Nick Norton is—like you—made from materials forged in the cores of stars. He was born in Los Angeles approximately 13.6 billion years after the universe and a few million after vertebrates began to interpret vibrating air as sound. He has been making music ever since, these days spending most of his time finding ways to combine vintage synth grooves, field recordings, acoustic instruments, temporal experimentation, and studio magic into tactile sonic experiences.
Nick’s debut album Music for Sunsets was released on people places records in late 2023. About it, Foxy Digitalis said “Music For Sunsets is an expansive sonic treat. There is so much thought and craft in each of these 12 tracks, it’s hard to believe this is only his debut. Within these lively ambient soundscapes, moments are held with care, and the inward searching becomes a beautiful sonic glow. It’s a wonderful record.” Mixed by GRAMMY nominated producer Lewis Pesacov, the album is available on all major platforms.
Nick grew up going to shows in the Ventura County punk scene, playing sax in his school’s jazz band, and spending summers on Catalina Island. He went to college at UC San Diego, where he discovered minimalism, noise rock, and avant garde classical music, and graduate school for composition at King’s College, London, UC Santa Barbara, and a whole bunch of garages, studios, apartments, backyards, beaches, mountains, bars, libraries, clubs, restaurants, lakes, forests, glaciers, and deserts. While finishing his PhD, with a thesis titled “Concert Production As Composition,” Norton founded and ran the experimental concert series Equal Sound in LA.
He was working in live sound and recording when the pandemic hit in 2020. Seeing his musician friends out of work, he put up an online fundraiser with Equal Sound. It went viral. While Equal Sound’s Corona Relief Fund, with the help of a team of volunteers, raised and distributed over $100,000 to out-of-work musicians, Norton worked himself into a psychotic break that resulted in hospitalization. Doctors diagnosed him with bipolar 1 disorder and, during the manic phase, he ruined his romantic relationship, lost his apartment and business, and spent himself into bankruptcy. After moving in with his mom, the severe depression that normally follows a manic episode set in, eventually returning him to a psychiatric care facility after months of being unable to leave the couch.
After getting out, he started spending his time googling “career change mid 30s” and “longshoreman salary” until stumbling his way into the online certificate program in digital audio post production at Santa Monica College. Before long he started getting hired as a music and sound editor for film and tv, and having to focus on work gradually drew him out of his depression.
Norton’s home studio developed alongside his improving mental health. Every new piece of gear, every new library of sounds, and every bit of learning about production necessitated a new musical experiment. His issues would disappear completely whenever he had his head down discovering new musical worlds. When he had been in inpatient care, one of his therapists had said Nick had to have a project for when he got out, and he always responded “make a record” without believing it. These new pieces, inspired by his work in sound, became that record. As he wrote Music For Sunsets little by little, it turned into an audio document of his recovery, self-acceptance, and musical discoveries, as well as, eventually, an exploration of his newly found, happier world.
In April of 2023 Nick finally earned enough days as a music editor to join the Motion Picture Editors Guild, a long held career goal, and in September of that year Music For Sunsets finally came out to rave reviews. Last Day Deaf called the it “absolutely captivating” and said that Nick’s music “invites you to embark on a sonic journey that’s as diverse and vibrant as the city he hails from, a musical exploration where boundaries blur and creativity knows no limits.”
In addition to his regular work in film and television, Nick now plays in the band Whiler and teaches music production at Santa Monica College. A student of Zen Buddhism, he enjoys punk rock, cinema, travel, fancy meals, sci-fi, art, dogs, philosophy, and being in or near the ocean.