Trumpet player for award-winning stars of TV, Theatre and Radio around the world.
Doc Martens-wearing, craft beer-drinking, trumpet-wielding NYJO alumnus Nick has been described as ‘versatile’, ‘technically gifted’ and ‘very professional’.
As a session player he is building a reputation in the world of indie bands and artists around the globe with recent clients including Manchester bands Hi Sienna, Demons of Ruby Mae and Olly Flavell. In addition to promising new acts, he has worked with award-winning bands and major label artists including Jordan Lee Davies, Brenda Edwards and British breakthrough rap artist E.N.V. Projects Nick has worked on include at least one Official Top 10 album and a Kerrang Radio Single of the Week.
Not only an adept trumpet player, Nick is also an accomplished arranger, supplying horn charts for Dodson & Fogg, I Am Harlequin, Kara Jane Spencer amongst others.
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Interview with Nick Jolly
Q: Tell us about a project you worked on you are especially proud of and why. What was your role?
A: In 2020, in the midst of the pandemic, I spotted an advert online looking for musicians to record on a charity album (It's Still M.E by Kara Jane). I answered the advert and was asked to compose, arrange and record the horn lines for one of the songs (Crushed). The album aimed to raise £100000 for the M.E. Association. It hasn't quite reached it's target yet but the album achieved #8 on the Official Download Charts, #7 on the Official Independent Album Breakers Chart, #12 on the iTunes Chart, #7 on the iTunes Album Chart and #1 on the iTunes Singer/Songwriter Chart.
Q: What are you working on at the moment?
A: My diary is very quiet at the moment and I am spending most of my time teaching and composing studies for brass instruments.
Q: What do you like most about your job?
A: I love the variety in what I get asked to play and I love working with new bands and watching them become successful.
Q: What's the biggest misconception about what you do?
A: I haven't really come across many but one that sticks with me is that trumpet players can play anything that a MIDI trumpet on a keyboard can play. I was once asked to record a couple of trumpet parts that went lower than the bottom of the tuba range and higher than I've heard a trumpet ever play. After a little bit of a rework, I came up with a solution that the client was happy with.
Q: If you were on a desert island and could take just 5 pieces of gear, what would they be?
A: Easy... Trumpet and Mouthpiece, iPad (because I can fit lots of books and sheet music on it), mixer and my Aston Element (I'm cheating and not counting cables/leads in my 5).
Q: What was your career path? How long have you been doing this?
A: I think I've followed the same path as a lot of players out there. I did my undergrad at York St John, worked as an instrumental teacher, gigged around for a bit, played for a circus in France, played on a cruise ship, toured with a rap artist, started picking up sessions through chatting to people and answering adverts on Facebook.
Q: How would you describe your style?
A: I don't really have a particular style - I like to think of myself as a musical chameleon.
Q: Which artist would you like to work with and why?
A: This is a difficult one... on the one hand I would love to play for someone like Beyonce as her songs have epic brass parts (think Crazy In Love) but, on the other hand, creatively it's much more rewarding playing for new, independent bands and artists who are just finding their sound.
Q: What's your strongest skill?
A: Everyone might expect me to say 'playing' here but, even though my degree is in Music Performance, I actually did a lot of composition so I can very easily come up with brass riffs and even string lines that compliment the song. This is due to the understanding of the instruments that I gained throughout my studies and the experience I have picked up since.
Q: What do you bring to a song?
A: As a trumpet player I can be very versatile... You want phat riffs? You've got it. Soaring solos? They're yours. I can bring whatever you want to the song, just ask.
Q: What's your typical work process?
A: The process typically starts with a chat with the artist/producer about what exactly they envisage the role of the trumpet to be within the song. Once I know what the goal is I will sit and listen to the song a few times to get the feel for it and see where the clients trumpet idea fits. Then I'm on to the creative bit - composing the trumpet part. This normally involves me sitting with a pad and a copy of the chord chart and jotting down ideas.. sometimes I'll have a few ideas, sometimes I know exactly what will work straightaway. Once I'm happy with my ideas I create a MIDI of the trumpet part(s) and lay it over the track (normally at a slightly higher volume so the client can hear them) and send it to the client. After I get the OK from the client I get to work in the studio.
Q: Tell us about your studio setup.
A: Over summer 2020 I was fortunate enough to take part in the development of the Aston Element microphone as an Aston Family Developer. As a result of this I invested in the Aston Element microphone which is paired with a Behringer Xenyx mixing desk. Aside from the Element, I also own and use a Behringer C-1 and a Rode M4 to offer a variety of sounds. Any of these microphones can be coupled with my Zoom 505ii guitar effects pedal to create all sorts of sonic possibilities with my trumpet.
Q: What other musicians or music production professionals inspire you?
A: A big influence on my playing at the moment is Rashawn Ross of the Dave Matthews Band - his use of Bass Trumpet and guitar effects pedal on his trumpet got me interested in looking at other ways of creating sounds as a brass player. Other influences at the moment are Kiku Collins (Beyonce, Gloria Gaynor, Queen Latifah), Kyla Moscovich (Kanye West) and Brian Newman (Lady GaGa) - all phenomenal players.
Q: Describe the most common type of work you do for your clients.
A: Being a trumpet player, I am regularly called on to write and record riffs for pop or rock songs - often with my horn section 'The In-House Horns'.
Q: Can you share one music production tip?
A: You do not need the best equipment that money can buy to get a good sound, however, if you can afford that extra dollar, pound or euro then do. It's better to pay a bit extra upfront than having to spend more in the long run getting work redone or buying new equipment. Basically, buy the best you can afford but don't worry if you can't afford the best.
Q: What advice do you have for a customer looking to hire a provider like you?
A: If you have an idea of what you would like, if possible, have some examples of songs which demonstrate it - it helps us to get a feel for what you want. Also, have a look at instrument ranges and characteristics before sending a guide track - session players are great at what they do but some things just aren't possible.
Q: What type of music do you usually work on?
A: Although I spent my formative years learning to be a classical trumpet player, I embraced big band music at uni and even played in the National Youth Jazz Orchestra but I have found I enjoy working on pop and rock music (mainly singer/songwriter or indie band stuff) the most so I try to do as much of that as I can.
Q: What questions do you ask prospective clients?
A: Apart from the usual deadline and budget questions my main question is: What do you want the horn line(s) to add to the track? Are they subtle and just there to add colour or are they an 'in your face', stand out feature?