Nick Z is a soulful singer/songwriter born and raised in San Diego, California.
His songs invoke intimate evenings of wine and vinyl records, or dark city streets with the allure of neon lights and romantic possibility. His sound is smooth, easy and beautiful, but beneath the polished voice are songs of depth and prose.
Like many of his peers in the suburbs of the 90’s, Nick Z learned guitar by playing Metallica licks. Yet it was his parents’ record collection – particularly the soul, jazz and R&B records – that he fell in love with. While his friends chased girls, Nick Z submerged himself in the likes of Ella Fitzgerald, Marvin Gaye and Michael Jackson.
In high school, Nick Z met aspiring writer Nick Marcotte at a track practice. The two became great friends, and would bond over soul music, dancing, and all things old– school. Songwriting became a way for them to pass evenings in Nick Z’s room, but eventually grew into a weekly ritual by the time they reached college. A collaboration was formed.
Friday nights were spent in shadows on the San Diego State campus, in the entrances of buildings that provided great echo for singing. It was here that the pair penned their first song, “Late One Night” – a dark and jazzy tribute to the San Diego coffee shop scene.
It was in this scene that Nick Z discovered Jason Mraz, a resident singer/songwriter who had attracted local attention. The experience of seeing Mraz was a revelation to Z, who had begun experimentation in a similar style:
“I went to see Mraz perform solo in Ocean Beach at Java Joe’s. I was totally mesmerized by his performance. I had never seen anyone combine jazz vocals and guitar in the way that he did. I started to realize that singing and songwriting was my path.“
Marcotte relocated to the Bay Area, but continued to pen lyrics. In a Berkeley poetry class, he wrote the words to “Me and Mr. Nick Z” – a song that reflects on their days spent in San Diego listening to records and writing music. It remains one of Z’s most requested songs, and a crowd favorite.
Nick Z joined his friend in the Bay Area in 2005, where he began playing in the songwriter scene of San Francisco and Berkeley. He worked an office job to make ends meet, and continued to hone his craft. It was here that Z met a variety of fine musicians, allowing him to form the band Melodic Jones for a brief stint. The band gave Nick Z an edgy and bottom-heavy sound, but he longed to return to his solo efforts.
Born out of this impulse, and the strength of his live show, Nick Z recorded Live at the Red Vic in San Francisco, featuring 11 solo performances of his best songs to date. Nick Z has since left the day job to hit the road and promote the songs he loves to play.