New Noise: Nick Hakim

The New York based songwriter on his debut album.

Fresh from releasing his debut album, Green Twins, Nick Hakim is becoming a name that you should definitely know. Blending psychedelic soul with flawless production, the album is a stunning debut and a welcome breath of fresh air for the music world. Talking about the album’s unique sound, Nick says, “We wanted to imagine what it would have sounded like if RZA had produced a Portishead album. We experimented with engineering techniques from Phil Spector and Al Green’s Back Up Train, drum programming from RZA and Outkast, and were listening to a lot of The Impressions, John Lennon, Wu-Tang, Madlib, and Screaming Jay Hawkins.”

Already receiving critical acclaim, Nick has been hailed for his experimental style and emotive lyricism, and as he beautifully crafts love songs into psychedelic hits, it’s safe to say that he’s one of the most exciting artists around. Catching up with him just before the album came out last week, we found out all we could about the NY songwriter.

Hi Nick, how are you?

Hi! Yeah I’m doing great. I’m on the train on the way into the city right now, just got back into NYC. Running a few errands.

You’re currently on tour! How’s it going so far?

Yeah it’s been going really well, the only thing that sucks is that I’ve been pretty sick. Everything else is good. We’ve just played some really great shows in Canada, it’s a short run… but it’s nice.

Have you had any wild onstage moments yet?

To be honest with you, every night is wild. I’ve been doing a couple of shows with Machakos Kyalo who is awesome and has a great energy. We also played a show with this band Ginla and Blunt Chunks in Canada, those guys are insane. We’re playing with Onyx Collective and Combo Chimbita in NYC and White Bike in DC.

You’re about to release your debut album Green Twins, how are you feeling?

Yeah I’m really excited, especially excited about it not being on our laptops and actually on record. It’s super exciting.

What can you tell us about the album?

Andrew Sarlo, who’s someone I’ve been working with for a while now helped make this record. We recorded it in a few different studios in New York. I also recorded some stuff in London. I did a lot of it at home by myself, and then Andrew and I would get together to flesh it out. There’s some great people featured on it, like the Onyx Collective, Naima, Jesse & Forerver and Jon Nellen from Ginla. There were a lot of other great engineers working on the record as well, like Daniel Schlett who has a studio at Strange Weather, also Vishal Nayak who has a studio called the Black Lodge in Bedstuy.

What were the main inspirations for it?

I think initially, the inspiration was coming from me feeling like I didn’t have enough time to work on music because I was working a lot at my various day jobs. So whenever I had free time at night when I’d get off work, I would dedicate that time to making music. Then once I started getting more situated and settled in Brooklyn, I learned how to manage my time effectively… but then theres so much more inspiration that I drew from… personal experiences, dreams, different engineering techniques, new gadgets, etc….

Do you see any influences in your music from artists you listened to growing up?

Ya, I think one of my main influences since I was younger (that still is just as inspiring) is Bilal. Also Milton Nacsimento, who my father would play a lot growing up. Jesse and Forever too, that was a band that I played in for a bit and someone I write with a lot and he helped me rediscover Milton as an adult…

If you could collaborate with any artist dead or alive, who would it be?

Kevin Parker. He’s an incredible engineer, musician, all of the above… I feel like I would learn a lot from him..

What else do you have lined up for this year?

I have some shows in NYC, and LA for the summer…then we are off for the summer so i’ll be traveling a bit to visit family in South America hopefully. I’m planning on doing a lot of writing this summer.. then in October we will be going back on the road heavily.

New Noise: Nick Hakim

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