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The Wildcat Roar

Composing a masterpiece, on his terms

Nico Wang on musical inspiration, getting into college, and self doubt.
Senior+Nico+Wang+plays+piano+in+preparation+for+Sweethearts+Cabaret.
Arieis Feldpausch
Senior Nico Wang plays piano in preparation for Sweetheart’s Cabaret.

Whether it be choir or musical theatre, bass guitar or classical piano, Nico Wang has his finger (or rather, ear) on the pulse of Novi’s music scene. 

 

As a member of Novi Singers, the advanced choir group, and Major VI, a pop acapella group, Wang sings tenor and composes arrangements for acapella competitions. In addition, he acted as student vocal director for last year’s musical “The Little Mermaid” and will do the same for this spring’s “Singin’ In The Rain”. In addition to his work in school programs, Wang plays piano, bass guitar, and electric guitar.

 

Wang’s experiences with music haven’t been perfect. He started playing piano 11 years ago at his parents’ request. As he grew up, he began to resent the way he had been taught to play music and decided to explore.

Nico Wang

“Once I became a teenager, I didn’t want to play the piano anymore, so I quit and I didn’t play for a while. But then during that time, I kind of figured out new ways that I actually could interact with music that I actually enjoyed and wasn’t just like, Mozart, and like a teacher made me play,” Wang said.

 

This exploration led to a reigniting of Wang’s passion for music.

 

“I started listening to new styles of music, which I still enjoy now. I mostly listen to alternative. I also learned how to improv. I learned how to produce songs, write better lyrics, and that kind of pulled me back into the music world,” Wang said. “Now, though I don’t play piano every day, I still do a lot of stuff with the piano. For example, we have a performance at the school called Sweetheart’s Cabaret, and I’m accompanying for three people there. So it’s not like I completely stopped playing piano, but now I kind of do it in a way that’s more on my terms.”

 

Nico cites I Don’t Know How But They Found Me, Car Seat Headrest, The Crane Wives, Waterparks, and the Wrecks as some of his favorite musicians. IDKHow is a major inspiration for Wang’s style.

 

“I think that their style is really unique and something that I’ve tried to emulate because I think that their lyrics are kind of different from a lot of pop songs and also the sort of electronic feel,” Wang said.

 

Even with his years of experience, Wang admits to occasionally doubting his work. Prior to Major VI’s International Competition of High School Acapella (ICHSA) Midwest Quarterfinals performance, he expressed concern over his compositions.

 

“I think that we can pull it together. I think vocally we’re doing pretty well, but it’s kind of hard to be objective about the one that I made because I kind of always think that it’s bad,” Wang said. “I’ve been trying to get feedback from my director and peers on if there’s any issues because I always kind of think that there’s problems but I’ve come to realize that those problems are kind of imaginary. So I think that we’re going to do all right.”

 

Major VI ended up winning third place at ICHSA and may move on to semifinals, pending results from other regions.

 

Wang has committed to Berklee College of Music in Boston, Mass., one of the nation’s top music schools. He intends to major in contemporary writing and production, a decision inspired by his interest in composing. 

 

Wang’s process for applying to Berklee was not an easy one. He had to go through a lengthy interview process which included a piano performance, sight reading and improvisation, and a spoken interview in addition to preparing a portfolio of his work. The portfolio consisted of samples of songs and compositions Wang has produced, in addition to a video of him playing piano. He chose to perform “Fantasie Impromptu” by Chopin, which he had previously learned.

 

Wang composes mostly modern music but has dabbled in piano pieces. 

 

“There’s a couple of songs that I wrote really recently, which I had the help of my bass teacher to produce, that I’m actually really proud of because most of my songs are kind of like there’s a lot of problems,” Wang said. “One of them is called ‘When the Clock Strikes Zero’ and the other is called ‘A Letter to You.’ The second one, ‘A Letter to You,’ I first made it when I first started making music, and then I thought that the sound was really nice so I recreated it now with more of my more polished skills, and I’m really proud of how those two sound.”

Nico Wang

His process for composing has developed over the years, mostly through trial and error.

 

“So I start with lyrics and I kind of develop the lyrics and the melody at the same time. After that, I go through and record all the instruments and voice, and then throughout that process, I figure out all the levels and any plugins that I should add,” Wang said.

 

In addition to his passion for music, Wang excels in a variety of art mediums, namely acrylic paint and digital. He recently received an honorable mention for a painting through the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards. 

 

Wang has also acted throughout high school and is currently in the One Act competitive show, “Every U.S. Election Ever!”

 

Throughout his exploration of the arts, Wang has found that music more than anything else has allowed him to express aspects of his identity in ways he hasn’t been able to put into words otherwise.

 

“I sort of write lyrics as a way to express things that I can’t really just say,” Wang said. “So I make a lot of songs about what I feel about the world and how my identity shapes that.”

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About the Contributor
Arieis Feldpausch, Editor in Chief
Arieis “A” Feldpausch is a senior. This is her third year on staff. In her free time, Arieis enjoys indie folk music (specifically The Mountain Goats), rollerblading and roller derby, playing guitar, and writing poetry. You can email her with story ideas at [email protected] or [email protected] 

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