Every artist intrinsically understands the necessity of finding their audience, and if necessary, building their own. In the case of Nick Elward, aka Nelward, this has meant looking beyond the clubs, blogs, and music sites that serve most aspiring bands and musicians, and carving out his own unique online presence.
The multi-media artist and composer started out making music that was heavily influenced by the sound of classic Super Nintendo and N64 games, and soon found a receptive audience within the video game and anime communities. Over time he discovered a scene of similarly minded musicians who melded those 16-bit influences with modern electronic production techniques and other styles such as jazz fusion and old-school R&B. Inspired by both his contemporaries and the boundless, ever-shifting world of internet culture, Elward began generating content at a feverish pace. “Any success I’ve had so far is because I am addicted to putting out a steady stream of content and am always looking for ways to use my online platform to its fullest potential,” he says. “The ‘internet music’ scene actually coalesces into live shows in New York and LA, and I would love to see that happen in Atlanta in the future.”
His latest single “~zone squeeze!” casts aside traditional melody and chords for a sonic collage of fractured electronic grooves and manipulated sounds that are constantly morphing and weaving in and out of one another. It’s a warped, surreal song that will likely be interpreted as goofy, tongue-in-cheek fun by most listeners, which is just fine by Elward, although the truth is he composed the song in response to anxiety and the feeling of being overwhelmed by time and life pulling him in many opposing directions.
“I’m not too concerned with conveying a specific meaning in any of my work,” Elward admits. “I had my own subjective feelings of anxiety in mind when I made this that informed the musical elements of the song, but honestly, my music is pretty absurd and if people initially latch on to the irreverent aspects of it, that’s cool. There is obviously a fair amount of comic relief in what I do, and I trust people to recognize that there is more going on beneath that. To me it’s really about the composition first and foremost; my goal was to create a ‘melody’ with interchanging sound effects, and from there, my own subjective feelings about anxiety informed its frantic nature.”
Much like the single, the accompanying video, which we’re excited to premiere today, came together in a handful of frenzied sessions. Created by Elward himself, the goal was to create something frenetic and spontaneous that would feed off the emotions that helped direct the song. “I tried to imagine I was an artist splattering paint onto a canvas,” Elward explains. “I did it all by myself with a sheet that I use as a green screen, and it took about a week. I tried to be pretty stream of consciousness with it and the subjective meaning I associate with the song informed that, through the limits of my haphazard video-making skills.”
Watch the video above.
Nelward will perform on Thu., Aug. 31 at 529 alongside David Liebe Hart and HeY!ALLIgator. Doors open at 9 p.m. Admission is $12. 21+ to enter.