Anyone who frequents a pub or restaurant in Campbell River that features live music on a regular basis will likely be familiar with Gibby Nik.
He’s one of the stalwarts of the local music scene, performing a perfect mix of cover songs and his own originals around town for the last decade or so with a sometimes emotional and haunting, sometimes joyous and explosive voice that turns heads and pulls focus.
If you’ve seen him perform, this isn’t news to you.
But maybe you aren’t aware that Nigel Nikolaisen, aka Gibby Nik, is also the owner/operator/head sensei of Northwest Shito-Kai Karate in Willow Point.
For Nikolaisen, music and martial arts are inseparable.
“They’re both really important, integral creative outlets for me,” he says. “I use them in different ways to make me who I am.”
But it wasn’t always that way. He actually started getting into music pretty late, relatively speaking.
“I used to think music and playing guitar and stuff was for dorks,” he says with a laugh. “I was actually kind of a jerk through high school. I was all about karate and athletics, but then one day my dad bought my sister a guitar. She didn’t take to it, really, but one of her friends was over one day and she played, I think it was ‘Time of Your Life’ by Green Day, which was one of the biggest tunes at the time, and I was just blown away. I was, like, ‘how’d you do that?!’”
That friend of his sister showed him how to read tablature – a musical notation that shows instrument fingering, for those not musically-inclined – and the rest, as they say, is history.
“All of a sudden I got the bug,” he says. “Then one day I thought, maybe this would get me some female attention, you know? And it did! And then I thought maybe I could play a show one day. And I did that! Then I thought maybe I could record my own songs one day. And now I have an independent contract and I have three records I get to make – well, two more.”
It certainly hasn’t always been a smooth ride, however.
“I’ve lost sight and petered off at times,” he admits. “I almost quit altogether – more than once – but you just pull yourself out of the muck. Honestly, that’s where some of the best music comes from, too. Deep self-analyzing words come out and it somehow gives you the ability to connect.”
And that’s what’s most important, he says. If you’re writing songs, and playing songs, and not resonating with people, then why bother?
“It’s all about connection,” he says. “If I can play a song that I wrote and I’m proud of and have even just one person in an entire crowd connect to it, that’s the only reason I do it. Everything else is a bonus. I don’t really see a point in doing it if it’s not going to connect with someone.”
That’s something he’s hoping the second of his three-album deal with Risque Disque Records will do.
There’s no projected release date for that album, but he says he’s hoping to get into the studio to start recording it next month. One thing that’s certain is that it won’t sound much like his first album, 2014’s Dog Daze.
“I’m definitely not that same guy. That was 2014 Nigel. It was a bit too sugary bubblegum vanilla, looking back on it. Maybe I shouldn’t say that about myself, but I guess I just know where I want to go, and it’s not there.”
Maybe that’s why the next album’s title is Reflection.
You don’t have to wait for that release, though. You can catch Gibby Nik at SoCal Restaurant and Lounge down in Willow Point on Friday, Oct. 5. He’s basically on the permanent monthly rotation down there these days.
You can also follow him on Facebook and Instagram (both @gibbynik) for updates on where and when you can catch him live, as well as periodic videos of him playing songs he’s working on, feeling nostalgic about, or just songs he enjoys and thinks you will, too.