Interview: Nordic Daughter – more than just a musical project

The husband and wife team Jason and Melissa Lycan make up Nordic Daughter which they consider more than just a musical project, but rather an experience in variety, acceptance, love and logic. The concepts behind the music are meant to build a sense of intimacy with the audience that can only be described as genuine and authentic. The vocal stylings of Melissa Lycan are unique yet classic and the songs she delivers are heart felt and blended.  The project began in 2013 after years of working in the music business the members chose to write the first versions of the songs ready to be produced in the studio. Nordic Daughter will soon be releasing their first EP “Voices of our Past”.

  1. Who is Nordic Daughter and when did the project first start?

Nordic Daughter:  I have always identified with those words; even my LinkedIn and MySpace accounts were labeled this way for the last 12 years.  It’s a part of my identity as a woman of primarily Northern European decent.  Jason Lycan my husband and I have been playing separately for years and began getting serious about writing in 2013.  We have written two albums worth of music so far and look forward to more inspired stories as we record the music and tour the world.

  1. If you were to explain the band’s sound to someone who has never heard Nordic Daughter, which keywords would you use?

Nordic Daughter:  I would like to call it an Alternative folk rock similar to Tori Amos or Sarah McLachlan with very real haunted messages in the beautiful melodies and at the same time the vocals drive hard.

  1. What do you feel essentially separates Nordic Daughter from the thousands of artists trying to make an impact in the internet era?

Nordic Daughter:  Well Jason and I don’t have a love for fame or fortune but we do have a message that must be spread throughout the world, LOVE.  Despite the harsh world around us our integrity and kindness can change a stranger’s life.  We like to think of ourselves as an activist band.  Our first song we released is in fact about how we are abused by the world and in turn we deflect those negative emotions onto others.  The lyric video is out now but the official video contains a PSA about domestic violence and bullying.  I think our constant involvement with non-profit work will set us apart, because we are driven by action not money.  We are happy to play for free for any non-profit organization that aligns with our socially and environmentally progressive yet fiscally conservative beliefs.

  1. Do you, in fact, consider Internet and all the social media as fundamental in building a brand in music today, and what is your personal relationship with the new technology at hand?

Nordic Daughter:  The internet is as fundamental for artists today as a record deal was in the 70’s and 80’s.  It is the key for selling out a 500 person venue in 20 markets.  Every artist needs merchandising, payment processing, online distribution, publishing and rights administration and social media platforms to promote it on.   I received my Bachelors in Music Business from Full Sail University in 2012 and have worked with several artists to grow their fan base since then.  However, there is something to be said for the on the ground promotions and connection with fans.  It is critical to get offline and into your fans faces!  I have an innate understanding of the business having toured with artists like LaRissa Vienna and the Strange and A Memory Down as a tour manager and the importance of the flyer exchange from one hand to another should never be over looked.   These are the key people that will actually show up.

  1. From internet technology to studio technology. What is your relationship with all the studio software and computer-generated music at hand?

Nordic Daughter:  I have recorded commercials at KBPI, I have used Garage Band, Logic, Ableton Live for tracking but the studio prefers ProTools.  I find that because ProTools is digital now, the difference is in the mix and master.  Eventually I do believe only the best studios will remain and it will be because they have stellar promotions to get their artists placed.

  1. In today’s music world filled with samples, beats, loops and all the manipulating software, do you think it is still necessary for kids to learn to play an instrument, and understand the theory of music?

Nordic Daughter:  Yes, I learned to play Piano when I was 7 years old and still do most of my writing on my midi keyboard.  The bonus of learning an instrument is you are not required to license the loop or the beat.  I can write in any instrument from my midi keyboard thanks to technology being able to change the sound to a violin or a cello.  I get the benefits of the technology with none of the legal requirements to share my writing credit.  Theory can be great for learning to play other people’s music but can get in the way of true creative content if structure is too much the focus.

  1. Tell us something about your songwriting processes. Do you lock yourself up in a room and ‘work at it’ or do songs arrive in your head while you’re busy doing something else?

Nordic Daughter: Ha, Ha, Songs have been in my head my whole life.  I think and speak in melodies! Oftentimes people think I am crazy because I am always humming a tune that is running through my head.  I pick up frequencies too, but don’t tell the government! Ha Ha.  When Jason and I write together he will work on a guitar riff for a few days then bring it to me.  We usually work out a little vocal melody over the course of a few moments and then I typically record it so I can go back and write lyrics that fit the timing.  Now, when I write on my own I have started following the same structure but I have been a poet for decades and the lyrics are sometimes hard to put away.

  1. Could you tell us something about the writing, recording and production of your debut single “Fly Away”?

Nordic Daughter:  We wrote this song during a period of separation right around our fourth year of marriage.  We had been in such a dark place in our relationship, both of us blaming the other, stuck in the vicious cycle of frustration with each other.   It was so bad that we had begun to get physical, only to choose to separate before we hurt each other beyond repair.  When we did our own personal reflection the song came out of our reconciliation.  So it’s one of the most transformational songs we have written.  We recorded the song at a studio in Boulder called KMG Life.  It took us two sessions because I acquired a nasty cold before the first session and had to go back in to record.  The second time we chose to bring Ahrue Luster of Illustrious Productions in as a producer.  Ahrue is traditionally a hard rock producer as he is the Guitar Player for Il Nino and formerly Machine Head in the 90’s.  We sat on the song for over a year before we went back into the studio with it and 4 other songs.  He has been a blessing and made the experience very easy.  I found myself taking direction easily and let go of the reigns when it came to the final mixes.  I think Ahrue did a great job on the final song.

  1. Here’s a curved ball question that just came to mind: Both of you have been playing music for many years now, and Nordic Daughter has been going since 2013, if I’m not mistaken. How come the debut single only arrives in 2017?

Nordic Daughter:  I’d say my own doubt had a lot to do with it but I also decided to get my Masters degree during that time and it took more of me than I had anticipated as it usually does.  After I received my Masters we decided it was time to really go for it.

  1. Getting back to the question of being in music for a lifetime. What more than anything else drives you to stay in this sometimes fickle business day after day?

Nordic Daughter:  Without sounding cliché in a practically atheist world, it is the only time when I feel connected with the universe.  I can’t really explain it except to say it is transcendental.  We don’t need much, so making even a modest living is a bonus to the already incredible job.

  1. What aspect of being an independent artist and its processes excites you most, and which discourages you most?

Nordic Daughter:  It is a ton of work to be an independent artist and you must always be moving.  I also love the idea of being able to choose my own tour routes and run my own analytics.  So freedom is the most enticing, the workload is the biggest discouragement.  However with time we can hire someone else to help.

  1. If you could change one thing about how the music industry works, what would that be?

Nordic Daughter:  Good God there are so many!  Just one… I would create an application that takes the guess work out of tracking all revenue streams in one location with complete analytics.  Kobalt on Crack!

  1. How involved are you in managing any of the aspects regarding your musical career (recording, producing, marketing, promotion and touring etc.). Do you outsource any processes or does Nordic Daughter take care of everything?

Nordic Daughter:  We handle everything in house in terms of branding and design but we do pay professionals directly for support with backlinks and connecting with different publications.  We would not be opposed to picking up a solid booking agent for touring in the USA, Canada and Europe as this is a fulltime job and best left to pros so I can market.  I love marketing and have been doing so for 15 years.  Nordic Daughter outsources production to Ahrue and has been scouted by a few other producers for future albums.  Merchandise, we make in house, along with all the songs!  My 16 year old recently co-wrote a song with us along with Grant of Talon Guitar Picks, it is so pop!

  1. What is the best piece of advice in this business you received and actually followed? And is there any piece of advice you were given but didn’t follow, and now know for sure that you should have?

Nordic Daughter:  Best piece of advice was to make connections and foster them.  Best advice I received and initially disregarded was insurance.  GET renters insurance for your gear.  Watched one of my bands get robbed while on tour in Dallas and they had recently put off getting insurance.  Get insurance!  It’s a small price to pay for replacement of your life.

  1. At this point, as independent artists, is there any aspect or element you consider exclusive to Major label artists that you desire and feel will undeniably benefit your future?

Nordic Daughter:  I feel that some really good tour dates are only available to signed artists because of the PR that goes along with them.  Performing with larger artists as an independent would be a first and of course it would benefit my career to be tour support on an artist like Lourde’s tour.

  1. Live performances or studio work, which do you feel is your natural habitat?

Nordic Daughter: I enjoy both but I am a natural live, the studio is like a big hollow space with very little energy to feed off of for the performance.  And I really psych myself out with the headphone Monitor, I hold back.

  1. The new technology has completely changed the way the music business works. Do you still purchase physical CD’s and vinyl’s or is it all about downloading digitally for you too? And do you remember the last single, EP or album you actually purchased?

Nordic Daughter:  I don’t buy vinyl anymore but my dad’s collection is immense.  I pick up CD’s mostly to support touring bands on the road.  It allows me to share their music, pass it on and helps them get from point A to point B.  Streaming on Spotify, YouTube or Apple Music are my preferred consumption.  I purchased Chauncey Crandall’s last Album when he was in Colorado.

  1. Could you tell us something more about your “fully Choreographed show”?

Nordic Daughter:  We have an 8×8 backdrop great for festivals and large stages.  3×4 front scrim stage left, with LED lighted cherry trees stage right.  We are adding a low lying fog machine that mimics dry ice next week and have been working on lighting design with a local LD.  It’s a story that takes people on a journey through some deep emotions.

  1. You’re also getting ready to release your upcoming EP “Voices of our Past” soon, and I was just wondering how Nordic Daughter interprets any possible commercial success: is it an option, an opportunity or a necessity?

Nordic Daughter:  The EP is the Launchpad for touring.  Success to us is breaking even on the first tour.  Our purpose is helping others look inside themselves and recognize that healing begins internally not externally.  So many people define success my how many people bought this or that, for us how many people heard it and were moved by it would be a stat worth tracking.  How many times did people play the music?  It depends on whether their souls aligned with it!

  1. How challenging (or easy) is it, balancing a romantic and working relationship, from the bedroom to the dining room and then studio room?

Nordic Daughter:  Hold on let me duck that’s a loaded question.  I don’t know that there is really a division between the dining room and the studio.  Our family is very active so one can blend into the other very easily.  The breaks come when Jason is practicing with his other band Something for Tomorrow, two nights a week and I with the cover band.  We get to perform separately and then come back together with extra creative energy.



Rick Jamm

Journalist, publicist and indie music producer with a fervent passion for electric guitars and mixing desks !

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