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Portrait of an Artist: A Talk with Musician Cam Nicol

(Editor’s Note — Cam Nicol is an emerging artist from Lewiston whose new single, ‘Hot Fish,’ was recently released on the streams. We look forward to seeing what the future holds for Cam’s music and we’re thrilled to bring you this feature on him, written by 1120 Press Contributing Writer Sydney Umstead. Sydney is the news editor of The Griffin, the student newspaper at Canisius University (formerly ‘College’ until recently). This story first appeared on Sydney’s website, which you can check out HERE. It has been edited for reuse by 1120 Press. Bu sure to hear Cam's song at the end of this story. — photos provided.)

Cam Nicol stood under the stars, discussing how his life and influences have sent him sailing toward the art of making ‘noise.’

Nicol, a Lewiston-based musician, recently released his first single ‘Hot Fish’ on all streams, featuring lyrics such as “soaked in bleach and one with all the gish,” which allude to some of his musical inspirations including Bleach by Nirvana and Gish by The Smashing Pumpkins.

“What I’m saying and what I’m writing and singing is a product of those albums because of how big of an influence they’ve had on me,” said Nicol.

‘Hot Fish’ serves as an ode to youthful summers with lines that perpetuate Nicol’s own experience focusing on the living and forgetting the sweltering heat surrounding him as he traveled from couch to couch.

“That’s kind of a throwback to last summer because I was broke but I didn’t want anyone buying me shit,” he said.

Nicol described his interest in creating music as a ‘focus on the noise of it all’: A personal mantra to not take things too seriously, and instead worship the art.

“It’s just me and the sounds and we’re hanging out,” he said.

Nicol noted that part of his love for ‘Hot Fish,’ and choosing it as his first release, can be attributed to its obscure tuning which matches his grunge vocals, adding it’s “nice and pretty when you slow it down.”

Nicol’s appreciation for guitar was built from watching Angus Young play in AC/DC. His first guitar was a birthday gift for which he asked because he “wanted to jump around on stage.”

“It wasn’t so much that I wanted to shred on the guitar or anything, it was just that I liked the presence of him on stage.”

Experimenting with chord progressions and different elements is now second nature to Nicol, who will often close his eyes while drafting new pieces.

“I’m not playing the instrument because it’s the instrument, I’m playing it because I need it to create this piece of art that I’m trying to make,” he said.

While the artists he loves are in every part of his work, Nicol said it’s “almost like a thank you,” and less than a copy. To feel at peace with his guitar, Nicol said he listens to Jimi Hendrix.

“It makes me feel like the fretboard is so much more explorable,” said Nicol, adding too that he considers guitarist John Frusciante his “Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.”

Nicol compares the production of his music to an out-of-body experience, as he mediates the connectivity between emotion and art. Sometimes, he simply jots down what comes to mind, piecing together the meaning later. In his earliest stages of learning to play guitar, Nicol credited some of his drive to his guitar teacher who allowed him to step away from the fundamentals.

“I just wanted to make noise that I liked to listen to, and maybe other people would like to listen to as well,” he said.

Along with releasing solo tracks, Nicol also works alongside other talented artists in their up- and-coming band, Belt. Nicol, the band’s front man, writes self-proclaimed “punk-grunge riffs and sad-boi depressing lyrics," with Mike Riordan playing bass, and Derek Maniscalo on drums.

In creating a logo for the band, Nicol stated they wanted to combine both an indie style with something spooky — elements the band is incorporating in its upcoming album. ‘Master of Reality’ by Black Sabbath is one of the main influences behind how Nicol composes pieces for his band; however, he also said, “we’re not dick musicians; if someone has an opinion, we’re going to try it.”

Nicol said there is no particular genre he is heading toward. He touched on the intense connection he feels with his music and said, “I hate calling it art but that’s what it is, and I can’t be categorizing that.”

He said the moment in which he will feel as though he made it is “playing shows,” despite the crowd count.

“We’re not a band to have songs on Spotify, we’re a band to play live because we bring energy live.”

For Nicol, his music represents a meta experience. When describing the feeling that comes from finding the instrument that fits a certain piece he said, “I don’t know if this is how it is for everyone but, I really hope it is because it’s a wonderful feeling.”

“I get that feeling where my soul isn’t even in my body,” a feeling of which he is in constant pursuit.

“I feel like my soul is attached to music,” he said, “and I feel like there’s nothing else I could do.”


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