Photo by Margaret Molloy

Interview: Nicollette Sullivan

Could you share the story behind your latest song and what inspired its creation?

The last song I actually released is a cover called Santa Baby which I put out for the Holidays but as far as my written work I have a new single called Broken which releases in April. It covers a deeply personal period of my life where I felt less than whole. It’s not all sad though, as writing it was cathartic and threw me deep into introspection and I came to hope for brighter days at the end of it.

How do you approach the process of songwriting, and are there any specific themes or emotions you tend to explore in your music?

I’ve always kept a journal and written poetry so, I always have phrases or somewhere to draw upon for my lyrics, and melody has always been something a little more intuitive to me. I bounce ideas off my collaborators and so on.
As far as the roots behind what my music is about, I’d say I’m a deeply personal artist that writes from experience I feed on my emotions when writing and try to convey what I’m feeling in both my lyrics and vocal performance.

As an indie musician, how do you navigate the balance between creative freedom and commercial appeal?

I’ve never seen the two as incompatible. As much as I love more experimental or niche music, I’ve always seen myself as a pop singer. I don’t believe artists like Amy Winehouse or Sade had to compromise their creativity to reach the levels of commercial success that they did.

What do you find most challenging about being an independent artist in today’s music industry?
I would say that the amount of content that an independent artist has to put out regularly to stay relevant when it comes to playlists or social media has made it difficult for artists like me who prefer taking their time on a project and really letting it breathe before moving to the next one.

Can you talk about your experiences collaborating with other artists or musicians? How does it influence your creative process?

When working with other people I like to focus on a specific part of the song like that resonates with me and allow the other artist to focus on what works for them, so that there’s a creative balance where you can really get a sense of every artists contribution.

What role does technology and social media play in promoting your music and connecting with your audience?

Social media has become the foundation to every artists marketing strategy no matter the medium, which kind of sucks cause it’s more about quantity of content and less about quality of content. For me personally, I’m strong on aesthetics that relate to my music and that I think resonate with my audience as away to express myself. But again, it’s a bit overwhelming with everyone just continually spewing their content onto each other.

Are there any particular artists or genres that have had a significant impact on your musical style?

Oh definitely, stylistically and visually I take cues from artists like Nina Simone, Ella Fitzgerald and all the old torch singers I’ve always considered myself a bit of an old soul in that sense. I also appreciate more recent artists like H.E.R., Lana del Rey, Ariana Grande and others.

Indie musicians often have a close relationship with their fanbase. How do you engage with your fans and build a dedicated community around your music?
A personal touch always helps. I try to be proactive about reaching out to people who I’ve met at shows I’ve played….. and keep them apprised of the things I have coming up and so on.

Could you describe a memorable live performance experience or tour that has had a lasting impact on you and your music?

Absolutely! I remember when I was very young seeing Christina Aguilera on her Back to Basics tour, and I was just struck by the vintage 50s flare in her wardrobe along with her jazz covers and the power behind her voice. She really captured that era perfectly in a way that I have tried to in my music.

In an era of streaming platforms, how do you feel about the changing landscape of music consumption and its impact on independent musicians?

There’s definitely a Wild West vibe going on in the industry. There are positives and negatives. I guess on the positive side, an indie artist can have something go Viral and blow up, but on the negative side, that blow up might just be for a minute, due to lack of attention span on social media, I’d rather have 1,000 or 5,000 actively engaged listeners/viewers than 10 million passive, uninvested streams, here today, gone tomorrow, and onto the next big Viral moment. I guess I’m a bit old school, hoping that good, well written and performed songs will have a lasting impact on music lovers.