Underground Interview With James Nikolas Music
James Nikolas has been a guitarist for 30 years and his love for music is still in full swing. Now a days his focus is just a little different. Having played most styles of music ranging from metal to jazz, he really has grasped the feel of how to approach music.
With his song writing, James really applys feeling and emotion into his songs.When he was playing guitar on a worship team over in Vancouver WA, he found a connection with music and the lord. Sometimes during a song, He would get so overwhelmed with emotion, that he would start to cry during the performance. Ever since then, James let the song direct him on where to go.
James does not actually even start writing a song until a melody pops in his head, then he lets his emotion and feeling take control of the direction. There is nothing better than writing music!
During Covid James wrote around 25 songs. He started writing about 10+ years ago, but never really pursued it until Covid hit. Since all the shows dried up, there was only one direction to go in music to sustain, and that was writing original songs.
For the past 10+ years, country music has been his life. James played in many local country bands performing all over Oregon. Now that shows are pretty much nonexistent, writing original music was the best direction.
James recently wrote a song called Dance All Night that is really doing well. Working with a producer out of Nashville and Vancouver WA, this song is really getting attention. It is a country pop dance tune that is all about getting off work, grabbing a girl and hittin that floor! Being a country dancer himself, this tune really hit home, and he is immensely proud of it. James said, “I am really happy with how this tune turned out. My producer I work with in Nashville and Vancouver did such a fantastic job on helping bring this song to life!”
He just finished shooting a music video for this song and is already working on production for his next tune which is a romantic waltz. Right now, the focus is to release 1 to 3 songs a year. But hoping that will change if money starts coming in this year to help produce the other songs he has written. “There is nothing like the love of music, and how connected we are to it. Everyone has a song that connects them to something in their past that is meaningful! My best memory so far is my first tune I produced. I Was Wrong is the name of the song. A gentleman down South heard my acoustic version of it. One day I received an email from his wife who he had left for another woman. She was so thankful because he heard my song, and something in him clicked, and he is now back with his wife. He is the love of her life, and she was so overwhelmed with joy and happiness because of my song. Her story and what my song did for her brought tears to my eyes. I never could have thought something I wrote could have such an impact on someone. Just wow!” James’s still to this day talks with them and shared their life via Facebook to see how well they are doing. So amazing!
Websites or Social Media Pages:
tik tok: @jamesfnikolas
What Musical Genre Do You Feel Best Describes Your Music And How Would You Describe Your Sound?
Country music is where I feel my home is. It took me years of playing guitar in many different genres to fully understand the simplicity of music and country. My sound ranges from classic-style country to a more modern style country. Being a 90's country guy, sometimes it's hard to not write a song that sounds like that, but I focus on being better every day, and producing stuff that has a more modern country feel.
How Did You Get Your Name? Is There A Story?
Unfortunately, there is no fun story. I decided to go with my original name because I'm not an artist per se, but more of a songwriter that wants his songs to do well with the intention of hopefully someday someone picking up one of his songs to record.
What Are or Have Been Your Musical Influences?
I've had many musical influences over the years. This is a fun question. It all started with Metallica. Back in the 80's they were it for me. My first album was Master of Puppets. Such a great album. They were also my first concert. And Justice for All Tour at the Coliseum in Portland OR. Such a great show! Next up was Joe Satriani. He had so many great songs and really inspired me to expand my scale knowledge and keys. When I saw him live on the G3 tour with Kenny Wayne Shephard, I was able to go backstage and meet him. When he saw my friend Christina on the phone he yelled out, "She's ordering pizza! Who wants one?" lol Over the years I started getting in to smooth jazz. That's when I discovered George Benson. Man can he sing and play! Such an amazing guitarist and vocalist.How he could sing his notes he played on the guitar. And the melodies he created on some of his songs were outstanding. I bought like 20 of his records and learned so many songs from him. He has a place in my heart for sure. Next up was Brent Mason. He is a Nashville studio guy who's played on many records of some big name artists. His double stops that he uses just caught my eye. I lived in Nashville for a short stint and got to see Johnny Highland play once. I had no idea who he was, but man could he pick! It wasn't until moved home and years later started really listening to country and started to discover who I really was inside. Up until then I had been playing in R&B bands and jazz and blues gigs. I guess it took me a while to discover who I really am. I use to wear suits, and dress more casual. Now I'm in boots and a cowboy hat, and feel naked without them. lol. I started really listening to country back in 2009 or so, and when I started to write music, this is the direction I went. I really got in to listening to Brent Mason, and that's when I heard Brad Paisley. His country song writing and guitar playing pulled me in. I even named my oldest daughter after him, Paisley. Still to this day, he is one of my all time faves. So many great songs, and so many great licks. He will forever be my top guy in regards to songs and guitar. Now I listen to Morgan Wallen, and a lot of the modern country artists, but I'm a 90's guy all day long. You can't go wrong with Garth Brooks, Brooks, N Dunn, Mark Chestnutt, and so many other great artists that have helped me create myself and some of the direction in my song writing. My hats off to all of them!
What Are You Working On Now? Any Future Collaborations We Can Look Forward To?
I currently just wrapped up a music video shoot for my song Dance All Night. Hoping to launch that video around the beginning to middle of June of this year. I'm really excited about that video. I had a choreographer create a line dance to my song, and that will be portrayed in the video. My next song will be a romantic waltz. I'm a big country line and couples dancer. Love it! and I've always wanted to write a waltz. Last year I did that. I'm just about done with the song Just trying to find better melodies, and am now looking for a singer. I'm hoping to have this song done after summer.
No collaborations right now, but hoping for more in the future. I do have some people I co-write with, but nothing strong yet. For most of my songs right now I have written all aspects of the song. But I am never opposed to working with someone. I hope someday I can have people I write with consistently.
What Is Your Ultimate Goal In The Music Industry? What Is Your Plan Of Action?
I really want to make a connection with people and my songs. I think anyone can write a song. But to actually make a connection. Make it relatable. Feel that song is a hole nother level. When I write a song, I lead with melody and then build the song from there. Let the song guide me. It's all about the re-write. and I know a lot about that. lol. But also finding the right melody can be challenging. Patience is very important and never force.
I'm working on building a fan base right now. Don't have a ton of fans, but it's building slowly. Can't make any money without fans. I'm working on getting more youtube subscribers and fans on Facebook. And more direction to my website.
What Is Your Favorite Track To Perform Live and Why?
I've always been a fan of playing In Color by Jamie Johnson. It's such a great heartfelt song. He nailed that one for sure. Every time I play it, I feel every bit of that song. And the solo at the end, and let the guitar do it talking! So much fun!
What Has Been The Biggest Challenge In Your Career Thus Far?
Well, that's a good question. I'm just really starting over in regards to songwriting. I've been a performer up until this past year. So I guess you can say Covid helped my direction, and I really love this direction. So no challenges as of yet, but it's learning this side of the industry that is an ongoing thing. There's a lot to learn in regards to getting your songs out there. One day at a time.
What’s Your Typical Songwriting Process?
I wait till I hear a melody in my head, then start recording ideas right away on my phone so I don't lose that melody. Then when I get a guitar, I start writing out chords, and lyrics that feel right. let the melody in my head direct me in the direction this song needs to go. I also use past experiences. Nothing like our past for material to write a song about. Just a matter of how to make it relatable. Sometimes a song will write itself pretty fast. But then some songs take months. My next song for example is a romantic waltz. I finished writing out the lyrics a few months back, but some of the melodies i used I'm still not happy with. So I keep working until I know it's done. and if I'm struggling to find something, then I take a breather. Eventually, something pops up. But sometimes that's also months later. lol
How Has Social Media Influenced Your Career As An Artist?
It hasn't as of yet that I see. I'm still learning a lot about how to really use social media in regards to my website, and other social media sites I use. But the one thing is for sure, paid advertising is the way to go. I understand now why you advertise on each of these sites. I just started doing that this year.
What Are Some Tracks and Artists Currently On Your Playlist?
I love listening to Morgan Wallen right now. But also Big & Rich, Thomas Rhett, Kenney Chesney, Brad Paisley, Garth Brooks, Jake Owen, Luke Bryan, Luke Combs, John Pardi, Ryan Hurd, Brothers Osborne, and so many more just to name a few.
What Did You Do Before You Started Making Music?
I actually have a day gig. I am a Sales Director for a healthcare company. I work in Senior Housing. I've been doing this for around 8+ years and looking to do it for a lot longer. Before this, I just was a guitar instructor for many years. I taught at Music World in Battle Ground WA. At one point I was teaching up to 60 kids a week. How things have changed.
Any Advice For Young People (Men or Women) That Want To Succeed In The Music World?
The best thing I can say is to follow your heart and your head. Music is a blessing and one of the best avenues I know on how to express yourself. Ask for advice and learn from anyone you can. No matter how long you have been doing what you do, there is always room to learn more! I've been playing guitar for 30 years, and I feel like I'm starting all over when it comes to writing. So many things to learn! I love it!
What Would You Change In The Music Industry If You Were A Top Music Executive?
I'm not gonna lie. Bring back 90's country! lol Man that was some great music back then! lol
But on a serious note. I would want to help young musicians grow. Help them find a direction. Help with easier avenues to get in contact with a business professional that can help guide them. youtube is amazing, and so is google. But there is nothing like talking to a live person.
How Do You Feel About Originality?
It's very important. Especially these days. There are so many artists now, that it's hard to not sound like someone else. When I write, I try to really pay attention in regards to if this song sounds unique compared to what is out there today, or in the past. But what inpires me is all the new songs I keep hearing from new artists and the approach they have with there songs. Morgan Wallen is one of them. He is very unique and original when it comes to his songs. Truly inspiring. Gives me hope!
Is There Anything Else We Should Know About You Or That You Would Like to Add?
Mainly just family stuff. I have two little girls that mean the world to me. I hope that someday they can see my success so that will give them hope to explore things that are important and passionate to them. Never lose sight of what you believe in, and what you are passionate about. That is who you are!