Hi Nicholas, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?
Hi! Great, thanks!
Can you tell us more about the story behind your track ¨Empty Coffee Cups¨?
“Empty Coffee Cups” is the story of two people, formerly in a serious relationship, who meet up over coffee in an attempt to either find closure, or a way to remain in each others’ lives as friends. The lyrics of the entire song come from someone who had hoped to finally move on, but now realizes that he can’t. The coffee in this situation was symbolic to me, like it was the only purpose left between these two people at this point. The title “Empty Coffee Cups” was my way of saying it’s over.
How was the film experience?
Filming the music video was a great experience. There’s something exhilarating about showing up to a shoot and meeting a whole group of people who are excited to work on your project. It was directed by Jaclyn Gramigna, who actually came up with the whole concept for the video. In the planning stage, we spoke a lot about the inspiration behind the song, and the mood that we wanted to convey. It was great seeing it all come together.
The single comes off your new record Stumbling Forward – what’s the story behind the title?
In the writing process, and the process of choosing the songs, I had a chance to step back and examine the overarching theme of everything I had written for the album. Each song was inspired by a different impactful experience, and was born out the ups and downs of a very tumultuous couple of years. Some songs are about loss, some are about gratitude, and many are about coming to a matter-of-fact understanding about the way life goes. To me, the idea that we’re “Stumbling Forward” means: we might worry about the future, want to hang on to the past, and sometimes life just seems too hard, but the world always keeps turning, the sun keeps rising and setting, and life keeps moving us forward. The first song on the record is also titled “Stumbling Forward”, and I felt that it was a fitting prologue to the rest of the album. Around the time that I had written it, a couple of people I had been close to passed away. I was thinking a lot about life and death and the significance of everything. There’s a line in the song that goes “and so many stars have stopped burning, but they still light the sky at the end of the day.” This is my takeaway from that period of time. Similarly to how the light we see in the night sky is from stars that have actually already burned out far away, we’ll always still have the memory of everyone important to us even after they’re gone.
How was the recording and writing process?
The writing took place over the course of 2 years or so. It was a very significant time of growth for me, and writing was my outlet. The recording process, as always, was exciting yet tedious. I say this because of the incredible amount of time that went into listening back with critical ears, considering arrangement decisions, and figuring out the right execution and production of each song. Not to mention the mixing. The album was engineered, mixed and mastered by Mikhail Pivovarov, one of my best friends and production partner. We have a long history together producing projects for a lot of artists, and it was great to put our efforts towards something that was so personal to the both of us. During the mixing of “Stumbling Forward”, we refused to finish making tweaks until each song was exactly right. In fact, we only finished making tweaks to it a month before it was released.
But, it’s all been very exciting. It’s always such a wonderful experience for me to see my songs come to life, especially since they mean so much to me. It’s incredible to work in the studio with musicians who dive into the emotion of my music, and contribute a piece of themselves to the songs.
The songs are a collection of singles written throughout several years – so in some way this album is like a diary?
The songs on the album were all written between 2010 and 2013. It’s definitely a memoir of sorts. Every one of my songs is autobiographical. Writing music has always been the outlet that’s come most naturally to me, and has helped me process many of life’s ups and downs. I’ve been writing and recording songs since I was about eight, so now I can type my name into my computer’s iTunes library and listen to a 12 hour journey through my childhood and teenage years. It’s pretty cool to have those moments captured forever.
Does your musical approach tend to change when you are writing for yourself rather than when you are writing for someone else?
A bit. When I’m writing for myself, it’s usually during or immediately after something that I’ve experienced that’s driven me to sit down at the piano and play. Those songs just flow out so naturally. When writing for others, there is usually some thought and some digging I need to do at first. I try and think about the person I’m writing for, and then try to think back to some experience in my life that would relate to that character’s voice. I definitely find that when I’m writing a song for someone else, I still draw from personal inspiration. There’s gotta be feeling involved.
Where did you find the inspiration for the songs and lyrics?
Mostly from life experiences or realizations that had heavily affected me. I’d be feeling something intense and the way I’d work it out is by sitting down at the piano and starting to play and sing something that helped me get it off my chest.
Any plans to hit the road?
Absolutely. I just played an album release show with my band, we have a couple local shows coming up, and we’re getting ready to book a few mini tours down the East coast. I would love to make it out to the West coast as soon as possible as well. All tour dates will be posted at nicholaswellsmusic.com/calendar .
What else is happening next in Nicholas Wells´ world?
We recorded the entire album release show, and we’re going to put it out as a live album. The set included many songs from the new album, as well as some favorites from my last album, and I would love to share the way we play these songs live.
I’ve been writing a LOT. Not to get too carried away here, but I’m pretty sure I already have a set of songs picked out for my next release. I’ll probably be getting back into the studio again early 2016.