By JoAnn Snavely
In the last edition of “Spotlight on Rising Stars,” the music industry is constantly evolving. There are always new sounds to be heard, new instruments to be invented, and new songs to be written. This week, I took on 2 of my most exciting interviews yet. Meet these two musicians who are working their way to be the next big thing!
Meet Baby Fisher and Medium Build.
Medium Build is the assumed name for Alaska-based musician Nick Carpenter.
I had the pleasure of speaking with him after his sold-out show at the Cat’s Cradle Backroom. In an interview that has been months in the making, we spoke about N-Sync, vinyl pressings, Appalachian State, and more in what is my first-ever in-person interview!
Medium Build is not a new name to the Herald. I introduced the Herald to Carpenter this past September in ‘Alive Through Sound: Briston Maroney and Medium Build,’ where I did an in-depth show review when he opened for Briston Maroney during his Sunflower U.S. tour.
Carpenter’s musical roots have been embedded as crucial parts of his life for as long as he can remember, “I grew up playing music in the church, so most of it is informed by charismatic southern baptist type stuff. My mom loved Motown, and my dad loved dad rock like Billy Joel and ZZ Top. So like a little lyrics from Billy Joel, a little soul from my mom’s Motown, and a lot of emotional heaviness from church music, which is spirit.” He also grew up in Atlanta, GA, which had a strong influence and added an r&b element to his sound
Those extremely varied influences seamlessly reflect throughout his discography. He released his debut album Falling Apart in 2016. The album heavily reflects the r&b roots he had from his childhood. Still, he is also lyric-heavy and emotional with songs like “About U” and “Concessions” He’s released many more projects over the past few years and has slowly begun to shed the synths from his music and move towards an acoustic focus. He discussed the evolution of his sound, “I think my sound has started to evolve more into the woodsy, kind of like folk lane. Like roughboy was definitely me exploring synths and R&B and rock, and Wild was me exploring, like with ‘Give it Like you Used To’ and like ‘$Money$’ [they] are heavily influenced by my love for R&B and hip-hop… I still have so much hip-hop and R&B [influence] – I grew up in Atlanta. But I think right now, Health is kinda more where my heart is- quieter, woodsier, more introspective, more thoughtful.”
Moving back towards his beginnings, he found his name during college. In what he described as a “cringy story,” Carpenter stumbled upon the name “Medium Build” during an artsy date gone sorta wrong. Carpenter and his date attended a museum with an exhibit that reflected on the perception of crushes, and with it, there was an FBI artist where they had to describe each other to the artist. Long story short, in the description, Carpenter gave the usual answers; brown hair, brown eyes, female, medium build. Yep, he described her as medium build in a moment of fear. Not only did this lose him a lot of street cred with his date, but he found his stage name. Although that date would lead to a bit more (listen to the audio interview to hear the whole story), at least there’s a fantastic story behind an equally unique name.
Carpenter has been making music for about seven or so years, and with that comes lots of wisdom and advice, so I made it my personal goal to get the best advice from him as possible. And before I share, I want to preface by saying that this advice is interchangeable between creative endeavors, although initially described as advice for musicians, because even I took much of this advice to heart. To begin, the best advice he was given was from his dad: “Best piece of advice I was given was by my dad, he just said ‘make what you want to make… you be you, and if it connects with someone where they are, then that bond is so much stronger’…[Essentially] my dad was like, ‘dude, just f*****ng light yourself on fire, it’ll be fine, and the people that f*** with it f*** with it.’” He continues to build upon what his dad said, “If I’m out here faking it, making some s*** I don’t believe in, and you really like it, and then you get to know me, and maybe that’s not actually who I am, then there’s this disconnect right?”
Carpenter had some advice of his own to give, “My best advice to aspiring musicians is don’t pay attention to the numbers. Write all the time. Don’t be precious about what you’re putting out. Put stuff out, don’t be caught up in the TikTok/Instagram s*** like PUT STUFF OUT, play shows. Just go, go, go. You don’t need an invitation. You don’t need the right gear, the fancy microphone, you don’t need anything to make music. You can make a movie on your frickin iPhone. Just do it. Stop dreaming about it and do it.”
I think the final portion of that quote is one of the most important takeaways of this article- “stop dreaming about it and do it.” Whatever your passion is, whether it be music, photography, painting, or even writing, just do it. Pursue your passions. Just do it.
Carpenter has been doing it, not dreaming it. He most recently released his EP Health, the intuitive EP about loving, learning, and the growing pains that flow throughout it have completely taken a 360 for his sound and future. Carpenter is dreaming bigger and working towards bigger and better things–most specifically, getting signed, “We are in the middle of talking with a handful of labels about signing with them, and whoever we sign with, they will buy Health and whatever the next stuff we make is. So, as soon as we sign, I’m going to print a whole bunch of copies of Health on vinyl.”
As aforementioned at the beginning of the article, I interviewed him after the 3rd show on his Health & Wellness tour that’s traveling throughout the United States over the next month. In a reflection on how the tour has gone so far, he spoke about the family ties he had to Atlanta and the love he has for Carrboro, “Atlanta was a clusterf**** because I grew up there, and the first night, half the crowd were people I used to lead worship for at church, like friends from my childhood. It felt like a wedding where I couldn’t get to everyone I needed to see. So now that we are in the real bits where it’s just fans and people that love the music, I just feel so stoked. Like tonight [Cat’s Cradle] was so good… I don’t know how any night will be better than tonight.”
Looking forward to the next month of headlining shows, “I’m just excited to meet the people that are listening to the stuff I’m making. I hope it continues to be in this spirit of love and joy.”
Taking a more personal note, since I began writing this article and with my series’ at the Herald like ‘Alive Through Sound,’ I have taken a particular interest in live music and everything about it. I experienced two concerts over the past few years that solidified my infatuation with live music; the first was my first-ever concert, and the other was the Briston Maroney show that Medium Build opened for. In that show, Medium Build harbored such passion and raw emotion in his performance- specifically the song “Rage.” His performance was so surreal that it led me to ask what goes through his head while live, “When I’m on stage losing my sh*t, I think the only thing in my mind is for one, I love to sing, growing up in the church, I’m kind of addicted to being on stage and doing the thing so it’s a little bit of a selfish, sort of peacocking element to it…because I love being in the spotlight. But, truly, what I’m thinking about is how lucky I am to do this, and then I think about all the crowds that I was in when I was 15 and 16 going to shows and how I wanted to be on stage and how I loved being in the crowd singing along…When I’m yelling, there’s someone yelling along with me, and then they’re going to go home. They’re going to think about it for the next 30 years of their life. I get to be… a cog in the system” More introspectively, he thinks about the future of his music, “I think about the longevity of careers and in 20 years maybe people won’t know ‘Rage,’ but maybe someone will be playing in a band that people know and they’ll remember when they saw me do ‘Rage’ here. I’m just happy to be part of the ecosystem.”
It’s clear he puts on quite the show- and he’s not done touring anytime soon. In the next few weeks, he will begin touring with Lewis Capaldi on his North American tour, but he also has many dreams. One day, Carpenter hopes to headline iconic venues like Red Rocks, the Ryman Auditorium, and Fox Theatre in Atlanta. More internationally, Carpenter wants to expand his music much further than he can presently imagine, “Honestly, my real dream–my secret, secret dream–is to play Japan. I want to play Japan so hard. And I don’t know if anyone knows I exist there, but we want to make it happen- probably this article.”
Taking a lighter approach to the rest of the interview, I came up with a handful of “fun” questions, and I will briefly discuss some of them, but I do believe that, for the most part, it’s better heard than read (so listen to the interview for more).
Medium Build hasn’t always done music exclusively, so he’s had time to think about his future without music. When I asked what he’d be doing if it wasn’t music, Carpenter had the most thought-out response of all time, “If I didn’t make music, I would want to open like a little bar, like a little restaurant. Not too big, not like a big-ol’ sports bar. Just a lil’ 20-top, like little 2-tops. Sneaky little bar, like some nice little wine list, a couple of small bites, maybe a nice sandwich, a couple of veggie options, and then killer cocktails and maybe two beers. A place where people can come to unwind after work, nothing crazy- not like shot culture. All I’ve done since I was 18 was bartend and wait tables, and that’s where I feel comfortable is when I’m serving people.”
As I spoke about, live music is very formative for our lives, and for Carpenter, it shaped him. “My first concert was Weird Al-Yankovich, and then six months after, I went and saw N-Sync. So those were probably why I am who I am; I was obsessed with them both equally. I had a Weird-Al poster, and I had an N-Sync poster, and I was like, ‘I’m funny, and I love to sing’… now it makes sense because half my schtick is goofing off, and the other half is trying to sing and be Justin Timberlake.”
Going back to NC, Carpenter has a special connection to NC, especially Carrboro, “as a child- I told this story on stage a couple of times- I exclusively wore Tar Heels (boo) gear because my name is Nick Carpenter, and my initials are N.C., so I wore Tar Heels gear as a child. Like the same child that was at the N-Sync concert was wearing a Tar Heels hat because it had N.C. on it, and I felt so cool that I had my initials on my hat”. He took that connection so much to heart that he wore UNC merch when he opened for Briston last September- that’s when I first heard that story. He retold the story at his Cat’s Cradle show last week when a fan gave him a custom UNC sweatshirt that featured pictures of him in UNC merch. However, being the ‘investigative’ journalist I am, I had to get to the bottom of this debate and find where his real loyalties lie as far as NC goes, “Here’s the real tea. I had like three cousins that went to App State, so that is the only school I have any actual ties to… I think I’m a mountaineer.”
Medium Build is currently on his U.S. tour, hitting many U.S. cities up and down the United States. If you cannot catch him on this tour, he will be opening for Lewis Capaldi on his U.S. tour.
He recently released his EP Health, so be sure to check that out. It will be linked below.
Check out the audio edition of the interview linked below to hear his fun facts, a Huey and Brisket update, and what’s happening to his ‘99 Corolla.
Spotlight on Rising Stars Series: an Author’s NoteThis is the eighth edition in the “Spotlight on Rising Stars” series. In the last article in the series, I introduced the Herald to The Forum and SHADESOFBLUE. Next week, I will have interviews with Secondhand Sound and DOUBLECAMP. Until next time, check out the artist(s) links and the link to my ‘Spotlight on Rising Stars’ playlist available on Spotify, which is updated with each article release!