December 4th, 2014 | Published in Blog
It’s odd writing this, trying to transmit a feeling that’s really only going to connect with people who knew Nick, because Nick was less a part of this crowd and so I have no idea how many of the people who’ll read this knew him.
I guess most people will know him best via his singer songwriter project Gravenhurst, but he was in lots of other ways too a central presence in Bristol music, and for as long as I’ve lived here. He was part of what held the scene together, 10-15 years ago when Bristol was all scratchy rock bands sharing bills with wide eyed noisers, electronica and fingerpicked post-folk; he was playing Gravenhurst shows, running Silent Age records, creating fake scandinavian psyche-rock band and nearly getting them signed by accident, and making forum posts more erudite and hilarious than most peoples’ novels.
An incredibly sharp, funny guy; Nick was very charming and had conversation in spades in a way that made you feel that if you met him out with a group of friends, you could introduce him to any of them and expect them to make a connection. Sharing a couple of pints with him was always a great pleasure – much as he was capable of talking (fascinatingly) for an entire evening on whatever was interesting him, he also had the fantastic trait of being attentive – cleverly and with a genuine interest and critical ear – to whatever engaged you, and of having something unexpected to say about it.
That skill for engagement and observation made Nick a great writer too – his lyrics are literary but wear it lightly, so that what matters is their atmosphere, sense of place, and mood. But go read his funny, cynical blog too, and his excellent interviews for the Quietus with John Gray and Alan Moore, and Anta; or Quietus’ interview with Nick.
He was a friend who I increasingly saw far too rarely, and that lapse now makes me very sad.
The last time I saw him, I think, was in the Hillgrove, and we sat talking about Richard Thompson. He was amazed I didn’t know his instrumental Dargai and insisted I listen to it as soon as I get home, which I did. When I started writing this piece that was the first thing I thought of sharing.