Maintain That Joyous Energy: An Interview with ringgold

by - February 13, 2024

Photo courtesy of Noah Dunton

Nick Jaeckel always knew that music was his career path, and he was going to get in any way he could. It wasn’t until his freshman year at NYU, struggling with depression, that he realized that writing music could be a way to harness those emotions.

“I needed to find an outlet to make things feel better and to get the feelings that I have out in some way, and music was just the easiest way for me to do that,” he said.

He was able to harvest that creativity while surrounded by other students also pursuing the music industry. He joined one of NYU’s eight acapella groups, N’Harmonics, which ultimately led him to fellow music business student, Jim White. For the last two years, they have collaborated as artist and producer to release music under Jaeckel’s moniker, ringgold.

Three singles have been released - “Keeping My Distance”, “In The Morning” and “love me or let me go” - as an introduction to the style of ringgold, which is a pop-oriented project with a melodic influence of bluegrass and more.

“I wrote all of these songs starting in 2020, during the thick of the pandemic, and pop music was one of the main things that kept me going and brought me joy during those times,” Jaeckel said. “I knew that I wanted to maintain that joyous energy even though some of the songs that I’m writing aren’t the happiest songs. I think there’s a few subtle instances [and] a lot of the vocal performance that is heavily influenced by bluegrass artists that I grew up listening to. Their ability to sing about these really sad things and use their tone and the performance to make it into something special is what I wanted to show.”

His latest single, “I’m Not Yours”, is the first single off his upcoming debut EP, Pragma. It was one of the last songs written for this project and was inspired by a conversation with friends about relationships with a magnetic personality that ultimately becomes damaging to one’s own wellbeing.

It seems as if everyone has experienced this; where a person is immediately drawn to someone and will do whatever it takes to stay in that person’s life. It can relate to a romantic relationship or a friendship. However, it can get to the point where the one-sided relationship causes loss of one’s own autonomy.

“I’m Not Yours” is also a great example of how well Jaeckel and White work together. They are able to play off each other and challenge each other to make a successful end product.

“I can put a lot of trust in him,” Jaeckel said. “He has taught me a lot about the art of production, and he’s been really patient in terms of me saying the weirdest stuff and hoping that he understands how that conveys production-wise. Whenever I go into a session he’s really receptive to the ideas but he’s willing to challenge them and try different things.”

Originally, Jaeckel thought the song would go in a more rock direction, which is still apparent in the song, but White also introduced a dark club-pop beat that they couldn’t pass up. It is just a few of the many genres the duo took into consideration when creating the EP.

While Pragma does not currently have a release date, Jaeckel said that “I’m Not Yours” is a pretty good representation of what the rest of the EP sounds and feels like.

“It’s been nice to explore the different realms of pop and how I can incorporate that into this project,” he said. “Also, on first listen, a lot of them are going to come off as love songs or songs about romantic love but the truth is that a good majority of them are written about friendships. The way I write, I usually take singular ideas or feelings that I have and then take myself out of the situation and think, ‘how can I make this into a song that’s not just about me but about this feeling and where can I pull from places outside of my life to do that?’”

Releasing music as ringgold has inspired confidence and putting trust into others to turn a collaboration into a group of songs worth celebrating. “I’m Not Yours” is just the beginning of stories of friendships, relationships and harnessing emotions.

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