GRINDING: N.icky of Heavy

1. Name/Alias:
My momma & daddy named me Nicole Guiland… call me Nicky / N.icky {pronounced N dot Icky}… Ampersand Jones is a fun new persona. I like that chick too.

2.Where are you from/ Where do you currently live?:
I’m a QueensNYc girl. South Jamaica. I’m still out here. It’s a nice get away and reality check. Keeps me grounded. My neighborhood is primarily West Indian, be it immigrants or first generation-ers, like myself… it makes me feel like I’m with family, and watching newcomers come and create a life is inspiring.

3. Where did/do you go to school and your major?:
High School… the infamous Fiorello H. LaGuardia School of Music & Art & the Performing Arts. { a mouthful} I was a vocal major. Went onto The New School University to study Jazz in their Jazz and Contemporary Music program.

4. What is your Grind?:
Being the lead singer of an indie band, HEAVy, entails wearing multiples hats. Online persona maintenance / PR. Writing. Brainstorming. Recording. Performing. Travel agent. It really isn’t any different than the job most artists have to do these days.
I’m thankfully able to say music sustains my lifestyle. Doesn’t mean that’s an easy life to live. Certainly not rolling around in money. It’s a much harder grind at times than juggling a 9-5 and your art. I’ve done that before as well. My workday never ends, and when it’s hectic… boy is it hectic. I share the heavy lifting {no pun intended} with Casey Benjamin, writer/the other half of HEAVy, and Teddycrockett, our “big brother” /manager. My focus has been squarely on writing and performing for/with HEAVy, but I’ve taught, done a wedding or 5, recorded as a featured artist with other bands/musicians. Background singing/reference track work is always fun. I used to make hats and bags too… I still do for friends. It just takes me longer… I still owe someone 2 hats, ordered back in 2007. (Sorry Nick)

5. How did you get into what your doing now?:
How could I NOT get into what I’m doing now? I started out in dancing school like most, but at the age of 2 1/2, since my big sister pretty much lived in the dance studio {She’s in the Lion King these days, and was a part of the original The Color Purple Broadway cast}. I didn’t stop dancing ’til about 13/14, when singing stole my focus. All of my extra curricular activities revolved around performing. Dance classes, vocal studies, piano class, acting class… I was born an artist and trained for this. I’m a little control freaky too… so starting a band was only a natural progression.

6. When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?:
An entertainer. Or a veterinarian. I pissed my Grandfather off @ 15 telling him I was going to move to Japan and sing torch songs. What a great moment.

7. What are some contributing factors that shaped the life you live now?:
My folks taught my sister and me that hard work and humility gains you great rewards. I do my best to keep this in mind. We kid and say its the West Indian way…
I’m surrounded by successful people in and outside of my family, but their success is all self created. Their focus keeps me on my path.

8. Any specific people that mentored or helped guide you to your current path?:
The list would be long… I take a little from everyone who crosses my path. My folks and my sister. Case and Teddy. Alison Crockett. My Bff’s Vicky, Tionnei, Carla, Shannon. My HUGE family. My cousin Kisha… Its a big network of support.

9. What motivates you?:
I’m human. Sometimes its jealousies. It’s ugly, but if you shine a light on that dark place, and really look at it, you see what it is that you need to work on… what to strengthen within yourself. That can be a great motivator if you don’t let the envy eat away at you. Most time, New York is a great motivator. I love this city and it’s characters. Flaws and all.

10. Your favorite author and why?:
If I had to pick one, Jamaica Kincaid. For a while I bought every thing that she published. It started with Annie John for me, then came Lucy… Autobiography of My Mother… My Brother… list goes on and on. In high school I was intrigued by her personal story. Reading her novels, the way her characters spoke felt familiar. The subject matter would strike close to home at times too. I re-read Lucy whenever I’m between books.

11. What are 3 goals you want to achieve within the next year?:

1) Complete HEAVy’s 2nd and 3rd records… start the 4th and maybe a solo one.

2) Continue on my path of self acceptance and love.

3) Pay my student loans off.

12. One person that continuously inspires you and why?:
My sis, Stephanie Brown. Through a number of knee injuries and surgeries, ups and downs of a dancer’s life… she remains focused and in love with what she does. For her, there’s always a higher goal. Just when you’d think she’d throw in the towel, she pushes through.

13. 3 Indie brands you LOVE to rock?:
Unfortunately I’m not big on indie brands, ONLY because most times it’s out of my price range… or it’s just not a part of my vision. There is one brand that I do patronize, Collecther dresses in Brooklyn. Other not so indie brands include David Dalrymple for House of Field & Judi Rosen. I have to do my indie homework.

14. What annoys you the most?:
Being discounted.

15. Your best quality?: People say I’m a good listener. I like to think I have a good shoulder to lean on.