As nyck (pronounced n.y.c.k), Nick Acquroff and Dominique Garrard write piano-driven confessionals, underscored by subtle nods to electronic R‘n’B production.
The Melbourne act’s latest single This Might Be My Year has a restless energy mixed with a raw yet subdued softness, playful at times but also tempered with melancholy.
Nick Acquroff speaks to Broadsheet about the duo’s debut EP release, Alive, and making peace with the process.
Broadsheet: How did the EP come together?
Nick Acquroff: It took a while actually as I quit music for quite some time. Dom and our manager now, Pete Cooper, a really close friend of mine, sort of just told me to get my shit together and write a song. At the same time, I really needed to write songs, I needed to say some stuff I wouldn't have otherwise said.
The EP was written in three months or so, it was winter, and all the songs are about my life at that time – a lot of it produced in my bedroom. And then we took a stamp, the next six or so months to party and get it ready, get it out.
BS: What style of songwriting are you drawn to?
NA: Probably the people that had the biggest influence on me and my writing are people like Colin Hay, Nick Drake, Van Morrison and The Beatles. A lot of stuff that's really warm – I love stuff that has positivity – it might tell a sad story, but it ends happily. I like listening to a song or a record that from start to finish develops and resolves.
BS: Can you remember consciously deciding to become a musician?
NA: It was actually really funny for me because I've been sort of really happy for my whole life. And I had this – I guess – upper-middle class upbringing. So I always had that idea that my life is going to be like perfect and just the way I want it.
Then things didn't cut out how I wanted with the band, I felt like "this is not going to happen". So I did something else – I focused on my writing, doing journalism stuff and commercial writing. It was literally from the time that I stopped with music – I probably stopped playing for two years – that my happiness just took the biggest dive. I ended up with really bad anxiety and I was all at sea. Then I went through this process of resetting – what and who I wanted to be ¬¬– and probably in the process realised that money and stuff can never be a driver for me, I have to enjoy the process of doing what I'm doing.
BS: Was it a difficult decision to start performing live?
NA: I think it's tough. It's easy to write stuff in your room, for you. Then you go through this process of where you crush a song and go through the integrity of it. But you won't think of the people that actually listen to it until the end.
For me, the most important thing has been about – well, the people that listen to a song are obviously what makes the world go around and what keeps the wheel spinning – but, I actually think the most important thing in my process is blocking out what everyone thinks. It doesn't actually serve your product.
BS: Summer Inside is the last track of the EP. Do you want to tell us a bit more about it?
NA: I'm so excited that people really like this song. It's one of those songs that you sometimes land on in the creative process, not sure why, but it happens when the subconscious takes over. A few days beforehand I've been at the hospital visiting my grandmother. She was told she was severely ill and going to die – turns out she's probably going to live to 170 now with modern medicine.
So I went in to visit her at the hospital, she's quite a well-spoken lady and I'm quite close to her, and I don't know why, I just put my recorder on while we were sitting there. I probably just wanted to make sure that if she kicked the bucket, I got those words.
I’d been anxious for a while and spent much of the summer inside trying to keep my mind off it. That snippet made me realise that I'd been missing out on things with my friends, family because I hadn’t been open with them.
BS: You're currently touring to promote Alive. Where are you heading?
NA: We've done so many shows this year, including the Amy Shark tour. But we're playing our own EP launch in Melbourne at the Church of Bang Bang Boogaloo, which is, like, the coolest venue. We got all that space to put up candles, huge posters on the wall of the artwork of the record. As a musician, you have played in many bandrooms and they're great, but every show is similar, you know the crowd that will show and what to expect. But you can't compare those venues to getting your own empty space and being able to do with it what you want.