Artist Development + Guitar Mentor

Nick is a Virginia native from nearby Mechanicsville. Having grown up with a dad who has been a musician most of his life, music and performance has influenced him from a very young age. He began studying music at age 11 and beginning in 2009, has been a regular worship leader and band member for six different churches in the Richmond and Lynchburg areas.

As a recent graduate of Liberty University, he obtained a Bachelor of Music degree in Commercial Music with an emphasis in Songwriting, having studied under professors David Hahn and nationally recognized arranger Don Marsh. He also placed a secondary emphasis on guitar, where he specialized in classical and Brazilian styles under the direction of Leon Neto. Having originally intended to study only guitar, the switch to Songwriting was born out of a love for the poetry of lyric writing and the subtle complexities that take songs from good to great, which he continues to love today.

Nick is currently working with Richmond-based rock band Vegan Llamas as frontman and main lyricist. They have performed for crowds of close to 9,000, opened for national acts such as Capital Kings and P.O.D., and are constantly writing new material to release. Nick also works in various churches around the Richmond area, filling in wherever needed. He is an avid reader with a great love for fantasy, philosophy, and theology, and is constantly looking to absorb new ideas and new ways of expressing ideas to write songs about.

Tell us a little bit about your musical background; when you first started, the first experience that made you want to become a musician.

Growing up, I didn’t expect that I would make music a career. Initially my love was for cosmology and astronomy, so I dove into mathematics, but once I hit trigonometry, I knew that wasn’t going to work out. Music was a hobby. But towards the end of high school I really doubled down and my passion for it continued to grow.

I started playing in elementary school (I think my first “performance” was sitting in with my school choir.). Off and on I would play with my church and just practice in my room. But the instance that really propelled my love for playing and performance was a talent show that I won in the summer of 2009. It wasn’t anything huge, but it kickstarted me wanting continue down that road. Studying music in college only further increased that love every time I got to perform.

Who are some of your favorite artists?

Nightwish, Relient K, Switchfoot, Plini, Tommy Emmanuel, Hans Zimmer, Small Pools, Dirty Loops, Polyphia, Nevertheless, just to name a few.

Who are some of your biggest musical inspirations, musical and non-musical?

Musically, artists like Plini are a huge harmonic inspiration and songwriters like Matt Theissen, Jon Foreman, and Tuomas Holopainen are constant lyrical infuences. But I’m always influenced by whatever I’m listening to at the moment. As I’m writing this, I’ve been listening a lot to John Mayer’s latest release The Search for Everything, so I’ve been influenced by his use of rhyme and metaphor more so that those I mentioned.

Non-musically, probably authors like JRR Tolkien, just from the sheer depth of his writings and how insightful he is into the human condition while presenting himself as almost disinterested in anything but academia. It’s intriguing. Also historical/theological authors like N.T. Wright, whose imagery in describing concepts rivals some of the best authors out there.

If you could follow in any musician’s footsteps, who would it be?

That’s a difficult question, because there’s so many different avenues I would want to take. For now, I would probably say Switchfoot, because of how consistent they’ve been in their content as well as cultural relevance.

At the same time, I would say no one, because I want to see where my own path takes me. I get to have this unique experience of being an artist for myself, and I want to know where that goes.

If you had the ability to pick anybody to collaborate with musically, who would it be?

Probably a group like Red or Closure in Moscow. Either one of those bands would bring something totally different to the table lyrically and instrumentally, and it would be amazing to see what the end result would turn out to be. Also working with a composer like Thomas Newman or Danny Elfman to bring some richness and harmonic variety to the music would be incredible.

What are your plans for the future of your music?

I’m in the habit of not making plans too far in advance, because life happens. But I know I want to continue writing and playing with my band, but at the same time I want to continue to write for different genres and for voices other than myself. Time will tell where it takes me. For now it’s taken me to Passion Academy, and I anticipate that great things will happen here.

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