“When I was seven years old my parents took me to see Donny and Marie Osmond in Atlantic City. We had front-row seats. They kept smiling at me and it was kinda freaking me out. I liked my babysitter’s music—hair metal, MTV stuff, the B52s—so I hated them,” Nicole Atkins recalls. “In the middle of the show, Donny pulled me up onstage, sat me on a stool and started singing ‘Puppy Love,’ and the crowd was all, ‘Awwww,’ but he wasn’t looking at me so I started throwing devil horns at him and sticking my tongue out and making faces and the crowd started dying laughing and he turns around and is like ‘What are you doing?!’ After that I knew that I wanted to be onstage all the time.”
Last December she released her sixth studio album, Memphis Ice, a reimagined version of 2020’s much-acclaimed Italian Ice. Cut live in the studio, and produced and arranged by Nicole, Memphis Ice has a cabaret-meets-country feel, a stripped-down showcase for Nicole’s perfectly-tuned powerhouse voice. “The challenge of stripping these songs down to just piano and strings and to sing disco songs or soul songs with no rhythm section made me feel so connected to my singing in the moment,” she says.
“A lot of the time I’ll hear a song in a dream and wake up and record it before I go back to sleep and then work on it when I’m awake,” she says. She refers to her style as “crooner rock ‘n roll and psychedelic soul.”
“Most of the time though, a melody will come into my head and I’ll fall in love and record it on my phone. I’m always hearing melodies and writing phrases and lines down. Keeps me up at night.”
Here’s a day in the life of the sometimes sleep-deprived Nicole Atkins.
Date October 28, 2021
Time I woke up Between 10:00 a.m. and noon. It depends. I stay up late.
Every day starts with Emotionally sorting through last night’s dream.
Breakfast consists of If I’m home alone: coffee and a Larabar or a piece of last night’s pizza. If my husband is home, coffee and some sort of gorgeous egg dish. He’s a great cook.
To get going I always Put music on. The Specials or Pulp are great starts to the day.
I don’t feel dressed without My denim peacoat.
Before I start working I must A cig and a Yerba Mate mint soda.
Currently working on A series of watercolors and ink paintings, new songs that remind me of old standards, and a musical!
But I’d really love to be Doing all of these same things but somewhere warm and sunny with a bird’s eye view of the sea.
Book I’m reading Chaplinby Roger Manvell.
I don’t know how anyone ever Gets up at 6:00 a.m. by choice.
If I had to play one album on repeat, it would be Requiem for an Almost Ladyby Lee Hazelwood.
The perfect midday consists of Painting pictures.
To help get through the day I need Warm lighting, Yerba and my friends.
Not a day goes by without speaking to My hubs.
My daydreams consist of Little dreamworlds for songs and pictures.
In a perfect day, in a perfect world I can have a good long walk, a good long paint sesh, play a good sweaty show, win at dice AND manage a decent sleep.
I’ll always fight for My friends, fairness and fun.
Currently in love with Jacques Brel and magenta paint.
Hoping to make time to watch I finished all the streaming services during lockdown. I’m good.
By my bedside I always have Melatonin gummies and a notepad.
To help get through the night I paint or finish songs and talk to friends in other time zones. I get most of my work finished at night.
Bed time Usually 2:00 or 3:00 a.m.
When I think about tomorrow, it’s always I try not to think about tomorrow. I’d never get to sleep otherwise.