An Interview With The Rising PA-Based Musician, NOKAY
Posted On 12 Dec 2017
“Fear” is the name of the newest single from the rising PA-based musician Nokay.
This new track features the best of both of Nokay’s talents in his singing, songwriting and creating music. As noted in a press release, his new single “Fear,” featured on his soon-to-be released EP, was produced by Nokay and mixed by Daniel Martin at ReAmp Studios, known for their work with Bryan Lanning and Morgan Leigh Band.
Nokay’s music is genre-bending, and he enjoys playing piano along with singing and creating music. He also produces his own music and has creative control over his own productions, which results in his unique production of vocals and music-making. Listen to his new single “Fear,” in the music box below, which will also be featured in his upcoming debut EP The One I Feed.
When AXS asked Nokay about his music and new single “Fear,” he explains that “”Fear” was a song I knew was weighted differently than some other ones I had written. The lyrics took a while to come together because they came from a couple of different experiences, but the song is driven by the percussive elements that give it that heavy vibe. Everything came together in a way I didn’t expect.”
Learn more about Nokay in the following All Access interview:
Thanks for your time today! Where does this interview find you? Is there music playing in the background? If so, what is it? What music gets you instantly out of a bad mood? What is a song you are loving these days?
Right now it’s evening here, and I’m watching my niece get out every toy she owns in the living room. There’s no music playing at the moment, but I just bought a new production studio piece, so there will be shortly.
Sam Smith’s “Pray” is a song I’m really feeling, that’s more of a mainstream release. In terms of lesser known artists, I really like Xan Griffin’s “Gemini” feat WILD of late. That release is probably six months old, but I really like the style of it.
Growing up, did you always want to be a musician? Can you recall your earliest musical memory? Was there a time where you thought of doing something completely different?
Yes and no. I’d had ideas about it as early as 7 or 8, but the proposition seemed a little ridiculous to me as a child, so I set the notion aside for a decade or so.
I remember having a solo as a child at a local college as part of a choir group my sister and I belonged to. My guess is I was younger than 9, and it was in an actual theater that the school used as part of their music program so it felt like a big deal. I received a few compliments afterward, but I wasn’t happy with the performance because my voice was shaky from nervousness.
There was a time when I considered doing other things ranging from finance, to athletic scouting, etc., but my priority was singing.
Overall, how do you think 2017 has been for you and music career? What are you most excited about for in 2018? Do you think you will make any New Year’s Resolutions?
2017 was mostly a seminar in production for me. I had done a lot of productions in the past, but this year I logged significantly more hours into the process. I also released a single in September of 2017, so that was a big deal in terms of a starting point for my career.
In 2018 I’ll release my first EP, get to know some long needed upgrades I’ve recently purchased, and start producing the next crop of songs. I’m really excited to take a couple steps forward both in terms of production and songwriting.
I don’t do New Year’s Resolutions because, to my mind, if something was worth doing, it should be worth doing immediately.
I always like to ask artists about where they came from and how that city or town has influenced them as an artist now. So how do you think your hometown and current home has affected you and your music today?
I grew up in a small town in Pennsylvania, and there are great advantages to that, and great disadvantages. The most noticeable disadvantage is that I was exposed to very little. So I really had no idea what a profession in music could look like, or how it could be achieved. That lack of exposure put me very far behind. Another big disadvantage about small towns is the lack of opportunity. For example, I was in a travelling choir. But the songs we sang were stiff and dry, and I was really unsatisfied with the atmosphere as a whole. But it was the only choir in town, so I quit. So for years I was out of organized singing, which certainly didn’t help things. All that being said, it always comes down to people that surround you, and in that regard I couldn’t have done better.
What was the inspiration for your latest single “Fear”? How do you think this track prepares listeners for more music from you? How is it a good introduction to who you are and your sound as an artist?
“Fear” came from a collection of experiences, but one in particular in which a discrepancy between myself and a significant other became apparent. Subsequently there were some other ramifications to this realization as well.
There is an intentional blend in my music of organic and synthetic, which “Fear” exhibits, but as it is my debut, it is the first time my voice can really be heard. So vocally it’s a very complete introduction.
When do you hope to release your forthcoming EP, “The One I Feel”? How different or similar will the other songs on it be then “Fear”? How did you go about choosing this song to be your lead single?
The release for “The One I Feed” will either be in late February or early March. “Fear” is a good introductory track into the other ones on the EP, which is why I chose it to be the single. But I will say that the other songs on the EP are more intense in their own ways, and they incorporate more organic instrumentation.
How do you think you have continued to grow as an artist year after year? What has remained the same?
In general, the more experiences you incorporate as a person, the more you’ll progress as an artist. That remains constant. But for me I had to progress specifically in a lot of areas. First it was vocals, then songwriting, then production. And frankly that’s the tip of the iceberg, but generally things fall into those categories on the artistic side of things.
Do you have any final tour dates to wrap up 2017? Where can people see you play live next?
I don’t have any tour dates planned at the moment; I’m still trying to figure out some things in terms of how to execute my style in live performance.
What do you think of social media today and the importance of it for artists now? Do you find that it’s hard to keep up with it all?
I have never been a fan of social media; I do however recognize its impact and significance both societally and for artists. An industry professional once told me that being signed as an artist depended on my Instagram numbers. I disagree with that assessment, but as a source of information to get your artistry out there, it’s undeniably important. And for people who support you, it provides them an easy way to know what you’ve been up to. And I definitely think the constant need for content to post is difficult to maintain.
We are living in a crazy and at times rough world right now so I am curious how you think being a musician gives you the most joy in life today? How do you think that new music being created today is going to reflect these difficult times?
In this context I would say that joy is a combination of exercising that which you best offer the world, and doing the thing you love to do most. So for me, being a musician meets both of these requirements, in particular, singing. I take as much joy in singing today as I did when I was a child.
Music as a form of art inevitably will correlate to the time it’s tied to, and I’m sure that today’s music will be no exception. In terms of the particulars to that end, I’m not sure.
Who are some of your favorite artists or rather, what musicians have continued to inspire you and your music? What musicians would you absolutely still love to work with in the future?
This is a complicated question, because I think you have to break things down into categories. In terms of vocalists, I’m a big fan of Sam Smith, and I don’t think anyone sings more beautifully than Demi Lovato. In terms of producers, Dylan Bauld is one of my favorites (he’s done a few of Halsey’s tracks), as well as Ludwig Goransson and Timbaland. I also take a lot of my production cues from composers like Hans Zimmer. In terms of an artist who I like as a complete package, Sia is really terrific. Also Bastille, Kevin Garrett, Jack Garratt, and many more obviously.
What do you hope your fans take away from your music? Do you think there is a greater music in your songs?
I hope people connect with my voice first, because that is the reason I started doing this whole thing, and I try and put a strong emphasis on the poetic aspect of a song as well, so I would hope people can take something away from that as well.
What advice would you give to a young person who is thinking about becoming a musician one day?
Recognize the right foundation, find the right people.
Would you like to share anything else about yourself or your music with our readers?
I hope you like the tracks I made, and if you don’t that’s okay too.