Meet Nick

Norton EDIT-6

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 at least a few hundred thousand after vertebrates developed a system to interpret vibrating air as sound, and has been making music ever since. The LA Times describes his work as crazy, and NewMusicBox referred to his pieces as “visceral sonic haiku.” Lately he’s been into slowly-evolving music with electronics and effects pedals, and semi-jokingly calls his work “spectral post minimalist.”

At an early age Nick discovered that he got a life-affirming kick out of certain arrangements of sound, so started making some by playing guitar and saxophone in bands. He studied composition in college and grad school, and in a whole bunch of garages, studios, apartments, backyards, beaches, mountains, bars, libraries, clubs, restaurants, lakes, forests, glaciers, and deserts. He now works with sound (including music!) directly in his work in film and television post production.

As a composer, Nick has worked with the Alabama Symphony Orchestra, the Kansas City Chorale, the Moscow Contemporary Music Ensemble, Wild Up, HOCKET, the Isaura, Formalist, Friction, and Argus string quartets, ensemble mise-en, Third Coast Percussion, EXAUDI, Aperture Duo, Ignition Duo, gnarwhallaby, Wild Rumpus, What’s Next? Ensemble, conductors Christopher Rountree and Brandon Rolle, guitarists Giacomo Baldelli and Fabricio Mattos, violists Diana Wade and Jonathan Morgan, cellists Ashley Walters and Jennifer Bewerse, bassist Miller Wrenn, soprano Justine Aronson, and pianists Jeremy Denk, Vicki Ray, Mark Robson, Richard Valitutto, Aron Kallay, and Cristina Valdes.

As a solo artist, Nick plays ambient guitar with electronics, sometimes under the name Calm Machine. He quite likes working with artists in other media and has collaborated on new works with video artist Kelly McGillicuddy, dance academy Joffrey Texas, and choreographer Katie Cooper.

In addition to countless shows at Art Share LA, Nick's music has been heard on the Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage, at New York’s Museum of Modern Art, National Sawdust, and Home Audio, at San Francisco’s Center for New Music and Hot Air Music Festival, in Seattle at the Good Shepherd Chapel, and in Los Angeles at the Hear Now Festival, Boston Court, and the Blue Whale (RIP). Whoa, nested Oxford commas. He’s received commissions from the International Horn Society, PianoSpheres, HOCKET, Synchromy, WomenSing, and Worldwide Guitar Connections.

Nick’s been really lucky, because he’s had great teachers along the way, including Clarence Barlow, Curtis Roads, Joel Feigin, Andrew Tholl, Lei Liang, Rand Steiger, Chinary Ung, Robert Keeley, Harvey Sollberger, and Michel Merlet. He has also participated in masterclasses with Sofia Gubaidulina, George Benjamin, and Martin Bresnick.

As an armchair political philosopher Nick rejects the distinction between high and low forms of art. He is invested in creating new experiences for listeners from all backgrounds and destroying social barriers to enjoying music. He pursues his mission through his work running Equal Sound and New Classic LA and with his bands The Newports and Honest Iago. A student of Zen Buddhism, he enjoys punk rock, cinema, craft beer, sci fi, and being in or near the ocean.

Norton EDIT-6


Press Quotes

Norton’s pieces are visceral sonic haiku which pair modernist sonorities with clever conceptual underpinnings.


Guitar noise, on a high plane of sophistication, fit to melt steel beams. When it hits you, it hits you HARD.

A Fool In The Forest

...always on the verge of an intense climax, yet meditative at the same time. It’s ambient/drone music that’s harsh around the edges, but with a hypnotic quality that makes it something much more than its effects.

Treble Zine

Hearing Nick Norton’s crazy piano deconstruction, All the Wrong Notes, was like sticking your head on rattling piano strings as Richard Valittuto banged away.

LA Times

Formidable and powerful, I could easily imagine Mirror Smasher Zero being extended into a much longer minimalist work.... It reminded me, in a very good way, of Lou Reed’s Metal Machine Music in its powerful, gyrating, and relentless sonic attack.

New Classic LA