Nick Coyle: 10 Questions with Nick Coyle
Interview conducted July 2014
By Mike O'Cull
Nick Coyle is a multi-faceted songwriter, singer, musician, and producer from Berwick, PA who is garnering a lot of notice for the unique sounds contained on his latest release Sound Makes Waves. Rather than taking the expected path of a singer/songwriter, Nick takes his well-written songs and surrounds them with modern electronic-based sounds and production that only add to the effectiveness of the tunes and keep him from being one more guy with an acoustic guitar and a capo. Nick was good enough to sit down with me for a 10 Questions session and give us all an idea of where he and his songs come from. Be sure to visit Nick online at www.nickcoyle.net.
1 - How did you get started as a songwriter?
NC - 'I've been playing since I was 13. I started playing in bands, and then in bars and clubs. Even at that young age, we were writing songs and it was always something I enjoyed doing. Over the years, I kept writing and writing, leading to now.'
2 - What led you to take your songs in a more electronic direction?
NC - 'I've always been into that style of stuff, like Depeche Mode and more atmospheric, lush production-type of music. Plus, for so long, everyone has known me as this rock singer and didn't really know that I played instruments and did all this other stuff, so I wanted to show everybody that there was more to me than 'Crazy Lead Singer Guy'. With this, it's much different.'
3 - Do you perform live with a band or a laptop?
NC - 'I have a laptop and a keyboard and some samplers. I'll play acoustic and it is a two-mic setup and I bounce back and forth between the keyboard and the front mic. From there, my one laptop triggers another one that runs the video projector. It's this whole audio/visual experience. I've got all this crazy MIDI stuff going on. It's interesting. I kind of equate it with the old school one man band.'
4 - Who are your songwriting influences?
NC - 'I listen to all kinds of music and I've always been a fan of finding new music, too. I love Pink Floyd. I love Nine Inch Nails and anything Trent Reznor does. Depeche Mode is a big influence. Some of the newer things I've been getting into are Gotye, Imogen Heap, even down to Bruno Mars and stuff like that. I think that guy has a little more substance than a lot of the manufactured pop people. He's got some skills.'
5 - Who are your production influences?
NC - 'The Floyd stuff, the Reznor stuff. I've always been a fan of atmospheric and soundscape-y type stuff within the song, the icing that takes you somewhere else. I really don't sit down with an idea of what I'd like a song to be. As I start recording stuff and adding things in there, the songs take on a life of their own. I think when you try to emulate different things, you end up losing some of yourself and missing the mark.'
6 - Describe your creative process.
NC - 'Every song is really different. Some will start on an acoustic guitar, just playing on a riff. I get a vocal melody in my head and expand on that. Sometimes, it's messing around with loops, or something like that. 'Never Let Me Down' started off with some loop-type stuff and that sparked different ideas and I started layering to that. The approach is on a per-song basis. There are so many different tools and I like to experiment around and see what happens. I think we've seen enough of the typical format of the rock band. I just wanted to do something different that wasn't in that realm. On this record, I didn't feel the need for there to be a guitar on every song. Not having that approach frees you up to let the song be the song.'
7 - What do you consider your main instrument?
NC - 'Although I'm a lead singer, the guitar is what I started on. If I sit around my house, I play my guitar. I'm not even a guy who sings in the shower, honestly. (laughs).'
8 - Do you think that the kind of style-mixing you do is where modern music is going? Have all the pure styles been exhausted?
NC - 'Yes. I think, after being exposed over the years of listening to different styles of music, everything starts becoming an influence. The pure forms of music HAVE all been done, better than they're gonna be. There's not gonna be another Led Zeppelin. But by combining things, it almost creates a new genre that I've never heard before. I think when you remove the boundaries and limitations on stuff, it lets you thrive creatively.'
9 - Where do you go from here?
NC - 'I just want to continue down this path of not being in a box. I've already started working on some new stuff and I have a couple of collaboration-type things with a couple of different rappers. I started doing a new project, a three-piece with me,a drummer and a bass player and we're calling it Electric Eyes. There are no boundaries to it and it is heavily electronic. Instead of having the typical band format, we have everything hooked together in one brain of an instrument, and we're all playing samplers and percussion, so it gets like Stomp sometimes, but we're all musicians, too, and we don't have to go into that electronic realm all the time. We can start off in dubstep and then totally bust into a smooth, organic type of feel. It's kind of the same concept as what I am doing solo, just with two other players thinking the same way, so it allows for a little bit more.'
10 - How has the audience reaction been to your new music and approach?
NC - 'Overall, it's been really good. The people who have heard it in the industry are getting the point of the 'good songs done out of the box' approach. I've gotten a lot of people saying that this is my best work to date, and I'm proud of that, because I did all the stuff on my own. I wrote it, recorded it, produced it, mixed it, did the artwork, and did the store on the website. When you order a CD, I put it in the box, take it down to the Post Office and send it out. It's very fulfilling.'