We chat to Young & Sick about his progression from paint palette to electro-pop perfection
Originally from the Netherlands, Young & Sick gained a name for himself by designing the album artwork for releases including ‘Torches’ by Foster The People and ‘Overexposed’ by Maroon 5.
This year, he’s decided to take a shift in his artistry by being the musician, rather than designer to the musicians – and to put it bluntly, he’s giving his contemporaries a run for their money. His upcoming single ‘Heartache Festish’ (released 4th August via Virgin EMI) can only be described as a dreamy hybrid of chilled pop and electro with injections of soul. It’s pretty much essential listening on your summer playlist.
The LA-based musician (real name Nick Van Hofwegen) has had shows at Coachella and SXSW after only releasing his eponymous debut album during spring in the US and he will soon offer up the album to the UK too. Here, we got the chance to speak to the multi-talented artist who sheds some light about the journey from paint palette prestige to electro-pop perfection, he also did an incredibly trippy edit of our Mariah issue!
Tell us a bit about how you first became involved in the music industry.
When I was 18, I was in a design school in Holland. A teacher gave us an assignment to make something for one of our favourite bands, and just try sending it to them. I made something for a longtime favourite of mine, “The Velvet Teen.” I never thought anything would come of it, but one day they wrote back and asked if they could put the design on some merch. I happily sent them the art ready to be printed. Through them I was put in touch with Mark Foster who was working on his solo stuff at the time. I started working with him on some pieces, as well as his friend and comedian Andy Dick. Fast-forward and more clients came on bit by bit. Meanwhile I was always working on my own music. The two mediums always went hand in hand. One was never more or less important to me. Eventually the music started to resonate with people, and I just went from there.
Interesting name, can you tell us a bit about the thought process around naming yourself Young & Sick?
My manager Aaron used to throw parties in New Orleans. He would always come up with names for each one, and one day called meto ask me for a good name idea. I told him I’d been playing with the name ‘Young & Sick,’ but wasn’t sure what I would want to use it for. He used it for one of his parties, and the more I sat on it, the more I liked it. When it came time to namethe project, I felt I had to take back the name, and go with it from there. I like that it’s easily memorable, but also sounds like I should be a rapper or something. At the end of the day the .com was available, so that was that.
How does it feel making the transition from creating artwork for musicians to actually being the musician with your own album?
It’s a great feeling to really start putting my music out there. All the musicians I’ve made art for have been very supportive as well, which is a great feeling. Putting out my own music also allows me to execute any art idea I had that may not fit for other clients, which has been fun.
You released your eponymous debut album in the US in spring and gained great reviews from the likes of the Wall StreetJournal, how does it feel to get this positive feedback and did you expect it?
I really never had any expectations. I made this music for me, something I am really happy with. The fact that other people like it has really been an added bonus.
Do you think it will be easy to replicate the same reaction in the UK?
Again, I try not to have any expectations. The love in the U.S. has been overwhelming, so I guess we’ll see how the U.K feels soon enough!
Your music is a dreamy hybrid of chilled pop and electro with injections of soul, what made you drawn to these genres of music?
This sort of stuff has always been the kind of music I enjoyed. Listening to vinyl records from the 60s, I realized this kind of music was pop at the time. I want to introduce this sort of stuff back into the vein of popular culture.
Earlier this year you performed at the Coachella Festival, tell us a bit about your experience of performing at such a big festival…
I love playing at festivals in general, as I can see some my favorite bands. Was incredible having one of our first shows as such a big one. It was also our first chance to see fans on the west coast, which was really special.
What do you consider the three greatest album covers of all time?
Grateful Dead – Anthem of the Sun
Miles Davis – Bitches Brew
The Good Life – Help Wanted Nights
You have deesigned artwork for the likes of Foster The People and Mikky Ecko, if you could design album artwork for any musician in the world, dead or alive, who would it be and why?
The Grateful Dead – Their strong aesthetic has really inspired me to have a strong brand in music.
Finally, both as an artist and a musician, where do you see yourself in 5 years time?
Celebrating the five-year anniversary of you asking me this question!
Words: Ryan Cahill