Despite the fast-paced nature of the music industry, NOLAN fka has found a way to maintain his creative freedom and authenticity. In a world where artists are constantly pressured to churn out content in order to stay relevant, NOLAN fka has remained steadfast in his approach, choosing to move at his own pace and stay true to his artistic vision. This has allowed him to create music that is both true to himself and resonates with listeners.
One such example of NOLAN fka’s commitment to his craft is his latest album, “don’t get TOO excited,” which is still receiving heavy rotation. Exploring love and loss, “don’t get TOO excited” employs a diverse group of Detroit artists for both production and vocals, creating an authentic sound that perfectly encapsulates a particular moment in time. It’s as if you’re privy to a creative discussion among close collaborators. In addition to being sonically different from anything he’s released thus far, “don’t get TOO excited” is NOLAN’s most vulnerable and relatable project to date. The album is the perfect choice for creating the ambiance at a laid-back event or creating a romantic atmosphere with a partner.
Fresh off that release, We had the chance to sit down with NOLAN fka to talk about who has been inspiring him lately, his new video “SCOOP,” and what he has coming next.
The album has been out for a month now. What’s the reception been like?
It’s been tight. Everyone seems to groove with it, so that’s a blessing. My past few projects have also been 100% independent under my imprint SPORT CAST, so I learn more and more with each release. But yeah, I want to see it continue to grow.
Nowadays, it seems like music is often regarded as “content” that needs to be pushed out quickly for an artist to stay relevant. Having done things independently, how do you avoid that pressure and create on your own terms?
I want to feel liberated and free of pressure and expectations when I do creative work. I like to move at my pace and be organic with everything. I never want to try to coerce something to feel included. Plus, authenticity prevails the most at the end of the day.
What have you been listening to lately? What’s been inspiring you?
Ah man, I really mess with Tyler, The Creator’s new visuals. I literally just saw his new shit this morning. So that’s been inspiring me in real-time. I have also been tapped in with that Young Nudy, Benny Sings, Liv.e, and ICECOLDBISHOP, to name a few. Then, of course, I have my own personal playlists of oldies and whatnot. Ain’t no telling what you’ll catch me playing.
How important is it for you to be tapped into what’s out right now?
As an artist, keeping your ear to the streets is vital because there’s always more to learn. Whether you’re inspired by a fresh approach or just a new energy from the youth, but don’t let it become you. Always remain true, and do you. But regardless, you have to understand that you’re a student at the end of the day. No matter how much you’ve accomplished.
That makes sense. A lot of times, I see artists try to re-create sounds that are already out there. It’s cool to be inspired, but you should put your own spin on things.
You were locked in with VIBSNDS for most of the album. What’s that dynamic between y’all like?
Yeah, Yohancé did half of the new record. At first, he was going to produce the entire project. That’s been my guy since around 2015-2016. We literally started the process a couple of months into the pandemic. He would pull up to my flat, and we’d try stuff. I remember giving him a few sample ideas, but he already had many joints. I remember recording “mwah *” during that time and another “COY” demo that didn’t make the final cut. Again, all organic energy. Once I figure out a direction for something, I just let it flow.
The “SCOOP” video is a dope animated concept that perfectly plays off the album’s artwork. How did that come together?
When I lock in a direction for a project, I’m always thinking about the entire layout. The music is fun to make, but I get most excited about submitting the final recordings and finalizing the artwork. That’s very important to me. I’ve been all about presentation since I started. I want it to feel AND look good, you know? I handled the creative direction for DGTE, and my guy Kevin Malaya assisted me with the drawing. He came up with the style. When it came time for visuals, I knew I wanted to utilize the character and teddy we used for the tape. And in a matter of a few weeks, we got it together. Sidd Finch also directed it, who’s another frequent collaborator of mine.
Is the teddy symbolic of anything?
Ultimately, he’s just an extension of me and my creative expressions, mascot, to put it simply.
“SCOOP” is one of my favorite tracks off the album, and I’m glad it has accompanying visuals. Do you plan on rolling out more videos from the album?
Yessir! I have a couple of treatment ideas I want to tackle before I go on tour this Spring. I am also excited to work on treatments for other artists. I have been tapped in with Imani Nichele, also part of the SPORT CAST umbrella. I can’t wait for the world to hear her; she’s amazing. And a few other names, but I don’t want to get TOO excited [laughs.]
That’s a perfect segue into my last question. Are there any rising artists that you currently have on your radar?
Imani Nichele is my favorite right now. My lil bro Jaiton is nice with it, too (he produced “U Good?” on the new album.) Brainorchestra is killing it right now, same for Wavy Bagels, Lord JaH-Monte, and so forth. Anybody I work with is always one of the illest, hands down.
Listen to “don’t get TOO excited” by NOLAN fka below.