One man … one guitar … and occasionally a piano, a bass, a mandolin or drums … Manchester singer/songwriter Nish Goyal can do it all.
His songs are stories of life, in the same vein as musical luminaries and legends Frank Turner, Bruce Springsteen and Bryan Adams, with a gentle sprinkling of alternative and punk sounds to give them that needed kick.
Nish’s music came to my notice through a friend-of-a-friend and it is a joy to listen to. The more I listen, the more I am entranced by his unique perspective and his tender voice.
His single, “As I Am” is a straight in-your-face belter, and he pulls no punches telling the listener who he is and what he stands for. It is gritty and gutsy and inspired.
“Sleep at Night” is a comfortable and romantic ballad, kind of like a warm, friendly hug. The added female vocal adds a bright, happy tone.
“In Our Parent’s Eyes” is a bouncy singalong song that is equally entertaining as it is fun.
It was a pleasure recently to sit and chat with Nish about life, his music and what’s coming up for him.
When was music first a part of your life?
Nish: First time would have been on holiday to see family in India as a kid and I picked up a keyboard and just seemed to know how to play it. When we came back I started piano lessons, but as I went through my teens, I realized that guitar was just cooler.
I got a cheap guitar and taught myself through school and A levels. Sadly, at Uni, it got kinda forgotten and then I started working and what not.
Happily, I had a revelation a few years ago and decided to do music properly instead of being a suit!
So playing came naturally to you? Did you take any lessons?
Nish: Yeah, I guess so. Guitar was a bit more difficult, but nowhere near as hard as trying to play drums!
Yes I took about six months of guitar lessons before going to Uni at 18, but I’d already been teaching myself, so it was more to get me out of bad habits.
Lol! So how many instruments do you play?
Nish: Properly, just guitar and piano, though I’m no stranger
to a bass, a mandolin or a drum kit.
I love playing cajon although it ruins my hands!
Wow, you are a one-man band if needed!
Nish: Yes, but one that would have Jesus Christ ripping his hands of the cross to cover his ears …
So you feel most at home with the guitar in your hands?
Nish: Erm, I guess so. I find it’s the one I can write my usual tyke on the easiest.
I find playing my stuff on piano weirdly difficult.
On the other hand, when I play piano it’s insanely comforting and I can lose myself in a way I don’t with guitar.
I also write differently on piano.
I was watching your piano video yesterday … You played lovely classical songs and a new original too?
Nish: Yeah I really love classic stuff which is and given that I love punk!!!
That original is called “Drifting” and should be on the album! Did you like it?
Yes, “Drifting”! It sounded very inspired. It should be in the album, yes! You plan to do a female duet?
Nish: I do! I actually had someone over yesterday and we spent hours experimenting with different vocal tones for the female part. We ended up recording 11 layers of vocals for her part! It’s been fun editing and music for those!
Oh wow! I can’t wait to hear the finished piece.
Nish: I’ll send you the version I upload for my uni assessment!
How many songs will the album have?
Nish: 10 songs. I’m planning to release a few more as singles, so that there is something like seven or eight singles out then to release the album with the remaining songs.
Lovely! That’s going to be a full album when it’s ready.
Nish: Yeah, I can’t wait! It’s also quite a varied album for me style wise as you saw with Drifting and with another single already out called “Sleep at Night.”
What is your study at Uni? I’m assuming music …
Nish: Yeah I’m studying a degree in Songwriting at BIMM Manchester. Love those guys!
Sounds like it is a great place to study music. How much longer do you have?
Nish: Two years! Literally just finishing my first and I feel I’ve been there forever! In a good way, of course! They’ve been so supportive and helpful in everything.
…. And helped you get a slot at this year’s Glastonbury Festival … Tell me all about that!
Nish: Basically, they have stages and bandstands at various festivals. I actually heard of them whilst at my favorite festival, 2000 Trees, last year. I applied and got in and was lucky enough to get a slot at their stage at 2000 Trees this year, as my style is similar and Uni are awesome!
I emailed the lady who managed the festival bookings after that to ask about Glastonbury and to plead my case. She replied saying she thought I’d be perfect for it and had put me forward, but it was up to the festival.
Anyway, suffice to say when she called to say I got the slot, I was over the moon! Even more so when I found out I had two slots!
Wow! What stages, and do you know what days you will play?
Nish: Yes, it’s at the Croissant Neuf Bandstand on the Greenfields area of the festival! I play on Friday afternoon, June 23 at 2 p.m. and then again on Saturday, June 24 at 7:40 p.m.
Oooo, a night slot is ace! I’m so excited for you! How long is each set?
Nish: I know right?! I’m so stoked about both slots! Also the bandstand has an open mic each morning which I’m going to hit — me being me, lol! I just want to take advantage of the opportunity!
Of course you should! Who knows where it could lead?
Who are your musical influences and inspirations?
Nish: Oh so many. I have so many big influences.
I’d have to say Frank Turner, Bruce Springsteen, Bryan Adams, Red Hot Chili Peppers. Literally anything with a cool riff. Ooh, the Stereophonics are a huge like, as are Skinny Lister and Dropkick Murphys and Social Distortion.
Saying that, I love classic works by Dmitri Shostakovich and the usual composers, lol. Weird, I know …
Na, not weird, interesting! I know several hard rock guitarists who are classically trained … I think it adds to the skill level — classical isn’t easy!
Nish: Yeah, I know I suck at playing it, but I love listening to it though. Sometimes it’s just what you need after constantly being immersed in one style of music.
Right, variety is key! So when did you start writing songs? Have any made it through?
Nish: I’d say that was probably during A levels when I was 16. That’s when I started writing lyrics and putting them to chords. Although looking back they were terrible. So sad.
Erm, not the earliest, although some of the lyrics from sleep at night were written when I was 18 and actually the lyrics of “Drifting” were written about eight years ago!
Otherwise I think you grow as you keep writing so it’s best not to revisit those early ones too much as you will write better ones as you keep on going
True, you do grow and change constantly. What is the music scene like where you are?
Nish: The North West is absolutely brilliant for music! It has such a heritage from The Beatles, Cilla Black, Oasis, Stone Roses, Happy Mondays and so forth! Plus, there are so many open mics and gig venues that I wonder sometimes why up and comers move to London?!
I tend to find my favorites centrally — usually between Leeds, Sheffield and Nottingham. So much variety!
Nish: Ah true! I’ve not spent a huge amount of time there as I tend to focus on the Northwest or else the South.
What sets you apart from everyone else?
Nish: I’d say my energy. I’m told I have an energy that’s infectious.
Do you pull people into your show? I mean, with your energy?
Nish: I hope so! I’d say I keep people watching especially at those places where they aren’t bothered about the music. I was born and raised in the Northwest of England but my parents are Indian.
What is it about being on stage and performing live?
Nish: Admittedly I used to get so nervous! Now though I just love seeing the songs hit home with people. Like when you see them listening and going “huh, yeah that makes sense.” That and when they sing your songs back to you. That’s just magical.
I think that’s everyone’s dream, to have that sing along moment … It kind of validates what you are doing.
Nish: Exactly. It’s so validating. It’s pretty much the reason most people do it.
Have you gotten any good advice about the music industry?
Nish: Generally, advice is quite conflicting I’ve found. So far I’ve found take advice with a pinch of salt and try work out what works best for you.
What are your aspirations and goals?
Nish: I’d like to earn my living from it. Frank Turner is a good mode again. He isn’t like mainstream famous but if you like good music, you know who he is. He inspires loyalty from his fans that is amazing … me included. That’s what I want.
You can find Nish online at https://www.nishgoyal.com/, on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/nishgoyalmusic/, on Twitter at @nishgoyalmusic, on CD Baby at https://store.cdbaby.com/Artist/NishGoyal, on Spotify at https://play.spotify.com/artist/28eqe51fr6Q2mxSEjejDCN?play=true&utm_source=open.spotify.com&utm_medium=open and on iTunes at https://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/nish-goyal/id441587073.