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Nick Lokken: A debut album born from beach dreams, broken bones, and his grandfather’s guitar

At just 22, Arizona native Nick Lokken has at least a few things figured out: a love of the beach and the ocean, how to deal with a broken wrist, and how to put together a record. After signing with a label this time last year, Lokken finally saw his debut album, Life is Good, drop just this month, fitting himself neatly into a mellow indie-country-summer genre. He’s already working on the next one, drawing inspiration from a love of nature and the idea that life can take you just about anywhere.

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By Dessa Bayrock (The Cascade) – Email

Print Edition: March 26, 2014

Hailing from Arizona, Lokken’s work gravitates towards a summery, beachy paradise theme. (Image: Courtesy of Nick Lokken)

Hailing from Arizona, Lokken’s work gravitates towards a summery, beachy paradise theme. (Image: Courtesy of Nick Lokken)

At just 22, Arizona native Nick Lokken has at least a few things figured out: a love of the beach and the ocean, how to deal with a broken wrist, and how to put together a record. After signing with a label this time last year, Lokken finally saw his debut album, Life is Good, drop just this month, fitting himself neatly into a mellow indie-country-summer genre. He’s already working on the next one, drawing inspiration from a love of nature and the idea that life can take you just about anywhere.

Let’s talk about the new album.

[Chuckles] It was kind of a nightmare, actually. Everyone says that your first album is your hardest, and that’s definitely true. I actually recorded this album three times, and finally said yes to the last mix. It’s been a whirlwind ever since it’s released, so it’s been fun.

Why did you have to record it three times?

Well, the first time the producers at the record label recorded everything, and they were just going to have me come in and sing vocals on it. But the way it was recorded the first time just really wasn’t how I wanted the feel to be, so I asked for it to be put in my hands and they handed it over to me. Then I tried recording everything myself, but I just didn’t have the equipment. So a friend of mine, Brandon Chase, he just recently came off The Voice, he’s a country artist, he had a studio at his house, and he invited me to come in and track everything there, so we did.

Are you already working on the next album?

I am! I am almost through writing. I have three more songs to go for the next one, and we’ll be starting it in five weeks. It’s exciting; I’m really excited.

[pullquote]“I think music is all about taking the limits off and stepping outside the box.” [/pullquote]

This first album is very beachy, summery. Did you spend a lot of time at the beach growing up?

I did not, no. I’ve only been to the beach a handful of times, but I guess it’s a dream of mine to reside there someday. I go to sleep dreaming about it at night and I write a lot of songs about it. I don’t know — it’s just something inside of me that’s pulling me there. Pulling me to paradise, I guess.

And I saw on Twitter something about a handmade guitar? Are you making a guitar? 

I am, yeah — in my spare time I do woodwork. I used to own a custom wood furniture shop — me and my best friend owned it. And over one summer I started getting into making the bodies of guitars.

I broke my wrist snowboarding two weeks ago, so it’s on hold right now. But I’m in the works of building my personal custom guitar.

Can you play with a broken wrist?

[Sounds sheepish] I’m not supposed to, but I do. This is like my 15th broken bone, my 10th broken wrist, so I kind of know how the whole thing goes down. I went and got a splint, and my mom is an herbal freak so we bought all these oils and we’re putting in oil, and icing it, and drinking milk and protein, and just trying to speed up the process. It actually doesn’t hurt when I play — I just can’t play as hard and fast as I usually can. I actually wrote a song last night, and I don’t know how. It just kind of brought it out of me.

Going back to guitar for a minute — the “about” section of your website says that you were inspired to play music by your grandfather’s guitar. 

He actually passed in 2009, and he left the guitar to — well, I say me and my mother says her, but we both know who’s going to play it more. And I do play it; it’s actually hanging on my wall right now. It’s like a 100-year-old Gibson guitar — it’s really cool.

What drew you to that guitar as a kid?

Man, I don’t know. He just pulled it out, and —

I was leaving east Texas and they drove up from Arizona, and he was like, “C’mere, Nick, I got something for you,” and he opened up his trunk. And he just pulled it out, no case or anything, and it was like the heavens opened up and the angels were singing down on this thing. I have no idea why, but it was just like a magnet to me. I held it, and played it, and wouldn’t set it down.

And I have one last question. According to the bio on your website, again, you are 22. 

Mhm!

I imagine that you’re familiar with the Taylor Swift single, “22”?

Yes?

So my last question is: are you feeling 22, and if so, what does that feel like?

[Laughs] I actually listened to that song this morning, even before I rolled out of bed. I am feeling 22. I’m just trying to live life to the fullest right now — I love snowboarding, I go longboarding regularly,  I work out consistently. I just want to travel while I’m young, I’m single right now — I don’t want to let life pass me by, you know? I really want to make the most out of it. John 10:10, it says, “The thief comes to steal, kill, and destroy, but I have come so you may have life and live it to the fullest.” And that’s kind of what I’ve tried to live by, ever since I came to know Christ. It’s been fun. Twenty-two is a good age.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

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