Nick Dean is an alternative-pop singer/songwriter/producer and filmmaker. His early years were unconventional—living and traveling abroad, creating music and having the freedom to exist on a “road less traveled.” When he was 5, Nick’s family abandoned the typical American lifestyle for a simpler one in the South of France. The family settled in the small, rural farming village of Vernègues, where they immersed themselves in the local language and life. During their years abroad, Nick traveled extensively across North Africa, Central America and Asia, where his mother laid the foundation for a humanitarian organization she would later create. Discovering his passion for music early on, Nick capitalized on this wide range of audiences, finding his way onto small stages in local bars in Cuba and Costa Rica.
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Sean Ritchie: To start this off, talk a little bit about where you grew up. Do you think that growing up in so many different places broadened your perspective and matured you at an earlier age?
Nick Dean: I was born in Orlando, and lived there for four years. My parents were unhappy, they had me when they were really young. They dropped everything that they had built in their early 20’s and we ended up leaving everything in the United States, and I grew up in the South of France. I grew up about an hour away from Marseille for seven-eight years. Then we came back to the US to live in Rochester. We lived there for around four years. After that, I moved out here to California.
I think it definitely did. Especially because my mom is a humanitarian, she runs a lot of non-profit organizations around Southeast Asia, India and Africa, as well. So, on top of traveling and being exposed to different cultures, I was exposed to a lot of the hardships these places were facing. I’ve been exposed to a lot. That for sure broadens your perspective in a worldly sense. It makes you think that if things are bad in the US, they’re really bad here.
SR: I couldn’t agree more. To bring it into your music a bit, what was your first, real exposure to music? How did you get inspired to start creating your own?
ND: When I grew up in France, I was taken away from pop music in general. I grew up in a town of 300. There wasn’t music exposure to that world. All I had were The Beatles and The Beach Boys CD’s. I was always infatuated with the English language, because I was limited to it. My parents spoke English, but all my friends and everyone else spoke French. I think I found comfort in hearing English songs. I knew 50+ Beatles songs backwards and forwards by the time I was five. My first exposure was for sure The Beatles.
As I grew older, I oddly got into classical music, because that’s what I was exposed to in France. I was exposed to a lot of Mozart. I auditioned for a boys choir when I was eight, and by the time I was nine I was touring all around Europe and these crazy different places. I was staying with a different family every, single night. It was a cool experience. It was the first time I’d been away from home.
SR: I was reading that you’re not only big into music, but also creating visual content. How did your passion for that come about?
ND: I was at a point in Los Angeles where I didn’t have much to lose in a sense. I had just separated from a label and I had no money. I was working in retail in the stockroom of this store in Santa Monica. I worked there for a few years. Through this store I somehow met all these content creators. These guys that get paid to travel the world and do whatever they want shooting videos. They take the time and discover new places while having fun. At the time I was like, “Really, that’s a thing?” So, I kind of clung to that idea, because I wanted to be out of the place that I had been in so bad. I was at a point where I would learn any new skill or do anything to get out of this rut that I put myself in.
SR: That’s great! That ties into my next question. You helped produce “GO 2.0” by Burak Yeter x Ryan Riback music video. Talk about that experience and what it was like shooting that?
ND: It’s so much fun doing these shoots, because it’s so run and gun. Our crews exist of three or four people, so a lot of what we do isn’t planned and there aren’t permits. There’s no anything. It really is just a lot of fun going out and doing these things. When I pitch these projects I almost in a selfish way think where I want to go and do. I think if you’re having fun in the process it really does translate in the final product.
SR: I also had a chance to listen to your single “How Did We?” and I’m a fan. I really enjoyed it. Talk about creating that song. I know it’s only been out a short while, but how has it been received?
ND: I’ve been watching the numbers and it’s really doing its thing. It’s really cool, because I’m an independent artist. It’s really nerve-wracking releasing your first song as an independent artist. You have no clue what to expect. You have nothing to go off of. It’s a little bit different when you’re signed to a label and you’re under an umbrella of sorts. I was nervous, but I was willing to fail. I knew I was releasing a record that I really liked. We cut this record in like 48 hours. I had just landed in LA after coming back from Italy. After it I had to fly to Iceland for another video project. So, it’s kind of cool, because you can almost hear how tired my voice was. That made it interesting tone wise.
SR: I also feel that sometimes when you don’t over analyze it makes it more natural. That’s cool that you were able to pump that out in a short amount of time.
ND: Yes! I have a profound respect for imperfection, because it makes it cool in a sense. I kind of let down the need for it to be perfect. I think that’s kind of how it came together.
SR: To transfer back into travel, when you are looking for a vacation, you have some downtime, are you more of a beach guy? Up in the mountains? Or, searching for a city with some activity.
ND: Really good question! When I go to New York City, after that I want to go to the Mountains and after that I want to go to the beach. When you’re traveling you start to crave something different each and every time. At the moment, I’m kind of feeling mountains right now. I’d like to go to Colorado. I feel like I don’t travel enough if the US. There is so much here. I want to go somewhere with great fall weather right now.
SR: I love to ask well-traveled people if there are any destinations that they haven’t been to, but want to see. What are two or three on your list?
ND: I would say New Zealand, Bali, Norway and Dubai.
SR: One of our main goals at SCP is to bring people together while traveling. We feel that if people experience something foreign to them, it makes it less so and that brings people’s mindsets closer. People become more accepting and understanding. I feel that has a lot of parallels with music, because you’re constantly traveling bringing people together for your concerts. How special is it to be able to travel and unite people under your sound.
ND: I think being able to make art, or whatever it is someone makes, and just being a creator brings people together, because it gives something to have in common with someone else completely different to them. It brings a lot of different people together. Also, when you create something you get to meet and know a lot of different people you would have never thought you’d be friends with. It’s the reason why I do what I do. Hopefully I’m inspiring a couple people along the way to do what they want to do.
SR: It’s really cool to hear that. Lastly, to wrap this up, what do the next couple of months have in store?
ND: I’m really trying to go to Iceland. Before the end of this year I’m also trying to go to NYC and London. I’m going to Mexico this month, as well. I’m pitching something for Dubai, so I want to go there, as well. It’s been crazy. I’m just trying to keep moving. I’m having way too much fun.