Up-and-coming artist Lio Nicol has had quite an adventure getting to the stage she is at with her career. A bubbly and funny character, Lio Nicol has been patient in crafting her talent and has long prepared for her performance at Hollywood’s Hotel Café. Her latest single “Blame” is an outstanding pop track that has all of the right elements as a successful track that gets people to groove. At her Hotel Café showcase, Lio Nicol brought out her full arsenal as she jammed with her complete band that played all new music for fans. She was gracious to those who came out to the show and gave them all a show they would never forget.
The hard work and patience Lio Nicol has endured paid off and the L.A. crowd felt the same. Her soulful voice captured her unique style and even gave the fans a surprise cover of Chet Faker’s “The Trouble With Us.” With a playful demeanor, Nicol took advantage of the space and came out to the crowd and took a few laps around the spectators showing them just how real she can get. With only a few moments to spare before they kicked everyone for last call, we caught up with Lio Nicol in the green room to chat about her passion, her hopes for the future and her adventure from her hometown in Montana.
Can you tell us about the origins of the Lio Nicol? Where did the musical adventure begin?
I always sang when I played sports. I would always sing on the field. It was always inside me but I never tapped into it until I was about 20. I went through all the other stuff then I realized, ‘Wait, I love music and that’s what I want to do.’ So just made a switch and packed my stuff and moved to California.
Where did you come from?
My mom drove with me, but she did leave me here by myself.
She said, ‘Good luck.’ That’s how it went.
How long have you been in L.A.?
I’ve been in L.A. for almost three years but then I was in San Diego for almost two and a half years. I moved to San Diego because I didn’t know anything about music other than I loved it. I said, ‘I’m going to go to San Diego and learn about music and teach myself some stuff. I cried when I left. I was like, ‘Why am I leaving San Diego.’ But it was a good opportunity.
Being in L.A. now, is this where you want to establish yourself as an artist?
Yes. I do like writing for other people and for myself. My goal long-term is to write for other people in the long run. I love writing for myself but a lot of songs that I write aren’t’ particularly my genre. I like writing country but I don’t particularly like singing country. I’m writing all the time and writing for other people.
Does this city affect the way you write?
I think it does. I think that when I go I have a different mindset like maybe I’m more peaceful in Montana and it brings out different type of vibe. There’s a different energy here. I think it does take more energy to write songs here because there’s so much going on here. There’s a lot of stimulation here so it takes a little bit more focus to sit down and say, ‘What am I feeling today? How can I translate that?’ rather than being in Montana and having an open field and saying, ‘This is what I’m feeling.’
What’s the most touristy thing you’ve done while in L.A.?
Yesterday, my family and I went to Universal Studios. It was my second time so that’s even more nerdy that I went twice. I even thought about buying one of those Harry Potter wands that you walk around the park and do the spells. There’s a special wand for that. We had serious consideration on buying those. Actually, I’m a big fan of the Observatory. I really like space.
I listen to Star Talk all the time and love Neil deGrasse Tyson. Anything theoretical and new that comes up I’m like, ‘Tell me more, I want to know.’ You’re working on an EP that’s coming out?
Yes, I have one single, “Blame,” and an EP that’s coming out in early 2017.
The song “Blame” is such a great emotional song, what is that song about?
Mainly, it’s about one person realizing that the relationship is not going to work and it never really did work. It’s kind of an epiphany song. When you start seeing things come together that you hadn’t seen before that you may have not wanted to see before. The first line is, ‘Headlights coming towards me I still try avoiding all the things that make it hard to let it go.’ You’re seeing all these things coming at you but you don’t want to recognize them and it’s there in front of you. It’s also, the word ‘blame’ comes in because a lot of times when one person realizes the relationship isn’t working and the other person doesn’t, there’s a lot of blame going on. A lot of ‘you didn’t try’ and it’s kind of like a process for that whole situation. It’s really a bummer song but I tried to put a cool spin behind it.
How does songwriting work for you? Is it lyrics, melody or composition that comes first?
Melody and lyrics come way easier to me because I didn’t know how to play the piano before I started writing songs. Now that I’ve taught myself how to play piano and guitar I have more fun finding cool chords and melodies to go over that. It depends, if I’m in the car and have no piano there then I’ll record on my phone then finds chords later. It just depends.
Is there an instrument that you gravitate towards?
Piano, definitely. Guitar is cool because it’s mobile, but piano and I are like the yin and the yang sign. That’s my jam.
What was the first album you ever bought and how do you feel about it all these years later?
Oh my gosh, well, the first album I ever bought, God, I don’t even know. Well, my parents used to buy a lot of stuff for me so they bought me this Christian band, FFH, and they had a lot of cool, hip songs on it and that was really cool, and I still love those songs. Every now and then I’ll tune in and say, ‘Yeah, these are totally cool, these are awesome,’ but I think I may have purchased Usher’s Confessions album. Yeah, I had a poster of him in my room.
Have you heard that album recently?
Oh yeah, it’s still the jam, for sure.
You can’t go wrong with Usher. What’s the worst job you’ve ever had?
Yes I’ve had many. The worst job I ever had was working at Victoria’s Secret.
Why was that horrible?
I thought that I would like it because I was like, ‘I’m a girl, I get discounts on underwear.’ Then when I got there I was, ‘folding panties totally sucks. This is the worst job ever.’ Then I didn’t get a discount until three months in. I was like, ‘What is this B.S.?’ So, I hated that job.
What do you want future musicians to take away from your music?
I would hope that future musicians or anyone would feel and take away a feeling of just lightheartedness and fun. Whether I’m performing it or they hear it on the radio, I want them to connect with it in whatever ways it matters to them. You know? Every song is different to every single person, even if the meaning is written one. I just hope that people take away what they need to from every song they here in the moment.
Is there a song that you cover that you would want to release as well?
The cover I played tonight, the Chet Faker song, I would love to release that song in my own version of it because it’s very similar but it’s more like soulful. I would definitely say that one.
What advice do you have for new musicians starting out?
Try everything. Don’t say no to any opportunity even if you don’t think it’s you. Or you don’t feel like it’s something you want to try. Just try it because it’s good to know the things you like and you don’t like. Always say yes when someone asks you to perform even if it’s in a freakin’ kitchen. Just say yes. Unless it’s a bad circumstance.
You’ll never know until you say yes.
You’ll never know until you say yes.
What is next for Lio Nicol?
What is next is the songs you heard tonight, I will produce and put out a full-length album after the EP comes out. That’s what’s next and hopefully with that there will be more shows and more everything.
The Person You Knew
They Sent You Back Down
As Long As We Kiss
A Little While
One & Only
The Trouble With Us
Down In History
Lose Your Self