Hey there, I’m Nicola.
I created this website to help old and new aspiring musician’s reignite their creativity and develop their songwriting skills to create something they truly love.
I’ve worked hard to put together a bunch of resources, tips and guides to help each and every one of you reach your full potential.
Scroll to read my story, or check out my blog to expand your knowledge.
So tell us who were you?
I was once a kid without a care in the world.
Active, engaged, full of life and excitement.
I loved participating and experiencing EVERYTHING!
I was part of the School’s Netball, Football and Athletics Team, the School and County Choir, Drama Club, Dance and Gymnastics Club.
I did try Chess Club… but I wasn’t any good at it…
I was even lucky enough to start playing the Bassoon for a short while.
And for any aspiring Bassoonists out there, it’s not an easy instrument to play!
But, the most important Club I was part of growing up was the Composition Club.
I attended Composition Club every week at my School during lunch break, and it was the highlight of my week.
I would come up with melodic phrases and song arrangements which others would learn and we would perform in front of the rest of the School, our parents and even in bigger local events.
It was so fulfilling and truly EPIC!
I even got the Music Composition Award from my School, and I still have it today… (I should’ve given it back though).
My creativity was on fire!
It would continue at home as I would find instrumental tracks from my parents records (mainly Mike Oldfield) and I’d come up with lyrics and melodies to those songs.
I’d even plug in headphones as a microphone and record myself onto tape cassette.
Yes, I did say tape cassette!
I’d have pretend band practice with my siblings with tennis rackets and we’d rock out in our back garden.
Everything and anything inspired me, and sparked my creativity.
The sky was never the limit.
So that sums up kid Nicola.
Cool, so what about Teen Nicola?
Teen Nicola was a completely different person. To be honest, I didn’t like her much.
She never considered a career involving herself being creative such as being a songwriter or composer, or even performing.
She believed it to be something only beautiful people with the right connections could get into, and if you’ve been on the Disney channel you get fast-tracked!
Pessimistic teenage Nicola doesn’t even try. *rolls eyes*
She just grew up and focused on her studies, and one by one fun activities began to dwindle away.
And by her late-teens she did none of the above.
The creative Nicola was completely dead.
Queue Taylor Swift moment:
“I’m sorry the old Nicola can’t come to the phone right now, cause she’s dead.”
What happened to destroyer of creativity Teen Nicola?
Flash-forward several years Teen Nicola got consumed by the vast emptiness of robotic and impersonal driven jobs.
Introducing Adult Nicola. But let’s use the word ‘adult’ loosely…
But there I was, older and wiser *haha* and starting a new era of my life helping my partner build and expand his business. And it’s a breath of fresh air constantly being around someone who is passionate about their work and wanting to help others sincerely.
Then one evening I was invited to watch a musical at our local theatre, ‘Mamma Mia.’
The audience was singing and dancing, and the show was really engaging; it was truly brilliant.
I was amazed how all these songs which were written decades ago, were now being put together to form a bigger story.
It really inspired and captivated my imagination on what I could potentially do, what I would love to achieve.
I knew what I needed to do.
I needed to go on a mission.
A mission to find and rescue myself from the dormant forbidden chamber I had locked myself in.
I need to raise Kid Nicola from the dead, and save my creative aura.
Awesome! How did it go?
Well to be honest it was surprisingly easy. She was eagerly waiting and exciting to be alive once again!
I got home that night, babbled on for ages to my partner and wrote my first song that night whilst in bed called ‘Pale Blue Eyes.’
It was a simple ballad about losing a childhood friend, and I based it on the film ‘My Girl.’ Here’s a short snippet from the lyrics:
I will never forget those pale blue eyes,
And the way that you laughed when I looked surprised.
The way that we would dance and fall to our feet,
The way that we would hug when there was defeat.
I’ll remember you my friend.
The lyrics were basic and it felt more like a poem, but hey, this was my very first try in a very long time and it was way past my bedtime!
From then on I wrote lyrics everyday, and even though most were rubbish and lacking any direction, I enjoyed the fact that I was starting to explore my creativity.
I started off using films/TV shows I enjoyed as inspiration for story plots, as well as random items around the house such as a table or water bottle.
I got into a routine of writing before I went to bed as well, as this was the best time for my brain to wander into the unknown!
Did you get better at lyrics the more you wrote?
With lyrics it’s never practice makes perfect. It’s to continue writing until you find your voice, your style, then you develop your voice into your own masterpiece.
Songs nowadays have the same components; verse, chorus, bridge, rhyming schemes, chord progression. They are technically the easy part. And thinking of a topic, well that’s easy too… *cough* relationships *cough.*
But, using words in a way that makes it sound distinctly like you and different from any other person, that is the challenge.
By my 20th song I could really see improvements as I started to notice a particular writing style I had.
My 20th song was called ‘Unbreakable’ and here’s a short snippet from the lyrics:
Hard as stone,
Our statue will stand tall and it will
Never be brought down by evil words.
Linked as one,
We are strong our love won’t go downhill
We will bloom together like orchards.
My phrases were becoming more complex, but also I realised I enjoyed writing thriller, mythical and adventure based songs.
I soon started to find my own voice, well, my own lyrical voice.
Awesome, so what was the next step?
I was becoming more and more comfortable writing lyrics and it was becoming easy to find inspiration and let my imagination do all the heavy lifting.
So I motored onto the next stage, which was writing melodies.
Luckily I was already familiar with very basic music theory and beginner scales such as C and G major with their relative minor equivalents so I stuck to those scales initially.
And, I can’t really explain it, I just created, it was so natural.
I got out a small keyboard, put on my headphones, played away and wrote the notes above each word on my notepad once I decided what sequence of notes sounded nice together.
That little keyboard was an absolute diamond!
Without it I wouldn’t have made it this far.
I couldn’t take this little keyboard with me everywhere I go. It’s portable, yes, but I enjoy writing snuggled in bed, and the keyboard wasn’t going to join me.
I needed an alternative.
Hmmm, wouldn’t it be handy if there was an app on your phone for writing music and transcribing your songs?
Wait, this already exists? I definitely missed the memo!
If there is one thing you do today it’s find a score creator app for your phone. It makes the initial creation stage so much easier.
I could write my melodies, add chord progressions, then my lyrics then export them as MIDI files.
My creativity was finally on fire again, and my head then exploded with a gazillion possibilities about the future such as; showing the world my work, writing for others, even releasing singles, perhaps even an EP, oh what about an album but…
That’s when the brick wall kind of hit me.
Brick wall? What do you mean?
Well I could try singing… again.
I was nervous about the prospect of showcasing my work to others, but now the thought of me singing my lyrics really threw me back.
I’ve never been confident to perform, and only have ever done so in large groups such as in a choir. And my partner, even though we’ve been together for a long time, he’d never heard me sing.
So I was anxious, but still it felt like the right path to take.
So I practiced one of my songs I wrote at the very beginning of it all, my 5th song. The verse was quirky and a little cheesy, but the lyrics were fun.
The song was inspired by my partners love and excitement over a cheese spread sandwich one night.
Here’s the verse for ‘As Long As You Stay’:
There’s that twinkle in your eyes
It’s got my hypnotized
I’m on fire.
With that cheeky little smile
You’ve got me synchronized
You’re my desire.
And although I went bright red with embarrassment, and got all hot and sweaty it was the best thing I’ve done. Even today over 2 years later we make parody versions of this verse to make each other smile.
With the hard part over and done with, I could now march on ahead, practice and familiarize myself with what my voice was truly capable of.
I even started to learn the guitar, which was interesting because I’m a lefty!
That’s awesome, did everything motor on swimmingly?
Yes… well, I did get the odd hiccup. The odd moment where I just felt as though I wasn’t achieving what I was fully capable of, quick enough.
I’d have a bad day singing, and I’d get irritated when I couldn’t play more complex chords on guitar. So I’d have a little temper tantrum.
I did have a little rough patch….
The beginning of something new is always the most difficult. As soon as you gain momentum, things start to move more quickly and efficiently. But, a few speed bumps will hit you along the way.
I hit a major speed bump with my lyrics. I felt like I was caught between two people.
I wanted to write songs that were catchy and memorable, but I was struggling to make them relatable to the listener because of my song topics.
I love adventure, thriller and grim topics; but it’s difficult for someone to relate to this because I’m not talking about a broken relationship or being in love, topics which we can all relate to.
I wanted people to connect with the lyrics, rather than have to sit there and spend an hour deciphering my true intentions.
I bet we’re all familiar with the feeling of awkwardness when you think your joke is super funny, and everyone looks at you like you’re crazy and you have to sit there and explain yourself.
Kind of ruins it.
So, I decided to slightly adjust my writing style.
How did you change your writing style?
I wanted to blend the world of mainstream writing with my own, and make it the ultimate combo!
I did this through how my lyrics were going to be interpreted by the listener.
By my 79th song I think I found the right balance between the two. My choruses would be simple and straightforward, painting a vivid picture with a clear emotion, whereas the rest of the song would be more complex, requiring a bit more thought.
Here’s the bridge from ‘Floorboards.’
Lay me side to side and pack me in
These nails are sharp they pierce my skin
I can only see a glimpse of light
This space I’m in banish me from sight.
Referring to captivity in the form of being trapped in a coffin like prison. Lovely Nicola.
But it’s the chorus that really captures the grimness of the situation at hand:
When the floorboards creak
With the scuff of your feet
And the storm outside gathers
And casts their shadows
I know, what comes next…
When the room I’m in opens
But the front door closes
The mirror starts to cracks
And I dare to turn my back
I know, what comes next…
Although my initial vision of the song was being held captive against my will like some sort of horror film, it could also be interpreted as an abusive or toxic relationship to which there is no way out.
Once I could find two different interpretations in my lyrics, I knew I was heading down the right path.
What was your next step in your musical journey?
It was at my 66th song that I felt like I should take some of my creations and turn them into physical songs to show the World.
This meant learning about music production.
To be honest I had no idea what sort of music I wanted to create in terms of genre, but I love synthwave, rock, metal and electronic music. So why not blend them all together?
In hindsight, I really wish I had just gone for some simple indie or acoustic music with minimal layers, just for ease.
Music production has such a massive learning curve.
You have to learn recording, mixing and mastering techniques, and that doesn’t include finding and blending the right sounds for your songs and layering them effectively.
In comparison, songwriting for me is super easy. Production, there are so many variables, I don’t have a clue.
But hey, don’t blame me for trying.
I opened up Cubase, the DAW I had at the time, uploaded my MIDI file from my Score Creator app and started adding drums, piano and synths.
Anything I struggled with, I Googled and watched YouTube videos of (incredibly handy).
Once the foundations were laid out, I plugged my guitar directly into the audio interface and strummed my chords, almost in time. Then added a plugin to my guitar audio to make it super beefy.
Then I set up my microphone with the help of my partner and after warming up we did a take on my vocals.
And boy, did I learn a lot about the WHOLE experience.
And what was the result?
Well I created nothing like any of the amazing produced music you hear today.
It was pretty dreadful.
You really need a producer to get your song in top notch condition, or spend many years with a lot of practicing to streamline your success.
Music production is much more than wacking a few sounds together and adjusting the volume levels.
I continued practicing and created backing tracks for 2 other songs which were much better!
But it took AGES due to my indecisive behaviour. The truth is, I had no idea what I wanted from my backing tracks and even if I did, I still didn’t know where or how to create those sounds.
I could spend multiple hours just going through synth presets and playing with settings, and not even make any progress on my songs. The choices were endless, and with endless choices means making a decision a million times harder.
Don’t get me started on drum sounds…
After a few months I did eventually start to make progress and by the end of a long hard battle I was actually incredibly proud of them. For a newbie with no experience I thought they sounded really good.
My vocals sounded really good but didn’t blend well with the track, and I found it rather frustrating. However, as stand alone instrumental and a stand alone vocal track they were really good.
But I decided to take a step back.
This was when the ‘in hindsight’ moment stepped in.
What did you realise?
What I realised is that I was spreading myself too thin trying to learn everything and anything from starting to write a song to finishing it.
Songs you hear today, whether it’s on Spotify, the radio or in a film, are never done by one individual. There are usually 2-5 songwriters, sometimes even more, then a whole production team ranging from 2-8 people again. And I’m trying to do all this myself?!
A little too independent for my gown good.
But anyway, I came to terms that simplicity is the key.
I want to showcase my voice and my songwriting ability, as that’s where I shine.
And even though I’d love to learn more about music production and get a lot better, I do feel that it is best for songwriters to team up with producers and work together to harness each others strengths.
But for the time being I want to showcase my songwriting ability in its simplest form, with just a piano or guitar.
Although I should point out I’m not a musician, just someone learning simple chords to add an additional layer of flavour to my music.
Awesome, so how does that lead us to where you are today?
I am now designing my songs to be in their purest, simplest form, basically demonstrations. I don’t want to release them like an Artist would, because, well they’re not the finished product, more like a taster.
My desire is to show everyone what I am capable of, and show you the journey I took to get there.
This is where ‘Your Creative Aura’ comes into play, and its role to act as a platform for me to help others find their creativity, like I found mine. And inspire them to create something they truly love, to create Art that they’re proud to share with the World.
It also gives me the opportunity to share with you the past 160+ songs I’ve written in the past 2 years and how I’ve progressed over time and what inspired me to write them.
I have worked tirelessly since the beginning of 2019 to design and create this platform.
Everything you see on this website, was built and designed by me.
Did I mention how stubborn I am with being independent?
But I’m not stopping there.
More content will soon be released on a regular basis, and the official Your Creative Aura YouTube channel will launch to start showcasing my work and demonstrating different songwriting techniques and much, much more!
I CANNOT EXPRESS ENOUGH HOW SUPER EXCITED I AM!
Thank you for reading
So I suppose this was my origins story.
Thank you so much for sticking around and making your way to bottom of my long ramble.
I cannot wait to share with everyone the content I’ve got lined up.
The future is definitely going to be explosive!
In the meantime, why not check out my blog.
So grab a drink, chill out and expand your creative mind into the art of musical expression.
Good luck, and get creating!