RGM INTRODUCING – WE INTERVIEW NEW ZEALANDS NICKY MORAN
Hiya folks thanks for joining us in the virtual RGM lounge today, grab a brew and take a seat.
What made you decide become a solo musician? I had tried having my own band a couple of times and the gigs I wanted to pursue wasn’t easy for a band to come alongside with… ie prison concerts, smaller, far away places on the highways and biways, not always for monetary gain but for community improvement. Band members have lives outside music such as families, days jobs etc and my level of commitment is pretty high (demanding) so others can’t afford to keep up the pace.
Introduce us to you and your musical history?
I’m Nicky Moran a NZ born girl who has wanted to sing for as long as I can remember… but the voice was not so good so I was given the opportunity to explore classical piano training finishing many years with a LTCL Piano Teachers Diploma. But I didn’t really like classical music or teaching that much, I just wanted to play contemporary folk/rock country/gospel originals and mostly 70s covers. After lots of false starts and a journey through suffering with health I came into massive inspiration from my spiritual experience. I now want to use music as a therapeutic tool to becoming whole and finding purpose in life, firstly for myself and then to inspire others with also. I hired vocal coaches at different times to work on aspects of my voice which needed improvement and basically emerged as a singer in my mid 30s. I attempting recording music since primary school and ended up with my own band recorded by a mobile recording studio then learning the process of home studio recording and moved onto working with an independent producer. After having a couple bands I pulled away from fronting the band to learning other instruments such as acoustic guitar, bass and drums and found this very enjoyable gaining a better perspective of how to bring a band together, coaching small church worship bands and individuals to find their strengths and work together better. Song-writing was prolific and took plenty of time to take shape but in the last 16 years has become more natural, inspired, hooky, singable and fun while bringing a meaningful message to the listener. The last 7 years or so I have toured NZ prisons solo each year with a live looping multi-instrumental Gospel roadshow behind bars to encourage hope and positive change through faith.
What’s one question you’re sick of being asked when interviewed?
What’s your favourite song. I have so many depending on how I feel. I can’t decide.
Do you sign up to any conspiracy theories?
Not really but I think a sliver of truth mixed with some deception or misconception draws people in.
Did you buy anything you don’t need in the pandemic?
I did buy quite a bit of loo paper as I though I might have to blow my nose a lot… but didn’t need it. Bought heaps of flour for homemade bread so we all got a bit rounder at home over lockdowns.
What useless party trick do you have?
I can trip over my husband’s shoes anywhere in the house, under the table, next to the wall. Usually I just trip over them when they are just poking out a little under the bed or in plain sight.
What was the most fun you have had on stage?
Playing 100s of gospel shows inside NZ prisons. Some the prisoners laugh and sing along. Others the inmates and guards dance. Sometimes the staff and inmates come and show me their tears and get caught up in the possibility of the song for reflection and change. Sharing my heart in song behind bars is definitely right up there with best-day-ever of getting married and holding my babies for the first time. Jamming with prisoners on their own compositions is pretty cool.
What was the worst experience on stage?
Being told to play a happy song when you are half way through a mellow one and not being able to pull that rabbit out of your hat, losing your nerve and being told to go and sit down for the rest of the night…
Tell us something about you that you think people would be surprised about?
I hate all seafood and fish unless it doesn’t look or smell like seafood.
Also I am a work in progress with remembering lyrics but can usually remember ‘Angel’ by Sarah McLaughlin.
If you had to describe your band/music to an alien how would you describe it?
A beautiful sound that makes you want to cry, laugh, want to let go of your darkness and reach for your best. It’s a spiritual experience. Like having spring come after the winter.
What makes you stand out as a band/artist?
People say I make every song like I own it. I try to sing both my own material and any covers as though I wrote it. My vocal coaches told me that was a bad thing but I take it as a compliment. I’m over trying to be someone I’m not.
Right now, what’s pissing you off the most?
I’m on tour and my headlights intermittently stopped working. So I took them to 3 garages and paid $80, $200 and $500 to finally have them fixed but they come back with another problem hat wasn’t there before. 3 busses most of a day later I have it back and got 45 minutes rehearsing instead of 5 hours…..arrrgggghhhhh!
What’s your favourite song to play live and why?
At the moment love songs seem to be the flavour of the month. Doesn’t really matter which one or who wrote it. When I sing it and mean it, all the couples in the room go dreamy and get all smoochy and people get the love bug. So far happening heaps on the last 2 weeks on this tour. My original The Key from Unlocked album and Perfect by Ed Sheeran both do this.
Also: Always remember us this way by Lady Gaga.
I hear you have a new single, what can you tell us about it?
‘Your Promises are for me’ is a Gospel single from the new Unlocked album. It’s a heart-warming song about overcoming as you trust in the Good Lord. It personalises some Bible verses, stepping into boldness and courage and this track has a nostalgic warm comfy vibe with gentle guitars, listenable middle of the road intensity, toe tapping ability, danceable and fun. Arranged and produced by Maciek Hrybowicz in NZ. Live I add the fun electric-acoustic ukulele to the solo performance, playing along with the beautifully mastered backing track.
Talk me through the thought process of the single/album?
So this song was written during a lockdown in the Covid pandemic in 2020 and I was hoping to work or help others in some way but instead had to stay home and felt inspired to help people feel they can overcome in every situation with faith as their anchor in a song. The lyrics inspiration came from these bible verses: Ephesians 1:15-23 NLT, 2 Kings 6:16-20 NASB/NLT, Joshua 1:1-9 NLT, Psalm 91:4.
What was the recording process like?
I put the basic demo together with initial vocals and ‘placeholder instrumentation’ and sent it to arranger/producer Maciek Hrybowicz who reshaped the arrangement with superior instrumentation. Featuring his acoustic and electric guitar country flavoured riffs on it, we sat down a couple times together before and during the process to see if it had the direction I liked. It’s a really a sunny song that feels like the day was cloudy and now the sun has come out. I re-recorded the lead and backing vocals once the instrumentation on the track was intact to greater effect. I love it when there is light and shade in the track. Subtle organ features on the track at times and later on added cinematic midi strings by Caylen Crawford bring extra tastiness to this track. No piano features on it and I really love how it ended up.
What was the biggest learning curve in writing the single?
This one song didn’t have a huge learning curve for ‘Your promises are for me’ but overall the 15 tracks on the Unlocked album I decided to give away a bit more artistic licence to the producer to source musicians beyond my own contacts and try things I hadn’t tried or thought of. I could say no to things I hated (and did just a few times) but mostly trying stuff out collaboratively we had much better results than just wracking my brains to try to do something similar but different to what I’ve done before. We started with a broad genre theme of country and went far and wide with that and came back to it a couple times but it gave us some bones to hang the album and the single on. I found it’s good to give yourself some parameters to stay within so you don’t go off on too many tangents. Boundaries are good after all!
Would you change anything now it’s finished?
Now that I have got used to it, no this song is a really nice recording but I keep doing alternate live versions. I like it as it is but love mixing things up too. I always strive to sing it each time from my heart and vocally to be sweet, engaging and meaningful.
What are your plans for the year ahead?
I’m touring the whole country of New Zealand (in the middle of a world-wide pandemic) between lockdowns and heavy restrictions since October 2021 and have rescheduled some Unlocked tour gigs up to 4 times so plan to see it through until completed hopefully in June. I would like to tour Australia too in prisons, pubs and churches within the next year or so and write some more engaging life changing ‘Gospel lyric’ multi-musical genre songs later this year. I really want to do a cruise ship stint with originals and covers and gave up my day job recently to focus more on music.
Is there anything else you would like to share with the world?
If you found a priceless precious stone in a field for sale, would you go and buy the field so you could keep the treasure? Metaphorically I bought the field and I want to share the treasure.