Ex-Kaiser Chief Nick J.D. Hodgson decided to turn his hand at being a solo artist last year, and self-released his dreamy mix of 70s inspired pop music by himself earlier this year. Oscar Rees talks to him about how he came about making the album, the inspirations for the sound, and what it’s like to be back playing live gigs.
Oscar: Hi Nick, thanks for speaking to us today. So, since you left your old band a few years ago now you’ve been something of a “gun for hire” in the music production and song-writing world. Was there anything that made you particularly want to become a solo artist?
Nick: It just definitely felt like the right thing to do, at the right time. I got really excited as soon I thought I was gonna do stuff for myself. I just felt different, walking around feeling great and really excited about this thing I knew I was doing. I like to go into things a million percent, I don’t do half measures, so one day I just thought I was a songwriter and the next day I was a solo artist even though I’d only written one song.
Oscar: How was it different to what you were doing, I guess it must be nice not to have to give up a song you’ve written to someone else?
Nick: Well, I like the fact you don’t have to worry about what someone’s singing about with the lyrics. It means you can write without much of a filter, the only filter is you. So if you write a lyric that you love and it feels great, because sometimes I’ve said lyrics out loud to somebody that I’ve written and they’ve said “Oh, you know I wouldn’t really sing that” and it can be a bit negative. Writing for yourself is a more singular path and gets rid of a lot of that. Even with the Kaiser Chiefs I might write something at home and bring it in and really hope that they’d love it. I think it’s good to have that feeling of having to push my game up to play something to people but it’s nice not to have to worry so much about what people think.
Oscar: That leads into the next question -about playing stuff to people – how have you found performing live this time around? Your sound is more acoustic than amped up and the gigs have been smaller and more intimate.
Nick: Well I’ve done some really really tiny gigs like some instores in record shops, just me, a microphone and an acoustic guitar and I just never thought I’d be able to do that but I love it. I’ve also got a full 5 piece band and we can make a really good noise, the album sounds like the album onstage as it will on this upcoming tour because the whole band is coming.
Oscar: In terms of the album was there anything in particular that made you think “I have to do this” or was it more spur of the moment?
Nick: Well, I was in my flat in Leeds. I had a cold, it was about 9.30 at night, it was miserable outside and I was waiting for some e-mails about some songs I had written and no one seemed to be getting in touch with me and I just thought “I never used to be like this” if I wanted something I’d go and get it and I felt a little bit like I was betraying myself by not saying “I am doing this, right now.” It felt a bit like going back to my roots.
Oscar: The Spotify playlist for your album is really varied, but there’s a lot of very dreamy 70s stuff on there, E.L.O, Bowie, which definitely comes through in the album. Is this sound something you’ve always felt close to?
Nick: Yeah, a lot of the stuff that came onto the album felt accidental, but they were happy accidents. I’m sat in my studio now actually and just looking at the instruments that I own they are mostly from the 70s, the bass is from ’71, drum kit ’78. I also really like stacking my vocals, I really like having lots of harmonies so when you add all that together then suddenly you really can’t get away from the 70s. It wasn’t a definite sound I was specifically looking for, it just sort of emerged.
Oscar: Are there any newer artists that have influenced your sound as well? There’s some Tame Impala on the playlist and some Harry Styles…
Nick: I kind of love Harry Styles, I think we have very similar influences certainly that I can hear in his album. I remember, and I don’t watch much X Factor but I remember seeing him walk on and think “Oh he looks good, what is he up to?” I’ve always said I’d like to work with him.
Oscar: Is there anyone else you’d say you’d love to work with?
Nick: Liam Gallagher, Ed Sheeran, Harry Styles. Anyone really, I’d love to work with some of the biggest stars around, I think it would be dead exciting and having a single out with someone like that would just mean your song would be playing everywhere. Oh yeah…And you’d make loads of cash!
Oscar: So obviously your tour is coming up, is there anything else you’ve got planned for the next year?
Nick: I’m gonna do this tour, and some festivals over summer and then to be honest I’m even thinking about the next album. I can see how I can make this one better, so I want to do another one and kick it up another notch. I’ve a few co-writes and stuff coming out too, I’ve just worked with Ten Tonnes and I did work with Ratboy last year, I think I have couple more coming out with him too. That’s it really, just making more music all the time. Just itching to get back in the studio and make more music, I just love it. Honestly I’d just love to make albums and tour for the rest of time.
Nick J.D. Hodgson released his debut album “Tell Your Friends” this year on January 26th you can listen to the album here or buy a copy here. He’s bringing his dreamy 70s inspired tunes to the Actress and Bishop on April 15th. Tickets are available here!