Influenced by Neil Young, Conor Oberst and Bob Dylan, Nicholas Rowe is an indie-folk artist from Ohio. Nicholas started releasing work in 2017 with his album Everything Has Beauty. His latest release is an EP called Five Things. Nicholas speaks with us about Five Things and much more!
What can you tell us about your latest release Five Things?
Five Things is a very personal group of songs for me; these are very specific feelings that I wanted to write about and express. It’s very introspective and it’s also very cyclical. It talks itself in circles and it ends how it begins.
What was the writing and recording process like?
Most of the time, a new song catches me completely by surprise. The initial idea tends to feel like it came out of nowhere. It happens a lot when I’m driving or out walking. Once I have that I usually start writing the verses first, and I write the verse and melody without any musical accompaniment. It’s not until I have a melody I really like that I’ll grab my guitar and start writing the music to go along with it. Aside from a basic chord progression to accompany the melody, I write almost every element to a song in the studio. For me, it’s part of the recording process.
I have a little cabin studio tucked back in the woods near my house. I like to call it The National Audio Preservation Society. I wrote, recorded, performed, mixed and mastered Five Things alone in that studio. The exception to this is ‘Naked Trees Blowing Wind’ which is a demo I recorded in 2007 with a good friend of mine, Jonathan Hape. I serendipitously found it as I was getting close to finishing the rest of the album and realised that it fits really well with the other songs.
Do you think the tracks have a similar theme or do they differ?
Similar in many ways, for sure. Aside from the introspective cyclical nature of the songs that we’ve already discussed, there are also many similarities sonically. I was very heavily influenced by the Bob Dylan album Time Out Of Mind. I absolutely love the way that album is recorded and mixed and I really tried to incorporate some of those ideas throughout Five Things.
Who influences you to make music on a personal and professional level?
My biggest influence is definitely Bob Dylan. The album that first drew me in was Blood on the Tracks. I remember listening to that for the first time and just being in awe. I still am today. I find new inspiration every single time I go back to it. Sometimes, I feel like there’s a piece of the album in every single song I’ve written since the first time I listened to it.
If you could meet anyone living or dead, and not necessarily a musician, who would it be and why?
I would love to meet Sufi poet Rumi. His writing is absolutely beautiful and fascinating. It’s amazing how fresh and relevant it feels considering that he died about 750 years ago. My song ‘I Have Five Things To Say’ is based on his poem by the same name. It would be interesting to see what he thought of it. He would probably tell me that I’ve completely misinterpreted what he was saying, but I like to think he’d be good-humoured about it.
What is one of your worst habits?
I tend to be an overthinker. I tend to overanalyse. I spend a lot more time thinking and rethinking about doing something than actually doing it. In most situations, I feel like I’m on the outside looking in analysing my own life experiences from a distance, but very rarely living in the moment. It’s definitely one of my greatest weaknesses, but, over the years, I’ve learned that it can also be a source of great strength. For better or worse, it’s there for a reason.
How do you stay motivated?
Staying motivated can be really difficult. I try not to put too much pressure on it. I take breaks from time to time, but at the end of the day, I’m a songwriter. It’s just who I am and I’ll always go back to it.
What can we expect from Nicholas Rowe in the future?
I’m hoping to collaborate more with the artist who did the art and animation for the ‘Lake Michigan’ video. Her name is Este Hupp and she’s very talented. I’m so happy with the way that video turned out. We are hoping to do a few more videos together later this year. I’m not exactly sure what that will look like, but I already have some new songs I’ve been working on.
Do you have a message for our readers?
Thank you! Thank you for supporting independent artists and songwriters. Thank you for buying music and thank you from the bottom of my heart for every like, share, comment, retweet, whatever. It’s such a strange time now for musicians. It’s easier than ever before to get your music out into the world, but the trade-off is that there is so much other there to compete with. It’s never been more difficult to get noticed or gain any kind of traction. Independent artists really appreciate every bit of support they get; even a small gesture can go a long way.