[INTERVIEW] RHETT NICHOLL
I understand that your parents are of mixed heritage, how did this influence your upbringing?
My dad is from Northern Ireland and my mum is Italian-American by way of New York. Just on face value those are some pretty staunch dynamics in play, very rooted in family values. Both of them bullied their way into the music industry and later to London to escape the paths dictated by those cultures and values. With all this there’s probably an inherited sense of alienation and outsiderism or what I call a portion of chips on each shoulder. Growing up when I did, I didn’t identify with Oasis or any of that stuff.
It wasn’t until I found Garage and rave music when I was 12 that I had something contemporary and British that I could relate to and be proud of. Essentially I gravitated towards street culture be it in music, graffiti, skateboarding and getting money all of which really nurtured my mentality and gave me the avenues to prove myself and define my personal and cultural identity as a kid.
When do you first remember getting into music and who has influenced you as a music artist?
Being around people like Debbie Harry and the Ramones as a kid established the Punk thing in me really early. That strand of New York punk music was heavily influenced by Soul and the whole Tamla Motown and girl group wave that was always playing in my house. I think all of my musical tastes can be traced along that lineage in one form or another.
My main influences as a vocalist and song writer are people like Robert Johnson, Terry Reid or Janis Joplin. That kind of raw, haunty style is a big thing for me and comes straight out of my parents record collection. Sonically, as far as the production and all of that I guess I’m trying to draw the wider influence of blues, soul and all of their bastard children through a kind of contemporary lens, taking a lot of influence from people like El B, Burial and of course the whole sound system culture back to dancehall and dub.
If you didn’t have a presence in the music industry, where could you see yourself?
If I wasn’t doing music I don’t think I’d be too far from it in that I’d probably be a practicing visual artist or writer. To be honest though, those things are all tied into the way I make music, I take a lot of influence from art and literature and will probably shift focus towards those things later in life.If it weren’t for having the opportunity to create for a living right now I’d be dead or in jail.The only ‘regular’ career I could see myself in is youth-work.Again I’m hoping I can parlay what I’m doing now into having some kind of impact through working with my friends at Community Souls and Art Against Knives.