Drawing inspiration from his Guamanian and Californian roots, Randy San Nicolas creates a soulful blend of his own indie-pop. Cloaked in island-inspired sounds and with a deft touch of individuality that comes from his personal approach to music, Randy’s music gives listeners a feeling of freedom and escape, transporting them from the hustle and bustle of everyday life to their own slice of paradise.
Often described as heartfelt and authentic, Randy’s songs are passionate reflections of his personal experiences, observations, and relationships, blending universal themes with sweet, evolving melodies. Now, on the eve of releasing his new EP, we were lucky enough to sit down with Randy and talk about his musical journey.
Everyone has a different story that makes them, what’s yours? Where did it all begin?
I had a late start. After twenty years of working in the field of banking technology, I decided to rearrange my life around a life-long dream to write and produce music. I’ve been playing the guitar since I was a teenager - I’m now forty-five!
In August 2017 I committed to the dream and set out to become a student of the songwriting and production process. I released my first EP that year in November and I haven’t looked back since - releasing a single every month.
For those that don’t yet know you, how would you describe your sound?
I'm a rookie songwriter so I think my sound is still in the early formation stage. My list of releases are scattered from a genre perspective, but if I were to describe the sound, I’m trying to achieve it would be a mash-up of island music, soul, RnB, and Indie Pop. Think Jack Johnson meets Jodeci meets John Mayer.
We can definitely see some of your influences come through in your sound, who, or what else most defines your music?
I’m influenced by my past through island music, mostly. As a teenager and young adult, I also gravitated towards RnB and soul music. My biggest influences today include, John Mayer, Ray LaMontagne, Amos Lee, and Julien Baker. I know it’s a strange mix but I’m really into the songwriting vibe these days. I’m also into heavy drums, so 90’s hip-hop is high on the list.
You already have an impressive string of singles under your belt, but what’s next? Any interesting new projects on the horizon?
In addition to the singles I’m releasing, I’ve been working on an EP titled, ‘Saint Nic’. It’s a collection of songs I wrote after my younger brother passed away last year. We had plans to start a band together - the band name would be a play off our name. The EP project is in honour of bro and a way to complete the plan we had in some way.
Sounds like an amazing, and touching project, can’t wait to hear it. What about your most recent release?
My most recent release is titled, ‘Crawl Inside You’. The song is about a toxic but awesome relationship I was in a few years ago. The project was a little bit out of my comfort zone but I’m glad I did it. I also hope she hears it one day.
Let’s hope so! How does a song like that come together, what’s your process?
I generally start with my acoustic guitar. I play a chord progression and it triggers a feeling. That feeling triggers a melodic moan which turns into lyrics. I recently started using my MPC to build drum and percussion loops. I hit play and pick up the electric guitar or bass and I’m off to the races. I do notice that if I enter a song through the drum path it tends to be more upbeat and less lyric-driven. With the acoustic guitar, I’m pretty sure it’ll be a love song.
What’s the most important thing when you’re writing a song?
My emotional reaction. If I connect with the topic and sound, I know my emotional reaction will be there. I think when I use this as my marker the result is authentic. I know it doesn’t necessarily mean it will sound good or people will like it. But I have to like it first! Otherwise what’s the point? I guess the goal is to align what I feel good about with what others feel good about.
On that note, present or past, what would your dream collaboration be and why?
Whew. This is a tough one. D'Angelo, Julien Baker, and Pharrell. D'Angelo because I would love to figure out a way to infuse my island roots with the dirty vibe of his album, ‘Voodoo’, Julien Baker because of her lyrics and haunting sound, and Pharrell because he’s the master of song assembly.
It sounds like you’ve had many highlights so far, but what has been your best moment in music?
Definitely the positive feedback from other musicians who have been in the game for years. That validation tells me I have a fighting chance to make it a full-time career.
Finally, what advice would you give to bands and young artists who are looking to follow in your footsteps?
Define success. My definition of success is to replace my income through music. That’s a hard number that I can see and work towards. It’s difficult to take sustainable action if the dream is fuzzy and unclear. “I want to be famous” or “I want to be a successful musician” isn’t enough. You gotta declare it with clarity then chase the hell out of it.
Get disciplined. Fast. Because I got a late start in the game, I knew I had a ton of catching up to do. So, the first order of business was to become a better singer-songwriter. That turned into a personal plan to write and release a song every month for 2-years. Putting a time-based plan for releasing music has helped me to explore my musical direction while getting real-life feedback (good and bad) from real listeners.
As he mentioned, Randy is currently championing the release of ‘Crawl Inside You’, a visceral new track that beats with a very personal message. An empowered taste of his evolving sound, the track is available now on most major platforms. Make sure you stream it today and keep your ears peeled for when his touching ‘Saint Nic’ EP drops.