3AMSOUND: It Gets Dark Sometimes | [Self-released; July 1]

The earliest childhood memories that 3AMSOUND (Nick Graham) has are of shared musical experiences with close family members, from listening to Marvin Gaye on a vintage record player with his grandmother to rapping with his father, a Raleigh artist, to listening to his stepfather produce beats for local artists next door to his bedroom.

Born and raised in Raleigh, Graham first began his musical career as Nyck Newz. The name found its origins in a mediocre diss as a teenager when another guy attempted to pursue Graham’s girlfriend, asking her: “Are you still dating Nickelodeon Nick News?”

The name soon turned into comical subliminal message once Graham changed his display name on Myspace, that former king of social media. The Nyck Newz moniker stuck for a solid five years, but after perfecting his sound as an artist—a fusion of rap, R&B, pop, and trap—and going through a personal self-reconnection, Graham realized in 2016 that he created his best in the late hours—3:00 a.m., to be specific.

“I was most comfortable [recording at night]. I can’t describe the amount of creativity I had late at night, but it was different from me making music all types of hours during the day,” says, Graham. “3AMSOUND is the description of my music. My name represents the vibe I offer and what listeners can expect.”

On his most recent project, It Gets Dark Sometimes, self-released on July 1, Graham sets out to offer relatable lyrics.

“Everybody has that moment where they just don’t know where to turn,” he says. “We go through these dark moments or any bad moments in our life just to come out on the other side where there’s light”

Sonically, it’s easy to compare his sound to the likes of Travis Scott, Tory Lanez, and newcomer Roddy Ricch because of his rap-singing style. As many of Graham’s fans have stated, though, his music precedes the popularity of Travis Scott.

Knowing that he has not (and does not) imitate Scott, though, Graham takes the comparisons as a compliment. He says that he looks forward to the day he can work with Scott.

“The people that know me, they say, ‘man is crazy you’ve been sounding like this before that,’” he says. “I don’t pay attention to it because I do like Trav, but people will constantly say [on and off social media] ‘yo, this sounds like your song. Or even my mom will be like, ‘I thought I heard you on the radio. I’ve been doing this so I don’t get discouraged. As long as the true people know, and I know, it don’t bother me”.

The comparisons to successful contemporary mainstream artists only confirm that Graham not only has talent and is marketable, but also that his music can easily fit within today’s radio playlists ecosystem.

On It Gets Dark Sometimes, each track has replay value and the production is impressive, arguably almost flawless in moments. Even though Graham worked with multiple producers from the United States to the UK, sonically, the project’s sound remains cohesive. UK producer Gibbo produced the majority of the tracks. The two connected via social media two months ago and have been building a working musical relationship since. Graham was also able to collaborate with his best friend, producer, and songwriter Mike100k on the EP’s second track “300k.”

In addition to Graham’s creativity and arrangement of his song, it’s the production that sets him apart from his peers. Each track offers space for one to vibe out in, whether alone in the house or at a packed club.

“[My producers and I] like just real simple sounds,” he says. “Nothing that’s doing too much. A smooth melody with a semi trap bass or guitars. Sounds that feel soothing to the ears where it’s quiet just enough to hear what I’m saying”.

His approach to songwriting is an emotionally authentic one. On the project’s first track “Bleeding,” for instance, he sings about the struggles of being a musician, though the song is presented as if it’s about a love interest.

“I’m inspired by any artist that takes music seriously. Artists that have a message within their music. I like listening to J. Cole because he’s talking about real-life situations in his songs. There are certain artists who do music just to have fun and it’s cool to have fun and turn up here and there, but I like music with messages in it too.”

Luckily for Graham, his 8-track project succeeds at balancing vibe-inducing music with a wide range of messages. His seasoned fans and new listeners can expect a solid 23 minutes of carefully crafted, radio-ready music.

As we spoke, Graham was preparing to headline Hotter Than July Fest produced by Carolina Waves at The Lincoln Theatre. When asked about nerves during a performance and his general preparation routine, he shared that getting nervous is a part of the package—but, as an artist, you have little to no choice but to push through.

“When I’m performing I’m like, I’m like yo, that’s not me,” he says. “It’s an out-of-body experience. I go to this creative space and when I watch video clips I’m amazed, like wow. That’s hard.”

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