Local Spotlight: Nick Jordan

by Logan Lanphere (First Avenue Marketing Intern)

This week I had the chance to sit down with Minneapolis R&B singer, songwriter, and dancer Nick Jordan. We talked about how he got into performing, his new EP Dividends, and his EP release show at 7th St Entry August 4.

If you’ve seen Nick Jordan live, you know his shows are among the most energetic in the Twin Cities, complete with full-scale choreography and a range of back-up dancers. “I’ve always been really attracted to the live show, the live setting and the art of performance. I grew up doing a lot of theatre,” Jordan notes as we discuss how he got into playing music. He realized while attending college at St. Thomas University that he needed a creative outlet despite trying to convince himself “to be rational” by getting a degree. He grew up listening to R&B like Jill Scott and music produced by the Neptunes, all of which inspired him to write music as well.

Jordan’s 2015 EP NJ helped earn him the title of City Pages’ best R&B artist of the year in 2016. Since then, Jordan has brought his live-show spectacle to all corners of the Twin Cities. Now, he’s almost ready to reveal what he’s been working on. When I asked him how he feels he’s grown in between the two EPs, he said, “There’s more dance elements, basslines you’ll feel in your chest. I just tried to experiment and push my pen.” After writing and working on new music for over a year, his process changed. “This is is a six song EP, and there were more songs than that but I ended up scrapping most of it because the shit wasn’t really moving me anymore.” The breakthrough came when Jordan took a solo trip around Europe to find that passion and driving force for making music. In talking with him, it’s evident he isn’t motivated by fame or notoriety; instead he makes music because he deeply believes in it as a way to learn about himself.

The result is a consistent body of work: “It’s not stuff I’ve sat with for years, it’s fresh and doesn’t feel over-thought or over-produced… what better way to create a snapshot of myself?” As Jordan learns and grows as a person, his music grows with him. This EP is meant to feel in-the-moment. Jordan accomplished this by writing his thoughts as they came to him. On this new EP, his intent is to lean on himself even more: the live guitarists and drummer are replaced so as to prevent being swallowed by talented musician friends. This time, the focus is on himself as an artist and as a person.

The R&B scene in the Twin Cities is a work-in-progress, but Jordan has gotten used to opening for artists in the booming hip hop scene. His act has benefitted from this, as he’s tested himself against crowds that aren’t necessarily attending a show to see him. With his upcoming show, Jordan is providing an outlet for the soul and R&B of Minneapolis with support from Devata Daun, Radio Ahlee, and Moise. Jordan wants to “have (R&B) be visible. I tried to give people a mix of artists that move me…I think it’s a really great privilege in any sense to be on a stage, or have any sort of platform. So I don’t mess with people’s time. If you’re there I’m going to give you everything I have inside of me.” Jordan’s consciousness of others’ time has made his live show what it is. In his mind, the show better be awesome if someone is going to commit their night to it.

This project is about exploring himself, and Jordan incorporates his friends and dancers to create a memorable experience for the audience. From the way the beats are set up for dancing to the introspective lyrics, it’s clear that Dividends was created with care and intentionality. It hasn’t always been easy for him though: “I feel like the last couple years, I’ve had to dig really deep inside myself and learn to love and care for the parts of my being that were difficult to love." Dividends is tangible evidence of how far he’s come in two years, and represents the return on investment in himself.

As for his show at the entry, Jordan told me he’s "just looking forward to showing everyone what I’ve been working hard on, and celebrating that with some awesome people." Get tickets now for this exercise in shaking ass at 7th St Entry August 4, and check out Nick Jordan’s EP Dividends, slated to release on the same day. In the meantime, you can tide yourself over with the single from the EP, ‘Petty.’ 

"If you take care of the music, the music will take care of you.”