When Nicholas Mudd was offered the opportunity, the troubadour took no time in taking the chance to hit the open road. Planning his 10-day trip from Lexington, Kentucky to Los Angeles aboard his Harley-Davidson, this 2011 satiating of his wanderlust would prove to become the kick-off for a prime turn in his musical journey. His upcoming self-titled debut album, due out on 12 April, is due to thrill with seafaring tales of romance, heartbreak, and vibrant youth. More or less, it’s an album tailored for the open road, adventurous in spirit just as its curator is.
Before he drops the full album, Nicholas Mudd took the time to chat with For Folk’s Sake in the latest entry in our ongoing FFS 5 series. Within, Mudd pulls back the curtain further on life in Lexington alongside his life in-the-now, whether it be in divulging his career beside music, or how he defines success in an industry that is at once burgeoning and having its common existence called into question at once.
Please tell us a bit about yourself. Where are you from and how did you get started in music? Any defining moments along the path to present day?
I was born and raised outside of Lexington, KY. Lexington is a mid-sized city of a little over 200k people, but where we lived was mostly horse country and farmland. I grew up playing outside with my brother and a few kids who lived across the woods from us. We didn’t really have TV, videos games, and of that stuff. We entertained ourselves running around in the woods and the creek.
Music has been a part of my life since an early age. My grandfather was a musician – he had a bunch of old folk instruments in his house – guitars, banjos, fiddles, mandolins, dulcimers, stuff like that. I’d always play around with them when we went to visit. My dad also had an old guitar I’d fiddle with. I wish I still had that one, I think it got sold at a yard sale at some point. We’d also listen to the radio a lot with my dad while doing chores. Rural country stations in the 90s were playing a mix of classic country, first generation pop-country like George Strait, Alan Jackson, Aaron Tippin, etc (AKA the good stuff), and southern rock (I remember a lot of Lynyrd Skynyrd playing also). Mom & Dad got me my first guitar in middle school I think, and I was off to the races.
As an artist, how do you define success?
For me success would be standing out creatively and popularly without betraying my roots. I’ll never go down the modern pop “country” road as that stuff makes me a little sick to my stomach, even though it’s hugely popular at the moment. Thankfully, there’s a new wave of neotraditional country hitting the main stages and radio waves. Artists like Chris Stapleton, Sturgill Simpson, Nikki Lane, and Jason Isbell are inspiring, as they’re making it big while staying true to the music.
What do you find to be your greatest struggle when it comes to the music business?
It’s tough to come up with original material that stands out from the crowd. In this age there is so much new music coming out, and audiences have an essential unlimited amount of options, and it’s just tough to get noticed. So I guess the same struggle that every new artist faces!
What do you think is the most realistic goal you can achieve as an artist/band? What do you hope to achieve?
For me it’s really just about getting the music out there – out of my head and into a space where people can hear it and it will be preserved. So to some extent I’ve already done that. If millions of people decide they want to buy my stuff, then hey that would be great! But in the meantime I’m happy just having it out there.
Outside of music, what do you like to do that you feel contributes to the creativity that you tap into for your music?
I travel a lot, camping and sailing and riding motorcycles, and I like to work with my hands. It’s rewarding and therapeutic in a creative way to make something, or fix something, or do something that scares me. I also work in the film industry here in LA, so every day I contribute to movies that you’ve probably seen or will see.
Words by: Jonathan Frahm (@jfrahm_)