Nic Earley is a musician who just released his first single ‘Lord Knows.’ A graduate of Cornell University, Alma Mater of some of our team, we’re excited to share the story and work on someone from the home team. Here Nic talks about his craft, the legacy he hopes to leave behind, and why music is something humans haven’t fully figured out yet. Keep up with him on Instagram and stream his first single ASAP. SHIT GOES!!!
Tell us a little bit about your background: Who are you and where are you headed?
I’m originally from Covina, CA which is about 30 minutes east of Downtown LA. I’m a creative and reflective individual I would say. I am a thinker. I like to ponder life’s greatest questions and music allows me to address these questions in ways that I still can’t express into words. I’m headed to a level where I can be a vessel used to heal people through music, to bring joy and happiness to people’s lives. I do it for the love of the game. The mission is to feed souls the music they deserve by speaking on love, pain, forgiveness, redemption and other themes that can make anyone relate to my song.
How did you get your start in music? Who or what inspired you? What musicians do you admire?
My Dad got me started playing piano with lessons at the age of 4. Without his influence and guiding hand, I wouldn’t have been exposed to a lot of the things I enjoy in life today, let alone music. He is a musician himself and an avid listener. I started with piano, saxophone came in in 4th grade. I played in band from 4th grade to around 11th. I performed a lot as a kid, whether it was in choir, acting or singing at a local restaurant. My upbringing was filled with trips to local farmers markets, concerts and live music festivals. Mostly everything that was playing in the house when I was growing up was either Motown, Jazz or R&B. This is why to this day, I create music that has an “old school feel” or at least that’s what I’ve been told. I’m inspired by many things. Watching visuals, going out in nature, listening to a motivational speech, or praying are all sources of inspiration for me. Aside from the unbelievably huge influence Motown, Soul and jazz had in my musical understanding and background, I have named three gentlemen as the ones who I have always tried to emulate and marveled and drew inspiration from. John Legend, Ryan Leslie and Pharrell are my musical heroes of this era. Each represents a different place I want to get in my musical career. John Legend has the voice and unmistakable musical prowess. Ryan Leslie has the uniqueness and business mind for music that I aspire to develop. Pharrell is simply an alien (best sense of the word) and a chameleon; he can produce anything and work with anybody and still somehow maintain a signature as he traverses through genres and musical styles. Honorable mention are Frank Ocean and Anderson .Paak. Frank Ocean is one of the most prolific songwriters of this era with an uncanny ability to place his listeners directly into whatever story he is telling. .Paak represents the process and journey to success; he’s gone through a lot to make it where he is, and he authentically is himself and plays his instrument when no one does that anymore.
Talk to me about R&B or music today. Where do you see yourself fitting in? Where do you hope to go?
R&B is in a place where I feel like a wide range of iterations of the genre exist and there are market/niches of people who enjoy them. There are people who remain purists of R&B and appeal to those in love with the nostalgic elements and there are those who have managed to develop a new form of R&B that is very closely linked to Hip-Hop and Trap. I believe a lot of that is related to consumer tastes & preferences and the other is related to labels making everything sound slightly trappy these days. I imagine that’s to create crossover appeal to those that listen to trap to come to R&B because of familiar sounds. I personally see myself somewhere in the middle. I tell people all the time when describing my sound that I want it to be obvious what I listened to as a child, yet to also sound like I am of this generation and contemporary. I want to utilize live instrumentation AND 808s. I may want a horn section, but also hi-hat stutters on my song. I hope to have the accolades and accomplishments, but I don’t want to compromise the passion and genuineness of the music.
Music has been used to tell stories, express emotion, and describe movements. How do you understand or view music’s power to connect? How do you hope to engage that power through your work?
I strongly believe that music’s full power is something humans don’t understand. Music exists and operates on so many levels. Music is spiritual, physical, scientific, artistic, timeless and timely all at the same moment. Its power to connect people to memories, moments and ideas is unparalleled. Music engages the psyche and operates in a dimension that we’ve still yet to categorize. I know that sounds cliche and extra, but once you’ve had that truly spiritual experience with music, you’ll know what I mean. I try to engage that power by making the music that relates to my experience directly. I think it’s dope to make creative stories and create solid melodies and arrangements, but my best work only comes when I’m talking about my experiences. Ironically, I feel like the more specific I write a song, the more widely applicable the message.
Black men and women are in some ways in a crisis. Crises of understanding and communication as a community, in addition to all the ways racism, sexism, and sexual orientation discrimination amongst so many other axes of oppression impact our everyday lives. Talk to us about how you see and understand the state of Black men today? What’s on your mind? What issues are most pressing to you? What triumphs are you seeing? Where do Black women fit in?
Black men are at stake in most areas of life. There are many factors that are attempting to erase us. I think that the major issue that I wrestle with is the concept of legacy within the black community. Working in the corporate world, I’ve had experience with recognizing how legacy can influence the level of success in someone’s life. With legacy, resources and wherewithal are contained therein. With that said, I feel like lack of legacy is a barrier to entry and growth with many people of color because we don’t have the steps in place or model to follow, so with every generation, we start back at square one. I want to leave behind me the resources and blueprint for so future generations can spend more time raising the bar and grow upon what I’ve already established.
Every day it seems like I see a tweet along the lines of “Support Black Women” “Believe Black women” “Pay Black women” or “Black women I hope you have a great day today,” and often from Black men. As great as the tweets are, I often worry that the other shoe is going to drop and/or the support/love/whatever for us is superficial. Why do Black women matter to you? What can our men be doing to uplift and encourage us in ways that aren’t just clickbait or temporary? What can Black women do to return the favor?
Black women are important to me because of all of the unconditional support and love that I’ve experienced from them. The black women in my life have been instrumental in my professional development and my personal growth, especially from a moral standpoint. They have been some of my toughest critics and always keep me accountable for my actions. Black men can uplift by not being so quick to forget the role that a black woman played in their own lives. Speaking out when black women are disrespected in the media or in daily situations is something that should happen more often but it doesn’t. Black women can repay the favor, by understanding that black men are complex and do face insurmountable pressure from the external world, so returning the favor can start and end with the simple things like encouraging words and positivity.
What can we expect from you moving forward? How can we be of support?
In the near future, you can expect a full project from me. I got a lot of music I’m sitting on that I want to release and put out there for y’all to listen to. Y’all can help me out honestly at this point by just giving everything a chance and taking a listen. Just asking that Y’all listen is really the biggest ask of people, but it means so much to the artists.
In the end, how do you want your story depicted? What legacy do you hope to leave behind?
If you’re a musician, I personally feel like you should try to make the biggest impact with your listeners that you can have. Depth over breadth is the way to go, but of course, you want your music to reach as far as it can go. It’s more important to me that my music and message mean everything to someone instead of just something to everyone. I hope that my legacy is one that means something to people because I was able to reach their spirit through my music.
Just for kicks:
- Football or Basketball? Basketball
- J. Cole or Kendrick? Kendrick
- Favorite music streaming platform? Apple Music