Interview with Nick Campbell Destroys


We chat with Nick Campbell Destroys, the Los Angeles-based artist featured previously with tracks “Fancy Jeans” (feat Jacob Luttrell) and “Goodbye Moonmen.”

You and Jacob Luttrell collaborated on the infectious new single “Fancy Jeans,” touting a funky pop captivation. How did the collaboration arise?

Jacob and I first met when we were on tour together with the band Scary Pockets about 4 years ago. We’ve done a ton of gigs together since then. After I wrote the music to Fancy Jeans I immediately knew I wanted Jacob to do this song with me for my record. I showed him a demo and we wrote the lyrics together in an afternoon and tracked the song a couple of months later. I loved how it turned out and how much of our personalities are in the song. Jacob improvised the whole outro on the spot at the studio in one take.

The charismatic vocals and “going out tonight!” exclamations seem fit for going-out pump-up music. At least for me! Was this the production’s intent?

That is exactly what we were going for haha. We were trying to come up with the most over the top version of that we could think of and I think we did a pretty good job.

What are some notable themes or stylistic pursuits throughout your forthcoming album, Art?

“Art” is a culmination of all my influences and experiences playing and learning different music in my career as a session musician. I’ve been lucky enough to play so many different kinds of music with masters of their crafts and I feel like it’s all found its way in this album. It’s the first thing I’ve made that sounds exactly like the inside of my brain. I also read a lot of Albert Camus and grew up playing a lot of outrageously complicated music, so I wanted to figure out how to make existential nihilism and modern Jazz fun for normal people.

Do you have any suggestions, music-related or otherwise, for first time visitors to the Los Angeles area?

Definitely. Los Angeles has a really special creative music scene right now and it is a wonderful thing to be a part of. Some notable places have closed since the pandemic, but ETA, Gold Diggers and Hotel Café usually have some really special musicians hanging and playing there. My favorite part of the LA music scene is that so many artists I respect hang out at these local gigs and it’s really inspiring to get to be around them. Also, there is so much good Mexican and Korean food here it’s ridiculous. If you’ve never been to LA, eat as much of it as possible.

Do you have a specific process or ritual when creating new music

There are a few things I usually try. I think getting started on a song can often be the hardest part. During the pandemic I started writing a minute of music every couple of days and posting it on Instagram. A lot of these little idea nuggets ended up becoming real songs after I had some time to sit with them. It also really helped make the stuff I have to make for social media feel more creatively productive. I also sometimes like to start with a bass line and melody when I’m writing songs without thinking too much about the full chords or arrangement. If you have a bass line and melody that make you feel something on their own without any extra stuff you have the building blocks of a really captivating piece of music.

Any favorite artists or albums you’re listening to at the moment?

Louis Cole’s new album is pretty incredible. I’ve been listening to that a lot lately. My friend Lou Roy also put out a great record earlier this year called “Pure Chaos” that I’ve been really into. I feel lucky the people I’m inspired by most are my friends. It’s pretty freaking cool.

If you could collaborate with any artist, alive or dead, who would it be?

It’s hard to just pick one but I’ve always wanted to work with Trent Reznor. I’m a huge Nine Inch Nails fan. I went through a phase when I graduated from college where I was convinced I would get to play with Nine Inch Nails and learned like 30 of their songs. That hasn’t happened yet but maybe it will someday haha.

What do you find is the most satisfying part of being an artist?

The ability to communicate and connect with others through music is truly one of the best things that is possible to experience in life. Being a professional musician means I can do that every day and there is nothing better than that.

What is the biggest challenge you find in today’s music industry?

I think we’re living through a very tumultuous time for the arts. The pandemic has highlighted and worsened many market failures that have been hollowing out wages for musicians and investment in new music artists for years. If I had to focus on one thing, I’d say the combination of oligopolistic control of the music industry’s investment capital and distribution apparatuses by a few large companies with an increased ability for those same companies to automate musical performance/labor is a pretty toxic combination for most musicians. It’s not a coincidence that the majority of the money spent in the current music industry is on trading already valuable song catalogues like they’re stocks. I think this underinvestment in new musical careers is the biggest problem the current generation of artists faces and it is a very serious threat to the creative health of the music scene generally.

What’s upcoming for the project?

I actually have a lot of music done that I made during the pandemic that hasn’t been released and I’m going to spend the next period of time putting all of it out. My next single, “Sunday” featuring Theo Katzman is out on October 21st and I am really excited about that. Aside from my debut album “Art,” which should be out later this year, I also have a concert film of trio music done that I made with Christian Euman and Jacob Mann which should come out sometime next year. It’s called “Live for the Highest Bidder” and it feels like a traditional Jazz album and an episode of Nathan for You at the same time.

Mike Mineo

I'm the founder/editor of Obscure Sound, which was formed in 2006. Previously, I wrote for PopMatters and Stylus Magazine.

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