Carrying a gospel aura, ‘Waves’ moves in an ascending fashion; from the playful opening piano chords to Nicholl’s pleading treble as the track closes. It carries a similar quality of religious fervency that traditional gospel singing can evoke and this is by no means unintentional. Nicholl explains as he describes the story behind the track.
“I channelled this idea of singing alone in a church, confessing sins and begging forgiveness – with this undertone relishing in telling a story about obsession, of knowing the outcome and still following it to its end. Ultimately it’s an echo of the statement that ‘all writers of confessions have remained a little in love with their sins’.”
The track followed a period of writer’s block for Nicholl. While there is an element of frustration laden in the vocals of ‘Waves’ which I could appreciate may mirror the exasperation of writer’s block, I was interested in finding out how the singer overcame this period.
“I think [I came] to a point in my life where I felt it was now or never [and that] any other avenues in my life weren’t going to lead anywhere but two places,” Nicholl explains to me. “Sometimes you just have to pull your socks up, be accountable [for] your own flaws, and just get on with it.”
And it is that gutsy attitude to music creation that pairs up nicely with the pools of musical influence Nicholl can draw from. Both of his parents worked in the industry and, as a result, Nicholl grew up surrounded by music. Nicholl mostly references the impact of punk and soul; both genres that he has and now taps into strongly.
“Up until the age of seven, my parents managed people like Talking Heads, The Ramones, [and] Debbie Harry. Between the soul music that was always playing in my house, and the influence of being around some of the forerunners of punk music from such a [young] age, the effect it’s had on me is immeasurable. If I’m honest, I still can’t quantify just how deeply these things run in me.”
The music video that accompanies ‘Waves’ is shot in Nicholl’s family home. Considering the location choice for this video, and the subject and video to his debut ‘Haunty’, I was curious to understand how growing up in the North London district of Finchley impacted his writing.
“For my people and me, London is everything; it permeates every aspect of our artistic practice,” Nicholl tells me. “Being truly immersed in sub-cultures like graffiti and the 2000’s rave scene, we lived and breathed this for better and for worse. In that, London is inextricable from my music sonically, lyrically, and concerning the overall aesthetic.”
Moving into the remainder of 2019, Nicholl is pulling his socks up. With an EP around the corner, the North Londoner is currently consolidating a backlog of musical ideas in the studio.