Nicole McKinney is a 21-year-old singer songwriter from the Sunshine Coast. Her debut single, ‘Honey Be Good’ was released on April 3. The song is an endearing mix of roots and folk-pop with a chorus that's simply a burst of sunshine. Her single reached number one for two weeks on Triple J Unearthed Roots Chart’s from the release date. The song also won the competition Songsalive Australia in the singer songwriter category.
Nicole has a strong distinctive voice with her well-crafted melodies. She has played around the Sunshine Coast and Brisbane gig circuit for a few years. Now residing in Brisbane; she has been working her way up in the local music scene with an ever-growing fan base in the Brisbane music scene through her distinctive sound.
We sat down and had a little chat about her music, enjoy.
Let’s start with something maybe a little hard or easy, what is ‘Honey Be Good’? How did this song come about?
Well I wrote it quite a while ago, I was like 16 and I was on a walk where I lived on the sunshine coast and it was just sort of playing in my head. This tune, and then I quickly run home to record it and everything. Then the lyrics came later, and I think it was just when I was having a lot of realisations about friends and stuff. Some friends at the time were going through some stuff and I just sort of subconsciously wrote it about them. Now it applies to me in life… I wanted to make it my first release because it means a lot to me.
Makes sense, so have we got some more singles coming up do you think? How has the response been so far?
The response has been amazing. I have got a lot of support from people, especially from people I have not talked to in years, just messaging me saying, “oh my god”. Also, from people I don’t know as well, and from triple J. It was number one on roots chart and then it also won an award in Sydney. So, I went down to Sydney to get that singer song writer award which was cool. Now I’ve just been going around to radio shows and showing it on there.
That is very exciting, so who are your inspirations for song writing?
Song writing inspiration would probably be umm… When I was younger I’d say Taylor Swift, Missy Higgins, John Denver and then as I got older… Like now, it is probably Gregory Alan Isakov, he is an American singer-songwriter. He is amazing and that sort of folky style. Then probably Mcdermott and North, they are a local duo in Brisbane. They have definitely influenced my song writing as well, they are amazing at song writing. They have written so many songs and they have definitely influenced my techniques and everything.
When did you start writing music and playing guitar? How did you start your musical journey?
When I was 12 my Dad bought me a guitar or got me a guitar. I think it was an old family one he fixed it up for me and I didn’t touch it for like a year. Just couldn’t be bothered, didn’t think I would be able to learn it, so I didn’t try. Then the next year I just picked it up and learned really simple stuff and then didn’t start writing songs till a couple of years later and started playing covers, making them my own. When I was 16, I started writing songs and I am 21 now, so it has been a few years and I have quite a lot. I am keen to start releasing them finally now that I have some money under my belt and I have finished uni and all of that.
Oh perfect, what did you study at uni?
I studied nursing, not related but finishing it has made me realise I want to chase music. Once you finish it you realise, I am here and this is what it is going to be like. Music is a lot more fun. But it is good to have the back up. It has been really helpful because I can buy instruments to develop the sound and it has been really fun.
So, do you have any plans for releasing anything else in the near future?
Yes, end of July I am releasing my next single called ‘Palestrine’. I wrote that one last year, I think. It has a bit of a different style than ‘Honey Be Good’. I’d say, it is a bit more dream-pop. I haven’t announced it yet so I guess I will announce it to you, I will have the release a Black Bear Lodge at the end of July. So that will be cool, a full band will be playing with me just like the last single launch.
What has been the most surprising thing that has happened with the release of your first single?
Probably getting played on this Irish radio which has like one million followers, RTE radio. It is kind of like the BBC of Ireland. They played it last week and I found out from family. It was nice because all my extended family is there, and they were all like “woo hoo.” I didn’t even know they were going to play it.
Where is the best place for people to follow you?
Keep an ear out for the next single ‘Palestine’ at the end of July. For now, feast your ears on, ‘Honey Be Good’ below.