From humble beginnings, local lad Nick Cummins was the recipient of a music scholarship which opened doors internationally, leading to collaborations with high calibre artists. Nick is in the midst of producing his debut EP, which is set to be released in the New Year …
Tell us about your connection with the local area …
I’ve been lucky enough to have spent all of my formative years in the Hastings area. When I was two, my parents made the call to move our family from the small tablelands town of Uralla to the beautiful coastal village of Bonny Hills. I lucked out pretty hard and had the best group of creative and motivated friends growing up. They were always keen to get out, explore the local area and do something fun.
Our time was pretty much all spent at the beach or in the bush tracks that led to them, whether it be surfing, swimming or playing on the rocks. This has created a really strong sense of identity and belonging with the rugged coastline of the Hastings area.
I believe the unquantifiable beauty of the landscape that shaped me has been the biggest influence on both my creativity and my outlook of the world.
You were lucky enough to be granted a scholarship, which has been a massive stepping stone for you pursuing your dreams. What was the scholarship process?
The scholarship program was the best experience of my life. I was lucky enough to be granted $10,000 by Create NSW, which is a subsidiary program of the NSW government. This funding allowed me to travel across the UK and Europe to gather experience by working in a number of recording studios, attend universities, be involved in music festivals and collaborate with international artists.
Where has this taken you?
The scholarship took me to some absolutely incredible and inspiring places. I was lucky enough to spend time in England, Switzerland, Italy, Czech Republic, Norway and Wales. Each country was a wildly different experience to the last and exposed me to so many new and challenging situations.
What inspires you?
As cliché as this sounds, everything.
The biggest inspiration for my music are experiences and the emotions associated with them. Whether they come from a positive place or a challenging place, everything that we experience as human beings shines through in our personalities and how we carry ourselves.
I’m one of the lucky ones and have been blessed with a bunch of amazing experiences. Being lost in breathtaking landscapes in new parts of the world, feeling connections grow with friends and lovers, moments of unbridled support from your family, and moments where you feel so comfortable in yourself.
Of course, there is the other side of coin, where you feel isolated, relationships fall apart and you doubt yourself or other people around you. These are also all massive sources of inspiration, as this is just as encouraging for growth and improvement as any positive experience.
You’ve written and produced a number of your own tracks now. What did you like about this process, and how would you describe your musical sound/vibe?
I absolutely love the songwriting process. I don’t stick to any certain template, but I have a couple of favourite ways to begin a song. I’ll usually being by creating a chord progression on either my guitar or piano and then build the song from there. I usually have very open chord progressions that allow a lot of space to include percussive elements and allow the melody to shine. I always make sure I have plenty of tea on hand and try to be as relaxed as possible, so that I can become fully immersed in the creative process.
After bones of the song are down, I then spend hours searching for the right sounds to convey the musical mood I’m trying to achieve. This part can be a lot more frustrating than the initial crafting of the song but once you hit the phonetical jackpot and craft the sounds you first envisioned, it’s such a rewarding experience.
I’d describe the music I write under the Laurel Laxxes project as ambient dance music.
I focus on trying to create beautiful chord progressions that are paired with shimmering melodies, whether they are performed by a guitar, a synth or the vocal line.
I also utilise a lot of percussion in my tracks, which are usually edited samples of field recordings that I’ve taken from things in everyday life that I think sound cool. Things such as the clangs of knives and forks in a drawer and the sound of dropping wood on to concrete are sounds that I’ve recorded and used in my music many times.
In terms of your career, where are you currently sitting, and how far off is your goal, do you feel?
I’m right at the beginning, and it’s so exciting! I’ve only just had my first song played on national radio and I’m just putting together my live show, for which I’ll tour my upcoming EP. I have my foot firmly in the door, so I just need to retain my focus, keep improving every day and the right things will happen. I’ve surrounded myself with the right kind of people to help me achieve what I want to achieve, which is to be a renowned and respected artist who can connect with people through my music.
I have quite an elaborate plan to start reaching my goals over the next two years, and I really feel as though with the right attitude and application, I can get to where I want to be.
Where can our readers go to listen to your releases and follow your journey?
My music is on Spotify, iTunes, Apple Music, Amazon and everywhere else digitally!
I’ll have physical copies of my upcoming EP, which is expected to be released in March, and they can follow me on most social media platforms such as Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.
Just search Laurel Laxxes!
Absolute pleasure, Sarah!