NW 23rd Ave Interview: an update with Nick Dothée
Long-time readers may remember that my very first interview for the NW 23rd Ave blog was with local singer/songwriter Nick Dothée. Eight months later, Nick’s enthusiasm for his music and his willingness to share his story has kept his interview as one of my favorites to date. Just over a year ago Nick moved to Portland from New York City in search of a fresh start and a more accepting environment in which to work on his first solo project. Now, with his first solo EP My Own Devices complete and set to release tomorrow, I sat down with Nick again to talk about his music, his first year in Portland and what’s ahead.
Let’s get one thing straight. How do you pronounce your name?
Ha. I would love for people to get that straight. This name has haunted me my whole life. I have heard it all. Well, let’s start with that it is French. The accent, accent aigu, makes the last syllable AYE. It is like café or résumé. DOE TAY.
Describe My Own Devices in 10 words or less.
Personal. Self-Discovery. Heart on my sleeve.
How has recording in Portland been?
Portland is a music city. Everyone is in a couple of bands and plays three instruments. Luckily everybody is also very welcoming and interested in helping out to create new art. I am very fond of The Secret Society next to the Wonder Ballroom. The atmosphere and equipment is excellent. Jordan, the sound engineer, really takes care of you. I took a little tour of it before I moved to Portland and I have to say it made a difference in my decision. Something about it… it’s just a great space to be in. I plan on doing many more recordings there.
How did the move from NY to Portland change or evolve the EP?
I think the move gave me the freedom to leave myself alone. Ehren and I just kind of felt our way through this project and didn’t really try to force anything on it. I became comfortable with mistakes and not striving for perfection but rather for the truth. These songs wouldn’t sound the same if I was still on the east coast.
Well, they already don’t sound the same. You never really stop exploring a song. Each new day informs the way you interpret or perform a song so you have to just kind of go with those instincts and let it filter through you. That is the fun part. An amazing violin player came into my everyday life and now all my songs have this strong violin part which changes the feel yet again. You always want to keep it interesting, not just for the listeners, but for yourself as an artist.
How has living in the NW 23rd Ave neighborhood helped or affected you over the past year?
I’d say the best part about living in the NW neighborhood is the everyday connections with business owners and young entrepreneurs. I am fortunate enough to get the support of a lot of people because I’ve got NW 23rd Ave on my side. It really is a community.
Name your top 3 favorite recording artists.
This is hard and forever changing.
Name the 3 musicians who most inspire you.
Ingrid Michaelson above all inspired me to take a break from theatre and take a chance on songwriting. Because that is what she did. I heard an interview with her and it hit me so hard; something about her story made me believe I could do it, too.
Any favorite local artists that you want to mention?
Jordan Harris (to be featured on my upcoming Live EP)
What inspires you besides music?
I am inspired by so many things.
Laughter. My sister’s children.
An amazing old black-and-white photo. The way the sunlight hits a close friend’s face. Crying.
I am mostly inspired by being a disaster and learning how to live with other disasters in order to help each other clean our messes and hush the demons in our heads and somehow just enjoy the day. It is all we have.
Do you have a favorite line from the EP?
Hmm this is hard. Sometimes things feel better when you sing them and then look much different on paper.
The bridge for “Running” comes to mind: “And if you’re thinking I look weak, I ran so fast I couldn’t find my breath to speak.”
I also like in “My Own Devices:” “I love you like a child, but I’m weak as a man.”
Okay so they both involve weak… interesting… never really noticed that.
Here’s what everyone wants to know: How can we get it and when can we see you?
You can buy physical copies through my website or if you happen to be in Santa Cruz, California you can pick it up at The True Olive Connection: www.trueoliveconnection.com. My cousin recently opened this amazing store in the heart of Santa Cruz that sells strictly high end infused olive oils and aged balsamic vinegar and now my CD.
It will also be available in Portland at Music Millennium: www.musicmillennium.com.
I will have a live in-store performance at Music Millennium (3158 East Burnside Street) on Thursday March 3rd at 6pm. Be there.
The CD release party is the following night, March 4th at Someday Lounge (125 SW 5th Ave) at 9pm (21+). More performances are in the works for the month of March so check the website.
In April I am releasing an acoustic live EP that will feature local singer/songwriter Jordan Harris.
What can we look forward to from Nick Dothée?
I definitely have a lot up my sleeve for this year. I wrote a lot while we were recording this EP and I am always trying to evolve my sound and keep it relevant and exciting; if not for everyone else then at least for me. You can look forward to my Live EP, The Secret Society Sessions out sometime in April. There will also be a new studio single called “Healing Time” to follow. I will be doing a lot of local shows to promote this record and perhaps even some east coast shows with old friends. Also, the seeds are planted for a full length album. Just need a little more water first.
Thanks again to Nick for sitting down with me.
Once again for more information about Nick, his music and upcoming shows visit www.nickdothee.com