An original member of Arctic Monkeys, Nicholson parted ways with the Sheffield indie icons in 2006 after the release of their acclaimed debut album ‘Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not‘. Since then, he’s led a prolific life as a musician, DJ, record producer, and photographer – forming the band Mongrel, as well as briefly joining Reverend & The Makers, Lords of Flatbush and hip-hop collective Clubs & Spades, as well as producing for Toddla T, Swindle, Tom Prior and Terri Walker among others.
Now he’s back with something a little more slick and soulful – taken from his upcoming self-titled “genre-bending” EP featuring singer-songwriter Hannah Yadi.
“This project came about towards the end of last year,” Nicholson told NME. “My daughter was born in December, and before then I was just in the studio thinking that I might not get as much time in there as I’d had before so I just knuckled down.
“The first song I made was actually ‘Doin’ Better’, just as this random instrumental. At that point I was just like, ‘This feels that it could be something on its own. This could be the start of a project that I just do by myself’. I loved it. I decided I was going to do all of the writing, recording, producing, mixing, artwork, and take as much control as possible.
He continued: “Obviously I’m not singing on it, that’s a girl called Hannah Yadi. She’s a really great songwriter who I got put in touch with via my friend Toddla T. We met and it just worked really well first time so she ended up doing the vocals on the whole EP and we wrote the songs together over the instrumentals that I’d already made.”
“That’s what sets it apart – it’s all mine, I’m making every decision and I’ve got to take the credit for everything; whether it’s good or bad. It’s all me so if everyone hates it then it’s all my fault, and if everyone loves it then that’s my fault too. Hopefully they will.”
You’ve crossed quite a few genres across your career. What were you going for with this project?
“For me, it’s a mixture of everything I’ve ever done musically. It’s probably leaning a little more towards the band-y side. I did some gigs with it supporting Joe Carnall on his Good Cop Bad Cop project. I put a five-piece band together with some friends from Sheffield and we went and played to turn it from a studio thing to a live thing and it worked really well. It took a lot from the band stuff that I’ve done, influence-wise, but production-wise it comes from everything else that I’ve done with hip-hop and that.”
Who wrote the lyrics across the record?
“It’s 50/50 with me and Hannah writing lyrics together. She’s really good with vocal melodies so she writes those then I move things around and we discuss what we want to say and how we want to say it. Every song was written in a day then we’d just keep moving along.”
What was the lyrical vibe and inspiration across the EP?
“Lyrically, it’s kind of diverse. Some are personal, some not so personal, some are from Hannah’s side and some are from my side. When we were writing lyrics I was very clear to Hannah that I didn’t want there to be any negative stuff. I wanted it to all be be positive, uplifting and telling people that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. I always think that Oasis’ songs are like that lyrically. They’re never like ‘It’s done, it’s down, it’s over’. They’re more like ‘You might be in this place now but there’s always hope and it can always get better’.”
Do you still keep in touch with Arctic Monkeys?
“Yeah, when they’re back in Sheffield we go out for some food or if I happen to be in the same country as them then we try to meet up when we can and text. It’s one of those things when you grow up; they’re busy doing their thing and I’m busy doing mine. It’s usually Christmases and birthdays when we exchange texts but we see each other when we can.”
Looking at them now from outside the band, are you surprised by the huge leaps they take between records?
“No, not really. I’m never surprised because I know they never want to do the same thing twice and they want to keep things moving. That’s the way music should be, especially if it’s been successful. If you look at all their albums, nothing really sounds the same.”
Would you ever work with the band again as a producer, or with Alex Turner or Matt Helders’ solo project?
“Of course, if anyone was to ask. I’d love to work with anybody. Just sharing musical ideas and getting from point A to point B is very exciting, especially when you skip to point C. I’d make music with any of them. If they rang me or texted then I definitely would.”
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TOUR SUPPORT DONE. THANKS TO @goodcopbadcopband FOR HAVING US AND A BIG SHOUT OUT TO THESE 5 PEOPLE HELPING ME BRING MY MUSIC TO LIFE. IV BEEN WORKING ON THESE SONGS FOR MONTHS WRITING,PLAYING,RECORDING AND MIXING IT ALL. FIRST SINGLE RELESE DATE COMING REAL SOON. ITS ALIVE #Goldteeth #goodcopbadcop #music #comingsoon
Who else are you looking to work with?
“There are a few people from different levels. I’ve been talking to Murkage Dave about doing some work on his next album because he says he wants to get in the studio. He did really well with his last album and he’s done it all on his own, he’s done very well. There’s a lad called Tom Prior who’s a really good singer-songwriter. He used to be a little more piano led but he’s evolving sound. There’s also a singer called Rosie Lowe I’d like to work with, another called Raye who’s got a really good voice. You never know what’s going to happen.”
The Monkeys have moved on, you have moved on, and the scene has moved on. How do you feel about guitar music in 2019?
“I feel like it definitely took a big dip and went away from being the number one genre, but I feel like it’s building again. There are a lot of good bands doing quite well. The way that everyone can buy a laptop and record themselves is probably changing things, along with the way that people consume music. You can make a song today and it will be out tomorrow. It lends itself more to technology these days, and you don’t see a bunch of people coming together as much. I do think we’ll see guitar bands taking form again though, in some way.”
Will there be a Goldteeth album in the future?
“I want to keep working. I’ve nearly got another EP all together, so after that I’d love to potentially do an album. I’ll probably work with Hannah again on some songs and work with some different songwriters and see how it comes about. I want to do loads more gigs and loads more production for other people. It’s been an idea in my head for so long and now I’m excited for it to be a real thing that exists for people.”