Nick Hakim – Tickets – The Sinclair – Cambridge, MA – April 23rd, 2018
Mon, April 23, 2018
Doors: 7:00 pm / Show: 8:00 pmThe Sinclair
$18 advance / $20 day of show
This event is 18 and over
The Sinclair is general admission standing room only. Tickets available at AXS.COM, or by phone at 855-482-2090. No service charge on tickets purchased in person at The Sinclair Box office Wednesdays-Saturdays 12-7PM.https://www.sinclaircambridge.com/event/1647453/
The story of Green Twins truly began when, armed with the masters for his EPs, Hakim moved from Boston to Brooklyn, spending his time fleshing out unfinished ideas in his bedroom. He came up with lyrics on the spot while playing the live circuit at solo shows including Palisades and NYXO, recording sketches and lyrics on voice memos and a four-track cassette recorder, and embracing the local community of musicians by performing with bands like Jesse and Forever and Onyx Collective. From there, Green Twins came about as a sum of its parts: Hakim took the demo recordings to studios in New York City, Philadelphia and London, and built on them with engineers including Andrew Sarlo (bass, engineering, production), keeping the original essence of the songs intact. Sarlo notes that “for other artists, a demo serves as a potential shape the song could form into. But for Nick, demos are more like creating a temple: a sanctuary that now we have to go into and somehow clean, furnish, and get ready for other people to experience the sermon in.”
“I put a lot of thought to the things I’d say, but a lot of it is what I was thinking in the moment, very specific songs,” he says of Green Twins, “many of them are like self-portraits”. The record draws from influences spanning Robert Wyatt, Marvin Gaye and Shuggie Otis to Portishead and My Bloody Valentine. “I also felt the need to push my creativity in a different way than I had on the EPs”, he continues. “We wanted to imagine what it would have sounded like if RZA had produced a Portishead album. We experimented with engineering techniques from Phil Spector and Al Green’s Back Up Train, drum programming from RZA and Outkast, and were listening to a lot of The Impressions, John Lennon, Wu-Tang, Madlib, and Screaming Jay Hawkins.”
“Bet She Looks Like You,” recorded mostly in his home bedroom, was one of the first songs that “started this fire for exploring this experiment through song.” Each track peels back a particular aspect of his life: on the title song, he gets deeply personal, reflecting on a recurring dream. “All these things reflect how I feel, how I write,” he says. “I sometimes have trouble articulating myself verbally. This is a place I can talk and be myself, with music, this intangible space I create.”
Hakim’s debut comes as the culmination of years chiseling his skills as a musician. Hailing from Washington, D.C., he grew up in a musical household—his older brother introduced him to bands like Bad Brains and Nirvana, and his parents exposed him to Nueva canción—while he set out on his own to discover the DC music scene. He didn’t take an interest in learning an instrument until later in high school, when he taught himself to play the keys. After graduation, he moved to Boston to continue his study of music. In the time since moving to Brooklyn and setting to work for three years on Green Twins, he embraced the live circuit, both as a solo musician and with his band, whom he’s brought together from within his community in Boston and New York.
With Green Twins, Hakim plans to tour through the beginning of the year, and hopes that folks will connect with the songs he’d written. “I think everybody feels insecure about certain things and everybody has lost people dear to them. I think I’m writing about common things that people feel,” he says. “I’m very grateful for anybody that’s listening or wants to be a part of my little world that I’ve created through song.”
I grew up in Boston, Massachusetts and learned how chords work from hearing my dad play Bach every morning for my whole childhood. I heard no pop music until around the age of 12 when I discovered “The Biggest Ball of Twine in Minnesota” by Weird Al Yankovic, and everything changed.
It was obvious to me that my calling was to be the next Weird Al, so I started a parody band where I sequenced all the songs with midi and had my friends sing the new-and-improved lyrics. We recorded “Potty Trainer” to the tune of Smashmouth's “All Star” and “Boys in Sacks” to the tune of Will Smith's “Men in Black" among others. Also around this time I started making birthday songs for my parents - some hits including “Amy You’re Turning 49,” and “Charles, Charles Sherman." Recording these early works served as my introduction to audio production. I had already acquired some lyric writing knowledge by writing poems on holiday cards as a kid.
. . . .
As a teenager I discovered the radio and began actively listening to John Mayer, Ben Folds, Weezer, and other white boy pop. I wanted to quit piano, learn guitar, and become a pop star, but my parents made me stick with piano for one more year. Pretty soon I was getting jazz gigs so fell into the trap of deciding that I would exclusively be a jazz musician.
JUST BEFORE THE BIG BANG:
Around the age of 15, I started playing the Hammond organ, a crazy instrument with 25 foot pedals and two rows of keys that hasn’t been manufactured for 40 years. My most formative organ moments were my lessons with with Dr. Lonnie Smith. The lessons were supposed to be an hour long, but Lonnie would let me stay for four hours and would get me into his gigs afterwards. In the lessons we would play duo and he would say "yeah," when it didn’t suck and raise his eyebrows when it did.
As I became more obsessed with the Hammond organ, I began visiting Baptist churches to learn about gospel music– a non-jazz genre where the Hammond flourished. While technically a Jew, I was soon hired by a church and played Sunday service every week from 2008 until recently. Here I gained a better understanding of wild chords, organ pedals, song form, and a wealth of culture that I had previously had little exposure to.
. . . .
When I went to college at Berklee, I met Nick Hakim, Daniel Woods, Jaime Woods, Jesse Scheinin, Dave Fiuczynski, and Gizmo, and recorded on albums with all of them. I have toured with Nick since his project began, and I play piano and organ on his two EPs. Jaime and I recorded on Chance The Rapper's "No Problem" which won two Grammys this year, so I was told.
After I graduated Berklee in 2013, I toured with Bilal for about three years. Here is a recording of us playing duo:
Around the same time I was touring with Gabriel Garzòn-Montano, Benny Sings, and appearing with Meshell Ndegeocello.
In 2010, I was walking around Boston when the hook to what would become “Make Believe” popped into my head. I recorded it in one day with one microphone, as more of a joke than anything else. Still in the throws of becoming a jazz musician, I wasn't sure that I wanted people to know it was me singing, so I released it on iTunes under the band name THE BEGINNING. It got zero listens, as my scheme of posting the link on various cities’ craigslist pages didn’t work.
As I continued to listen to Make Believe, I realized that it had an original sound, and that I should make more songs like it. I decided to make an album and produce and mix it with one of my best friends, the all-hearing Armand Hirsch. My rules for the process were simple: only I would be allowed to play the instruments, and only I would be allowed to touch the computer. It took two years to birth Jake Sherman, during which we basically taught ourselves how to mix the songs through trial and error. Armand is the reason that the record sounds cohesive, and the drums sound vibey and full.
As I had never really performed as a vocalist up to that point, I only mustered the confidence to release the album by convincing myself I would never sing live. But gradually I realized that this project better represented who I was than anything else I was a part of, and I owed it to myself to perform it. When I began playing live, there were many shows where I fearfully sang a few feet away from the mic and the vocals were inaudible. Now I sing right on the mic and the vocals are still inaudible.
My new album, Jake Sherman Returns exists as the sum of all of my life experiences up to this point. It features orchestral arrangements, drum machines, sped up vocals, vintage keyboards and MORE THINGS. It is the fuller realization of a lot of my earlier experiments. It took four long years to create, but it is finally out, and you can now buy it.
52 Church St
Cambridge, MA, 02138