Hissom has been making big waves since our last interview one year ago. With a new single featuring Zoey Dollaz and an album on the way, we had a lot to catch up on.
Nick is not what you expect. He's a pop R&B artist from London that has inexplicably climbed the ranks in Miami's music scene, and is now working with the likes of Rick Ross (the Bruce Springsteen of Miami). He dresses like a rockstar and moves with the swagger of a fashion model (which technically he was), but still manages to come across as incredibly humble. Nick might seem larger than life and too cool for school in videos like "He Ain't Better ft. Zoey Dollaz," but he will do anything to show appreciation to his fans.
He Ain't Better Ft. Zoey Dollaz www.youtube.com
We recently got together on the eve of the single's release in the boardroom at Popdust headquarters. We talked for over an hour about everything from our love of string instruments, to fashion, and hurricanes. Maybe the full audio will get leaked one day, but until then, here are some of the highlights.
We were just talking about how you engaged with fans at a station in the middle of nowhere Texas, is engaging your fans important to you?
I have the most amazing fans. If someone is connecting with my music, I want to connect with them. You have to give your time to people.
Your song, "He Ain't Better" has like 2 million streams on Spotify, which is incredible, plus you have some big names associated with this new album.
Yeah, we got Rick Ross, Bryson tiller, Scott Storch and Mario.
Popdust just did an interview with Mario, actually. ⚡️😜
Isn't his new album sick? And see, a lot of people who are making music now are very trendy, and of course it's important to be trendy, but I think it's more important to be trendy with your clothes than it is with music because a good song lasts for years and years or a lifetime, people will internalize music, right? And when it becomes meaningful to someone it never gets old to them, and if it does get old to them it brings them back to a time and place. In terms of trends, I think fashion, yes, social media yes, but in terms of music, I always believed in working with people that make music that I love, whether they're the number one guy right now or not, because you can only stay at number one on the chart for so long.
So the content needs to be thorough?
Yeah. You look back at pictures of yourself and you're like "oh wow what was I wearing," but it was just the fashion of the time. But you need to be able to look back at the substance of the content you made and see that it continues to work, continues to impact people and move people. So I don't just run for the hottest producer on the charts. When I make music I think about which artists I love, what music and sounds I love, and then I collaborate with the people who I think are the best at delivering that kind of music.
And what are those sounds for you?
There has to be a depth, there has to be love or some kind of true emotion invested into it. A lot of it is on the slightly darker or slower side vs. the super happy and up tempo side just because I'm a bit more mellow as a person than I am like raging in the club. And then it has to bring together elements that I like, it has to be smooth, it has to sound really good, it has to sound beautiful. I love strings, l love violins, the drama and beauty of that instrument.
There's a natural tension within a string instrument.
Right, exactly. I love the whole feel of that tension from the strings and that beauty, but then at the same time you want the music to be dope, so you want to have a super cool beat. So kind of how I describe my music is you walk in and its big and it's massive and you're like "yo whats up? I'm here and it's lit" but at the same time I want people to care and be emotionally affected by it.
So you're originally from London but live in Miami now. How is Europe's music scene different?
I think Europe is a little bit less of a cultural revolving door. In America there is just so much music and people have such a short attention span, it can be hard to get Americans to give your music a chance. It's hard when you're a pop artist and you have music that isn't immediately twerking all over your face. Because if it's not twerking all over your face from the first second out, it's hard for it to get any attention. In Europe people are more likely to give a song more of a chance, and so in Europe you maybe have like 10 seconds instead of 2 for someone to get hooked on your song. Then after it becomes a hit overseas, American audiences are more likely to give it a chance. And I think my music needs that chance, needs to be listened to a little bit more deeply. It's a hard balance to make music that immediately hooks people but that also has feel and depth.
So many people make music now because it's become so accessible, you can literally make beats on your iPhone now. How do you think that affects the music industry?
So many people make music which is great because it's more accessible and more people have the opportunity to express themselves, but it has also become harder and harder to be heard. It's easy enough to have your one second in the spotlight, but if you don't keep giving people a reason to follow you, they'll forget about you really quickly. The entertainment business is like riding a wave and you can fall off at any moment. But like I said before, authenticity and quality are timeless. Which is why I've always just been about making quality content, I'm not interested in just making headlines.
What else is coming up for you?
Right now I'm really in a promo and touring phase, so I'm really about meeting and connecting with people. It usually works that you make an album and some of the records start connecting, and you build from there and just let it naturally evolve.
How do you know when to stop working on an album?
I think you need to just decide that it's done at some point, because at the point that you're driving yourself insane with tiny things, you just need to tell yourself to stop. Because no one listening to the song is going to know that six versions ago the drum was a little louder. But I also think that when you have a great song, and you know it's a great song but you're at the point where you aren't sure what else to do with it, then another artist can come in and reinterpret it and bring a new life into it by focusing on a different aspect. And that's what's so cool about remixes.
So does that kind of collaboration happen behind the scenes like through managers etc.?
Yeah, in the studios. And if you break it down, in the whole city of Miami you probably have 15 rooms total between all the studios. So in Miami you have Birdman, Nicki Minaj, Cash Money, Enrique Iglesias, Seline, Gloria Estefan, all the Latin artists, so you get into that scene, and all those people are in the same 15 rooms every single night. So what happens is you meet a producer and they know other artists and soon you end up meeting people and people jump on your tracks. Listening to everyone else's music like that, it not only inspires you but it gives you an idea of the way the sound and the culture is moving.
So when will you release your new album?
2019, but it's also always up in the air because the music industry moves so fast, and if you just throw your music out there without a real plan it's hard to make sure that anyone is going to hear it.
Anything else you want fans to know?
You can follow me on all my socials, and check out the new album when it comes out. I love making music, so I just hope people love listening to it.
Brent Butler is a NYC-based rapper, producer, and guitarist. He is a regular contributor to Popdust and host of Popdust Presents. Follow Brent on Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | Soundcloud | and check out his debut solo EP, | L I L A C |