Nigel Nolan is taking listeners through the different stages of life with his aptly titled album Phases. With each track taking on a different aspect of life from relationships to finding yourself, he wraps you in the journey of the human experience. A mixed tape of emotion, Nolan recorded it all himself bringing a personal touch to the music. We sat down with Nigel Nolan to talk about the album, his unique recording process, emotions and much more!
OSR: You have been involved in music in some form from an early age but what first drew you to your preferred genre?
Nolan: As you mentioned, my family has always kept music around me and I have to give them a lot of credit for creating my love for all genres, but especially hip-hop. From Saturdays listening to the third Blueprint (Jay Z), to my older brother introducing me to artists who are still my favourite to this day (Cole and Travis), hip-hop has been an integral part of my life.
OSR: Your first feature was in 2018 on your brother’s single. What caused the delay to your debut release earlier this year?
Nolan: In 2018 I did not think I would ever put out my own solo project. I always would joke around with my brother that I wanted to be on a track, and this is one of the rare times he took me seriously. It was probably around that time that I changed my mind. I wrote songs loosely, but I did not start forming the tape until the beginning of 2020. By the time I narrowed down the tracks, and had them engineered, it was around the top of the year, which seemed a fitting time to share.
OSR: You have now released your debut album Phases. What is the backstory or theme for the album?
Nolan: I am glad you asked. There is an over-arching story that goes on throughout the tape, outlining the “phases” one goes through within themselves as well as in their relationships. The first track starts with me, or you looking through my eyes, feeling betrayed and fresh out of a situation. As the tape progresses, I get more confident and sound more optimistic as I enter new relationships.
The interlude serves as a turning point as I begin to become more reflective and notice flaws in others, my relationships and myself. Also the mood changes, I like to think of the first half as a “Side A” and the second half as a “Side B”. At the end of the first and last track I say “Its all just a phase”, to remind the audience of the reality that even though good things may not last forever, bad things do not either. All these phases make you.
OSR: There is an extremely personal touch to the album as it works through the phases that moulded you as an artist. How easy was it for you to share yourself through your music?
Nolan: Whenever I make music, I try to make it true to myself. When I first started writing, I wrote to clear my mind or gage my thoughts rather than make complete songs. Whenever I’m making music, I just want to convey what I feel, and give that personal experience to people that listen.
OSR: What was your creative process for the album?
Nolan: I can not say I had one. I made these songs at different times throughout the year in many places. I think Life you could say was the creative process, as I tried to make songs to reflect different times and aspects in my life.
OSR: As the entire album was self-recorded, what is the biggest challenge you faced with its creation?
Nolan: Yes. Some of the vocals were recorded on my iPhone in garage band and varying quality microphones. You could imagine that it would be difficult to get quality sound but my engineer 7sinclair helped me with that one.
OSR: You used a variety of microphones to record the album, how do you feel this affected the overall sound?
Nolan: With the help of my engineer, I feel like the sound did not suffer too much even though I used different microphones. However, I am probably not going to record any more songs with AirPods any time soon.
OSR: Is there is track on the album that holds a special place in your heart?
Nolan: The interlude, or ‘What a Time’. It is one of the first songs I made and I still have the first rough version of it which was recorded on my iPhone in garage band in my room. It is a whimsical song with a deeper meaning behind it, but it was my first time recording a song on my own. It was great to see I could turn my ideas into reality, as well as watch the song transform into what is on the tape.
OSR: The album is packed with emotion but what is the one you would like people to feel after listening?
Nolan: ‘Fall’ for sure. It was definitely one of my favourites to make. Sometimes you feel like you are running in place with someone you care about because you can not figure out how to make it work, yet you still try to make it work. I feel like people can relate to that feeling at some point in their love life.
OSR: What else can we expect from you in the coming year?
Nolan: This year I will definitely have some new things to share. My first video is in the works and it will showcase one of the songs off Phases so stay tuned. Also, I hope to showcase more music within the following months as we move forward this year.