The In's and Out's of Nick Hagelin

The In's and Out's of Nick Hagelin

An exclusive interview with an award winning singer/songwriter and dancer, Nick Hagelin, who won the hearts of many when he was a contestant on The Voice.
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Nick Hagelin is an award winning singer/songwriter as well as a dancer who won the hearts of many when he was a contestant on The Voice. He is coming out with new music which I was fortunate enough to listen to when he visited the University of Scranton a few weeks ago. I had the opportunity to interview Nick about his musical background, his rise to fame before and after his time on The Voice, as well as where he plans to take his career in the future!

When did you start to be interested in music and the performing arts?

I grew up in a musical family, both my parents were singers who met in choir college. I remember doing a church play and being hooked. My mom was a voice teacher and I started studying ballet at a young age. When I made my first money dancing for American Ballet Theatre at age 12 I was hooked. I never really considered any career path other than performing.

At what point in your life did you decide you wanted to pursue music?

I had a band with my best friends that started in middle school. We were called “Fortnight” and I was became obsessed with songwriting from about age 12 or 13. My best friend Jon Kaiman and I would always be writing lyrics or playing chords and melodies on our guitars. He now writes for the LA times, I'm still writing songs.

Did you ever go to school for music?

I took the same AP music theory course my junior and senior year in high school, which really helped a lot of that information sink in. My real classical training was in ballet. I went to School of American Ballet at Lincoln Center in NYC from age 9-18. I got to study and train to live piano accompaniment for like 40 hours per week, plus the act of learning choreography to so much classical music was very enlightening.

When did you start writing your own songs?

I started writing music around age 12 or 13 and recording and performing it with my band throughout middle school and high school. When I was 18 I moved to Raleigh, NC to dance with Carolina Ballet. That’s when I really started writing, with more time and space to be with my acoustic guitar. I entered two songs into a songwriting competition and won first place. I used the earnings to build a little recording studio in my home, and I have been at it ever since.

Is there a specific type of audience you are aiming your music towards?

There were times, especially when I was first signed to my major label deal that I really focused on what I thought people would want to hear. Like “make this song for females age 13 -23” and make it sound like Artist X who has the number one song on the Hot 100. The benefit of this was that it was a great learning experience, trial through imitation. The downside is that I wasn’t writing from an authentic place and the music was not really that great. It lacked the emotional connection of music written from a place of pure inspiration, rather than imitation.

What would you say inspires you the most when writing music?

Life and love! A big lesson for me has been patience; allowing inspiration to unfold naturally. Some of the best songs I have ever written were “delivered” to me in almost complete form, like an instant download, other songs I have labored over for months at a time. In certain writing environments you can feel rushed to deliver a product by the end of the day or the session, and that can be tough. The best is allowing my music to manifest in whatever time it takes. I am often inspired by other people’s music, or events in my life, or co writing.

Who is your musical inspiration?

Sting is a huge inspiration, he represents the ultimate singer songwriter in my opinion, much like Van Morrison. I love everything about Michael Jackson, from his voice, to his presence movement, to his lyrics and songwriting. He represents the epitome of pop music. I love the great soul singers like Luther Vandross, Al Green, Donny Hathaway. More contemporary influences include Justin Timberlake, Bruno Mars, and Ed Sheeran.

You talk a lot about your family - especially your son Bash. How has your music career affected your family life?

It has been interesting! There was a period of time when I was young, trying to be a “pop star” signed to a major label, but also married with a kid, which was very taboo in the industry. I was encouraged to not share that part of my story, and try and portray a more eligible, single character. We tried this for a while and it ended up taking quite a toll emotionally on me and my family, but at the same time it was the advance money from the label that was supporting me and my family, especially dealing with my son Bash who was born with some special needs and had some serious medical expenses. What a predicament! It wasn’t in God’s plan for me to break out with a hit single under this pretense, and I am glad it didn’t happen. When I went on The Voice, I knew it was time to be authentic, and share my true story. What ended up happening was that the impact of sharing Bash’s story with millions of people was so much bigger than my self-centered aspirations to “be famous.” We were inundated with letters from special needs families expressing how much hope and inspiration my son brought to them when Pharrell invited him to walk out on stage. That little bow that Bash took for 10 million people was the crowning achievement of my music career thus far.

What made you decide to audition for The Voice?

I had a pretty popular youtube channel, and producers from various shows had been encouraging me to audition for a while. I ended up getting a personal invitation to audition from someone I knew when I was signed to Interscope. I was about 8 years into pursuing this dream, and was feeling a little stuck. This was the perfect opportunity and blessing at the perfect time.

How would you describe your time on The Voice?

It was amazing personal and professional development! I remember being sequestered in that hotel in California and my only goal was to give the best performance I could every week. It was like a Temple of Focus and Discipline. The live performances themselves were pretty nerve-racking, but everything behind the scenes was full of love and support. The show really wants you to do the best job you can, and give you all kinds of resources and coaching and rehearsals to give your best performance every week.

What was it like working with Pharrell and Christina as coaches?

The big appeal for me when I was debating whether or not to audition was the opportunity to work with Pharrell Williams who is a personal hero of mine. The idea of building a relationship with the best producer of my generation was so exciting to me. When he turned his chair I was thrilled. He is every bit the humble, grounded and spiritual person that he appears to be, and the limited time we spent together was a blessing. Unfortunately those early rounds don’t allow as much time to develop a relationship with your coach, so when Christina brought me back for the live shows it was a whole other ball game. Her faith in me was so inspiring. From the beginning she encouraged me to play to my strengths vocally, and dig deeper into my emotional expression. She was truly an angel and I am so grateful to have that relationship with her.

What were the best and worst parts of being on the show?

The best part of the show was the exposure, the fans and people who have been introduced to me and my family are still engaged and following me, which is the greatest asset and gift an independent musician could ask for. As I said before, Bash’s light really got to shine and he has been able to use the platform to continue to bring hope and smiles to people today.

The worst part was the “one-and-done” element of the performances. I come from almost a decade of performing live for audiences all around the world, and I love to interact and communicate with the crowd when I perform. On The Voice, its more like the Olympics, you come out and do your one song, full of nervous energy, and then it is over and await the “results.” In reality, music is not a competitive thing, it is an art form and mode of self-expression, so the whole competition show style was hard for me.

Do you feel like the show had an impact on you and your career aspirations?

Absolutely! I am doing many of the same things I was doing before the show, but now I have the edification and brand of being a “Voice Artist.” I think there are also fans who have been following the journey for years who were so excited to see my music reach a bigger platform.

You have multiple singles, albums, and EP’s on iTunes, how much success has come from those releases? Have you ever gone on tour for any of these albums?

I haven’t been on a steady “tour” but do travel around the country constantly, performing and promoting my music. I am so grateful to have so much music out there for people to enjoy. The “major label approach” is to massively invest in and promote one single and hope that it breaks. That process was exhausting for me, because it demanded that every song I work on a “radio banger” or smash hit. After my time at the label I started releasing my EPs independently and now when someone discovers me or my music they have my whole catalogue to explore.

The official music video for your song Blue Moon came out recently, can you tell us about the song and why you wrote it?

I actually wrote Blue Moon in the week I was eliminated from the show, and then recorded it in LA right after the season ended. I think it speaks upon a pretty universal feeling of not wanting to let go of something, be it an ex-lover, or a feeling or time that you can’t accept has ended.

The video itself was an amazing labor of love, me and my director Raymond Scott spent months choreographing the one-shot video, which used slow and fast motion and no edits to create a kind of surreal, continuous sequence. There is a cool behind-the-scenes video on my youtube channel that shows how we pulled it off.

Do you have any plans for an album release or a musical tour in the future?

When I came to Scranton I had some pre-release copies of my new EP The Water, which is now coming out officially this week! I am very excited about this new music, it is my first release since my time on The Voice. You can find it on Spotify, iTunes and Apple Music. My college shows are slowing down for the summer but I will be all over promoting the new EP! You can keep up with the dates at my website www.nickhagelin.com or follow the journey on IG/Twitter @nickhagelin

BLUE MOON MUSIC VIDEO

Cover Image Credit: http://www.nbc.com/sites/nbcunbc/files/files/images/2016/2/29/160226_2993221_Nick_Hagelin_Blind_Audition___Lost_Stars_.jpg

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To The Friends I Won't Talk To After High School

I sincerely hope, every great quality I saw in you, was imprinted on the world.
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Hey,

So, for the last four years I’ve seen you almost everyday. I’ve learned about your annoying little brother, your dogs and your crazy weekend stories. I’ve seen you rock the awful freshman year fashion, date, attend homecoming, study for AP tests, and get accepted into college.

Thank you for asking me about my day, filling me in on your boy drama and giving me the World History homework. Thank you for complimenting my outfits, laughing at me presenting in class and listening to me complain about my parents. Thank you for sending me your Quizlets and being excited for my accomplishments- every single one of them. I appreciate it all because I know that soon I won’t really see you again. And that makes me sad. I’ll no longer see your face every Monday morning, wave hello to you in the hallways or eat lunch with you ever again. We won't live in the same city and sooner or later you might even forget my name.

We didn’t hang out after school but none the less you impacted me in a huge way. You supported my passions, stood up for me and made me laugh. You gave me advice on life the way you saw it and you didn’t have to but you did. I think maybe in just the smallest way, you influenced me. You made me believe that there’s lots of good people in this world that are nice just because they can be. You were real with me and that's all I can really ask for. We were never in the same friend group or got together on the weekends but you were still a good friend to me. You saw me grow up before your eyes and watched me walk into class late with Starbucks every day. I think people like you don’t get enough credit because I might not talk to you after high school but you are still so important to me. So thanks.

With that said, I truly hope that our paths cross one day in the future. You can tell me about how your brothers doing or how you regret the college you picked. Or maybe one day I’ll see you in the grocery store with a ring on your finger and I’ll be so happy you finally got what you deserved so many guys ago.

And if we ever do cross paths, I sincerely hope you became everything you wanted to be. I hope you traveled to Italy, got your dream job and found the love of your life. I hope you have beautiful children and a fluffy dog named Charlie. I hope you found success in love before wealth and I hope you depended on yourself for happiness before anything else. I hope you visited your mom in college and I hope you hugged your little sister every chance you got. She’s in high school now and you always tell her how that was the time of your life. I sincerely hope, every great quality I saw in you, was imprinted on the world.

And hey, maybe I’ll see you at the reunion and maybe just maybe you’ll remember my face. If so, I’d like to catch up, coffee?

Sincerely,

Me

Cover Image Credit: High school Musical

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The 2020 Election: The Democratic Party Part 1

We all have the duty of becoming politically conscious in order to wisely act on the crucial decision that lies ahead of us in the very near future. In this unbiased, multi-part series you'll be able to get a brief look into both the 2020 Democratic and Republican presidential candidates.

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The race for the 2020 presidential election is on the rise as 24 Democrats and 2 Republicans have been officially confirmed as potential candidates. Ranging from California to New York, we may recognize "big names" such as Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump, however, it's important to get to know all the candidates in order to have a clear idea as to who you want to be leading the country for the next four years.

*Due to the high number of Democratic candidates, they will all be highlighted over the course of three articles throughout the coming weeks.

1. Joe Biden

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Serving as the Vice President alongside Barack Obama and former senator of Delaware, Joe Biden has already ran for president twice, making the 2020 election his third and what he considers, final time. Biden hopes to strengthen the middle class by raising the minimum wage to a more livable standard. He also hopes to restrict the purchase of guns through background checks as well as being in support of a ban on assault weapons.

2. Bernie Sanders

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Having served on both the House of Representatives and The Senate, Bernie Sanders has caught the attention of many Americans due to his push for universal healthcare with the idea that "All Americans are entitled to go to the doctor when they're sick and not go bankrupt after staying in the hospital." As well as making public secondary-education schools tuition-free in a mission to help lower student debt. Sanders believes in the threat of climate change as his campaign includes the future of passing a Green New Deal to move from fossil fuels to sustainable energy as well as ban fracking and fossil fuel infrastructure. Bernie Sanders additionally believes in abolishing the death penalty, reforming the police system, and ending the discrimination of applicants based on criminal history

3. Beto O'Rourke

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Beto O'Rourke has represented Texas in the House of Representatives from 2013 - 2019. He has a noteworthy platform towards business which includes increasing federal funding towards the Manufacturing Extension Partnership that would aid in creating competitiveness with America's small- and medium-sized manufacturers against global markets. O'Rourke also believes in the idea of increasing voter numbers no matter what the political party may be as well as help ex-convicts regain their right to vote after serving their sentences. In doing so, he plans to create more outreach to the younger generations by ensuring pre-voter registration for all 16 and 17 year olds. Moreover, Beto pushes for a change in creating new term limits for the US House, Senate, and Supreme Court.

4. Kamala Harris

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Kamila is a lawyer and has served as the junior US senator and Attorney General of California. While she is new to the presidential election process, Harris aims to increase teacher pay with the "largest federal investment in teacher pay in U.S. history with a $13,500 raise." Moreover, using her specialization in legal matters regarding sexual assault, Kamila hopes to protect Planned Parenthood as well as women's reproductive rights. Harris states that as President, she will eliminate the wage gap between men and women as well as racial disparities involving maternal health care. Harris additionally hopes in protecting LGBTQ+ rights by not only passing an Equality Act to fight against discrimination in schools, work, and public, but appoint an Attorney General with the purpose of investigating and prosecuting hate crimes against LGBTQ+ individuals.


5. Elizabeth Warren

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Growing up in rural Oklahoma in a low-income home and eventually serving as a US senator for Massachusetts, Elizabeth Warren is described as a progressive candidate who's campaign is working towards "universal childcare, student loan debt relief, and down payments on a Green New Deal and Medicare for All." Warren hopes to build the middle class up and defend unionized jobs by allowing 40% of board members to be elected through employees. Moreover, Warren is in favor of strengthening the military as well has bringing troops home from overseas, as well as banning private prisons and decriminalizing marijuana. She additionally has stated to end Washington corruption by banning lobbying along with preventing Senators and Congressman from trading stocks whilst in office.

6. Cory Booker

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Attending Stanford and later graduating from Yale Law School, Cory Booker became the first African-American U.S. Senator from New Jersey. Booker's main concern is to end gun violence, ban assault weapons, and bring his battle to the attention of the NRA to create "liberty for all." His 14-part plan includes creating a more extensive process to obtain a gun, one of which would including an FBI-issued background check as well as requiring "micro-stamping" on all guns to ensure the ability to trace back the source of ammunition used in crimes. Moreover, Americans seeking a gun license would have to apply for a 5-year license after which would require renewal. Booker has also proposed the idea of providing newborns with savings accounts that would accumulate until they reached 18. He states that this plan would help settle the gap between the classes by offering lower-income households a nest-egg averaging at about $46,000. He also aims to make contraceptives employer-covered and repeal the punishment for an abortion outside of incest, rape, or for the woman's health.

7. Kirsten Gillibrand

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From New York, Kristin Gillibrand became a US Senator in 2009, becoming the youngest person in the Senate at the time. Her 2020 platform includes creating universal healthcare for all that would cover both mental and reproductive health in addition to it's regular standards. Her stance on Medicare For All also stands for reducing the price of prescription drugs as well as aiding in the process of overcoming addiction. Gillibrand also aims to introduce postal banking which would allow those without checking accounts have the opportunity to take out small loans through their local post office. Moreover, she believes in not only the legalization of both medical and recreation marijuana, but in erasing all past convictions from it. Kristin Gillibrand stands with strengthening the middle class by raising the minimum wage to $15/hour, creating paid medical and parental leave for all Americans, and fighting for the right to form unions and protect worker's rights.

8. Amy Klobuchar

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Amy Klobuchar is a lawyer and politician who currently serves as a US Senator from Minnesota. Klobuchar's campaign fights for providing every household in America with high-speed internet by the year 2020 along with aiding farmers by increasing their access to loan programs as well as raising farm bankruptcy debt levels. Moreover, she hopes to better the education system by increasing teacher pay and putting more money towards public schools. As well as increasing the federal Pell Grant and tuition-free one to two year community and technical colleges. Amy Klobucher believes in re-instated the DREAM Act to grant citizenship for foreigners who immigrated to America as minors. She supports immigration reform as well as ending the cruel separation and treatment of families on the lines of the border and creating a refined pathway to gain citizenship.

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