ASBO Meets: Young & Sick
Nick van Hofwegen who is better known as Young & Sick is a Dutch multi-threat artist who is not only an artist when it comes to music but also one whose talents expand to the visual sense. As someone who has designed cover artwork for Maroon 5 and Foster People to name a few. He is also an artist who has been on the rise for a while, with a string of singles, EPs and a debut album we caught up with Young & Sick just after the release of his latest EP Size of Relief which just came out this past Friday. We caught up with him to talk all things music, his creativity, the pressure to create music, where the future of music is going and more.
What was your first introduction to music?
My parents have always been big on good music. They gave me a turntable and their duplicate LPs as soon as I knew how to put the needle on.
Was there a particular artist who influenced you growing up?
The first time I saw Nirvana on MTV as a little kid made a huge impact on me. I remember wanting a guitar from that moment. My older brother traded in a bunch of rare Magic cards for a brand-less Les Paul electric. My dad rigged my stereo so I could play through it.
How did you discover or come into your sound when it comes to the music you make?
These days I usually let myself be guided by a good sample, sometimes chords, sometimes a drum pattern…
How would you describe your sound?
As ever-changing, danceable and generally quite hopeful.
What sort of things influence the music you make
My mood, weed, the people around me, my neighbourhood, tequila and the amount of animal-videos I’ve watched that day.
What is your approach when it comes to making music?
I usually start with a sample or riff, and then generally start singing quite quickly after that. I often record in my bedroom, so I start pretty much right after waking up… which is usually quite early (7 or 8 am)
In terms your music, you have a new EP Size of Relief which just came out this past Friday, what can you tell us about that?
I recorded the 7-track EP in various locations a little before the tour I did with The Knocks. I made a ton of songs, and the labels we work with and other friends sifted through them to find the best collection. I made the songs In Los Angeles and New Orleans.
How do you feel this EP represents where you are?
The subject matter of all of them is super personal and very close to home. It tackles the anxieties, hopes, dreams, heartbreak and fears in life, but it is weirdly hopeful.
What do you want people who listen to the EP to get across from listening to the EP?
I hope a few people take the time to listen to the whole thing, the songs sit quite well together. I think they can take you on a little trip. Other than that, I hope that what the music does to others, is what good music does to me. It keeps me going and brings me light.
Having released a number of projects over the years your debut album and a couple of EPs how do you feel musically you have grown?
I took time off in between to write with others, do sessions, and try to be musically as open as possible. Those experiences bleed into my own music. I think it’s helped me broaden my horizon, and helped me become a better writer and producer (I think / hope haha).
In terms of your creativity not just as an artist, how do you feel this has changed over the years?
I feel like I’ve become a stronger person in many ways, and I’ve found out that I will never give up doing this (music and art). I’ve realized change is super important and extremely healthy, that love can make you smile a lot, and that one’s 30s can be tougher on hangovers.
You have made some creative artwork not just for yourself but for other artists, how do you mirror your music as well as your design aesthetic when it comes to cover art?
I usually listen to the music I’m making the art for, and try to get as close as I can to understanding the people behind it. It brings me great joy to pair a song with good art.
How important do you feel visuals are?
Extremely. Specially these days… so much music and media is thrown at you at all times and we binge everything. It’s more and more important to make impactful art to accompany your music.
What do you feel have been some of your favourite cover art to design?
My own have been the most enjoyable because of the complete lack of restrictions and revisions. The downside is that I don’t pay very well and that I have to listen to my own stuff while doing it… For other’s, my favorite is the world I created for FOSTER THE PEOPLE, their fans are so amazing and get all the stuff tattooed and copy it onto their bedroom walls. Plus Mark is a brilliant writer, I love what he creates.
How do you feel your creativity in general has helped you grow as a person?
It has made my life a mess hahah, A beautiful, crazy, amazing, stupid mess……
When you look at the landscape of music right now how do you feel it has changed since you first started?
I wish I liked how it has changed more, but the streaming game has made us lazy, overstimulated, uninterested, impatient and distracted listeners… (including myself)
I hope that we get better at learning the stories around our favorite records, that we get better at taking in full albums; not just playlists and singles.
Where do feel the future of music is going?
I hope it goes “back” to a more detailed experience. I hope some of the “newer” acts get to experience long careers like some of our older favorites. I hope that we find a way to bring back bigger artwork and more focus on the live experience and physical elements. Nice deluxe Vinyl records with pretty booklets, and an abundance of info haha.
In a time where there is so much new music and consumption is at a all time high how do you feel your music stands out?
I try to take enough risks to not just be another playlist filler. I hopefully make you at least perk up to find out what you just heard if you didn’t know me. The art part helps.
Do you feel pressure to be constantly creating and making music?
I feel pure joy from constantly creating, and it is one of my favorite parts of the streaming change. The apps make it easy to keep putting out new things.
Where do you see your music going in the next couple of years?
I see my sound going through many changes, I see a lot of live shows and a constantly changing live experience.
What can we expect from you next?
A lot more music, a lot more risks, awkward dance moves, weirder art, and if you’re staying over… some of my signature breakfast burritos.
Words: Seneo Mwamba