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Cardiff Character: John Nicholas

The Autumn wind is picking up and the night has drawn in; heavy clouds hang low, and drops of rain are beginning to fall to the ground. “At least I remembered to wear my beanie,” says Cardiff based musician John Nicholas, after chiding himself for shaving earlier that day.

But even though it is cold, John doesn’t seem to be particularly bothered. After all, things have been going pretty well for him lately.

Having built up a reputation as a talented solo artist, the 25-year-old is lucky enough to be able to make a living from what he loves. He has played in venues all around the UK, as well as in such far-flung places as Texas and Argentina.

He refers to what he does as “work”, though it’s hard to think that he isn’t the envy of many nine-to-fivers.


Solo performer John Nicholas often uses a loop pedal when playing the guitar

In the beginning

For John, his interest in music started early. “I’ve been performing my whole life, really,” he says as he takes a sip from a large caramel latte. “From around the age of six I would always sing around the house.”

“From around the age of six I would always sing around the house.”

However, he says that it wasn’t until his late teens when he started to take his interest in music a bit more seriously.

“I used to be in a band called Written In Kings, which was kind of how I got started. We played the Millennium Stadium at one point. I think there were around 3,000 people there – which was and still is quite a lot,” he muses.

However, wanting to focus more on his solo career, John decided to go it alone. He recalls how those early days were largely spent busking on the streets of Cardiff.

“I personally don’t do it as much as I used to. But I still enjoy it, and if I have some spare time I’ll head out on to the street with my guitar and play a couple of songs.”

The state of the music scene

John has been able to thrive in what some see as a turbulent time for the music industry. All across the country venues are closing, which has had a knock-on effect on the artists who depend on them.

“I think the music scene in general can be a bit up and down. It depends on where you go, and from what I’ve seen it’s okay. But I know it can be a bit unstable,” he adds.

When asked about the state of the music scene in Cardiff, he is quite upbeat. “I think it’s really quite healthy. Two new venues have opened up recently, for example, and I think that’s definitely a good sign.”

Of course, there is the question of what he would be doing if he wasn’t a musician. “I used to be a teacher, so that’s probably what I’d be doing if I wasn’t performing,” he says hesitantly. “But I love what I do, and if possible I’ll carry on with it for the rest of my life.”

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