You’ve probably seen or heard something about Nick Waterhouse, the talented West Coast musician – you know, the one with that terrific voice and sound, harking back to another era. However, the California native puts his own modern twist on things and gives it his own distinct signature style. Part of his allure is that great, late 50s/early 60s clean-cut preppy style of dress – the kind that makes you so jealous that he can pull it off oh so effortlessly. Well, if you haven’t heard, this artist and DJ just released his third album, Never Twice, on the Innovative Leisure label. And we’re just ecstatic over it! We caught up with the man-on-the-go for a quick photoshoot and some questions for our readers. Photography Alexander Thompson. Menswear stylist Antonio Abrego for Dated Vintage NY. http://nickwaterhouse.com/
PONYBOY: Hello, Nick! Let’s start off talking about your most recent record, Never Twice, your third release. You must be super excited. We just love the energy and sound.
NICK WATERHOUSE: I’m really happy to see it finally hit the public’s ears. It’s been a year since we cut it in the funny little ghost room of ex-Wally Heider in San Francisco, so a lot has happened since.
PONYBOY: How would you say this album is different than your first two releases?
NICK WATERHOUSE: I would say this is a continuation of a cross-section of my friends and influences. It has a sort of ‘dream team’ aspect to it in terms of players and atmospheres, and there’s a lot more of a jazz approach to letting players move through my tunes as opposed to tight composition and ‘head arrangements’ for horn lines. I really enjoyed pushing everything. Additionally, the raw production aspects of my first record finally get to function with my advancement as a bandleader and conceptualist.
PONYBOY: What about your recording process? Do you follow the old school ‘lo-fi’ method? Or would you say you’re all about modern technology?
NICK WATERHOUSE: We record to tape through mostly tube and a few transistor instruments. There were no computers used.
PONYBOY: Interesting. It gives for a great sound. Your personal story is intriguing. You were a DJ and also worked at a record shop in San Francisco. You then made a 45 with some musicians, and it quickly took off from there. Is this correct?
NICK WATERHOUSE: Yes, that’s correct. I have always been a musician, since I was about 13 years old, in my first (literally) garage bands. I then started djing in San Francisco because of the economy and the lack of people to play with really. The dance scene was much more vibrant, social and interesting than any live music scene to me at the time. It is in large part the reason I ended up playing music again.
PONYBOY: We’re sure you’ve had both highs and lows with your career as a musician. Tell us what you consider your greatest musical achievement so far to date.
NICK WATERHOUSE: Playing Montreux jazz festival, developing actual personal relationships with musicians I respect and getting 10 records I’ve worked on done before I turned 30, I would consider my achievements. Accidentally hearing yourself on the radio as you drive into a city definitely meets a youthful fantasy as well.
PONYBOY: What would you say has been the toughest part of being a musician?
NICK WATERHOUSE: The Kafkaesque nature of the business of content.
PONYBOY: You’re obviously influenced by past generations, specifically the 50s and 60s. Would you say that you get dubbed as a retro musician?
NICK WATERHOUSE: I would say I get dubbed as such, but would disagree heartily.
PONYBOY: Part of the allure or attraction of Nick Waterhouse is your personal style, the way you dress, which of course we love at Ponyboy. How would you describe your style?
NICK WATERHOUSE: I think my style is the poetry of natural fabrics and modern sensibilities.
PONYBOY: Do you collect and wear vintage clothing?
NICK WATERHOUSE: Yes, I do.
PONYBOY: What tailors or designers do you prefer? We actually first stumbled upon you a few years back from designer David Hart’s website, who we are also big fans of.
NICK WATERHOUSE: I like Jon Minor of San Francisco quite a lot. In Los Angeles, Richard Lim tailors things for me. Brooks Brothers is forever providing my button-down shirts. And yes, David Hart and Scott Fraser Simpson are some very, very talented young designers.
PONYBOY: Where do you hang your hat these days? Are you still Los Angeles-based?
NICK WATERHOUSE: I split my time between LA and San Francisco.
PONYBOY: We saw a photo of your home online recently, and it was much different than the mid-century aesthetic that most people might expect that you would have. How would you describe it to our readers?
NICK WATERHOUSE: Just like my style – Classique, but oblique.
PONYBOY: Back to music, we follow you on Instagram and see that you still DJ. Would you say it keeps you in tune with what people want to hear and what they want to dance to? Does it give you an upper hand, so to speak?
NICK WATERHOUSE: I would say it’s a habit I can’t break. It’s a really nice excuse to block out several hours of my life to force me to focus, so I’m not forever dealing with the business of being an entertainer.
PONYBOY: And finally, we have to ask about the song, Katchi, the terrific collaboration with musician Leon Bridges. We just love it! How did this come about?
NICK WATERHOUSE: I was staying with LB in Fort Worth and we were actually with Rambo (a very talented photographer who shot both my record and Leon’s cover) at her home. Leon and I are always improving stuff walking down the street, riding in the car, wherever. It’s part of what I love about the man and we just kept vamping on “she give me katchi!’. That track was cut at 3AM after a gig in Venice Beach where me and Leon drove cross town and just free-styled it on the microphone. Really, really great band on that – killer saxes from Paula Henderson and Ralph Carney!