This is already the second time I met Nik Wallner for a Spotlight interview on Flyctory.com. While the first time we chatted in context of the C2C in Berlin 2020, I this time met the charismatic German artist just before his first support act show for Alexander Ludwig in Cologne. Really interesting to listen how much Covid-19 hit him – but also looking forward (finally) to his debut album which will be released in 2023. Hope you enjoy our chats.
Flyctory.com meets Nik Wallner
FLYC: Very welcome to Cologne, nice to have you here!
Nik: Thanks, I am really happy about it, too
FLYC: How is it like for you to have these three concerts at the end of the year?
Nik: It’s superb. We all came from Covid-19 times. Especially for newcomers and minor artists, they were really tough. Thus, I am really happy to be allowed and be able to play three shows here. It is so cool to play with such an amazing headliner. It’s so cool. I mean, I know him from the TV series as almost everyone and his music – just top!
FLYC: Do you set any kind of special target for the three shows?
Nik: Simply having fun. That’s what I really want to happen. Everything else is obsolete, it happens or does not happens. Just having fun, making music, attracting people to my music. On top, that some people remember my name and that they connect on social media or some of my shows next year – I would really love that!
FLYC: There are three shows, Cologne, Berlin, Hamburg. Is there any show you look forward to most? How much is Munich missing from your personal perspective?
Nik: Yeah, Munich is somehow missing. However, it is really interesting that since 2019, when I was on tour with Noah Guthrie and since the 2020 C2C in Berlin, there have been many country fans who became aware of many. Many wrote me like “So good to see you again in Cologne, Hamburg or Berlin”. That really amazed me. There really seems to be a solid foundation of fans who connected to the songs and also come to the shows and also look forward to myself and not only to the headliner. That’s really cool. I am looking forward to see all familiar faces again, regardless in which city.
FLYC: You already mentioned Alexander Ludwig and that you love his music. What do you think about him?
Nik: I definitely do. I mean, Highway 99 and all the songs who can listen to on Spotify is the cool Nashville sound. Any country artist who wants to do the genre just cannot get around this city. He is also representing this so strongly. His look, his appearance – it feels like he never did something else. I guess that if you would not know him as an actor and someone said Alexander has been a country artist all of his life, you would definitely believe that without a doubt. He is living it.
FLYC: We talked about you supporting Alexander Ludwig now and, for example, Noah Guthrie in the past on his German tour. Is there any special area you try to learn from these artist when you have shows with them?
Nik: It is interesting that any single act has a certain kind of branding element. I strongly recognized that during the C2C. They don’t use it consciously, though. For example, Jimmie Allen has his hat and the bandana below. Or Lindsay Ell, she is so great with her guitar, that’s sufficiently iconic. Or Kyle Daniel and his glasses. These all are small things, but I feel I will have a look how Alexander Ludwig will be alike regarding that aspect. Maybe, one day, I need to have that kind of signature feature as well. Not sure what that will be. Maybe, it will be a bottle of Tegernseer beer or something else, I don’t know… [laughing] But I will slightly investigate it.
FLYC: Of course, the most well-known artist you supported so far was Rea Garvey. How have the shows with him been alike?
Nik: Shows with Rea are always something special. I know his crew quite well already, also due to my time at The Voice of Germany. When you work with Rea, it feels like a family reunion. It is so easy, everybody knows everybody and everybody does his job in an excellent way. It is like a homecoming. And playing for him is so great, especially as it I don’t take it for granted that he supports me that much. I am always happy to be on stage for Rae on any kind of venue. Luckily, this happened three times so far. And, hopefully, there will be some more in the future.
FLYC: How is it alike with his fans? Do they know and like you already?
Nik: The last two shows in Mainz and at the Tollwood (festival in Munich) were outstanding. The Tollwood has been some kind of my “home show” in Munich. Social media is somehow the only metric you have. But after these two shows, you could see how much my number of followers there finally increased.
There were some 350 additional people – which is quite a high number for me, especially as I did not have a backdrop with my name on. We just have it printed on the bass drum. That’s the only spot featuring my name. And you say it once or twice during a show – that’s it! Especially as Rea is a pop artist with some rocking attitude, especially live on stage, I was quite amazed how well the Irish-traditional and the Bavarian music felt to match. His audience felt to feel that. They were so lovely to me.
FLYC: You briefly mentioned the The Voice time already. What is happening more often – that people identify you as Nik Wallner or under your civil name under which you competed in the TV show?
Nik: It is mixed. Of course, the people who know me from The Voice still identify me as such. However, nowadays there is majorly just my artist name and most people use that. Majorly, they also link the artist name with my The Voice career. There is not too much of confusion – maybe simply because my The Voice time is already some eight years ago. Everything new which happened thereafter has been the “country project Nik Wallner”. I managed to a achieve a certain standing with that now. The pandemic slowed it down a bit, but now we are ready to keep up again.
FLYC: What did you learn most from the TV show times? Anything you can still use today?
Nik: It felt so fascinating to me how well organized the show was. You don’t get on the TV set, how much stress and work it is . I did not have a similar experience before – especially as The Voice is not a small one, but a prime time show. On the other hand there was this attitude by the people giving you the feeling all the time that things are relaxed and easy. And if you had a question, you were always welcome. Nobody cut me short.
For me personally, it was the first time feeling how it is like if you are really successful. How the entertainment industry is working in this situation. Of course, I am also grateful for the contact to Smudo and Michi Beck and also Rea Garvey. They became friends and supporters – that’s like winning a lottery just to be in contact with them somehow in normal life. The show contributed a lot to that relation, though.
FLYC: Looking back again to 2022, your biggest gig this year was likely at the Nürburgring Truck Grand Prix. Tell us bit how it was like for you.
Nik: Yeah, that was amazing. Already all the trucks – let’s better not talk about their carbon footprint [laughs]. You really felt how much the people needed to have a party again after two years of suffering. The was huge. The stage was 35 meters wide. I would have likely got lost if there wasn’t this microphone telling me that I have to go there somehow. The people and the atmosphere was so good. In addition, I played with a full band, with backing tracks. not acoustic, but with full force. That was so outstanding to be able to experience that. The sound was amazing, the band was great – I sent my love to anyone of them.
I was so happy about it – also because we played a lot of tracks from the new album, which we hadn’t played before. It was a bit like their baptism of fire – will the people love it or not? But they liked it – the feedback was really good.
FLYC: I feel that generally, you are the perfect country singer. Especially when I think about the North American stereotype, the country life style in songs like Landweilig, that suits you very well. How difficult is it for you to also improve your contacts to the North American country music scene?
Nik: [laughs] I feel that the most difficult thing for me is not to try to copy a North American country act. I feel that especially in Germany as a German singing act, the people would refuse that. It would not work. First of all, the audience here would not understand it or feel that I would act cheap. If you want to go that route you can only sing in English and put a special flair to your music. On the other hand, my album has been recorded in Nashville by high class studio musicians.
Apart from that, the country music scene is rather “simple”, regardless if you look into the USA, Canada or the UK. Down-to-Earth topics like trucks, alcohol, heartbreak, girls, party with friends – these are the topics with repeatedly pop over there. That what is holds the music together, including the instruments. Finally, if you listen to the music, you can bring country music from North America to Europe or vice versa.
FLYC: Before the interview, we talked about that country music as a genre is having a very difficult time in German market. Doors are rather closed when you do country. How do you feel could the genre take the next level?
Nik: I feel it needs the courage of major acts or major radio stations or TV production to open up the genre to a wider audience. I believe that they would then recognize that country is much different from what they imagine today. It is not humming banjo music for old people wearing a cowboy hat. If you have a look at Nashville – that has nothing to do with that stereotype.
Kane Brown, Russell Dickerson, Kyle Daniel – they are all modern country singer, who stand for their kind of country music with their instruments and their topics. Or if you look to Taylor Swift, who was some sort of country music trailblazer in earlier days. If you look into Germany, did the wide public really see her as a country music act? They rather name it singer-songwriter pop. The German is still stuck into the name. Country is linked to an old-fashioned image, what is not up to date any more. You need the courage to break it and to make people feel “Oops, that’s really cool music”.
FLYC: From the next step for country music in Germany to the next step for you – you mentioned the album twice already. How are your steps look alike.
Nik: Gaining a momentum again and try to play any live gig possible, so that I can increase my reach. I want people to focus on me again. My plan is to release the album early next year. We initially wanted to publish that fall – but it was so difficult with the number of live dates so that it would have been a shame to release it now. I believe that in spring the situation is easier with all the global issues currently. Then we want to tackle it, release the album. We will have a nice potpourri of songs on the streaming platforms then, with different moods. I feel that people will then have the opportunity to get a good picture about “This is how Nik Wallner sounds. He has so many facets.” I feel this will be a great showcase.
FLYC: Last question for today: looking at the three shows, is there one song you will play about which you are especially interested how the people will react on it?
Nik: Maybe my opening song, Ich glaub’ ich bin Country (“I believe I am country”). The song really went down well at the 2020 C2C. I did not believe that this will be the song people love most. I rather thought of songs like Hell Yeah! or Landweilig, which they liked as well. But the phrase Ich glaub’ ich bin Country felt to be omnipresent at that Berlin weekend. I feel it was somehow on point about what I do. Thus, I am curious if the same message will appear this time again.
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Concerts (All Around Cologne)
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