After graduating high school a year younger than her classmates, Nichols decided to take a year off before attending Sarah Lawrence. She dedicated time to creating music, performing, and recording her first EP, Acclimating. The whole process started when she met her record producer at an audition held by a small German band looking for a new member. Her future producer ended up being more interested in helping her create a solo career than signing her to the band. The resulting album includes songs that Nichols had been working on for years, including “I Have the Nerve” which she wrote at 16, and “Fade”, written when she was just 14. Along with her vocals and guitar, Nichols brought a cellist and a keyboardist in to expand her sound. The result is a collection of five songs which propelled Nichols into the world of young independent artists.
Anything But Scared, Nichols’ sophomore EP, was released just a few weeks ago and the title is telling of Nichols’ musical evolution. “Runaway”, “Kitchen”, and “Porcelain” are her three new songs, and each holds a different tone. Nichols notes the higher production level of her second album, which she recorded over the summer of 2011. She notes, “The sounds are more fleshed out. There are new electronic elements that I really love.” One track, “Acclimating”, which debuted on Nichols’ first album, is also on her newest album. One of her best compositions, Nichols decided to make a music video of the song in the Spring of 2011, which was directed by Katherine Harrison, class of ’14, and yours truly.
Between the recordings of her two EP’s, Nichols has grown as an artist through her experience as a Sarah Lawrence student. After being torn between attending Berkley and SLC, Nichols chose SLC because, “I just knew I was supposed to be here.” The freedom of the education is very important to Nichols, and she loves being able to incorporate her music with a fantastic education. “The professors and community appreciate the unconventional idea of what you want to do with your life,” she says. Becoming self-sufficient, as every college student must, has played a significant hand in Nichols’ personal and creative growth.
Even with the satisfaction of releasing her second album, Nichols still feels that she has a lot to learn. Publicizing oneself as an independent artist is incredibly time-consuming and takes finesse, which is why most successful artists depend on their record labels to do the legwork. However, Nichols is starting to take advantage of her environment and the internet, specifically Twitter, to spread the word. Fortunately, there are many acclaimed independent artists to look up to at the moment. Bon Iver and Imogen Heap are two of the most influential for Nichols, as well as Laura Marling and Feist, who she admires for their songwriting. Nichols’ advice to new artists is simple: “Make connections. The only way I have been able to do anything is through a connection with someone. Whether it’s a producer or a student in class that you want to jam with. Everything counts.”
Check out Dylan Nichols on her website to find out more about her releases and upcoming shows!
Image credit: Dylan Nichols, Katherine Harrison