Since beginning his acting journey in 2013, Nicholas Hamilton has gone from doing independent projects and starring in episodes of Australian TV shows ‘Mako: Island Of Secrets’ and ‘Wanted’, to moving to Los Angeles and beginning a huge international journey. Starring in ‘It’, ‘It: Chapter Two’, ‘Captain Fantastic’, ‘The Dark Tower’, ‘Danger Close: The Battle Of Long Tan’ and ‘Endless’, he’s really started to make an impact through the roles he’s securing. With his growing profile, the now Los Angeles based actor has decided to show people a vulnerable and different side through music.
Finding his voice as a singer-songwriter, Nicholas Hamilton is unafraid to be authentically himself. Deeply rooted in the coming-of-age moments of his life, the 21 year old has released his debut EP ‘Pretty Young’ which captures the last two years of his life through a raw lens. Inspired by the likes of Ed Sheeran, John Mayer and Niall Horan, this collection of tracks is centred around the grounding sonic of a guitar and piano, with gradual pop production layered on-top. Allowing his storytelling to be the centre-piece, he steps away from playing a character and finds his voice as an artist and opens up to listeners in a candid manner.
I recently chatted to Nicholas Hamilton about finding his voice and honing his songwriting craft over the past two years, explored the coming of age themes on his debut EP ‘Pretty Young’ and discussed the creative processes behind the title track, ‘Everything To Lose’ and ‘Different Year’. Check it out BELOW;
TB: Your debut EP ‘Pretty Young’ is an introductory collection of tracks cemented in the coming-of-age moments of your life. What has working on this body of work taught you about yourself as a young adult, and as an artist?
NH: Every song on there is basically a diary entry from a little moment I’ve gone through whether it be recent breakups, moving to Los Angeles, and having to head home. It’s very autobiographical and very recent which is really cool. With this being my first body of work I wanted it to be really honest, personal and intimate with what I’ve lived so far as a very young 21 year old. There’s a dichotomy with the EP being called ‘Pretty Young’ because I haven’t really been through much yet.
TB: The EP opens with an audio clip from a childhood video. What mood or mindset did you want to immediately take the listener to as they begin to immerse themselves in the 6 tracks?
NH: I’ve always loved the idea of an intro to a body of a work as it’s not often that I listen to an album without listening to it in order as most artists put the track listing in a particular way as that’s how they want you to listen to it. For example, like Billie Eilish with her debut album ‘WHEN WE ALL FALL ASLEEP, WHERE DO WE GO?’.
That audio clip is from one of my favourite videos from my childhood. It’s such a shitty Samsung video passed down from the years of me at a campground laughing at something my bother said. I can’t even remember what he said, or what it even was about, but I thought it was funny. We were playing a board game and I could tell I was just in one of those moods where I couldn’t stop laughing at everything. And I remember that I used to be like that a lot, and it’s only in small moments where that comes out now in my twenties. So being able to relive that at start of the EP before diving into some pretty personal moments from my life so far is a really cool contrast.
TB: The title track ‘Pretty Young’ reflects on your childhood and how you’re still learning things as you reach your early twenties. Can you explain the creative process behind this track?
NH: ‘Pretty Young’ is the only track on the EP that I wrote completely alone. I was putting together the songs for the EP when I started writing this song, and it all started at an airbnb with my friend Savs who I wrote ‘noRoom’ with. I had written it about a week before and I showed it to Savs and our producer Caleb Carr, and it really connected to them, and they thought it was pretty special. So that encouraged me to finish it on that trip.
I always start songs having no idea where they’re going to go, and in-particular with this song I started writing about looking back over my shoulders and being nostalgic about my childhood. I wrote this song when I was 19, and I was so young still. I got the end of the first verse thinking I was so stupid for writing about something that was so recent and still happening. So the second verse became me comparing the two concepts.
TB: What was the first song you wrote for this EP and what was the last?
NH: First song would’ve been ‘In Line’ in 2018, and I wrote that with my guitarist back in Australia Ben Kuhl before I even moved to the states. And then ‘Everything To Lose’ was the last song I wrote, and I did that one with Britton Buchanan who I did ‘Different Year’ with.
Do you hear a growth in your songwriting between those two tracks?
NH: It’s tough because in-between those two songs I had about 2 years of songwriting experience. It’s more that I can see the songs I wrote around the same time as ‘In Line’ were just very “okay” and some not great. Ed Sheeran has a good metaphor for starting songwriting called “the dirty tap”. You go into a old house and you turn on a tap and it’s going to be shit water for the first couple of minutes, and then eventually clear water is going to come through with a bit of shit in there. But then eventually it’s going to be all clear water. And for songwriter’s it takes a multitude of time to become comfortable and confident in their songwriting and hone their craft. But when I look back at those old song, ‘In Line’ was the first time I felt completely confident with what I had written, and the first time I saw the shit disappear from the water. And that’s led me to being able to write ‘Everything To Lose’.
TB: ’Everything To Lose’ is an immediate standout with its really bold production. What was sonically inspiring you, and what were you referencing when in the session?
NH: I wrote that song with Britton Buchanan and it was naturally quite groovy already which was a bit of a shift for us. I then took into the studio in New Jersey, and it turned into something even bigger. It really wanted to go down that funkier route that I hadn’t gone down before, and it just came through super clear.
TB: The song hears you not giving into fear within a specific decision making situation. Did writing this song help you address that side of your personality or do you feel like you still have a sense of hesitance in particular situations?
NH: It’s definitely still there, and I think that’s just human. ‘Everything To Lose’ was a song that was written to mirror ‘In Line’, or that is what it turned into anyways. I wrote ‘In Line’ about coming over to the states to chase my dreams and hoping that I didn’t let anyone down. Whereas ‘Everything To Lose’ was written 2 years later about having to come home because of COVID-19, and being faced with all the people I grew up with and feeling like a failure for coming back.
TB: ’Different Year’ was your debut single and set the foundations for this project. Did you find that release had a lot of anxiety for you as it saw you unravelling a whole lot of vulnerability and introducing yourself to your fans instead of a character?
NH: That was the biggest thing for me. I wanted to show people through this EP who I truly am instead of the characters I’ve played. But to have that song open up this whole experience was incredible as it really is like a dairy entry that explains what my 2020 was like, and how easy it is to feel lonely when you’re actually alone in a situation like this pandemic.
TB: If you could put one of your songs into a movie or TV show you’ve been in, what song and movie/show would it be?
NH: That’s a great question! In the first IT movie there is a deleted scene where I’m whistling. When we shot that we just picked a song for me to whistle and just hoped that we got the rights to it. And it was going to be ‘Don’t Worry Be Happy’ by Bobby McFerrin in a very creepy, eerie, murder-ish way. We didn’t end up getting the rights to it, and I assume it was because it was awful and creepy *laughs*. But I would like to maybe do that with a song like ‘Different Year’ and put it in a horror movie to show a dichotomy, and just make people confused.
TB: Let’s play a quick game of rapid fire questions, are you ready?
NH: Yeah, absolutely!
TB: The emoji that best describes my new EP ‘Pretty Young’ is…
NH: The little white blonde kid.
TB: One thing I miss about Australia when I’m in America is…
NH: My friends and family.
TB: The colour of my toothbrush at the moment is…
TB: A hobby or weird obsession I picked up during lockdown has been…
NH: Music I guess. It’s really fleshed out during this time. I also do a lot of VR now with my friends.
TB: Pineapple on pizza is…
NH: Absolutely delicious! I don’t get how people can love salted caramel but hate pineapple on pizza. I get quite upset about it.
‘Pretty Young’ is out now!