Tileyard London’s MA Commercial Songwriting & Production – validated by NTU and Confetti – has a number of successful musicians for alumni, including the fantastic Nicola Aliotta – known on the music scene as NIXO.
Tileyard London offer a MA Commercial Songwriting and Production course, validated by Nottingham Trent University in partnership with Confetti Institute of Creative Technologies. The course is an industry-driven practical programme, with a number of real success stories for alumni.
One of them is Nicola Aliotta, or NIXO. Nixo is a pop singer/songwriter hailing from Rome and now based in London. After having competed in many famous Italian TV shows such as “Ti lascio una canzone” and the “X Factor” of Italy, he moved to London in 2017 where he quickly started working in different bands and performing in many venues and clubs.
We were lucky enough to catch up with him to find out more about his experiences at Tileyard and in the music industry.
When did you first start singing/performing – is it something you always wanted to pursue as a career?
I started singing when I was three years old. Singing has always been pretty natural to me, so there wasn’t a specific time where I realised that I wanted to become a professional singer. It’s one of those things that’s a part of you since day one, you just know it.
When I was younger, I was a very shy child and sometimes it was pretty difficult for me to express my emotions and feelings and it was even harder to make new friends. So, every time I opened my mouth and sang, that was my way of saying “Hello, I’m here! I exist!” Maybe I was looking for attention… but I remember that people were happy when I used to sing in public, and that used to make me happy too.
So I started performing live at a very young age: I used to take part on several Festivals in Rome (my hometown) and, when I got a little bit older, I started playing in many different Italian venues and clubs.
Then I moved to London, where I started working professionally in the live music scene of the city.
What made you decide to take the Tileyard MA course?
Tileyard Education is in the hub of the music industry. I really wanted to make new connections with different songwriters and producers from UK and all over the world. My dream was not just to attend an MA in Commercial Songwriting, I wanted to actually BE and work as a professional songwriter, and Tileyard helped me reach this goal.
How has your music career progressed since you graduated?
After my graduation I focused 100% on my music and on live shows. I started working in many different venues in London (Jazz Cafe’s, XOYO, Ronnie’s Scott) with great musicians such as Patrick Allan, Cherri V, Luca Faraone, Francois Fasano and Leah Rich.
On December 2019 I performed for Netflix in occasion of the Jack Whitehall’s Christmas Special and, after a few months, I performed for Tommy Hilfiger at his last fashion show at Tate Museum. Then I was selected among thousands of different singers from all over the world to perform live at the Fringe Festival of Edinburgh 2020. I was really hyped and excited about that, even if the Festival was eventually cancelled due to Covid-19. But I’m still proud of myself: I had been chosen to represent the incredible artist that Prince was in a special live show which will celebrate his music and his incredible career.
As a songwriter, I started collaborating with different publishers both in Italy and UK. On January 2020 I co-wrote a song named ‘Snake’ for a band called Halflives which was released via Universal Publishing. Exciting!
Are there any surprising things you’ve learned about the music industry?
I have learnt that it’s a really crazy fun industry!
We listened to your first single ‘Wild Wild West’ and love your sound. Who/which genres would you say influences your style?
I’ve always loved pop music, but my biggest influence comes from RnB and Soul. Artists like Stevie Wonder, Prince, Whitney Houston, James Brown and Aretha Franklin have always inspired me a lot. I’ve always been pretty obsessed with soulful, acrobatic vocals, high power falsettos and crazy runs and melismas. A singer’s voice is always what I focus on the most when I hear a song for the first time.
As regarding my own my own music tho, I really like writing pop/dance tracks and, at the moment, I’m collaborating with many cool DJs/Producers from all over the world. On 3 July, for example, I released a single called “Electric” with a duo of sick producers from Malaga, Spain. I love electronic arrangements and all of those songs that make you dance as soon as you hear them…but I have to say that a good ballad is always my cup of tea. I’m such a dramatic guy.
With the current climate, there’s no talk of gigs yet – but are you writing or recording any new music currently?
Absolutely! All of my gigs have been cancelled due to Covid-19, but I tried to keep myself busy by writing a lot of different top-lines for DJs/Producers.
I’m currently working on a lot of features with many interesting people and I can’t wait for all of your to listen to what I’m working on!
What advice would you give to anyone wanting to pursue singing and music as a career?
My advice is to never stop believing in ourselves. Sometimes it’s very hard to find the right motivation when you don’t see any kind of progression, but we must never forget that we do music because we LOVE music. There’s really nothing else I could do in my life. Singing has always been my comfort, it’s always been my home. It doesn’t matter where I am, when I sing I feel centered and connected to the core of my soul and to the world around me. For sure I would like as many people as possible to hear my voice and to enjoy my music, but deep down I know that singing and writing is something I would do regardless of a potential success. I do it because I love it, and because I have a vision.
Once you find your vision, pursue it every day of your life, work hard, and you’ll see that, sooner or later, things will start turning in the right way. You just have to attract the good energies, and that is possible only if you keep going on and focus on your inner vision.
Listen to Nicola’s new single ‘Free’ on Spotify!