Nick Hissom has led an alluring life. He was raised primarily in London, the son of ex-pat Americans, spent his formative years at the prestigious Swiss boarding school Le Rosey, and graduated with degrees in history and anthropology from the Ivy League’s The University of Pennsylvania. Scouted by Ford Models while still in high school, Hissom has traveled the globe as a model, becoming the face of campaigns for Tommy Hilfiger and a go-to muse for renowned photographer Kai Z Feng.
Hissom’s international lifestyle has included exposure to some of the world’s biggest DJ’s and entry into the hottest nightclubs, an experience he credits with his developing a passion for music and eventually singing and writing his own songs. His first-ever live performance was an appearance with Manufactured Superstars at a Memorial Day Weekend party at Vegas nightclub Tryst. His second was performing in front of 50,000 people at the Electric Daisy Carnival with Manufactured Superstars. Hissom’s talent has led to his shooting a music video with Kenny Ortega (Michael Jackson’s This is It) and working with the music producers Dallas Austin (Janet Jackson, Madonna) and Mick Schultz (Jeremih, Zendaya). The latter produced Hissom’s debut single “If I Die Young,” an EDM-influenced pop confection about living for the moment that has become a European hit and climbed to No.1 in Turkey within 48 hours of release.
Despite his rarefied upbringing, Hissom is a grounded and hard-working individual whose drive to make music comes from wanting to infuse others’ lives with the same good feelings he’s been fortunate enough to experience. “Music, for me, is about making people happy,” he says. “Yes, I’ve had amazing things happen, but none of it matters if you’re alone. Fame and money mean nothing if you don't have good people around you and you can't share what you have.”
To that end, Hissom is drawn to making feel-good music that brings his natural European sophistication to American audiences. His sound combines the buoyant energy of pop vocals and melodies with the edgy beats of deep house, a genre that already dominates the charts in the U.K. and is rising in popularity in the U.S. Hissom cites Disclosure’s “Latch,” Robin Schulz’ remix of Mr. Probz’ “Waves,” and Clean Bandit’s “Rather Be” as akin to what he’s trying to accomplish, and also names pop icons Michael Jackson, will.i.am, and Justin Timberlake as influences. “However when it comes to performing, I like big production, lots of dancing, and the spectacle that artists like Britney Spears, Miley Cyrus, Katy Perry, and Justin Timberlake create,” he says. “If I had to perform with just a guitar sitting in a chair for an hour singing…well, that’s just not me.”
Deciding to launch a music career wasn’t exactly a conventional choice for Hissom. As a young teenager, he was more interested in the stock market than what was being played on the radio. “I bought my first stock when I was 13 — Apple. I bought it at $50 a share and sold it at $70. I thought I was a genius,” he says with a laugh. Hissom thought he’d go into the family commercial real estate business. “I've always loved architecture and design and I can understand the flow and feel of a room and how that affects the emotions of the people entering it,” he explains. But fate intervened when a modeling scout found 17-year-old Hissom on Facebook. He spent the next several years juggling his college course-work with modeling, signing with agencies in London, Paris, Barcelona, Germany, and Denmark. But being a young male model isn’t as glamorous as one would think.
“I went to Paris for Fashion Week and they're not expecting you to book anything, so it was six guys and me living above the Gare du Nord train station in a tiny apartment,” he recalls. However, the experience toughened him up for the vagaries of the music industry. Once he told himself he wanted to make music, he recorded covers of Swedish House Mafia’s “Save The World” and The Fray’s “How To Save A Life” and sent them to several DJs he had become acquainted with through his stepfather, hotelier Steve Wynn. Manufactured Superstars’ Bradley Roulier and Shawn Sabo responded and asked him to fly to Denver to record a song called “Killin’ Tonight” with them. “I did final exams in-between recording sessions,” he says. In short order, Hissom shot a music video for the song and went on the road with the duo, an adventure that included a show at Denver’s fabled Red Rocks amphitheater performing in front of 30,000 people. Since then he’s performed in Ibiza and St. Tropez, and graced many red carpets, including at the Billboard Music Awards and the Young Hollywood Awards. He’s also received encouragement from no less a talent-spotter than Motown Records founder Berry Gordy Jr., who discovered The Jackson 5, Stevie Wonder, and Marvin Gaye, among many others.
“It's always an honor to be around legends in all industries, but being around them isn’t enough,” Hissom says. “You have to impress them in your own right. They are also the harshest critics in the world. If you don't live up to their standards from day one, they’ll never work with you again.”
Hissom continues to aim high as he begins his next chapter after moving to Los Angeles: signing an artist development deal with powerhouse management entity, ReignDeer Select, led by Larry Rudolph and Rebecca Lambrecht. He is also collaborating with top songwriters and producers on the songs that will appear on his debut album. “Music is an extension of your personality, so you put whatever you're feeling into a song and then send it out into the world and hope that millions of people will connect to you,” he says. “I have been so lucky in life and my greatest joy is to share with other people the things that I have been given, especially telling my story through my music. There’s nothing cooler than that.”