Artists You Should Know: New Artist nick. the girl Talks Debut Single “Giuseppe Depression”
By Ian Freeman
April 25, 2022
New artist, nick. the girl’s — you say the whole thing like, a pimp named slickback– debut single, “Giuseppe Depression” is addictive. An intoxicating track for the Euphoria generation, the mix of Deener’s (fka Wizz Dumb) production cut with her slow flow, blurs the lines between R&B, alternative, and hip-hop. The accompanying visuals perfectly complement the track as nick. the girl glides between urban cool and film Noir, playing both fashionista and femme fatale. We spoke to the multi-talented artist, who now adds recording artist to being an accomplished dancer and alt-model amongst other things, about her debut.
Afropunk: How did you get into music?
nick. the girl: Honestly I’m pretty sure I’ve wanted to be an artist since I was born. Dance was the route I took when I first moved to LA. I was in a girl group with a great friend of mine for a long time, but we weren’t writing in that situation & I think that’s what was missing. I was a lot younger and it took me a good chunk of my 20s to find my voice.
I eventually linked up with the producer and the team that I’m with now, which was serendipitous, because I had DUMB DRUMBS® on a vision board back in like 2012, 2013 when I first became aware of them. It was actually an EP that my producer Deener (fka Wizz Dumb) did with Jozzy when she was still Timbaland’s artist called Twenty 90s. When I heard that, I was like, “Fuck.” I could just hear his voice through the production, and the way that everything felt so full and so cohesive. I was like, “This is who I need to be working with.” Around that time I had reached out, I think I cold emailed him and was just like, “Yo, I want to work.” I was just so green back then. We had a session and it bombed.
I wasn’t strong in my writing voice yet. Back then the timing wasn’t right. I ended up going through a lot of personal traumas around 2017. I had begun writing again a little bit, and working with a different producer on the side. He reached out again years later and was like, “Hey, have you been recording anything? I want to hear some stuff.” The first time I went over to meet him and my co-writer Indi Moret, the first meeting turned into a song, it was just rolling right off the bat.
Then with that, we just kept going. I just kept going over there. We just kept talking really, a lot of the songs on my album came out of conversations. We ended up just really bonding and really becoming a close tight-knit family, and the songs really reflect it, I think.
Afropunk: Cool. I already know there’s an album on the way. Tell me about “Giuseppe Depression”. At first, I was like, “All right, is she talking about the shoes? Is she talking about just fashion, is she talking about the composer Giuseppe Verde? ” There were so many different references in the song that I couldn’t figure out what it was.
NTG: I think it was one of those things where I was like, “Giuseppe Depression is the title.” The lyric, “Giuseppes be stepping on throats” That’s in reference to the shoe, but I just liked the way those two words sounded together. It sounded different, and I know it’s a bitch to spell, so G-I-U for anyone that is searching it.
The song itself comes near the end of the project, and the feeling more so than the literal meaning of the song title, the feeling I really wanted to convey. In the session, I remember we were playing “March Madness” by Future over and over and over again. Trying to decide what about “March Madness “makes us feel something. That song is so emotional, the way the song is composed you’re like, “Dirty soda in the styrofoam” It really gets you in the feels. I wanted that, and I remember that’s a really tangible reference I had. I just wanted something that felt yearning and some frustration with it. It’s triumphant in a way. The feeling of the song for me was dealing with a lot of judgment and perception issues, and not feeling heard.
I don’t know if that really comes across and I hope it does. A big part of this project is about a past relationship. I think it was taking my victimhood back, and just feeling really like, “Ah,” just really a big release from just using my voice finally, and being able to tell my stories. The first line “I am an angel, get the fuck out my face.” That was the first thing that came to mind, because I’m like, “God damn people have this whole view of who I’m supposed to be.”
I had been going through some miscommunications with friendships, and stuff like that, where I was like, “Man, I’m a pure soul. Why the fuck is no one seeing that?” Anyway, long story long, and that’s the story of Giuseppe.
Afropunk: Now what can you tell me about the project? I know some artists are very sensitive about their shit.
NTG: I am very sensitive about it, but I have been pretty open on my socials and stuff about the project being really about transmuting trauma into something beautiful. That’s the theme. The album is called Band-aids for Bullet Wounds. I’m pretty sure I’ve had the album named since before I wrote the album. It was just something I had in my head. My second single Synthia, which drops this spring, is a lot different than Giuseppe. It’s dreamy, it’s ethereal.
The whole project has that feel. It comes from all kinds of places. My mom’s a cowgirl, so there are some desert/cowboy influences in the way he produced it. It’s very, I don’t want to say dark or heavy, because it’s not, it’s the subject matter. It came from a place of truth and of pain, but it’s really healing and beautiful to listen to as a project, I think it really tells a story. Like I said, with Deener and with Indi, we have such a great relationship and they really understand me. The writing just feels the most like me I’ve ever felt. I’m excited to release it.
Afropunk: One of the discussions we had about your song was, “Is she rapping or is she singing?” “Is she doing a 6lack/Bryson Tiller type thing?” If you were to describe what your sound is, how would you describe that?
NTG: In my previous projects, I was rapping mostly. I do have a natural rasp, so that’s my comfort zone and I have been experimenting with my voice for years. So we found a really cool spot, and Indi helps me vocal produce everything. She’s amazing. And she’s tapped into the places in my voice where we can play a little bit. I will say this, I am singing on the rest of the album, predominantly. I think it showcased a little bit more of my versatility with my tone and texture.
I really was able to get out of my comfort zone on this album but I think with Giuseppe it was the most fun I had and the most– I talked the most shit on that song, so it just felt like a good first release and a good little dip your toe in the water to what you’re about to experience on the rest of it.
Afropunk: I know the social handle is FKAbricks. What is the artist’s title now? Is it Nick the girl?
NTG: My artist name is nick. the girl with a period after nick. That’s the evolution of that. Originally it was going to be just nick., but it was difficult to navigate with all the men that were named Nick. It was actually my producer’s idea. He was like, “Why don’t you just go by nick. the girl?” I thought that was fire. I didn’t even think twice about it. It was the night before we uploaded, I was like, “You know what? Yes, sounds great to me. That’s who I am.” My mom calls me Nick. It was like a nice little simplification of all of the handles I’ve had since My Space.
Afropunk: Now you definitely have the right social media handle. It definitely gives me– The sound, the texture, the style, the musicality, and then the visuals, give me very FKA twigs. Not that you’re copying or anything, but just that sensibility, that, “All right, here’s the normal BS that you can get any and everywhere, and I’m over here.”
So definitely tell me about the visuals, how did that come about?
NTG: Totally. First of all, I want to say I’m a huge twigs fan and my handle is directly inspired by her. She goes by FKA twigs, because she used to be a dancer by the name of twigs, and same with me. So yes, there’s no secret that my handle is a direct nod to twigs. Anyway, the visuals. Orin, or Orinary as he is known on social media, is a phenomenal photographer and director, that is friends with my producer. They’ve known each other for a long time. He is somebody that just really believes in my project and really has shown up for me.
I cannot thank this man enough, but he’s another person that really just sees things the way I see them. So the visuals were so fun to shoot. He’s hilarious. We have the same type of sense of humor, and we were all just smiling and laughing and having a great time the whole shoot. It was honestly such an amazing day. Everything went so smooth. I have done some creative directing for other artists in the past, so Indi, Janelle Fishman, and I came up with a really simple concept to showcase my performance. We rented this old car that ended up being Etta James’s husband’s old car. Shout out to Richie Weiss who is the owner of the car. Rented this old car and we came up with this concept of me riding on the back of the car as it was driving, that whole visual is a metaphor in itself, just me thinking about all the things that brought me to that moment in the past, and just letting it all go, it was a really beautiful day.
I remember I was texting my dad at the time who was still with us at the time, photos and videos from this shoot and he was just so proud and so excited. I just lost him last year.
Afropunk: Sorry for your loss.
NTG: Thank you so much. It feels really good to have it out, and I feel like he would be really proud.
Afropunk: He would be, it is amazing. The other thing I wanted to jump into real quick is the gear,” I’m guessing there’s a collaboration between you and the stylist, or was it just you?
NTG: It was definitely a collaboration. Janelle Fishman helped so much with the clothes, and she’s got a great eye for things as well. I don’t know how I got so lucky with just a bunch of women and people who get me, because again it was just quick, easy decisions. She would put something on me and I was like, “Yes, this is it,” and next thing I know the yellow look I’m wearing in the beginning. It’s a suit situation. I got these little Gucci socks on and a Burberry scarf under a beanie. Then some of these clothes, I don’t even know where they pulled them from. That outfit that’s on the rocks, I don’t even know where those shorts are, I need them back.
I like to feel comfortable and that’s when I feel the most confident.
Afropunk: That definitely came through the fit riding on the back of the car
NTG: Kind of funny. I’ve always joked about this, because I’ve been dancing and stuff. But I joked my entire career about how my wardrobe is either sweats or black strappy lingerie. That was definitely a classic me look.
Afropunk: Of course, you’ve danced with a few names too, right? I think you did something with Avril Lavigne and who else?
NTG: Recently, I just did a job with Avril. Her choreographers, Lindsay and Craig are friends of mine for years now. Just did one with her, and then I shortly after did one with her boyfriend Modsun, so that was really cool to get back, and get my boat legs, as they say or whatever. Is that even the thing? [laughs]
I hadn’t done a choreography job in a really long time. That was really cool. In the past, I did the Grammys. That was absolutely the highlight of my career. Honestly, more than the great names I’ve worked with, I’ve worked with amazing choreographers, of course, the artists are amazing, shout out to them. People like Fatima and Tina Landon, Marty Kudelka. My badges of honor are the choreographers because they do such great work.
Afropunk: Back to just “Giuseppe Depression”. Is there a message that you wanted to convey in the song?
NTG: Yes. Definitely. I think it was coming from a version of me that was used to being hurt, and used to being underestimated and– It had taken me so long to even find the right atmosphere to create these songs, so what I poured into it was just like a feeling of just finally being able to use my voice. If anybody can get anything out of the song, whether it’s the cocky little lines, or the way the beat makes you feel, it’s just– To me, it was just a scream in the woods [chuckles] to put it in so many words.
Afropunk: So I don’t want to say what’s next, because you have so much ahead of you right now. What do you want people to get from your music? Is there something that you want people to really pull from it?
NTG: Definitely, just honesty and transparency. Again, this is the first time I’ve really had a chance to put something out that was 100% me. I’m a multifaceted, complicated person with a lot to say and a lot to convey. I think that the most important thing is just honesty and just relatability. I would just like to speak to other people who have maybe felt the way I felt in the past or gone through similar things, or who have dealt with grief, heartbreak, or growth and healing from that heartbreak. Which I think is all of us. So I really want to get the music to people’s ears who really need it, and are going to feel it and listen to it and hear the tones and the nuances and the metaphors, and all the things that I’ve mixed up together, and just create some kind of comradery or community from it.
Connect with nick. the girl on www.nickthemusic.com
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