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Interview: John Nicholas, singer

21 September 2018

‘I’m excited to see what God has in store for me’

I’ve been singing as long as I can remember. Performing started when I was around three, because my mum used to get me to sing nursery rhymes to whoever came around the house. But ever since then I’ve been singing and writing songs. After studying music at university in Cardiff, I took the punt to go full-time, and it now — just about — pays the bills.

I write and perform my own songs, although I do love a good cover from time to time. I’d describe my music as alternative pop. I write stuff that’s catchy, keeping to the current sound of the minute, but slightly different from the mainstream, even though I’m writing for that market.

I play guitar and piano, and I frequently use a loop-station on stage, which enables me to create a bigger sound, including harmonies, beats, and extra guitar parts. I do play with a band when I need them, but more often than not I play on my own.

My music is inspired by life. I know that sounds really open, but I try and write about real situations, real experiences, and how that impacts me. I mainly write from my own perspective; so obviously my faith is part of it, too. I like to think that I write songs from the heart — and I sing them with it on my sleeve.

I’m a big fan of the band Needtobreathe, as well as singer-songwriters like John Mayer and Foy Vance. They write so well, and create songs that stick.

To make a living as a musician nowadays means doing anything and everything. I’ve got to where I am at the minute by playjng as much as I can. That way I get better at what I do. The golden rule to remember is that you never know who’s listening.

I do make lots of videos, mainly for engagement with people who follow me online. And, as someone who grew up in the age of social media, it’s almost second nature for me to pick up these skills fairly quickly.

Rather than labelling myself as a Christian singer-songwriter, I see myself as a singer-songwriter who is a Christian. My music is not worship music; so, to a Christian, it makes sense in one way, but to someone else it might be taken in another way. I believe that the main thing is that I try and write songs that are full of truth, and speak of hope and something greater. Hopefully, they meet people wherever they are at.

You can hear my songs on iTunes, Spotify, Amazon — everywhere, really. Or in a town or city near you this autumn.

I always knew God was real, because I’d grown up in a Christian home, and been taught that from a young age. But it wasn’t until I was 15 that I came to know God personally, and realised that he died for me. It was as if everything I knew just made sense.

I think we’re always growing as Christians, and it’s not always easy; but God has been good to me, and to my family. You learn more about yourself, and how you need to change. The music business is very hard, but I’ve had good opportunities at the right time, and feel constantly led in the right direction.

My favourite sound is the coffee machine in the morning.

I don’t really ever get angry. I think I must be just a mellow kind of person. But if I was to pick one thing it would be being stuck in traffic, and I’m sure 99 per cent of the population would agree with me.

I’m happiest spending time with my family. We live not far from a beach in South Wales, and spend a lot of time down there. My wife’s a teacher, not a musician. Jesse’s only just turned two, but he sings all the time, so there’s a good chance that there’s at least going to be interest there.

Yes, I’m part of the music team in church, leading the band, singing, and playing the guitar. It’s nice to be up the front but not have the focus on you. I like that side of my week. I really enjoy what I do there, and realise that, although I’ve put some hard work into it, I’ve also been given the talent, and so leading in church is part of giving something back.

I think the bravest thing I’ve ever done to date is when we became parents to our son, Jesse. Its a massive life-shift, and, as any parent would know, living life on next to no sleep demands great courage. But, seriously, being a dad — it’s the best.

I’m really thankful for the past year I’ve had in music. It seems like so much has happened in the past 18 months. I signed with management in April 2017, and since then doors have opened and everything’s going at a hundred miles an hour, with tours. I like going to new places: I’m really nosy, and I love exploring. Sometimes, the family can come with me — it’s not always easy leaving home — but I find it quite exciting going from venue to venue and playing as much music as I can.

I just want to keep doing what I love more and more. It would be great to travel more and see the world a bit, but, ultimately, I’m excited to see what God has in store for me as I try and use the talents that he’s given me.

Ultimately, I know that my future is part of a greater plan, and that is exciting. Whatever happens, happens, and I’m just thankful that I love what I do, and I can work hard and enjoy the ride.

I try and pray about anything and everything; but, as a self-employed musician, I pray mostly about my next job: where is the next work and how can I get it?

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