Tell us a bit about your childhood and foray into the musical world.
As a child I grew up around musicians, such as quite-famous-for-the-time [English singer] Joe Cocker — he was always at my house. My father was a musician playing with people like Joe, the Frank Sinatra band, and other big 70s acts from the UK and the US. I also used to go on the road with my dad and his bands. The first time I was on stage was singing at the age of around 5. I’m told I first sang Cliff Richard to 1,500 people as a small boy — wish I could remember it!
When I was at school and the teachers used to ask us what we wanted to be when we grew up, my answer was always ‘I want to be a pop singer’. I formed my first band when I was 12 years old and we performed Kiss songs and John Travolta from Grease.
What bands have you played with, and what’s been your favourite out of those?
I’ve played with many bands over the years, such as Level 42, Icehouse, Carlos Santana’s band, with no.1 singles and a no.7 single. My favourite was a band in New Zealand — I was raised there since I was 10, moving from the UK — called Scarf. We were a funky rock band who wrote and performed our album throughout the country and had a top-10 hit. I love that band and those guys to this day.
What’s your style of music, and which singer/band is your favourite to perform?
My favourite style of music to sing is RnB and anything funky. I love Michael Jackson, George Michael, Justin Timberlake and Ed Sheeran, ACDC and Metallica, just to name a few.
Why did you choose Dubai to continue your musical trajectory?
When I started touring UK, Australia, South East Asia, and the Middle East, I first came here to play in 2001 with my seven-piece band Solidaz. I returned several times. I finally settled here in 2011 and started freelancing, I now play with the Million Dollar Band, one of Dubai’s top corporate bands; a trio called the Brat Pack; a duo called the Brat Brothers — and solo as Nick Black!
Tell us of some fun moments travelling the world on your musical journey.
Meeting some amazing people along the way, some amazing memories, becoming friends with a — let’s call him an almost-billionaire. He loved our music and would take us around the world with him. One time he flew us from Dubai to Las Vegas on a private jet, and we spent 10 days in Vegas living as millionaires. I will never forget it — we ended up on stage with Elton John.
What’s your least favourite part of being a musician?
Losing my voice!
What has been the response to your performances worldwide — and in the UAE?
I’ve been very lucky — I’ve probably collectively played to over a million people and done over 10,000 shows, and 99.9 per cent of the time my audiences have been very lovely, responsive and appreciative. I’m blessed to have had this luck in my career.
Have you ever dealt with anxiety before going on stage?
To be honest never — I’ve been doing it since I was a little kid.
What’s it like balancing a day job in real estate along with your singing career?
Sometimes very tiring, especially as I play five to six times a week and work five to six days a week. I play around Dubai, at Nelsons (Media Rotana Hotel Tecom), Hideout (Marina Byblos Hotel), Wings and Rings sports bar (DIFC) and The Irish Village. But I consider myself very lucky as when I have a late gig, my boss will allow me to come to work a few hours later. It really saves my life.
Do you ever plan to quit your job and take up music full time?
No, I’ve been a full-time musician for 30 years, but always tried to have day jobs as well. And to be honest real estate has been my favourite out of all the day jobs I’ve ever had. It’s a lot of fun meeting new people every day and helping them find a new home. And my company really supports my music, which is a massive thing for me and musicians.
Do you think music helps to bridge barriers, especially in a place of so many cultures like Dubai?
Absolutely, music is the international language that every country in the world loves; it’s an amazing thing — where would any of us be without it?
What advice do you have for someone wanting to break into the musical world?
Practise every day , make sure you do it for the right reasons, be humble, and don’t ever take yourself too seriously. Enjoy every minute of it and this will shine through and your audience will join in your enjoyment. Spread as much love as possible — and music is one of the best ways in life to do that.