Photo Credit: Nik Freitas
Music veteran Nik Freitas spent much of 2020 like the rest of us, just trying to get through it. He channeled much of that and then some into his September release, ‘Searching For Device.’ We spoke about the EP, whether or not music and art would benefit post-pandemic, and more like whether or not he’d ever leave Los Angeles behind in this hearty discussion.
Kendra: ‘Searching For Device’ is the big 1-0. Looking back at all the albums that came before it, how do you feel this one differs in artistry, and reflects your growth as an overall songwriter?
Nik Freitas: I don’t consider this one my 10th record. It’s an EP and I kind of made it that way on purpose. Or, rather, it just came out that way. I did seven songs and it felt like a complete thought like I’d gotten what I wanted to do and say out of my system and I was done. Then we cut it down to five.
As far as how it differs from all the records before, I think it chugs along a little quicker. It feels like it’s in one zone, vibe-wise. It’s not a big loud song, then a real quiet song. All the songs on this one are similar in tone I think.
Kendra: I’ve asked a lot of artists their thoughts on how they feel COVID is going to impact art moving forward as we got the Renaissance post-plague and the Roaring ’20s came swiftly after the flu of 1918…but with your album shining a light on existential dread, I wanted to get your thoughts on how you think the evolution of thought will be after all of this, or has social media sort of forced that ship to sail?
Nik Freitas: You know, once I got vaccinated and bars opened back up I was hitting up my friends like, “Yo, let’s go get a drink!” But it was really hard to get anybody to come out. That was very short-lived now that we’re on high alert again. I don’t think there will be a post-pandemic renaissance, sadly. Or, maybe not right away. I think everybody is exhausted. It’s almost like Post War, and like, nobody won whatever war it was. Everybody is beat down, emotionally fragile, on edge. Like, I don’t even want to fly on a plane right now because people are just losing their shit.
I do wish there would be some kind of artistic revolution, but things are too content-driven. People’s attention spans are too short. If John Lennon wrote “Imagine” today, people would hear it and be like, “cool song” and then just move on to the next.
Music’s delivery system is so different, the way it’s consumed, how it’s tailored to playlists. It’s become a numbers game, Just all algorithms. It’s better to be a celebrity first, then put out your music or art or whatever so people will actually pay attention to it. It’s almost like what people are making has become secondary. It’s the age of emulation, the age of mediocrity, and people want to be famous.
The only way there can ever be some type of renaissance is if you shut it all down and did things completely differently, or did things for nobody but yourself. I wish people were more honest with each other too. With social media, bands and artists have created their own isolated fan out world. Everything they post their fans just love, so they in turn think everything they do is great. This just keeps compounding and compounding until they think they are the best thing in the world. I think 90 % of the music I hear today isn’t very good.
Kendra: Very well put and while we sit and wait for good news from our local stations, let’s talk about, “Good News (Waiting For You).” It paints the most common picture from the past year and change – everyone glued to their phones, scrolling, hoping for a glimmer of positivity. I also have to point out that the video is very familiar as well. Did you find yourself aimlessly wandering a lot last year throughout LA like in the video, or did you make it a point to get into one of the many quarantine hobbies like plants or baking?
Nik Freitas: Well, I have a wife and two young children. I couldn’t wander around aimlessly. I did get back into photography. I was a skateboard photographer for ‘Thrasher Magazine’ in the late ’90s and early 2000s. It’s been rad shooting again, just for fun you know? It was a way to get outdoors and be around people I like; stay active, stay creative.
Kendra: I was listening to that song while checking out some news story about vaccines and the comments, yikes. It all got me thinking, while we often talk about millennials bridging the gap between a pre and post-internet world, we tend to leave out the fact that because of that, millennials were sort of the last generation to have the ability to grow up believing adults had their shit together. Today, kids can log on and see the “information overkill” as you call it, and see adults losing it. How do you think that’s going to impact future musicians growing up now?
Nik Freitas: I don’t think I’m a millennial, am I? I was born in 1978, I guess I’m borderline? Gen X? I did grow up thinking my parents had their shit together, and they did, at one time. I think that Fox News is really what made my parents’ generation lose sight of reality. Just pumped them all full of fear.
I remember a couple of years ago my dad asked me how do I know what news is real and what news is fake? It made me so sad. The Baby Boomer generation grew up believing everything they saw on television. Media outlets like Fox have taken advantage of this, and just tell their listeners what they want to hear, so they just keep coming back to it. This happens in liberal media too. My generation, whatever it is, grew up questioning everything we saw on television. We wanted the truth. I think the millennial generation needs to consider this.
There has to be common ground. You can’t use terms like “Defund the Police” because the Baby Boomer generation will take that literally, and conservative media will use it as a talking point, rather than see what it really means, you know? We need to start using some of that money to help build up our communities so there are more opportunities, which in turn will cause less crime. I don’t think people realize how isolating the internet is. It doesn’t really connect everybody, it tears everybody apart.
As far as music is concerned? I mean look, the music industry has taken the same shape as the economy in this world. You are either super popular and making a killing or you are barely scraping by. There is no middle class. If I could sit down with my 25-year-old self, or any younger musician today, I’d tell them that you’ll always need to have a job, or some other source of income to support your art. I’ve never made a living off my own music and records. Never. If you can come to terms with this, you’re gonna be totally fine and will make your art forever. Then, if something does happen with your art, it will mean so much more, because it is real.
Kendra: Of course, ‘Searching For Device’ is rooted in the thoughts of someone trying to merely make it through the day during a pandemic, but you were also in a city that got hit HARD. Did you ever think about leaving Los Angeles, or is it hard to say goodbye to it because of the music scene you know will be there when things get back to somewhat normal?
Nik Freitas: I think about leaving L.A. and living in Europe every morning when I wake up. I’ve been wanting to move to Portugal for the past 10 years. There was a point during the holidays where everybody in my neighborhood had the coronavirus. Everybody. My wife and I would sit in the living room at night and just feel like the virus was going to seep in through the windows.
We heard the big flash grenades all night during the riots downtown. The smoke was so thick here you couldn’t see the sun. Shit got really scary, but you know what? I’ve lived in Los Angeles for 17 years now and it’s been crazy the entire time. I’m addicted to it in a way.
Kendra: The new album is out in mid-September, but what after that? Are you going to try and book shows or are you holding off at the moment and waiting for some good news to be able to move forward with all of that?
Nik Freitas: I played three shows in mid-June, right when everything officially opened up. It felt so great, but then this new Delta strain is shutting stuff down again. I don’t know what’s going to happen, I think we just need to get through this hump you know? Hopefully late September/October we’ll be on the other side of this thing. I’d love to go out and play to help support getting this new music out there. Who knows. It’s hard, but the only thing I’ve learned in all these years of making records is you just have to keep trying.