Nick Stevens is a musician and songwriter raised in Texas/NYC. He is also dressed in a suit and some finely crafted shoes though not for our benefit. Friends of his in New York are at the final stages of making a video for his upcoming single so the front bar of the venue Fasching has been loaned for some filmed lip-synching at the piano.
As this gets wrapped up we step into the cloudy and only mildly warm day, thankfully, considering his clothing, and instantly start chatting about the old ways of doing things...
"We grew up in the time when you had a cassette recorder, and that was the only means of putting down an idea and remembering it if you planned to work on it further, and I stuck with that for years, until it reached the point in which it was more hassle than it's worth."
Our conversation then drifts towards field recordings on the phone and how they can be quite inspiring, often useful in enabling a revisit to a certain place or time. Also that the sheer convenience of your phone always being with you becomes the key factor.
"Someone once said the best camera is the one that you have, so pretty much as soon as the flip phones died and the touch screens were introduced I started recording things on my phone."
"I did some legendary recordings, for me at least, of my dad before he passed, because he always had such wild stories, so I snuck my phone out sometimes and I still have those long chats to listen to."
We are walking north through the center of Stockholm towards a record shop for some crate digging and we start getting into how Nick's process works
"I will pull out my phone and hum a melody quite often, and it might well be absolute garbage when I come back to it later, but sometimes it can spark something I can use. I tend to settle into certain periods which I have reserved for writing songs, say if my kids are away for a month, and then I'll go back into this stockpile and see what's in there, the good and the bad."
As we flick through the boxes of new arrivals and psych LPs it seems that our chat is well timed.
"I'm using tape it a lot right now because I'm in that phase again. This last album is done, so it makes sense that I should be getting on to the next one. I'm jotting down sections at home with an acoustic guitar and also using the app in the studio with musicians; fleshing parts out, adding new ideas, and rearranging."
Nick is pepped to get stuck into the new mixtape addition and explains how he uses markers. "I'll write 'chorus starts here' or 'try different chords here', as you always think 'oh I'm gonna remember this' but you don't."
The fact that you are at least two clicks away from deleting anything is also pointed out as a major plus as "we've all lost a voice memo or two by accident."
Vinyl is purchased and hunger is on the rise so we decamp to an Indian restaurant for further discussions and more on how writing works for him.
"I like to mess around with something for 30 minutes and then go watch a movie or do my laundry, returning to it later with an instrument or to look at some lyrics. Listening back in those moments in between is faster and more efficient as there is no barrier there, and it allows me to just step in and out of the work. It doesn't suit me to have this big machine set up in the studio and all ready to go and I have to suddenly be creative, I don't work that way."
He's asked if he sends those moments on to anyone else.
"Right now I'm working with a girl in New York, shooting snippets of songs back and forth to each other. It's really nice to send something to someone immediately when it's fresh. And then they can be like "that's cool, what about this" and respond in real-time."
And the slicing up of a piece of naan bread serves as the perfect analogy of what he'd like to see added to the app, which should be available soon.
"That right there is what I want to do with my recordings, just trim and bit off here and there, housekeeping basically."
Walking off the late lunch we find ourselves tempted into a top-class shoe shop and within which a final word is uttered before we thank Nick for this time and part ways.
"I'm all for what's fastest, the phone is just there, you press record and it's done. It's not about being too attached to technology, but more about what is the simplest way to facilitate what I need."
We couldn't agree more ☺️
Check out Nick's various projects here: Nick Stevens
The NYC label he's warmly linked to GALTTA MEDIA
And behold the growth of this gem from this demo…
…to this little beauty: