Dirty Dozen: Nick Byrne

Nick Byrne is a singer, guitarist and songwriter from Buckinghamshire, England performing ‘atmospheric and dreamy folk’. Songs range from finger-picked folk to more layered pieces, accented by strings and slide guitar. The blissful folk of forthcoming single ’Birch Tree’ tells of a pact between two lovers and portrays a conversation between present and past.

Can you tell us about yourself? Where you’re from and what you’ve been up to over the past few years?
I’m from Buckinghamshire, lived there most of my life. My dad is Irish and my mother’s Chilean so I grew up listening to lot’s of different styles of music. I’m a graphic designer working in London, which allows me to create my own artwork and other bits and pieces.

How would you describe your music?
Generally the songs are melancholy folk songs. As a solo musician, the songs and melodies come first as they need to come across with just a guitar and vocal. With my EP the texture of the instrumentation played a big part in creating the atmosphere I wanted. The strings, slide guitar and extra layers of vocals play a big part in that.

Can you tell us a little bit about your influences?
I’ve always been inspired by emotive songwriters like Iron & Wine, Bon Iver and Elliot Smith. I can’t ignore Jeff Buckley’s ‘Grace’ album. Rediscovering Iron & Wine’s ‘Our Endless Numbered Days’ probably inspired me to create this EP. Other than that of the songs on my EP are inspired by distinct visual memories.

What are you currently promoting?
‘Through the Tall Grass’ is my latest release, it’s a 5-track EP. I went into the studio wanting to create something to be proud of for years to come, as if it were the last thing I’d ever record.

Have you got a particular song you’ve done that you’re particularly proud of, one that might define you?
‘Birch Tree’ seems to get the most positive response so far, personally the EP title track ‘Through The Tall Grass’ is the song I’m most proud of. The EP title represents discovery in terms of adventure but also discovering things as you grow older (and wiser!). The theme of reflection features a lot throughout the EP. I wrote the song about returning to my Grandparents’ farm in Chile a few years ago, which I hadn’t visited since I was 6 years old. I remember playing in the cornfield with my sister, but that’s no longer there. So the song is about coming to terms with change.

What are you currently listening to?
My favourite artist at the moment is a Canadian guy called Andy Shauf, I’m also listening to Willie J Healey and just discovered Andrew Bird’s ‘Are You Serious’ album. Right now I’m listening to Conor Oberst’s radio session on BBC6 Music.

And your favourite album of all time, the one you couldn’t do without?

I previously mentioned Jeff Buckley’s ‘Grace’, that’s one that stands alone to me. The first Villagers album ‘Becoming a Jackal’ and ‘For Emma, Forever Ago’ by Bon Iver aren’t far behind.

What are your hopes for your future career?
For me it’s about writing material that I can look back and be proud of, just creating something lasting and beautiful.

If money were no object what would be your dream project?
It hasn’t been viable to perform live with a full band so far, maybe one day! On a larger scale it would be lovely to curate live music events in natural open air locations, with a perfect atmosphere, maybe some kind of projected light show?

What’s the best thing about being a musician?
Definitely connecting with people who share the same passion for music and art as you. I’ve been lucky enough to shared a stage with some great acts that I’ve become a fan of there and then – it’s lovely to feel part of their journey. Hearing final mixes of your studio recordings can also make you feel quite emotional, there’s a sense of achievement.

And the worst?
It’s a rollercoaster ride and when you’re starting out, gigs can be so varied. I’m always really grateful to find an audience that is receptive to my music as when it doesn’t quite pan out in this way it can be disappointing!

Finally, have you anything you’d like to say to the readers of Americana UK?
I really appreciate anyone taking the time to listen. At the core of each song I write there is an emotional meaning or relevance. I’ve tried to create a musical atmosphere to help carry this emotion onto the recordings. And of course, connect on social media to hear what’s to come!

Author: Rudie Hayes

Rudie is the weekly host of the syndicated radio show - The Horseshoe Lounge Music Session - playing the best American Roots and hosting terrific live guests.

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