Nigel Wright and band tune up for German tour
Pickens resident Nigel Wright, center, and band members Clay Dean, left, and Jamey Merritt, right.
The band will be touring in Germany from July though September of this year.
While searching for a different Nigel Wright online, German record company, Butterfly Collectors, stumbled onto a Tate Mountain Estates resident with the same name but far different sonic sensibilities.
While the 18-year-old Tate-Mountain Wright was not who they set out to find, the Pickens’ home-fry is now signed with the fledgling label. He and drummer Jamie Merritt and bass player Clay Dean, both of Dawsonville, have since flown to Germany to film music videos and promo shots, and they are now preparing for a short German tour.
Wright, a homeschooler for the past seven years, has been playing guitar since he was 15. Two years back he produced an entire album on his own entitled Millfoil. This is the work Butterfly Collectors stumbled upon and the work that helped Wright’s career take a big turn.
“It’s a funny story,” he said. “These two guys started this label, and a friend of theirs recommended this noise artist called Nigel Wright from New Zealand, but every time they Google-searched his name, it would always just be my music.”
Butterfly Collectors contacted Wright via Facebook and told him they enjoyed his music and that they would keep in touch.
“I thought it was SPAM at first,” Wright said. “It just seemed a little weird to me, and they chose Facebook to contact me. I thought it was all just very strange.”
Strange indeed, but when you visit 18-year-old Nigel Wright, you can’t help being reminded of Thoreau scribbling poetry on the shores of Walden Pond (Sequoyah Lake in this case). What’s that phrase? Preparation is half the battle.
Wright is strikingly thoughtful and wise beyond his years, with a kind of delicate sensitivity you can hear in the music he makes from the basement of his parents’ home, tucked in the woods of the secluded mountain lake community.
In the beginning, Wright wrote and recorded on his own using only two microphones and an eight-track digital recorder. He didn’t meet Dean or Merritt until after Millfoil was completed, but the band has now adapted the songs to suit a three-piece group.
“It really just started with singer-songwriter stuff, but now it’s feeling very much like a band,” Wright said. “It needs three people now. There has been a lot of collaborative stuff to build it up from scratch. Now that we play as a band, the somber stuff has gone almost to post-somber, or post-folk.
“It’s edgier. It was hard at first because the original stuff was so spare, and we wanted to honor what that represents,” he said. “They’ve honored it and taken it to a new place.”
Still, the latest version of Wright’s music on Millfoil drips with melancholy and open space, the qualities he admires in music that influences him the most.
“When I wanted to start writing music in the first place, I was really taken aback by my cousin Eleanor Murray who had just released For Cedar,” he said. “Her record is in that singer/songwriter style, and it’s held together by spider webs. It’s super delicate and poignant. That made me curious about songwriting and made me want to experiment with things.”
Wright also cited folk band Bon Iver for its atmospheric qualities. “It wasn’t like anything I heard before,” he said, “and I connected with the story behind it, that they did it in this very simple, special place. It was special because it was so simple. That gave me a sense of boldness that I could approach music, that you can do something profound with almost no tools at all. That got me excited about writing music.”
Lyrically, Wright says he steers away from strict narratives common to folk and instead uses words that evoke intangible emotions.
“It would still have an emotional narrative,” he said, “but these words that were unusual and evocative, and it didn’t really tell a story but evoked an emotion that was hard to describe,” he said. “People can interact with this space and put their own meaning to it.”
Wright also gravitates towards nature themes and will pull ideas from books he reads. He also credits his parents and home schooling for cultivating the right environment for writing.
“Because I’m home schooled, my reading curriculum is something that I’ve really, really enjoyed,” he said. “Because it’s my parents, and we can talk about it, we can pick out books that might be helpful to my songwriting, and they have been very helpful with everything I’ve done. They’ve kind of tailored my home schooling in a way that can help my songwriting.”
Wright, Dean and Merritt are now preparing for a three-month tour of Germany, with some stops in Switzerland.
“Haldern Pop in west Germany is the biggest festival we are playing, and there are a few others,” Wright said. He noted that one unfavorable music review “amongst a sea of good ones” slowed their progress a bit.
“So we are going to do a live album over there too, along with playing a handful of festivals,” Wright said.
The band expects to leave in July and stay through September.
You can check out the music and videos of Nigel Wright by visiting www. nigel-wright-music.com, or go to http://www.butterfly-collectors.com/millfoil to buy the album and other Nigel Wright merchandise.