RGM INTRODUCING – WE INTERVIEW AMERICAN ARTIST NICKY ROLAND
Hiya folks thanks for joining us in the virtual RGM lounge today, grab a brew and take a seat. What made you decide that music is a thing for you?
Nicky: I grew up in and out of jazz festivals and listening to my dad play, but it really started in my early teens, playing around on turntables. I got hooked on scratching and mixing, and it all just kinda grew out of that.
Royden: I got into music because of my mom, she used to sing lots of British and American oldies around the house (like; Percy Sledge, Helen Shapiro, Fleetwood Mac and Al Green) . I loved how happy it made her and the positive effect it had on me. So when I moved to the United States, that’s the path I took.
Introduce us to you and your musical history.
Nicky: As mentioned above, I started in my early teens with DJing. I had my first studio sessions with Pinky and Longsy D (Hip-Hop reggae, This is Ska) when I was 14 and ended up getting signed to a bunch of labels in the early 90s, including a major. Things went sideways with the major and I couldn’t get out of the publishing deal, so stopped producing until a few years ago when my dad’s health was deteriorating. I needed something else to focus on and music helped get me through some very difficult times.
Royden: I started out singing in high school choir when I arrived in the United States and it was difficult as I was a late bloomer, my voice was going through some changes lol. When I found my voice, I wasn’t the soprano / alto singer I used to be in my early high school years…I was now a baritone. That led me to the world of vocal jazz which I did during college, that was when I got into Nat King Cole and Frank Sinatra, and the vocal jazz legends. It was during those years I was introduced to Nu Jazz , House music and electronic dance music; like Miguel Migs, Lisa Shaw, Andy Caldwell and Matthew Herbert. I began working with Dj’s and producers in the House, Deep house, EDM and Pop music genres.
What was life like for you before music?
Nicky: I have no idea! My mum and dad were touring while my mum was pregnant and I’ve never known a world where music wasn’t an integral part of it.
Royden: Life before music. I wanted to be a track and field runner, but I got hurt and missed the opportunity.
What was the first song you heard that steered you into a music path?
Nicky: There were loads, but Cybotron/Model 500’s Clear and Night Drive definitely helped get me where I am today.
Royden: They were so many, but the one that I can still hear my mom singing is “Cover Me” by Percy Sledge.
Where do you feel you currently sit within the music industry?
Nicky: I’m still relatively unknown to the masses, but I have deep ties to the originators of the Chicago House scene and am part of the DJ International Records stable (the seminal house label) and have a bunch of tunes lined up that will be game changers in the next few months.
Royden: I am still unknown to many, hopefully not for very long lol.
What’s the biggest thing you have learned from someone else in the industry?
Nicky: Learn to read contracts. Even if you don’t sign with a label, you still have to read through agreements and contracts for performances, etc.
Royden: I agree with Nicky…it is reading contracts.
Tell us Two truths and a lie about you.
Nicky: I hate cats, could eat sushi every day, and started doing professional photography two days after reading an introduction to photography book. Which one’s the lie?
Royden: I Love a good curry dish. I run for relaxation and I am an amateur surfer…Which one’s the lie?
If you could wish for one thing to aid your career what would it be?
Nicky: Being able to focus on it full time, but I’d need a lot of streams/merch and performances to make that possible.
Royden: I agree with Nicky, having more time to focus on creating and writing.
Do you ever worry about people taking things the wrong way or cancel culture? Discuss….
Nicky: I try to be thoughtful about what I post and how I say things, as I realize context is often missed online, but ultimately you can’t please all of the people all of the time, if somebody takes offence at what I say, that’s ok, we can have differences of opinion. Just try to be respectful of the other person when you do.
Royden: It is a concern. I too try to be thoughtful about what I say and how it is being perceived online and in person, but at the end of the day I do my best to lead with compassion and integrity…it’s challenging as we are all from varying backgrounds, customs and beliefs.
Do you sign up to any conspiracy theories? If not, why not?
Nicky: Not so much, although I do believe governments around the world have been covering up UFO sightings, crashes etc. for decades. I saw something once in Palm Desert, CA that was supposedly a rocket test…Rocket test my ar…
Royden: I entertain the idea of UFO’s and government awareness of it…lol.
What was the worst experience on stage?
Nicky: Seeing the previous DJ making off with my only dubplate of an unreleased tune at Notting Hill Carnival.
Royden: Focusing on someone in the audience that was so enthusiastic and I forgot my verse lol.
Tell us something about you both that you think people would be surprised about.
Nicky: I’m passionate about the environment and am a board advisor on two greentech startups.
Royden: I am passionate about the Homeless population in communities. I work with agencies to combat homelessness in my community.
What makes you stand out as a band/artist?
Versatility. Our musical backgrounds cover many styles and periods, which gives us a lot of inspiration to draw from. We’re not scared to try different things and break the status quo. Like they say, variety is the spice of life!
I hear you have a new music, what can you tell us about it.
Nicky: We have a new song coming out on September 8ththat blends a bunch of different influences with a core of R&B and UK Deep/Soulful House. Royden dropped a five-part harmony on this beauty, giving it a lovely rich depth that really brings home chorus hook.
What was the recording process like?
We’re both nomads and currently live in different parts of the country so we collaborate remotely. I laid down the musical score and gave Royden a work in progress copy to listen to. He loved it and wrote the chorus/hook the next day. Once I got the vocal stems back from him, I finalized the musical elements, EQ, etc.
What was the biggest learning curve in writing the new tunes?
Nicky: It’s hard to say. Every tune has unique challenges. I started writing this in a minor 7th, which makes finding complimentary samples way harder, but where’s the fun if you don’t push yourself a bit?
Royden: I agree each song has unique challenges, but for me it’s not getting distracting by the next song idea lol.
Would you change anything now it’s finished?
No, we love it how it is. Hopefully, your readers will too!
Is there anything else you would like to share with the world?
We’re just getting started with our collaborations, so keep an eye out for more from us. I’m (Nicky) also working with DJ International on a bunch of remixes with people like Sinclair and Bobby Wilson, so some big things coming soon!