Charleston Profiles: Nick Jenkins

Image by Anna Marie

Editors note: Charleston Profiles is a new installation on TheDigitel that hopes to document creativity in Charleston.  We will be bringing more profiles every week with creative people that are making an impact on the Charleston community. If you know of someone you think should be featured, drop us a line.

Nick Jenkins is a staple of the Charleston music scene, splitting his time playing drums with numerous bands, including Run Dan Run, Leah Suarez, and Lindsey Holler's Western Polaroids to name a few.  Between all this, he has also found time to hone his passion for art.  

Describe yourself in one word. Present.

Describe Charleston in one word. Pleasant.

What was your life like growing up? Growing up, my life was like a PBS television show. I grew up in a relatively small town (called Walterboro) and have good memories of going on adventures/make believing with my siblings. My parents took us to church, played us Bob Marley albums, taught us how to work for ourselves. We weren't a rich family, but we had lots of oppurtunity to grow and be creative with our resources and time. 

Who/what were inspirations growing up? Mr. Rogers, having a really large backyard, animal sounds, Labyrinth (the movie), The Never-ending Story, Bill Cosby, Tears for Fears, the Christ, the Bible, Shel Silverstein, Reading Rainbow, trips to Charleston, landscaping, Camp Happy Days, MTV, The Muppet Show, Prince...

Where does your interest in music and art come from? I honestly don't quite know. I've always seemed to be drawn to them. I just realized one day that I couldn't stop making... things. Sounds, sculptures, drawings, songs, beats on the dinner table, etc. I feel that a lot of my imagination was fueled and fed in church, and in 3rd grade at recess. I read a lot of comic books and religious literature. 

Describe your creative process.

Music + Recordings? When I'm lucky, I usually have an idea for an album before I actually finish recording the songs. "Cupboards", for example, was a short collection of songs that I could see the beginning and ending of before I started recording. Something like that feels really good to get out and know it's a whole. Sometimes I just have a lot of music floating around or piling up in my hard drive and decide that it should organize it, categorize it and share it. That's what the "A + E" albums are all about. 

Ultimately, I like to have a general feeling associated with the music I make. I want sounds to convey a sense of belonging and location and to paint a picture of a place or time or event.  

Drawings + Paintings? These are usually commission-based endeavors that are conceived with the help of someone else's ideas/visions. How I execute or bring someone's ideas to life is a product of a little bit of research, a little bit of free-associating, and a little bit of me trying to connect with something that the viewer/client is trying to hold on to. A memory can sometimes be so strong that it takes you back to a place. I try to take advantage of that in my work, by fitting objects together like a sort of puzzle of sentiments.

Who are some of your current inspirations? My family, Shel Silverstein, Charlie Rose, Melinda Scharstein, the New Music Collective, Gaya, John Lurie, Hirona Matsura, DURF, Jimmy Taborello, Bang On A Can, Glassboy, Amtrak and the US Postal Service, Roland 808

What are you most proud of? I'm proud of my family and friends. I'm proud of my ability to make something with very limited resources, which is something my family taught me well.

I'm proud to be able to say that my friends are some of the most creative people I know.

What’s on your iPod? I don't have an iPod, but my cd player is currently spinning "Voice of Chunk" by the Lounge Lizards (fronted by saxophonist John Lurie).

I'm also digging on this band from Baltimore (via the internet) called Height. 

Of all the places you have traveled, which stands out the most? Europe. Copenhagen, Denmark. Summer, 2006. I was "on tour" with a Latin jazz quintet called "Toca Toca" and met some very unique and amazing people along the way.

It was also the first time I had traveled outside of the US, so everything was constantly new and magical.

What is your favorite restaurant and/or bar in Charleston? Santi's.

Who do you feel is shaping the Charleston music community today?  Art community?

Music Community Shaper(s)? Jazz Artists of Charleston are doing a great job. College bars are doing they're usual job. Individual musicians are doing the best they can, I think. Clay at 52.5 Records helped me find this Lounge Lizards album. The people who go out to see shit. (Is that allowed?) The list goes on. 

Art Community Shaper(s)? Artist and Craftsman Supply are always great. I couldn't do a lot of the projects I need to get done if it weren't for them. Staples is a great place to buy... envelopes! Marcus Amaker and the Charleston Scene staff seem to be working really hard to shine a light on the positive things that are happening in Charleston. The list goes on.

What inspires you about Charleston? I'm constantly inspired by the will and audacity that a lot of younger (creative) people have here. For example, if you want to put on a show and there isn't a venue that will let you do exactly what you want to do, you build something else or have it at your house! I really respect that spirit about things. I wish that more venues were available for experimental EVERYTHING, though. Charleston also feels like it's small enough to make a few splashes, figuratively speaking. I've been here for close to 8 years and it feels more and more like a "home base" the longer I stay. I'm interested to see and hear some new music come out of this area. I would go so far as to liken Charleston's creative community as a "revolving canvas" of sorts. 

What’s next for you? Dinner at Santi's. New Music Collective Annual Fundraiser at Eye Level Art on the 30th of April. Vacation with my sweetheart to Philadelphia and New York. After that, working on some more recording and gigging at Mercato with Leah Suarez. Morimoto (featuring Gerald Gregory and David Linaburg) are set to play the JAC Jazz Festival on June 3rd. Lincoln Center (NYC) dates to follow this Summer with a marching band I play in called Asphalt Orchestra. Drawing and painting on commission at home and abroad. Creating a new calendar for the 2011.