In today’s interview, I had the privilege of speaking with Washington born, Liverpool based vocalist: Nolan Garrett. Known for his psychedelic sound & exhilarating live performances, Garrett took some time to speak to me about his start in music, his latest release What If, and much more!
Enjoy the interview.
Before we begin, would you like to introduce yourself?
A: I’m Nolan, I’m 21 years old, and I’m from Tacoma, WA
Your music has been described as, “…a mix of throbbing rock and roll energy combined with pop sensibilities” – I’m curious to know what artists (you feel) helped you develop your sound.
A: Growing up I listened to a lot of classic rock (The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath) and grunge, and as I got older I started branching out into other genres. Psychedelic and lo-fi music obviously had a major impact on me, but also afrobeat and
From what I know, you’ve been doing music for a good portion of your life, what do you think made you gravitate toward it? Did you know think growing up, that you would eventually pursue it as a career?
A: I started playing music because I didn’t like sports. My mom signed me up for guitar lessons and I really didn’t want to go to my first one, but she forced me to and I’ve been in love ever since. I think I knew very early on that music was going to be my career/life, as something about it resonated with me almost instantly, and I started gigging very shortly after I started playing.
Music is generally one of those careers families don’t quite … understand (for the lack of a better term). Was your family supportive of your decision to become an entertainer?
A: I’m super fortunate that my family has always been really supportive of my playing music and they’ve always encouraged me to take every opportunity that comes about. They’ve also put up with years of me blasting music from my room/studio without ever complaining, so I’m very grateful haha.
After high school, you moved to to the United Kingdom to attend college in Liverpool correct? Is there any reason you wanted to branch out so far?
A: I’m sure there was a variety of things that factored in to my decision to go to the U.K but really I just thought to myself “Why not?”. I never planned on attending college at all, but I applied to two places, LIPA (where I’m at now), and Berklee. I got in to both but I figured if I was going to move away, I might as well really move away. Plus I wanted to travel and being in the U.K makes it so easy to get around to other places in Europe, so that was a big appeal also.
The same year you moved, you released an ep called “The Question” – what was the inspiration behind the title, and the project overall?
A: There was a lot of uncertainty that year, as there is for anybody graduating high school and wondering what they’re going to be doing next. I guess The Question sort of embodies that, and the whole project is basically all the stuff I was feeling my senior year.
In one of your songs (Downfall) you say, “Creation’s gonna be my downfall, because I’m never gonna write it all”. As a songwriter and artist, how do you determine how much of yourself you want to put in each song? How much of your personal life inspires your art?
A: It really depends. Some songs are very personal and autobiographical, while others are more ambiguous or based on an idea/story I made up. More often than not I find myself writing almost as if in a stream of consciousness and I don’t really know out what the song is about until after the fact. I learn a lot about myself that way though, the subconscious is a gold mine for lyrics.
As I mentioned earlier, you’ve been into music for a good portion of your life, as a musician, is there a specific part that gives you the most gratification?
A: It used to be performing, hands down. I’ve done less performances as I’ve gotten older however and have been doing more writing and producing. I would say both of them give me different kinds of equal gratification.
When I’m writing/producing it’s a very isolated experience for the most part, so it feels like I’m just working for myself and my continual improvement, so when I’ve finished a song/recording there’s a real sense of accomplishment.
When I’m performing it’s a much more raw and primal sense of gratification, because for me the stage is a place where I can let go of everything and just do and be what I want. It’s extremely liberating. Also, I can see first hand people listening to and enjoying music, and it’s a shared experience. It’s easy to forget why I’m doing something when I’m by myself working on songs for months, but playing live always brings me back to reality I guess. In a good way.
You ended 2018 with the release of your sophomore ep, What If. Can you tell me what the project’s about?
A: This project is basically the culmination of writing over the last two years of my life. There’s not a specific theme necessarily but I definitely was trying to capture a feeling. It’s a bittersweet project conceptually and it reflects a lot of the things I’ve felt since moving away.
This project sounds like you experimented with a range of genres, was that a conscious decision or did it just… happen?
A: It just happened I guess. I think when I moved away I finally got a chance to be free of the years of being a young kid playing blues guitar, and had time to really try things out and see what I wanted to do musically.
Writing has become such an all at once process for me, I write and produce most of the song in one day, so much like the lyrics being a stream of consciousness, so too is the arrangement and production. I just do what I think is best for the song and what I would want to listen to, and however that comes out, is how it comes out.
Since your start, you’ve been noted for your live performances; have you gotten the chance to perform any songs off the project yet? Is there any event you would like a chance to perform them? Is there any place you would like to travel to perform?
A: Yeah I’ve performed all of them live at one point or another! They’ve got some cool festivals in LA that I think it’d be dope to perform at, but anywhere where people will listen is good with me.
You’ve been pretty consistent with your music releases since your debut, how have you been able to remain creative; and is there any advice you can give aspiring creatives looking to pursue a career in music?
A: I try and stay creative by not buying into “writer’s block”. I force myself to write something pretty much everyday regardless of how inspired I feel. Most of it is trash but it eventually becomes a routine and then when inspiration for a good song does strike, you’re that much more prepared for it.
Songwriting has been something I’ve had to practice, just like I had to practice the guitar, and I think treating it like a craft that can be honed, and not just a magical gift or talent, is the best way to approach it and continually improve yourself.
Lastly, is there anything we should be prepared for in 2019?
A: Not really sure what 2019 has in store, just gotta see what happens. If I had to guess, I’d say more music will be released, but things are up in the air at the moment.
Would you like to say anything to your supporters?
A: Thanks for listening 🙂