A Conversation with Young & Sick

Well-crafted lyrics, interesting musical compilations, and a fresh and daring sound make Young & Sick one of my favorite up and coming artists. Nick van Hofwegen has spearheaded the musical project’s composition, production, performance, and artwork. In our interview, Hofwegen sheds light on his method of musical production, delves into his unique process, and discusses specifics on the group’s most recent self-titled album. His insight sheds light on the creative process behind this very unique musical project and also explains the genius behind the work. While Young & Sick’s music undoubtedly speaks for itself, Hofwegen’s insight further enriched my appreciation and respect for this group’s work.


How has this method of release shaped how you make and produce your music? Also, does it change how you tour? what is this method?
Art and music are both a very important part of my identity. I’ve always just been drawing and making music. A strong brand, illustrations, and colors are always thought out with each release. I love to come up with cool ways to release music that really pulls my art together with it. They have always been side to side in my mind. Lately I’ve incorporated a lot of live visuals into my show- all the visuals I create before hand, and often curate to the city I’m playing in. I think it works to create a really cool atmosphere around the music. 

Could you discuss your process of crafting and composing a new track?

I really just like diving into a track. I don’t think too much about it. I generally just start with the beat or general production on the song. Then topline comes in. My lyrics are generally very personal, and relate to a state of where I’m at in my life at the moment. I don’t listen to too much new music; I really enjoy older stuff like Steely Dan, Crosby Stills, Nash, and Young, America, etc.

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What are your favorite tracks of your most recent album? Why are these your favorite Does the work or story behind them differ from any of your other work?

Gloom is one of my favorites. It’s a strange track that kind of just happened in the atmosphere I was living in. Twenty Something is another Important song for me. It’s also the last one I wrote. It came about as I walked through NYC. It’s very pertinent to how I had been feeling at the time.  

Did you have a specific vision or concept in mind with your most recent album?
No concept- more of a place and time. I moved to NY for a bit while working on this album. The city put me in a totally different atmosphere than I was familiar with at the time. I locked myself in a small room for a couple weeks, and this is the body of work that came out.

I know art has played a big role in your career. How has your art impacted the creation and production of this album specifically? Do you often create the physical art following the musical production or is the album at times inspired by your art?
As mentioned above, art has always gone hand in hand with my music. After each track, I will always make art to accompany the track. The art usually will then fit in with the album, tour, etc. Art has opened a lot of doors for me that would not have been previously opened. I’ve met some amazing people over the years due to working as an illustrator that are all very active in the music industry. They in turn, have gone on to support my music. 


Listen: “Heartache Fetish” – Young & Sick:

 

You've done a good deal of artwork for various artists including Foster the People, Robin Thicke, and Mikky Ekko. How does the process for creating art for these artists differ for creating art for your own album? Do you feel like your physical art and musical art are often intertwined?

The only real difference is there is a client involved. I like to start by getting a basic idea for what they are thinking/feeling on their new album. After that, like my music, I just sort of start. It’s really fun working with these artists, and getting into their head a little bit.

Who do you look to as an artistic role model? Which artists, musicians, and bands have impacted your art and music the most and why?
Lots of 60s/70s music. Really anything with soul and harmonies really does it for me. My father is a massive collector of vinyl. Since I was a kid, I’d stay up late with him listening to music. 
 

Can you tell me about your production process as a band? How has this process evolved over time and what have you learned individually and collectively as musicians?
I generally write, produce, and record at least the initial demo of my music. On the first album no one else really touched the songs. I’ve been enjoying having my band mates, and other musically included friends help me in writing some of the parts of the music more organically as I work on new music. 

I would like to talk about the song, Gloom. This song has a slightly varied style than the other pieces. Could you talk more about the motive behind this work, the diverse instrumentation, and the production of this track?
This is the only track I did in NYC. As mentioned, I was working at a small basement studio, and this is what came out naturally. I really learned to love the city while I was there, but there is a strange energy too it at times. I think that is what I was trying to capture in the track.

Listen: “Gloom” – Young & Sick:


Nick van Hofwegen’s diverse range of talents clearly contributes to the project’s refreshing sound. Even more, Hofwegen’s dedication to both his music and physical art adds another layer of depth to his work in that the two are inherently intertwined but can stand independently of one another. 

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Liza is a former Atwood Magazine contributor.