A Conversation With London Based Artist Nics
Nics was one of the first artists to be featured on our Daily Discovery section. What caught my attention was his impressive rapid-fire delivery and his insistent to sound like every other UK based rapper I’ve come across in the past few years. His sound is a flawless infusion of Grime, Hip-Hop and Trap music. Despite being 20 years-old, he has shown a level of maturity that has earned respect from both his peers and tastemakers around London. We’ve also had the chance to watch him perform, such as his energetic performance as part of the duo CiviL x Nics at my birthday gig back in May.
I had the chance to talk to the young man himself after his successful EP launch party at Relentless No. 5. Read below:
Hey Nics, how are you doing?
I’m good to be honest, just in a good mood because of how the show went!
Congratulations on the show, it was a great night. Whereabouts in London are you representing?
I am representing North London, best area in my opinion (not being biased).
Has North London inspired your music in any shape or form?
I feel like it has if being honest. I feel every side of London (North, South, East, West) have their own way of speaking, like their own terminology and how they say things too and I feel that’s transcended into my music. I also do feel that North London rappers (well a lot of) do focus a lot on wordplay but in quite a conceptual way, an example being Wretch 32 & Little Simz).
Growing up in your area, musically, who did you look up to?
The artists I look up to would be the likes of Wretch 32, Little Simz and P Money. I also do look up to Smino just due to his creative sound and how he’s so different from the typical. I do really look up to everyone in my circle, so like; Civil, Renne and Tendayi.
Would you collaborate with any of them at this point of your career?
Well excluded the circle of course *laughs* — I’d most definitely want to work with my inspiration. One person I really want to collab with also would be Izzie Gibbs, his energy on tracks is amazing, I’d watch him and listen to his songs before shows to get gassed and hyped!
Cool! Let’s start from the beginning, what were you listening to as a child growing up in North London?
As a child, I was listening to artists like Aaliyah, Missy Elliott and Timbaland mainly, I would say just because of my mums love for that sound. I then progressed to UK music like Garage and Grime when I came across Channel U and later discovering SBTV helped me find my love for UK Music & Grime with the first thing I came across was P Moneys SBTV Freestyle.
Do you come from a musical background?
Most definitely, my dad produces music and used to rap and write songs (still does write every now and again) and my older brother DJ’s House Music (I’m a better DJ though!!). My mum also loved music but never really done anything in music, she can draw to a really good standard and has great taste in music too.
A very creative family. At what age did you start taking music seriously?
I would say I started taking it seriously in Year 9, so around the age of 14. Around the time I wrote my first two Grime bars I believe (I still use them too).
What inspired you more growing up, US or UK music?
I would say UK Music because it’s more relatable, from the content to the terminology.
That’s fair. You’re a BRIT School alumni, how was your experience there?
Going BRIT was actually such a sick experience, learned a lot about music as a whole, from the more practical side to the business side which has become so helpful now, especially when trying to organise shows like the EP Launch Party.
Listening to your music, your sound is somewhere in between Hip-Hop and Grime, out of those two genres, which one would you say is your primary genre?
That ones so hard to answer but I would say its Grime because of the aggressive tone behind some of my songs and the fact that Grime is something I live in the sense where it’s also a lifestyle; how you conduct yourself, your attire, your choice of words, etc.
You’ve dropped your new EP, after last years well-received EPsode 1: Recognise, what message were you trying to convey on your new EP; EPsode 2: Stories for MANDY?
So for this EP, I wanted to just tell a story, hence the title; Stories for MANDY (MANDY meaning Me and You). I wanted to touch on some topics that I haven’t heard any or hardly any artists discuss. One example would be “Lonely Love”, we often hear about guys being ‘trash’ and leading girls on but it can work both ways so decided to create a story based on those events and how it feels from a mans perspective. Overall, the whole EP touches on some struggles of feeling lost and drained in life, concepts of love, feelings of neglect and not being recognised for the work you put in and reassurance of it all.
That sounds great. At the moment “Spell It Out” off your debut EP is probably your go to hype track, on this EP you have in my opinion, two energetic hype track in “Acceptance” and “Okay” — out of those two tracks which one do you think listeners will connect with the most?
I would say that the song I feel they will connect with on a hype vibe would be “Okay” but because its that Nics Grime Sound. However, I do think (or would like to think) that the song listeners would probably listen to the most and connect with is “The Watch” or “Future Eclipse”. I say “The Watch” because of the deep and detailed story behind it being quite relatable in some cases. However, would say “Future Eclipse” because of the sound it brings, it’s something you can easily vibe to, it can be listened to on a hype or just on a chilled vibe.
Cool. I’m a big fan of your storytelling tracks, like the ones you just mentioned, where do you get these ideas for these stories from? Are they something you’ve experienced yourself?
Without saying too much *laughs* — some are stories based on myself but maybe mixed with other peoples experiences and some are based off of a fantasy world created by me.
Nice. As a project, do you have any goals set for it?
The goal for this EP would be for everyone just to listen to my stories and learn something from them. I want people to be able to listen to these and feel some kind of strong emotion too; whether that means they end up extremely hyped and gassed from a song or end up crying because of how indulged they are into the song/project.
You released visuals for “5 Foot Right” back in February, do you plan on releasing more music videos for any of the other tracks on the EP?
(Exclusive for DiscoverNü here *laughs*) I have two music videos finished for two of the songs but one music video isn’t a typical one at all, would love to say what that means but you’ll have to speculate or figure it out yourself *laughs*.
This sounds interesting! We’ll be patiently waiting. You’re currently an emerging artist, and with the current trend of afro swing music taking fairly unknown rappers to mainstream success, I was wondering if that’s something you’ve thought about? Maybe experimenting with that sound for commercial success?
If I’m being honest, I would be open to try out new sounds as I feel it’s good to be a diverse artist and practise new flows and styles but I would never do another style and dabble in another sound to gain commercial success. If it happens it happens but it wouldn’t be the reason at all because I mainly want everyone to know me from my sound and not one I’ve decided to take.
Do you feel you can achieve commercial success with the music you’re making now?
I feel I could due to the range of styles I dig into, so if you don’t take to one sound well, there is most definitely another you will.
You’re obviously a very talented individual, and I’ve seen it with my own eyes the struggle up and coming artists like yourself go through trying to build a fan base. Would you say you’re satisfied with your fan base? Or do you feel you can increase that?
I will always be happy with the amount of fans or active listeners of my music but will always strive to increase those numbers as much as possible. Can’t sleep knowing there are people out there in the world missing out on an elite artist like me *laughs*
*laughs* — You have a strong chemistry with CiviL, I’ve seen you guys perform twice together and the atmosphere has been electric — would you guys ever release a joint project in the future?
*laughs* So how has your day been? *laughs*
*laughs* — I’ll take that as a yes then! As CiviL x Nics you released “Talk Is Cheap” back in January, will there visuals released for that single?
There might be something in the works who knows *laughs*.
Interesting *laughs* — In your own words, what makes you standout as an artist from everyone else?
I’d say what makes me different from any other artist would be the range of sounds I can do and my attention to detail in my bars for the use of wordplay and carefully thought out lyrics, music videos (you will see during this project) and my artwork (an example being the little details in my latest EP cover with help from the amazing Aliyah!)
Cool, and yes shout out to Aliyah! Right, let’s pretend you’ve just signed a record deal with a major record label. They see you as the next big thing, but your A&R has no clue about your style of music, so he/she asks you to choose 3 producers to work with on your debut album and you have a choice of 4 artists to collaborate with — who are you choosing?
Producers, well I have to have Hiro and Prototyp3! Them two know my style so well and want to stay true to my sound. But the last producers I would have is Eestbound or Wondagurl, I love their hard hitting sound so much and would be cool to try that out.
What can we expect from you for the rest of the year?
This year will consist of more shows, more music, definitely going to do more music videos this year and maybe another project!
Connect with Nics
Stream EPsode 2: Stories for Many on Spotify
Founder/Editor-in-Chief + Events for DiscoverNü | A&R | Playlist Curator | Hobbies include travelling, reading, participating in sport and Netflix. Big Boston Celtics fan.