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Old country for a modern crowd: Waterloo musician releases new single

Nick Bordman’s single ‘All Around’ will be featured on his upcoming EP, set to be released in the coming months
Waterloo artist Nick Bordman

A Waterloo local is reviving traditional country music by appealing to a modern audience with the release of his latest single, ‘All Around.’

Nick Bordman, who is currently attending Seneca College for independent songwriting and performance, was born and raised in Waterloo. But growing up, his dad had some property in Petersburg, where he says he was exposed to the allure of country living. 

“It's still a big agricultural area. My family always fished, and we loved the outdoors and stuff like that,” he said. 

Then, in high school, he came across artists like George Strait, Hank Williams Jr., and Johnny Cash. 

“And I just was enthralled with it. I fell right down the rabbit hole and couldn't stop listening; I started buying vinyls and CDs. And I think the big point for me was that a good country song is almost like it's been pulled right out of your life. And I really related to that.”

For Bordman, those older country songs with strong storytelling narratives really resonated with the melodrama of high school life.

“A lot of the things they were hitting on, I could really relate to,” he said. And he’s been obsessed with that older, more traditional country sound ever since -- but especially the work of Hank Williams Jr. 

“His whole catalogue covers blues, traditional country, and bluegrass. He covers topics like heartbreak, mental health, the outdoors -- all these various topics that resonated with me.”

For chunks of time, that’s all he would listen to. “It’s kind of funny because here’s this guy in his 70s from a completely different era, a completely different geographic place in the world, but still relatable to me.” he said. 

In fact, it was Williams Jr. that made him realize this was something he wanted to pursue himself. In 2018, never having left Canada before, he convinced his dad to take him to Kentucky to see Williams Jr. in concert.

“Just being there and seeing that atmosphere, just how people responded to his music and how he played up there, I remember right there and then saying to my dad, ‘this is exactly what I want to be doing.’”

Now, writing songs of that nature is a cathartic outlet, “a way for myself to convey whatever I’m feeling, or work through whatever situation I might be facing at that point in time,” he said. 

He wants his sound to derive from older, more traditional country music, while bringing in a more modern element. 

“[With pop country] the lyrics aren't really based around a certain narrative, just what's going to sell. So for me, at least, it's kind of a disconnect in terms of the emotion of coming through; the message trying to be conveyed is lost in that commercialized sound,” he said. 

“I like to think [my music falls] somewhere in between, like a bridge between that older country sound but making it relatable to modern audiences without completely being a pop sound or a completely modernized country sound.”

Though a relatively new artist, he has already been recognized for his work. 

In November 2020, he was chosen as a Fresh Picks artist on Country 93, which gave him airplay on several country stations. In early January, the music video for his song ‘Tread Lightly’ was nominated for an Independent Canadian Music Video award.

His latest single is the lead single of his upcoming EP, which he hopes will be out in the next few months. Because the album is filled with “those kind of sad, old country songs,” he wanted to throw something more fun on it. That’s where ‘All Around’ comes in.

“What I really wanted to go for was that boogie rock country sound, like ‘Boot Scootin’ Boogie,’” he said. “I brought [my producer] the song and said ‘look, I wrote this but I don't know what direction to take this in’. And we just kind of fooled around with some stuff and eventually developed this country rock kind of sound.

“I think it ties in well, because the past few years we've had with COVID, we have not been able to get together. So I wanted to put out something that was upbeat, happy, and just something people can kind of enjoy with each other when we're able to,” he said. “It's just about having a good time.”

The album is being produced by fellow Waterloo local Matt Koebel. Bordman says they hope to play some shows once the album is released.

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