We are going to put you on Nicolas Randrianarivelo aka Nicolas Ratany (any pronouns). The singer-songwriter, classically trained in Opera is ready to breakthrough, charting their own way to the international stage.
With the new release of his first single Cycles I, they manage to bend genres and sounds from the most disparate of sources, drawing inspiration from electronic, pop, classical, avant-garde, and various folk genres, however, creating a new distinct sound unlike any other we have come across.
Nicolas’s family comes from the East African island of Madagascar. From their earliest years, Nicolas was immersed in Malagasy music. His earliest days were spent watching his father’s band, OdyGasy, perform all over North America. In addition to traditional Malagasy music and popular American music, Nicolas took a keen interest in Western classical music. His interest eventually led him to the Baltimore School for the Arts, a public performing arts high school in Baltimore City. Continuing their classical and operatic musical education, Nicolas attended the Oberlin College and Conservatory where he graduated in 2018 with a Bachelor of Music. Feeling their creative agency was suppressed by the rigid elitism of the Western classical music world, Nicolas transitioned to more contemporary performance styles and now pursues performances of a blend as eclectic as his own musical heritage.
In March 2020, just before Covid hit the world, Nicolas was lucky enough to be able to travel back to Madagascar to make his international debut as a featured artist in concert with artist duo BeMaeva. Managed by independent artist manager Rahzé Cheatham, Nicolas is currently working on creating an EP slated for release in 2021. Nicolas’s family comes from Madagascar with deep roots to music and history on the island.
We wanted to know the ins and out of how Cycles I came about, the conceptualization, production, and influences. Check out below the full story from the artist on the creation of Cycles I.
ML: How did you come up with Cycles I?
NR: “Cycles I" was born out of a collection of disparate sounds, ideas, and themes that eventually congealed in a really beautiful way. During the time I was writing and producing this song, I had become aware of the unhealthy patterns or "cycles" I had fallen or been forced into. The work was exhausting; I struggled to free myself. I remained hopeful that my turmoil wasn’t in vain, even if I often felt like it was. Thankfully, I am no longer in such a place. I feel more liberated than I ever have before.
ML: You have quite the unique sound. While forming this, who did you draw inspiration from?
NR: When working on the project, I was listening to an English indie pop band, London Grammar, a LOT. I was really attracted to the ultra reverb-y, dreamy, atmospheric production coupled with the really simple, straight-forward melodic vocal lines. I built the first verse and chorus around those ideas, but I got stuck and, for the life of me, could not finish the song. The one thing I knew for sure is that I did not want the second verse be similar to the first. I wanted it to depart from the initial sonic landscape in a really unconventional way. So, I sent the unfinished project to Jane Lincoln (@janelovesu!) where she added that incredible rock transition. When I first heard it, I was amazed. It inspired me to finish the rest of the song. I knew it would’ve been easier to really lean into the “sad” themes in the song, but I really wanted to impart a sense of hope, an eagerness that I find missing in a lot of today’s music.
ML: Love that! Where do you think that sense of hope comes from?
NR: I think it is the Malagasy in me. My family comes from Antananarivo. We are very hopeful, positive people, making the best from the cards we’ve been dealt. To me, Madagascar is home. Madagascar runs through my blood even when I am some couple thousand miles away.
You heard it here folks! Go check out Nicolas Ratany on all music streaming platforms and be sure to support them on Bandcamp!