He's been making serious sonic waves with everyone from Cory Henry and the Funk Apostles, to Miss Lauryn Hill and beyond. Get to know Nicholas Semrad, our TALENT SCOUT Artist of the Week.
NAME: Nicholas Semrad
HOMETOWN: Currently Los Angeles, CA (by way of Brooklyn, NY and Fremont, NE)
FIRST GIGS: My first two serious tours were with Miss Lauryn Hill and Gabriel Garzon-Montano. Shortly thereafter, I started touring heavily with Cory Henry and the Funk Apostles and it’s been off to the races ever since.
MUSICAL INFLUENCES: My dad Mike Semrad Sr. was involved/recorded with Sam Phillips down at Sun Studios, so lots of my early listening was focused on early R&B and rock n’ roll from the '50s and '60s. After the jazz shredder phase that many young players go through (Herbie, Bill, etc.), I took an interesting turn and split my time between traditional Gospel music (lots of Rev. James Cleveland and Walter Hawkins) and English electronic music (James Blake, Jai Paul, Bibio).
WHAT I’M LISTENING TO RIGHT NOW: I went down the R&B/Gospel/Electronic rabbit hole so deeply for an entire decade that I’m now obsessed with almost the opposite. I’m currently listening to a ton of Wilco, Sufjan Stevens, Radiohead, Bibio and Death Cab for Cutie.
MY BIG BREAK: The Miss Lauryn Hill and Gabriel Garzon-Montano gigs dipped my feet in the touring waters, but it wasn’t until I started playing with Cory Henry’s group that I got noticed a bit more. A video of him and I messing around at NAMM ended up going viral, and a lot of opportunities came after that.
LATEST PROJECTS: As of late, I’m still touring with the Funk Apostles, but I’m also doing lots more work on the "electronic side" of the jazz scene, which includes many gigs with Mark Guiliana’s Beat Music, Knower, The Lesson GK, and Donny McCaslin’s group.
FAVORITE KEYBOARDS AND WHY? I’m in love with all things Sequential. I play a ton of gigs on the Prophet Rev 2 and the Prophet X, and have been touring with the Pro-3 as of late. They can do anything from super beautiful pads to heavy, angry leads. I’m also really in love with the Yamaha ReFace series, and the Yamaha YC61 that will be shipping in April, I believe. It’s super compact, can do everything well, and is going to give the gigging market an extremely potent and price effective new option.
WHAT’S NEXT FOR YOU? I have a ton of touring this summer (with Mark Guiliana, Knower, and Cory Henry and the Funk Apostles), I’m entering into year two of my podcast “Grid Kids with Nicholas Semrad” (available on all major podcasting platforms), and will be releasing even more sound sets and sample packs via my website.
ADVICE TO THE NEXT GENERATION: Take the word “should” out of your mind as much as possible. The more that you can focus your career on things you “want” to do and that you love rather than things that you feel like you “should” be accomplishing, the more centered you’ll feel, and the happier you’ll be.
For more information visit www.nicholastsemrad.com