Facing the complete shutdown of the film industry amidst the pandemic, actor Nicholas Hamilton switched his focus to music. Having always felt an affinity for songs that present darker moments of life through an uplifting lens, he knew exactly how to channel his 2020 angst. The result was his new single, “Different Year,” a surprisingly cheerful ear worm that expresses the restlessness of seemingly endless quarantines and lockdowns, as well as the sense of loss and missed opportunity they’ve left in their wake as the weeks and months blur together. We all wish we could escape, but Nic remains upbeat that brighter days are ahead. 2020, or more accurately the coronavirus, can go kick rocks, but at least we can always depend on stellar music to buoy us through even the most challenging of times. Listen to “Different Year” HERE.
Cliché: How has the pandemic changed the way that you perceive your career?
Nic Hamilton: I’ve been acting since I was 11, almost half my life, so I’ve never really experienced being unemployed through no fault of my own. There were bouts where I wasn’t getting jobs, but that was always on me. Covid forced me out of work for what’s coming up to a year now, so I guess I perceive my career now as less of a constant. I also used to never really see money as an object, now I’m budgeting everything, so 2020 made me more financially mature, I guess. Being not able to work also allowed me to work on my music a ton more, I genuinely don’t think I would have music out in the world right now if I wasn’t so inactive last year.
What have you learned about yourself and your relationship to music in 2020?
I learnt almost everything I know about music in 2020. How to make a good demo, how to write with passion, even how to improve my voice. Above all, I really learned how much I loved music last year. I’ve always had an affinity for good tunes, but once I dove deep into creating them, I was fully hooked. I love songs so so much, they tickle a little part of my brain that I didn’t know existed a few years ago.
What can you share about your upcoming EP?
It’s a 15-minute-long diary, essentially. When it came time to pick the songs for the EP, it was less about finding my favourite 5 songs I’ve ever written, and more about the tone I wanted to create. There are some songs that didn’t make it on there that I loooooove, purely because they didn’t match the tone of the rest of the EP. We eventually settled on 5 songs that encapsulate the chapters of my life up until this very point. I think they all blend really well together.
Talk about your brand new single, “Different Year”.
As much as “Different Year” is about how I felt during 2020, it can really apply to any point in anyone’s life where they’ve felt like they want to legitimately time travel in order to get away from the situation they’re in. I can’t state the amount of love I have for songs that are about something so depressing and heart-breaking, but are produced in an overwhelmingly positive and uplifting way. I wanted to achieve that with “Different Year,” and I think we really got there. The plucky synths and the picking guitar melody that guides the verses allow the listener to not get bogged down with how sad the lyrics are, but instead bop their head to a chill pop tune.
You co-wrote the song with Britton Buchanan, runner-up on Season 14 of The Voice. How was that experience?
I love Britton, he’s stupid talented and an absolute legend to write with. It’s cheesy but there’s no wonder he went as far as he did on The Voice a few years back. “Different Year” was the second song we ever wrote together, back in August. After our first session went better than we could’ve anticipated, we met up as soon as we could for the next one, which is when we wrote “Different Year.” We were both so proud of it, I couldn’t stop playing the demo we made that day for everyone who would listen. I’ve continued to work with him ever since.
Why do you think you’re so drawn to songs that present heavier emotions in a positive way?
I love the dichotomy of happiness and sadness in the same song, it allows what could be a fully depressing song to not get bogged down, but I also love songs that represent 100% of either emotion. I love songs about dancing and laughing that make you want to dance and laugh and songs that are about break-ups and crying that make you want to sob. I personally just love making songs that are a bit of both. Songs that you can cry to and dance to, I love love.
How did you cope with feelings of loneliness and isolation during quarantine?
I wrote songs about my loneliness and isolation. Writing music has been my coping mechanism for a minute now and 2020 was no exception. It just happened to be that I often wasn’t writing about someone in particular, I was writing about a whole calendar year. Other than music though, I’ve been playing a ton of video games with my friends across the planet. It’s really the only way I can be fully social right now, so it fills that hole.
How do you stay optimistic that better days are ahead? What message of hope can you offer to your fans who might be feeling lost?
I take life one day at a time now. I never used to, everything was always building up to a bigger eventual goal that informed my current decisions. Now I fully understand how unpredictable life is, and how planning anything other than what I’m going to do today that will make tomorrow better, if tomorrow even exists, is unreasonable. I’m obviously not saying don’t have goals, just know that life can turn on a dime and you have to be ready to learn how to quickly adapt to it, in any way you know how.
If you could time travel to any point in your life (past or future), which would you choose and why?
This is a great question. If I have to say a specific time, it would be the start of 2019, when I moved to the states. Knowing how 2020 was going to go, I wouldn’t have taken my only “normal” year in LA as much for granted as I did. I made silly decisions because I thought I would have a stable life forever, I’d like to go back and relive that year the right way. If I’m allowed to be vague, literally any time when Covid’s “over”, if that ever even happens. I’d like that time to be now, please.