We had the good fortune of connecting with Asim Nichols and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Asim, why did you decide to pursue a creative path?
I’ve been fortunate to have had several careers but music is the most fulfilling from a personal standpoint. I’ve always had a need to express myself through physical action and playing an instrument allows me that opportunity. Although I primarily create music that is meaningful to me, should people also find meaning in my work…well that is an added plus. In truth I feel like I had no choice in pursuing a creative career. There’s an energy in my body that demands an outlet. Music has always been a channel for that release. It’s only become a career as a natural progression of the creative process.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
As a drummer, composer, and bandleader, I think what sets me apart from others is my background and somewhat lack of formal experience. My formal music education is almost entirely from playing in school bands…elementary through high school. I played in the orchestra. Violin, trumpet, but mainly drums. The studies were rudimentary at best but did serve to give me an understanding and appreciation of classical music. Outside of school I played Funk, R&B, Rock, and Hiphop. Growing up in New York City I was also surrounded by Latin music all the time. It was in the streets. My music is an organic synthesis of those experiences. I’m not hindered by the rules of theory and composition. I compose what feels right as well as what sounds right. Hiphop and neosoul (for example), constantly break those rules but you can’t deny the musicality and expression. The hardest part for me was returning to music after many years of not playing. The thing that helped me were the lessons from my martial arts training. In aikido you train constantly in kata (forms), which basically means many hours of repetition to develop muscle memory, After so many years off I knew I would have to be patient, go back to the basics, and gradually progress. It’s a process I’m still working through but what motivates me and keeps me going is when I develop a new skill. It’s not easy but I do enjoy the process.
What I try to convey in my music is honesty above all else. With each composition I try to reveal more of myself. When I first started releasing music I felt like I had to do jazz to be accepted as a serious musician. Ultimately I felt like it wasn’t honest. I think that lack of sincerity comes out in the music. Now I write what moves me, what makes my head nod. As a result I think my music has an energy it was lacking earlier.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Whenever my East coast friends visit the first place I usually take them to is Salt River. I live in Mesa, not far from the park and I love to show it off. The Red Mountain, wild horses, the river, the sunsets. You can’t beat that. Also like to give them a taste of the Southwest so going to Tia Rosa’s or finding some street taco’s is always a good time. Then there’s Tempe Town Lake, Old Town Scottsdale, day trip to Sedona, Big Buddha Chinese restaurant in Surprise and my go to must see place is Roosevelt Row in the arts district. Excellent restaurants, street art, and galleries.
Lastly a good way to cap off a night is cocktails at Butlers Easy in Sunnyslope.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
It may sound like a cliche’ but I gotta’ give a shoutout to my wife. My wife keeps it 100. So if something doesn’t sound right, she will definitely let me know! I need and appreciate that honesty. Many times people close to us will tell us what they think we want to hear but ultimately that isn’t helpful; especially when releasing music publicly. She also gives me the space I need to be creative. Practice, composing, recording can be very isolating. My wife has helped me create space in my life that allows me to get in the zone.
Just as important, maybe more so…my wife truly inspires me. She makes me want to be not only a better musician but a better person. She’s constantly striving and pushing in her own career and that drive is infectious.
I also have to shoutout to my parents for surrounding me with music very early in my life, buying me drums, and not complaining about all the noise I made!