Interview with Nick Depew of Relevant Discord

Ugly Scene interviews Nick Depew of Relevant Discord. We talk about his solo albums, how he infuses cello and violin into his music, his book and more. See the link at the end of the interview for more information. UglyScene: Thank you for taking the time to speak with me. I really appreciate it. Nick: Thank you very much I appreciate the opportunity. UglyScene: I saw you just had another interview recently and wanted to span away a little from what they talked to you about. Just to go in a little different direction and then ask some general questions. I did want to ask about the photography on the web site. Was all of it done by you? Nick: The photos of me were done by a friend that I’ve had for years who has moved up to the Seattle area. He has done a lot of band photos and is starting to work on some music videos. I took the behind the scenes photography, minus a couple of pictures, and I did throw some stock photos too. When I started the site the album covers were also done by me. UglyScene: How much of the photos of nature and your surroundings are an inspiration of your songs. Nick: A lot of the songs cover issues relating to loss, despair, grief and trying to find ways out of those situations. As far as personally getting inspired to write over the years I think that nature, the seasons and the environment at certain times of the year bring out the creative juices. UglyScene: How did the band start and how did the name Relevant Discord come about? Nick: I picked up the guitar and started writing songs in high school. Soon I found out I had a solo album put together and needed an album title for it. In nature some of the imagery, on the creative side, captured what I was going for. I put the band meaning on the page because I know a lot of people ask about what it means. Relevant Discord has a lot of meanings and I was trying to find initially a meaning with purpose, duty in the midst of chaos, and uncertainty. I was playing with different word options and I was hearing different sounds as far as statics when I was getting ideas for names. When I created my first solo album I phrased a bunch of words together and song licks and the name was created. It was during my first solo album that I wrote back in 97-98 that wasn’t released until 2001. As far as Relevant Discord becoming a band name I knew that over the years I was going to go away from the solo aspect and was going to turn into a band. The name was my default option and always stuck with me. I thought if I couldn’t think of anything better that was going to be the name we went with. UglyScene: It seems you have found a great partnership with Jai (Callahan). How did that come about? How did you guys meet? Nick: We have some mutual friends and his parents were in the music scene with a lot of huge bands during the late 60’s, 70’s and 80’s. Jai and I found out that we are on the same page in a lot of ways of how we think about music. His parents had a little studio in their garage and I was at the point where I was wanting to record some of the Relevant Discord demo work from a few years ago. I asked if they would be willing for me to come in and doing something. They said sure and it took a while for the schedule to get lined up but from there I was working with his dad and him. Then it turned out to be just the two of us working on the projects together. He does a lot of solo stuff and comes in when he can but Jai is just a great guy. UglyScene: I love the sound of the Cello (Scott Fegette) and Violin (Stephanie Lee) when it is infused with rock. What inspired you to involve those sounds in your music? Nick: Initially I have had a couple of people say the music sounds like some of the current music out there. This is something that I have wanted to do since the early 90’s during the grunge scene. I’m thinking back to Nirvana’s unplugged set where they brought in the cello’s and the string for those sets. Also with songs like Bush’s Glycerine where they had the strings and then Smashing Pumpkins Tonight Tonight with more of the full orchestra sound. I love that kind of contrast and it always spoke to me. When I did my solo album in 2001 I wanted that sound in my music too. It was before Evanescence, Apocalyptica, and well known bands like them. Not every song is going to have it but a fair number of them will incorporate some sort of element. UglyScene: You have done co-production with Sylvia (Massy) and Rich (Veltrop). They have worked with Tool, System of a Down, and 311, who of course have roots here in Omaha, NE. How was that experience and are you doing anything more with them? Nick: So far we have just done the two songs with them. I started my own record label when I was graduating college and I am really trying to stay out of the major label scene. When I met with Sylvia she asked what my goals were and if I was trying to get signed. When I started the company I had to research all of the ins and the outs. I saw what the labels do and how they can take advantage of artists especially now that cd sells aren’t on the rise. I told her I wanted to stay independent if at all possible. She gave me a nod of assurance that it’s the way to do it. The tricky part is that I have to fund it all but I’ve got the open door from both Sylvia and Rich. We worked out a partnership where I can go back whenever it is convenient to keep plugging away because I have albums sitting and waiting to go. Ugly Scene: When it came to your dreams as a musician who is your biggest influences? Also who were/are your biggest supporters? Nick: For me it all started with the grunge movement, Nirvana, Bush, Live and bands like that. I think the guitar riffs are what really got me with the grunge music scene. As far as supporters it may seem a bit weird but our international audiences have been more receptive so far than the local scene. In our last interview with May the Rock be With You they is based in Australia. We are finding international groups of people that are gravitating towards our music including a large group in Spain. There are also different internet radio stations following us. On a more local basis we have the support of close friends and family. UglyScene: You mentioned the money aspect of being a musician. Is there anything else that has been a big challenge so far? Nick: The biggest challenge is the return on investment. I’m not doing it for the money and not looking to be a multi millionaire. I do this because I love it. It’s in you and you have to express it somehow. On the other hand you want to do it right. That is where the money comes in. Unfortunately it is a real hard thing to do this day and age to get a return on your investment. You can say we spent X amount and only recouped 5% of it so how do we go back into the studio and do more? That’s the big hurdle at this point. UglyScene: What is the music scene like in Oregon? Nick: Our local scene here in Southern Oregon is a mix of heavy screamo, folk acoustic, and blues sound. As far as the rest of Oregon a lot of it seems to be the light alternative or acoustic folk seems to be really common and picking up steam over the last few years. UglyScene: I love all the songs but I would like to talk to you about the song Today we Remember and what it means to you? Nick: That is one of the ones that I consider demo quality and is going to be re-recorded with Sylvia and Rich and given the full treatment. The song specifically was about a few things over the years that I wanted to write about. For instance when you see a major tragedy in the world where everyone can connect on some level. A lot of my family is from England and I remember when Princess Diana was killed and how you saw the world stop and grieve for a moment. I believe I created the guitar riff on September 11th. It’s about remembering and about when people experience a loss and there is a community connection. I wanted to address that on some sort of level and don’t like to get too specific with my lyrics and say it’s specifically about one event. I like people to personalize it and frame it within their own set of circumstances for what they are going through. It is tied in with when you see major events that change and shape the world. It could also be interpreted to be events that change and shape someone personally and valuing their relationships about things that were and things that were lost. UglyScene: You hit on this point but Days of Deferment and Refrain on the CD will we see more coming out to be added to it? Nick: I will give you the hidden background on that one. Right now it actually is a fifteen track record if all goes according to plan. It is and isn’t a concept album. What we were just talking about, Today We Remember, will probably be about track five. The album title is The Pathways of Brokenness and the first demo was called Vol. 01. It will be one long story where you address different issues of what people are going through. Pain, suffering, loss, rejection, loneliness, grief and then go on where people find a way to carry oneself out as the album progresses. UglyScene: If you could tour with anyone who would it be? Nick: I know a lot of musicians will say the same thing because there are so many people that you look up to but you are afraid if you meet them are you going to lose that respect for them. One of my favorites over the years is Bush because a couple of their songs inspired me to pick up the guitar and learn. Some of our songs are a little bit heavier and it just depends. I would really love to tour with Bush. On a smaller scale I would say Red because a lot of people say that we sound like them. Another would be Nine Inch Nails. I know they are not touring anymore, but they were a major influence as well. UglyScene: Is there any advice you can give other artists just getting started in the music industry? Nick: I mentor kids who are interested in music because I have been doing music for the last ten plus years. What I try to tell them is to practice but at the same time pay attention to the business side of it. That is where so many bands and so many artists will last for a few months and then it all falls apart. Read the articles and look at where the industry is going. Look at where bands are being innovative like Trent Reznor who gave away his music and even the Smashing Pumpkins did that with their last experiment project. Don’t be afraid to talk to someone and ask for advice on creating a solid business presence. That is the backbone that keeps it going. If they are doing it as a hobby that is great and enjoy it. If they want to make it more they need to be aware of that side. UglyScene: Tell me a little about your book that came out in 2005 self published on iUniverse “Character in Transition – A Guide to Not Burning the Bridge”. Nick: The story behind that is that I was working in a job at a resort and basically they were starting to promote little self help books to their employees. I was looking at them thinking I can write that. I studied business and these things make sense to me. I like to reason things out and look for the common sense in things and doesn’t just accept what someone is pushing. At the same time our company was going through some changes and some of the people in the departments decided to make a huge mess of things when they left. They sabotaged things, destroyed records, and I knew I wanted to get out of that company but wanted to leave on a good note. I wanted to keep my book simple like when a college student has a supplemental text book for a course. I also wanted someone to be able to skim through it and be able to get the point quickly and make it an easy read. It is basically saying how to be able to walk out of a job correctly if you are making a major life change or transition. It explains how to leave and keep a good reputation at the same time. Your reputation is one of the most important things especially when finding a future job. Don’t be the guy or girl that is slacking off before they leave because people remember those last couple of weeks. You want to leave with people saying wow we are going to miss them. UglyScene: I see on your web site that you have a Giving Back section with links to many helpful sites. One of the purposes for UglyScene is looking at the other side of glam. Also that if a person hears someone that they look up to musically talk about certain issues or hear a song that they can relate to just maybe they can get the help they need. Would you like to talk about anything regarding this? Nick: As far as the music side, and we are not coming from a drug base or anything like that, but as far as what I write about in the full album it is about getting through that. It really addresses people dealing with issues of loss, despair, grief, rejection, loneliness and all of the things that so many people struggle with. It’s about emotional issues that tear people up and it’s about stopping and acknowledging that these things do happen to people. I have gone through issues relating to these things. There is nothing major that has destroyed my life but when you go through these things like being rejected and loneliness you try and find a way to build out of it. It is going to be different for everybody on how they try to find what is truth and what is real in the process of finding answers of how to get out of those situations. UglyScene: I see that your music is available on iTunes, Amazon MP3, & CD Baby and you have a clothing line. There is also a Donation page to help continue to cover all the costs associated with making and promoting your music. Nick: We are in the building phase and I need to keep working it like a business. We are going to look at a Kickstarter campaign at the end of the year after we have built our fan base a bit more. UglyScene: Is there anything else you would like to add? Nick: If people like our music they can buy the songs through one of the sites. Fans can make a donation to keep us going and doing what we love to do. There is a lot of people asking when the next album coming out and we want to get it to them but we have to get the funds to do it. If people can’t afford to donate we encourage them to listen to it, join us on Facebook, and even just talk about our music. If people are out there paying attention that is going to get us heading in the right direction. UglyScene: Thank you so much for your time and the interview. Nick: I really appreciate this so thank you.

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