Perth singer-songwriter Nic Rollo let Grok into his musical world to talk about his inspirations, going solo and his fresh third single, Feel.
How did you get into making music?
My primary school made all of the Year Six students do a music test to see who had a decent ear for rhythm and pitch, which would then lead into learning an instrument. I apparently did alright so I got to learn trumpet, which I played a lot until finishing high school. When I was fifteen or so I started playing guitar and learning how to record and produce music from my laptop. Making music has just been this ongoing process that I’ve been doing for the past eight years or so, I was lucky enough to enjoy the process even when the result sounded awful.
When did you realise you wanted to pursue it as a career?
I realised I wanted to pursue music as a career at the beginning of my second year of university after I recorded the first three songs of my EP (coming out on September 27). Before that, I had been playing in bands and dabbling in my solo project, but up to that point I hadn’t recorded any songs that I was super proud of. The decision was easy for me after working with Dave Parkin at Blackbird Studio at the beginning of 2018.
How does being in a band, like Cloning, differ from being a solo act? Do you prefer one over the other?
They’re both very different roles for me. In Cloning, I’m playing a few instruments and backing vocals, as well as helping with writing songs, but not too involved in the management side of things. In my own project, I’m doing pretty much all of the management, as well as the writing and producing (Felix also helps with this side of things). I don’t prefer either over the other, although I do feel like Nic Rollo is my baby, so I guess that’s where my heart is, although I still love being a part of Cloning since the music is wicked and they’re all my closest mates!
I think it’s cool to be in two projects though, it gives a sense of perspective musically for me.
Where do you draw inspiration from for your music? And what was the inspiration for your newest track Feel?
A lot of people write down their thoughts and emotions in a journal or something of that nature. I find for me my journaling and venting process is writing lyrics and songs since it’s such an open platform for me to release pent up feelings and all of that. A lot of the time I honestly just write gibberish until something meaningful appears in front of me.
For Feel I went in with a topic that I wanted to explore, which was the constant need to change in life and how changing can be terrifying and sometimes painful. I think that at the end of the day if we don’t change it can cause more harm than if we embrace the unknown.
What were the writing and recording processes like for Feel?
The writing process was incredibly quick for this song! I wrote it a week or two before I left for a holiday in the US. I remember feeling incredibly inspired since I was dealing with a couple of challenges in my life at the time and was looking at the holiday as a good opportunity to work on headspace. The recording process was great too; it was the first time I’d been in a proper recording studio and the engineer was really encouraging and helped me break through a few mental barriers around singing which helped me improve a lot. I think those first few recording sessions were some of the best experiences I’ve had in life so far, there was just so much energy and excitement.
How would you describe the track to someone who hasn’t heard it yet?
The track has this waltz kind of vibe to it, with a big soaring chorus that centres around the vocal. I think it’s a pretty emotional track, both in terms of the vocal performance and the lyrics.
You’ve already recorded your album according to your Instagram. When can listeners expect to hear that or is an EP first?
Yeah, I’ve certainly been a busy boy in the studio. I have my first EP What Happened To The Kid coming out on September 27, which is only a few weeks away now! There are three new unreleased songs on it. I’m also in the process of finishing my debut album which should be released sometime early next year.
You produce most of your own songs. Why is that?
I don’t think there’s any particular reason to it. I just produce the songs because that’s how I started writing songs when I was younger, there’s no other way to do it for me. I guess I always love making sounds and producing (creating the synth sounds, effects, drums, etc.) the tracks. I wouldn’t mind working with external producers at some point in the future though!
What’s next for you?
At this point in time, I have a month or two of shows just to focus on some releases, but I’m planning on organising a tour over East for the beginning of next year around the time of the album.
Anything additional you want readers to know?
If you follow my Instagram (@nicrollo_) you’ll be able to watch my cooking show. I’m not trying to toot my own trumpet but it’s pretty great.
Nic Rollo’s latest single, ‘Feel’, is out now.