ABOVE: NICK HAKIM. PHOTO COURTESY OF WILLIAM HACKER
Having just moved to Brooklyn, singer-songwriter Nick Hakim is a New York newbie, but if his exceptional debut EP is any indication, the Washington, D.C. native is here to stay. Where Will We Go Pt. 1 is emotionally rich and runs the gamut of R&B, jazz, folk, and Motown, taking cues from greats like Marvin Gaye and Harry Nilsson. Despite subtly explicating late-night grievances of the heart and mind, Hakim’s entrance into Brooklyn’s music scene is one of grand proportions.
Prior to Where Will We Go‘s release on July 14, Hakim has been taking to stages across the northeast to tease what he has in store. You can see him next this Friday performing as part of Rooftop Films’ concert series at downtown Brooklyn’s Metrotech Commons. Come August, he’ll also have a lengthy residency at Williamsburg’s Baby’s All Right. Hakim has a surprise for the interim. He just postponed his London summer tour to September, saying that something else has unexpectedly fallen in his lap —mum’s the word on the news for now, but it’s something good, surely.
In advance of Friday’s Brooklyn outing, we spoke with Hakim about growing up in a culturally eclectic household (his parents are Chilean and Peruvian), finding beauty in midnight brooding, and with his newest single, “Cold,” mending the breakup blues.
HOMETOWN: Washington, D.C.
CURRENT CITY: Brooklyn, New York
FINDING GOD (OR SOMETHING LIKE IT): I think that the whole project [Where Will We Go Pt. 1] collectively touches on a phase that I went through. There were a lot of things going on in my world that I had to deal with—death and, I don’t know, religion. I had a few friends of mine that died, some of my family members passed. I always kind of had a very conflicting perspective on religion growing up. I had one parent that was extremely religious and one parent that wasn’t religious at all. I’d think about it a lot. It’s, like, where in the mix are we after this? Like, if we’re just gonna be buried in the dirt or if there’s another place that we go to. I feel like that consumes a lot of people’s thoughts. It definitely messed with my head for a little while.
WRITING BREAKUP SONGS: There’s gonna be songs that on the surface, they sound like a breakup song. Well, one of them is; a song that I recently wrote called “Cold.” It’s not about one person so much as it is a few different [people]. It’s a giant storm of some of the people I was with. And I guess in the end, there’s kind of a sarcasm to it. There’s a happy little ending or something… “It goes on.”
CREATING CATHARSIS: Sometimes [when performing] I really remember how I felt when I was writing the songs because it was pretty hard to write some of these songs. Some of them, I’d be up all night not able to sleep or I’d be up all night with, like, my microphone on and literally just recording all these ideas based off of what was going on in my head. I think now I’m working on a whole other sound, and a whole other project, so these songs are kind of old to me now. I think it’s kind of interesting because these songs were written a while ago. Everybody’s kind of new to it except for me and the people that were involved. Obviously I’m always going to be attached to these songs, and I’ll always remember that phase I was going through as I was writing them.
RAISED IN A MUSICAL HOUSEHOLD: My parents both play guitar and sing really old folk songs from South America, and it definitely affected the way I approach music. The nature of my home back in D.C., there was always so much music being listened to. And also my older brother—he plays drums in a punk band, and he was really heavy in that whole hardcore punk scene in D.C. And my little brother, he was always playing his guitar, he’s inseparable with his guitar. Definitely, we learned a lot from my folks, and definitely just always around people playing music so it’s been kind of a natural thing.
D.C. TO BROOKLYN: It’s hard making money. I mean, it’s not really hard to make money, you just have to work a lot. It’s been cool because there’s always some shows going on, a good hang out. I go to shows a lot. I love living here, man. There’s a lot of awesome people here… I ride my bike most everywhere; I like riding it across the Brooklyn Bridge. And I like long walks on the beach… nah, I’m just kidding.