[INTERVIEW] Nick Hakim

If James Brown’s voice and Frankie Valli’s voice had a bearded voice-baby, it would be the incomparable sound of Nick Hakim. With his soulful songs and haunting melodies, the D.C.-native-turned-Brooklynite has made a name for himself by invading a music space that seems empty with monotony.

Drawing from the roots of R&B and blues, Nick Hakim creates music that is both raw and emotive. And with the release of two separate EP-turned-full length albums this past year, you won’t find a shortage of tunes to be captivated by.

The crooner can be found performing intimate shows all month long during his residency atMercury Lounge with the rest of his band, some beer, and enough humility to fill the room. He headlines next Tuesday, January 27th and with already such big turnouts for his first shows these past few weeks, you definitely won’t want to miss Nick Hakim before he starts hitting other cities and going to work on some new music.

Photo Credit: Nadine Suleiman

Photo Credit: Nadine Suleiman

First off, I wanted to say what an incredible performance you put on at Mercury Lounge this Tuesday.

Nick: Thank you! Yeah, thanks for coming. I’m glad you came out to see us play.

Of course. So let’s start by talking about some of your older stuff, which are the songs on “Where Will We Go”. Do you put new meaning to them when you play them now, or do they carry the same weight they did when you wrote them?

I mean, yeah, they’re pretty specific. I was in a phase and they’ll always be that phase of whatever I was going through. So yeah, I think the only thing that’s different is how we play them, versus how they sound online. We kind of mess around with the arrangements a lot more, but most of the dudes that I play with played on the record as well, so they all know the music really well.

And do you always play with those guys? Because at the show you were a full 5-piece band.

We try to play together as much as we can, but they’re all really busy. But I mean we’ve done all these shows together, which is cool.

Do you prefer to play with the whole band, or alone?

Yeah, but I also like experimenting with myself, like solo and stuff. But yeah, those guys were around when I was writing my music, so they understand the difference.

Was the idea behind the music video for “The Light” your brainchild?

So that was collaboration with my friend Terence Nance, who was the director. It was collaborative, a mix of my ideas and his. The thing with Terence and I, it’s not like I hit him up and had a budget for it or anything. We literally live two blocks away from each other. We were just like hanging out, sorry hold on one second…

(yells out) Isn’t it on sale? Nevermind it’s fine.

Are you shopping right now?

I’m at Duane Reade, my lips are chapped. I’m buying chapstick.

In terms of your style and sound, after seeing you perform it’s obvious you draw inspiration from classics like James Brown – is that what you’d say makes you unique?

I mean, I don’t think I have a good answer for that. There are so many talented people, and so many different kinds of musical acts going on that a lot of people don’t know about. I think what I’m doing is interpreting what I’ve had experience with. I’m just a music lover and I love listening, and I love learning about people’s experiences. I’m just trying to put everything I know into my music, and I’d like to think what I’m doing is completely separate from what everyone else is doing. But at the end of the day, all it is is reinterpreting t