Hi, Doctor Nick! - Getting Inspired and What to Do When Your Man Asks About His Music

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Every Thursday, XLR8R's resident guru, Nick Hook, puts on his doctor's coat and answers readers' questions about life, love, music, travel, gear, production, and whatever else people need help with. Doctor Nick has the knowledge—we're just here to help him share it with the world.

Hi. I'm back in New York. Last week, I almost called in sick as Doctor Hook, but it ended up being the most-read column yet. I'm glad everyone is feeling this. It's fun.

I just drank like 23 cups of coffee.

By the way, last time I forgot the golden rule of guestlist etiquette:


Shout out to the Knicks. 5-0. Shout out to the new Deftones album. Shout out to my new apartment. Keep the questions coming, and send music and shit—all of it. doctornick@xlr8r.com

Shout out to Brooklyn Electronic Music Festival. Everyone was amazing. Salva killed it. Friends of Friends crew, Nico Jaar, Lauren Flax, Dave P., Mixpak, Jess Jubilee, Dre Skull... and on and on and on.

Hopefully I get my business cards this week so I never have to say I play music to anyone ever again.

And here we go...

Hi Doctor Nick,
Where do you find your inspiration to write music other than anything music related? I'm not talking about lyrics about your last ex-girlfriend, but more like have you ever smelt something that gave you an idea for a beat? Also, how many aliases do you have?

Yo son.

Good question. On the serious tip, in the past two years, I've made a serious effort to be inspired by things that have nothing to do with music at all. After I watched Basquiat's documentary, I had this dawning realization that I spent way too much of my life cross-eyed with only music, and that I really spent a lot of time confined to my neighborhood when I wasn't traveling.

The first step was actually getting a bike. It opened up my world in so many ways, especially in New York, where you can be inspired and stimulated in vastly different ways. One block crosses Little Italy with Chinatown, and there's lots of Puerto Rican and Dominican culture. Listening to people speak languages I don't know, hearing new rhythms, it just makes my brain work extra hard. I love that we have that in New York and when you go travel, it's the extreme case. I always try and keep notes and pictures in my phone and I keep a journal, so when I get back to the studio, I can try and remember these moments as clearly as possible.

Also, museums have really been inspiring to me. It's obvious to say that, but sometimes I think we forget to actually go out and do it. Every time I go to the museum, I get so inspired to think of the process of how they do things, and how we are slowly losing that. No Facebook, no phones, the sketches that lead to the paintings, the preparation, isolation. I think its important to remember all that.

I've also been trying to read as much as possible, and not like Mötley Crüe's or Keith Richards' 'we did all the cocaine' books. I'm talking about stories to help my imagination. It's felt great. I'm also really trying to learn Spanish and French. I think communication breeds new creativity. I get so inspired when I'm in Paris and they are all laughing and I can't understand. I wanna be a part of that.

As far as smells, coffee, all day. And garlic.

My aliases: Red Mamba, Frank Siracha, White Bronco, Hookemon, Sparkling Red, Yung Sandbag, and Twix (my grime name). I got more, too. I can't remember.

Hi, Doctor Nick!
I'm a female who's very much interested in music and I've been working with music and musicians doing many of the shitty little and/or interesting great jobs you could come across in the biz. So when I fall in love, it's very likely someone who does music himself, mostly because I just don't meet that many other guys. But while listening to lots of music in my professional life with my extra set of "professional ears," I've developed a very specific taste when it comes to what music I really like and want to listen to in my private time. So when dating a guy who does music, I'll possibly like him not for the music he does, but for the wonderful the person he is, and I don't mind if I don't think what he makes is a world-class product, or even touches me for another reason than him having made it. (Well, there was an exception. I once had sex with the guy who made my then-favorite record, which was a synaesthesial dream but a mess otherwise.) So, as I usually like and respect the guy, I want to react in the best possible way when the inevitable question comes: "Can I play you the track I finished yesterday? And please tell me, what do you think?" So Nick, how the hell do I put it?

This is so real. It's hard in these streets to meet anyone and then sometimes we gotta cross careers with love. Fuck.

I hate that this has to be inevitable. I have some female friends that have met dudes, and like a month into their relationship, dudes are like, "Yo, I got beats for you." Ahhhhhhhh. It makes me wanna barf.

I would just make it clear to the dude that the spark you have is more important than the music he makes. Isn't the music he's making for him and the audience that he's showing it to? It's not like you went backstage and sought him out cuz you already loved it. Then be fucking brutally honest, in an open way. If you already have professional ears, maybe you will help him make better music. Just having you around in the first place should already be improving his music. If he's willing to lose you for that, I think it's his loss, not yours. The more I do this, the more I realize how hard it is to actually find someone that is on some ride-or-die shit cuz our lifestyle sucks for relationships. There's nothing worse. So, yeah. You are the 1% that all of us actually want. At least that's what I want, not some sugar-coated opinion on how our shitty music is actually good.

Good luck. Holler at me if you lose him. I'll never show you anything.

Hi, Doctor Nick! appears every Thursday on XLR8R. Do you have a question for Doctor Nick? Please submit your inquires to doctornick@xlr8r.com. Nick Hook can help you.