From the Field to the Studio with Lio Nicol

Photo Credit: Kelly Elaine Photo


It’s an expression old as time, but when one door closes – another surely will open

At least that’s what happened to Lio Nicol. An athlete her whole life until an illness took her away from it for some time, she switched gears, found her voice and followed it from Montana to Southern California. Some years later she has an EP out this month, and is already working on the follow up. Now a little more from Lio Nicol…

Kendra: What sport or sports did you play back in the day? Did that competitiveness make its way into your music?

Lio Nicol: I played almost any sport I could, but competitively I played soccer, basketball and ran track. I would for sure say playing competitive sports played a huge roll in how I move through life in general though. I have always been a competitive person and like to attain the goals I have in mind, but practicing that “win the game” attitude for years definitely helps!

Kendra: Where do you think you’d be right now if you’d stayed on a sports route instead of switching gears to a more musical path?

Lio: Honestly, I would probably have played college ball and maybe continued after that. I probably would have gotten a degree in biology, and my masters in marine biology as well. Things happen for a reason though and I needed something serious to divert my attention off of sports. If I had not gotten sick and unable to play sports for quite some time I would not be doing this right now and I can’t even imagine not doing music now that I’m here!

Kendra: You moved out to California from Montana almost seven years ago. Did you have any initial ideas about how it’d be here that were either proven wrong or right?

Lio: I was completely clueless. I thought “Oh I’m pretty good at writing and singing…” But I knew absolutely noooothing about music theory, song structure, music business or life REALITY haha. I grew up in very friendly and relatively affordable town. So when I showed up in San Diego with $1,000 saved up I was terribly surprised about how expensive it is here! Luckily my family was very supportive and helped me stay on my feet. Also, I was very taken back by the general demeanor of the town. It’s nothing like I’d ever experienced, especially coming from the friendliest fantasy land of Missoula, Montana! But once I found my LA niche I realized it just takes time, no matter where you are, to meet a group of amazing people and get in the groove.

Kendra: You actually were in San Diego before Burbank, right? What made you head up north a bit?

Lio: Yep, I moved to San Diego first to work with a great songwriting duo and then after that I stayed and taught myself piano, worked on songwriting and read lots of music business books. I always wanted to move to LA, but not until I felt I was ready because I knew this was a different beast. The final push to move here was very coincidental though. I had been working with a new producer here in LA, Wesley Switzer – who is now my really good friend, and the day after I got a notice at my apartment in San Diego saying we had to move out because they were renovating, Wes hit me up saying he had a room open at his house! So that was my sign. I packed my shit and was up there two weeks later. I’ll admit I cried when I left San Diego though, I love that place!

Kendra: Now let’s talk about music. You dropped your latest single “Blame,” but when’s the last time you actually had to blame someone for something?

Lio: Honestly, the song is about how it’s never one person’s fault. So I can honestly say I haven’t actually blamed anyone completely for anything in quite some time. I suppose when I was younger and my brother and I got in trouble…I may have pointed a few fingers back in those days.

Kendra: We can hear that song and more when your EP is released in January. What was your drive when writing and recording this record?

Lio: This 4-track EP coming out in January was the beginning of me finding my own sound and what truly feels like me. So the drive behind it was to experiment and learn about what did and didn’t feel like me. In the end we came out with a product I am very happy with and ready to share!

Kendra: Oh, congrats on being named one of Music Connection Magazine’s top unsigned artists! What’d you do when you heard that news?

Lio: Thank you, yeah that’s pretty sweet! I’ll be honest, I was sitting in my living room and I saw the photo and zoomed in on my name like 10 times on my phone. Then I called my mom! I also may have done a happy dance never to be repeated.

Kendra: Other than the new EP, what’s happening with your in 2017?

Lio: Oh man, I am super excited for 2017. I just finished writing my next album already and so I will be working on that soon and playing more shows! I love the EP I am putting out in January but I’m even more stoked for this new stuff so I’m ready to 2017 to get rolling.

Kendra: Be it when you were in San Diego or here in LA, was there another other up and coming artist that really caught your attention you think our readers need to know about?

Lio: I have SO many up and coming bands that I’d love to share with you but I’m going to give a shout out to a very talented songwriter and singer, Emily Herndon. I’m always blown away by her brilliant lyrics and graceful melodies and it’s always a special experience when we write together. As far as bands go I would say check out Beat Connection. They are an awesome indie-funk pop band out of Seattle with great “make your body move” music and they have a great live sound as well.

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