Nicky James is ready to make his name known in country music. He’s got the talent to back up his dreams with strong storytelling skills and powerhouse vocals. We got to know the aspiring star from Omaha in this brand new interview.
Nashville Noise: When we think of Omaha, we don’t always think of country music. Tell me what it was like growing up there and how you found country music.
Nicky James: From my experience of traveling throughout the country I’ve come to find that country music is alive and flourishing everywhere not just in specific locations… I found country music at a very early age, my mom had a special love for The Chicks and my dad was always watching westerns. As I grew and matured I was introduced to the rich Texas music culture and heavily influenced by Cross Candian Ragweed and then eventually newer acts like Turnpike Troubadours and The Randy Rogers Band.
Who were your earliest influences? How did those early influences impact your songwriting style? What were some of your key takeaways from these artists you loved?
NJ: My earliest influences were John Denver, James Taylor and the Eagles. I remember my mom always telling me to listen to the stories over the melodies and to picture the words in my head as the song went on. I can still see her grabbing a CD from this black case that held at least a hundred of those discs and being so excited to hear what new sound was going to be played next. The key takeaways I still live by from these artists is that life is not always fun and happy and uplifting, sometimes you have to write about the struggle because without the struggle there’s no chance of finding success.
It’s pretty amazing you decided to pursue music when you were just a teenager. Do you remember at what moment you decided you wanted to do this professionally?
NJ: Right out of high school I was itching to figure something out other than going back to school. My brother who played consistently throughout Oklahoma and the Texas music scene invited me down to tag along with him and from that moment on I was hooked on the grind of trying to become a musician. Before I knew it I was traveling down to the land of the Red Dirt cutting my teeth the old-fashioned way and figuring out how to pay off the bouncer to let me in — or sneak in through the back door. Through years and years of gigging and figuring out who I want to be and what stories I want to tell I felt like the move to Nashville was in the cards. Now I find myself trying to get back out of Nashville and back on the road to share stories the blue-collar man and woman can connect to.
You’re the perfect example of a country songwriter with your impressive storytelling. Tell me what the songwriting process is like for you and what inspires you?
NJ: I greatly appreciate the kind words. Songwriting to me is very spiritual and really the only way I can share my emotion. I’m not the typical songwriter in town who has the ability and the talent to just sit down in a room and write a massive hit. The lyrics and the melody really have to come to me at the right time and place. I’ve written more songs at 3 AM than I care to count but I’m a firm believer that someone at a higher power is giving me the avenue to create, so when the time comes I’m always ready with a pen and paper.
I love that! What’s the story behind “Your Name On It”?
NJ: “Your Name On It” is written by Matt Rogers and Wendell Mobley. Matt has been extremely kind and given me the opportunity to cut some really cool songs and get out of the ballad mindset that I always have. To me the song is just something fun and easy to listen to, it reminds me a lot of back home and this thing called “the loop” we use to drive as high schoolers. Any time a song can bring back a memory or create emotion It should be heard by as many people as possible. The response has been amazing and I cannot wait to continue to release music for people to relate to.
What else do you have on the horizon that you’re excited about?
NJ: I’m most excited for the new release “Addict’s Knot” coming out April 21. This song is by far my favorite song off the new EP and will hit home with a lot of people in today’s world. Addiction for some reason has turned to be this taboo thing we only allow the TV shows and movies to talk about and I see on a daily basis how many people’s lives have been ruined because of the lack of help or the inadequate treatment plans doctors still believe in. At the end of the day, we need to figure this out for our next generations because more and more young adults are faced with these issues and not givin the appropriate help in time.
Wow. I can’t wait to hear that. Thank you so much for your time. We can’t wait to see what else you do!
NJ: Moving forward I’m just excited to keep putting music out and cannot wait for everyone to hear the rest of this EP! I appreciate Nashville Noise giving artists like myself an avenue to talk about their journey and hope to catch y’all down the road.