By Alexandra Hall
Some love stories are forever. But most are just hot messes. Nashville-based singer-songwriter Nick Rich knows just this. He surveys the fickle nature of affection in his infectious soulful track “Hot Mess.”
But to him, the song runs as deep as its 2 minutes and 43 seconds allow.
“Usually the songs I write are pretty deep,” Rich said. “But this one… I knew going into it that it was going to intentionally be really shallow. I wanted it to seem like a 60s vacuum commercial or have that light tone, because everything else I’m working on right now is way more layered.”
The few layers of “Hot Mess” explore one-sided affection and trying to water relationships that are withered. There’s an innate loss of self in the lyricism, as the narrator sacrifices bits and pieces of sanity to lovers seemingly just until something more major comes along. The key phrase in the track is “I think I love you,” almost always followed by a phrase that unwinds any sort of guarantee (“’til my ex finally comes through”).
Rich’s vocals are reminiscent of soulful female powerhouses like Amy Winehouse, Adele, and ZZ Ward, which he leverages as a marketing tactic on social media platforms like TikTok. Rich will claim that he’s trained AI to write songs like Amy Winehouse to get viewers hooked and then play “Hot Mess.”
“I never wanted people to actually believe the song is A.I.,” Rich said. “I don’t want people to listen to it for the wrong reasons, so I always put two seconds at the end of the video where I tell people ‘it’s me!’.”
Albeit a cheesy marketing scheme, it’s the name of the game these days. Rich doesn’t want listeners to think he’s trying to make Adele knockoff tracks. He’s a budding artist with an identity still very much in the works, and TikTok is a vessel through which he can share his development. If that means following a trend or two from time to time, then so be it.
“Collectively– from start to finish– we probably made ‘Hot Mess’ in three hours,” Bortz said. “He was initially working on that song for someone else, but when we started working on it together we just sort of hit the nail on the head.”
The song’s vibe embodies the ease of its conception. Other tracks will follow suit, but will likely be more intense than “Hot Mess.”
On June 24, Rich released the first teaser into the deeper tones of his upcoming work. With “I Pulled A You,” (and “Babe”) Rich explores the desire to warp the golden rule. Instead of “do unto others as you would have others do unto you,” he says “I wish that I could hurt you the way that you hurt me.”
But he won’t… because he’s not as crazy as his ex (a tale as old as time). Rich’s vocals once again coax listeners into buying whatever he’s trying to sell, even if it’s technically a temptation of behavior.
Creation and the subsequent marketing push of that creation is a process that wears down even the youngest and savviest of artists, including Rich.
“You know the only anxiety I really get in my life is from my music,” Rich said. “I wake up in the morning thinking, ‘Oh, I have to tweak that one guitar part’ or something. And that’s why I have to take time when writing because I don’t want to have a breakdown. But at the end of the day I’m proud because I’m 100% making the music that I want to make. And ultimately, it’s not for anyone other than me.”
Rich possesses a fine balance of technical skill and pure soul. Each track he releases creates a soft sonic ambience that seduces even the most passive listener. They lay a framework for Rich’s upcoming EP, set to release this winter, with many stepping stones of singles along the way.
Unlike the glimpse of a love life listeners get in “Hot Mess,” Rich’s future as an artist is as far away from disarray as you can get.
Until next time,