“My mom is a teacher at the middle school that my grandma, her, and I all went to…One day we opened up the gym and invited all my fans, friends, and family for a free show. I didn’t think it would be a big deal…We packed this gym. Every song I played the crowd listened transfixed, and as soon as it was done they cheered like I just won the Super Bowl.. I wish it was a longer set, because for every song the electricity was palpable in the space, and there was a deep connection between me and the people listening that I’ve only experienced in bits and pieces before. That show has kept me going through some of my tougher times.” @harrisonnida
GETTING TO KNOW HARRISON NIDA
by Jacqueline Jax host of A.V.A Live Radio
My personal definition of success is…
Success is health and happiness. We’ve convoluted the idea of success so much that we focus it on our work, how much money we have, etc. but all of those things all are only important in how they relate to keeping you happy and healthy. I’ve played a lot of shows. Some good, some okay, some bad. I played a show at The Bitter End in the Village, which was a ton of fun and one of my dreams to play there since I was a kid, but that’s not the best show I’ve played. I grew up in a small city called San Carlos, which is south of San Fransisco and north of Silicon Valley. My mom is a teacher at the middle school that my grandma, her, and I all went to. I have really good relationships with the teachers and faculty there still. One day we opened up the gym and invited all my fans, friends, and family for a free show. I didn’t think it would be a big deal, I didn’t have a band so it was just me and an acoustic guitar. We packed this gym. Every song I played the crowd listened transfixed, and as soon as it was done they cheered like I just won the Super Bowl. We had 20 people help set up chairs before hand, and one of my friends since early childhood was running a table where we sold over a thousand dollars of merchandise that night. I wish it was a longer set, because for every song the electricity was palpable in the space, and there was a deep connection between me and the people listening that I’ve only experienced in bits and pieces before. That show has kept me going through some of my tougher times.
My overall goal for my life and career is…
To be able to support myself doing what I love. I love what I do now, and I’ll always write, but I also love the business side of it. I have some ideas for careers that I’d like to start later, but for now I’m having way too much fun doing this.
The three ways that I challenge myself are…
1) Don’t be a slave to technology. It’s the other way around.
2)Write all the time. Don’t judge it until after it’s done, at the very least it will be good practice.
3)You’ve got one shot. Use it doing something productive with what you love.
I would love to have 5 minutes alone with…
Rivers Cuomo from Weezer. I think he is truly one of the few geniuses in music for our time. He has written an incredible number of songs, has a very high level of education, and every time I listen to a Weezer album I hear something new. “The Greatest Man That Ever Lived” talks about cockiness and overcompensating confidence, and slowly transitions into a sample of “Simple Gifts”, illustrating that the greatest man that ever lived is humble. I think it’s brilliant. It didn’t do as well as other songs like “Say It Ain’t So” and “Buddy Holly,” which I love too, but it’s so interesting in the way that he showed that point through the music and not just the lyrics. I don’t idolize many people, but he’s one of the few.
11. Do you find that there is too much emphasis on being current and trendy or Is there a balance that you have found helpful in your artistic decisions?
I think people get sucked into it too much. I tend to think about that when I’m choosing covers, but I’ve come to the realization that you’re either going to be retro or be trendy and it doesn’t matter so long as the song is a good one. Every time I play “What’s My Age Again?” by Blink-182 at a show at least 25% of the audience loses their minds and starts headbanging and singing along like it’s a primal chant. I’m realizing more and more that what you play and how you play it is more of a game of the heart than the mind.
You started singing…
when I was six years old with the Ragazzi Boys Choir in the San Fransisco Bay Area. I sang with them for 10 years, going on tours around the country, and the world. When I was twelve, I started playing guitar so I could write songs, and then I realized that I wanted to do what I was already doing with the choir, just with songs that I had a deeper connection to than classical music.
The story behind “Celebrity Crush” is…
I worked with producer Lynn Verlayne for many years. We wrote a lot of songs together when I lived in New York, but we also messed around and had fun. One time we were talking about how messed up it is that we, as a culture, idolize these celebrities that are photoshopped and groomed to be more than human, and “Celebrity Crush” was born out of that.
The back story behind “Celebrity Crush” is…
I was messing around playing power chords after our conversation and started singing the first two lines of the song. Lynn was like “whoa, that’s awesome! Keep going.” I threw out some other ideas and then finished it when I got home. It was a pretty easy one to write.
We can expect from your music…
What I love about my music, and people have told me this too, is that it’s very self-aware. A person can only truly see from their own perspective, even if they’re empathetic or understanding of someone elses. In my EP “Harrison” I wrote songs that really show how I think about things. “Celebrity Crush” is a parody like, daydream type song, but it’s how I see the situation of irrational expectations of celebrities today. My other songs, like “Let It Bleed” and “Alienist,” are much more psychological and theoretical, but still very much illustrate how I see situations. Because I put my own thoughts into my music, people seem to be able to relate to it more than some songs that have the goal of relating to a certain demographic.
The music scene where you live is..
Well I just moved to Los Angeles so I’m still new to it, but so far it’s been incredible. Hotel Cafe is an awesome little venue, and I went to Social State House the other night which has a cool upstairs stage. For me it’s all about the 15 minute drive on Sunset, which is awesome, since in New York it would take me a lot longer to get to shows typically.
Other than music you like to…
I love being out in nature. I grew up camping and going on hikes all the time, and it’s been awesome to explore the hills and beaches around Santa Monica.
The music business is…
one of the most unique industries right now because it is shattered. I truly believe no one knows what to do. We have major artists that are releasing record breaking albums without labels, releasing entire albums with music videos at once, and more labels than the world knows what to do with. No one can tell you the “right way” to go about it, the way that managers did twenty years ago. I think it makes it incredibly exciting. Having a business degree and looking into the chaos, there’s a lot of opportunities to find different objectives that work, often in ways that no one has explored before. While it’s terrifying and exhausting, it’s also pretty fascinating.
The pros and cons of the music business is…
The pro is that there is a culture, especially in Brooklyn and LA, of people who solely want to listen to indie artists. This is incredibly open minded, and allows for artists and bands to get recognized at a much smaller size than they ever would be before. I think the con is that it allows for a lot of noise in the industry, and you have to figure out how to make yours better and more in front of the listener. I probably spend half of my time during the day on marketing and going over business concepts and opportunities while the other time is writing.
You overcome hurdles and pitfalls by..
Closing your eyes. Taking a deep breath in. Hustle. Any type of career you want, you have to fully immerse yourself in it. I absolutely love diving into music. There are days that I will be writing or recording demos and realize that I’ve been working for six hours straight and haven’t eaten anything all day. That’s when you know you love something.
Social media is…
very similar to the music industry, in that it’s a lot of noise and you have to find how to bring yourself to the top. I do it by making connections on twitter, posting things that I find interesting and building a following of people who truly care about what I’m saying and posting. There are a lot of awkward situations, like people asking to meet me in person because they’ve never met a celebrity before. It’s very flattering, even though I tell them that I’m not really at that level yet, but you have to find a way to politely decline while still explaining to them that you appreciate your online relationship. It is such a weird concept, that we can have relationships with people we’ve never met in real life.
Releasing a single vs. an album…
I’ve released two singles, “Celebrity Crush” and “Ocean Skin,” as a way to promote the release of the EP, so I don’t have a lot of experience with that. Moving forward, I’m playing around with the idea of releasing only singles, and then putting together albums based on the concepts and how they fit together. I do want to do a concept album, because I think it’s a higher form of art. It’s the difference between writing a short story versus a novel. There’s nothing wrong with either, but we do value a novel slightly higher in that they tend to divulge more into the topics that are brought up.