put on a good show. If it’s 90,000 people who had turned up to watch me then I wouldn’t be nervous I don’t think. It’s if you’re performing at a festival or an event like that and people aren’t necessarily there to see you that you need to start panicking….
Hache: That’s a really fascinating perspective. I’d love to be able to emulate that. Let’s move on to some personal stuff. I know your fans will be keen to learn a bit about you, the man as well as you, the musician. A lot of your work contains very romantic imagery. Would you describe yourself as a romantic person?
Nicky: I guess every songwriter has to be a bit of a romantic at heart, right? Although with me it’s kind of more ‘hopeless romantic’ but hey, at least I try!
Hache: And is there anyone special in your life right now?
Nicky: Nope, there isn’t… As I said, ‘hopeless’!
Hache: Aside from music, what other passions do you have? Sport? Drama? Anything else? Tell me a bit about the things that really excite and inspire you.
Nicky: I’m probably the least sporty person anyone will ever meet. You know the kid who walks at the back of cross-country at school? Yeah, that was me! Having said that though I love Formula One. It’s always been quite a big part of my life and I’ve been lucky enough to go to the British Grand Prix a few times now. There’s actually a song on the new album that I wrote after one of this year’s races, it has a few F1 references in it. Aside from that, being a literature student I’m definitely inspired by all sorts of weird and wonderful novels!
Hache: Oh I can’t wait to hear the F1 song. I’m a huge F1 fan myself, though I have zero interest in any other sport. What about politics and religion? Thorny topics, I know, but we all have a view on them don’t we?
Nicky: They are thorny topics indeed, which is something that I’ve always been wary of. I tend not to be outspoken about any political or religious views that I have because I know it runs the risk of offending at least a small percentage of people with opposing views. I’m definitely more of a lefty on the political side of things though and I’ve never been compelled towards a religious faith. I do think I have a good ability to accept and consider other people’s points of view on both those subjects though.
Hache: If you had to name one thing in the world that makes your blood boil, what would it be?
Nicky: Just one? I have about a million. Really little things annoy me. Like, if someone comes in my room when the door is shut and then walks out and leaves it open that really annoys me. And people with no manners are frustrating too. Oh and people talking loudly on their phones in public is annoying too. Basically, everything annoys me. Pushy parents! Wait… did I already mention that?
Hache: And one last question. I always like to end of a lighter note. What things do you find amusing? I mean who or what really has your sides splitting?
Nicky: I’m a big lover of British comedies such as Blackadder, The Royle Family and Not Going Out. Anything that parodies popular culture amuses me. I also love the stand-up work of Ricky Gervais and Russell Brand.
Hache: Nicky. It has been an absolute delight. Thank you so much for your frankness and your honesty. You are building up quite a fan-base now and I know they will all be delighted with your answers. Let’s do this again sometime . . .
Nicky’s latest album “California Skies” is due for release in early October, 2014. Pre-order your copy here:
If you pre-order now, you’ll also get an immediate download of one free track. Believe me – it’s more than worth it.