Nick Hissom might be one of the most grateful young artists to take center stage as he leads with a grounded sense of appreciation and hard work. Discovered in 2009 while still a high school student in Switzerland, Hissom was signed as a FORD model and began appearing in campaigns for major labels like Tommy Hilfiger. At that time, a 19-year-old Hissom found himself strategically planning his class schedule as he entered undergrad at the University of Pennsylvania to complement his modeling jobs. However, his dreams were bigger than being a pretty face behind the camera. He wanted to make it big in the music industry and anyone could notice the hunger in his eyes.
So that's what he worked for, tirelessly. Now, at 26 years old, Hissom is drawing the attention of artists like Flo Rida, making headlines and spreading messages of positivity all under his own music label, Massive Entertainment. Recognizing the importance of creative ownership, Hissom decidedly became his own boss under Massive, internalizing rejection and using it to preach his teachings of acceptance, happiness, equality and outshining the haters. Hissom hopes to be his best self by being honest and proving to Hizzy Nation (as his fans have labeled themselves) that love ultimately comes full circle.
Not only are you grinding to make a name for yourself in music, you're doing it on a label that you co-founded with Sony, proving that you are the ultimate boss. What made you decide to create your own label?
Today's music industry is more indie driven than ever. Thanks to Spotify, the Internet and social media, artists can create a whole lifestyle and culture for themselves without the help of the major labels. It's difficult to do, but it's worth it. You retain much more ownership of your career, and you get to decide where you go creatively. When I founded Massive, not only did I create power for myself amongst the label executives, but I also opened the door to sign younger emerging talent, and do for them what others did for me, giving them a chance to make it in the music industry independently.
A lot of established artists have praised your sound. Would you share one of these moments and who you were most awestruck by?
I think one of the coolest and most unexpected praises that I've gotten from an artist has to be from Flo Rida. We were in Miami celebrating Flo Rida day, and suddenly he stopped and said, "It's Nick day." He expressed it was because of how impressed he was on the kind of artistry and music I'm bringing to this generation, and that is the biggest compliment ever coming from one of the biggest influential artists of our time.
When I first started, I was a world apart from the superstars and now I'm hanging out with them, which amazes me every day. And if I can achieve that, anyone can.
Do you have a mantra?
Manifestation. We are our own creators, and how you feel is the most important thing—not where you are or what you're doing. It's very difficult to control your feelings and emotions, but I try my best and I take each day as it comes. Life is ultimately unknown, the past is gone, the future could be anything. So there's only now and you have to enjoy it no matter what.
Bullying is a topic you actively speak out against. What advice do you have for those who have been discouraged from pursuing the music industry because of their unique sound?
Bullying is the worst. There is nothing more damaging to someone than battering their self-esteem. I would know. And so one of the biggest messages in my music is self-worth and betterment. Nobody can make you inferior unless you let them. But it's not always easy to shrug everything off, that's not realistic. Whenever I was bullied or made to feel bad about myself in the past, music would help me through it and restore my happiness and confidence, even if it got taken away again the next day at school. The only thing I can say to people out there being bullied is to stay strong, know that it will never be permanent, shine bright and ignore the negativity. Fight bullies with your own happiness and confidence, ask for help if you need it. Your true power will come from finding your strength in the face of adversity, and once you harness it, nothing can stop you.
You've come a long way since 2013's "If I Die Young" to your newly remixed "He Ain't Better" with Zoey Dollaz. Some would argue that your sound has completely changed. How have you grown as an artist, and how would you define your sound in the current music industry?
My sound has definitely changed over time. When I wrote "If I Die Young," I was just starting my career, and I was 19 years old. My perspective has changed a lot since then. As I got older and learned more about the music industry, and the world in general, I wanted to make my sound more accessible to everybody instead of just a teen demographic. I also became influenced by the Miami hip-hop and Latin scene, so I merged all these elements into something more mature and sonically diverse. The new album is more evolved, edgier, sexier, and it pushes the boundaries on everything, just like I do.
Tell me, who is Nick Hissom today?
Today, Nick Hissom is an evolved human being and artist, taking my past lessons and turning them into positive inspiration within my music, inspiring others to do the same. I strive to give out positive vibes and energy to all my fans on a daily basis. Nothing makes me happier than showing love and making others happy.
The worst thing ever is to meet your heroes and be disappointed, so why not stay aware of what someone wants from you and do your best to reflect that. As long as it comes from a genuine place.
You've said that "He Ain't Better" was written while thinking about a girl from London, possibly a past love interest. What is your creative process when relying on vulnerable moments to shape your music, and do you hope to get a certain reaction out of those who you use as inspiration?
I always try to mask the identity of whomever I'm writing about because I don't want anyone to feel personally victimized by my music. It's not always fair to put someone on blast like that when they've never asked for that attention or sought to be a public figure. That being said, I use all my life experiences to fuel my music and creativity—and often I dig into vulnerable places. "He Ain't Better" is more of a love song about my ex. We all have that one person we love and would give anything to. The lyrics say it all: "I can give it all when the time is right because I'm here and I'm ready to fall." I'm telling her I'm serious, and nobody will love her better.
You've spoken out about how rejection has actually been a major inspiration for your music. Can you touch more on that?
I look at rejection as motivation. Whenever someone tells me I can't do something, there's nothing that gives me more satisfaction than doing it right in front of their face. It's awesome. I've now had many people tell me I couldn't do things that I've now done. Haters turn into fans real quick the minute you outshine them and they realize they have no choice but to acknowledge your work and talent. So keep working, follow your dreams and never let anybody shut you down.
Human equality is something that you've said you hope exists. In your imagined utopia, what does human equality look like, and how do you work towards creating human equality in the real world?
Human equality is about acceptance. I believe that everybody deserves the chance to show their goodness and express their personality without judgment or fear. From there, you can decide how much you like someone or not, and how much time you spend with them. You don't need to make everybody your best friend, but you do need to empathize with them, try to understand why they act and how they act, and do your best to create positivity and inspire self-esteem in others. When you make people feel special for who they are, and not try to change them, they will love you for understanding them, even if they themselves have work to do.
What is most exciting right now and gets you up in the morning?
Every day is different, but most of my motivation and excitement right now comes from my music. I love waking up and connecting with my fans, seeing how they've reacted to the newest piece of content and getting inspired by them. It's amazing to see people genuinely connecting with something that is a part of you. It all feels so real, and I'm very thankful for it. Right now I'm in my studio in Miami focusing on creating great music and great new content that can speak to my fans authentically and inspire them to be the best they can be despite any challenges or tribulations they might face on a daily basis.
Before music, you signed with FORD entering the modeling industry and showing up in successful Tommy Hilfiger, GQ and Kai Z campaigns. Are there any valuable lessons you learned during your modeling period that helped you to thrive in the music world?
Modeling was an adventure. Kai Z Feng has become one of my closest friends and inspirations, and so has Tommy Hilfiger. I got to experience things I never would have otherwise, like fashion week in Paris, walking runways in New York, and I made some lifelong friends. I also learned about the darker side of the industry, about rejection, self-esteem, being taken advantage of and keeping your street smarts about you. There's always a very fine line between okay and not okay when you're a living commodity. And this knowledge helped me approach the music industry and my artistry with a new degree of professionalism and understanding.
You refer to your fanbase as Hizzy Nation. If you had to describe your fans, what kind of identify do they have, and what is your relationship with them?
Hizzy Nation is all about inclusivity, love, hot music and happiness. Living life to the fullest and supporting one another. My fans feel all of this, and because of that, our relationship is very deep. Sometimes it's almost too intense, like I can't even be off my phone for more than a few days. But I am so thankful that people all over the world have chosen to identify with and follow me. I make music so it can be a positive thing in other people's lives, and seeing that happen is the most rewarding part of the whole journey. My fans are mainly young adults, or teenagers, but there is such a wide age range and demographic. I'm constantly surprised. I get videos and messages from people dancing to my music in New York, India, Canada, Kenya, Brazil, Germany, Japan, Mexico, Thailand, etc. Girls, boys, old, young, straight, gay, black, white, everything. It astounds me the power of music and the Internet to connect people from across the world. And that's what Hizzy Nation is about. One nation, brought together by music, love, acceptance and personal betterment.
When does your album debut, and are there any exciting collaborations we can expect?
The next thing I am focused on and excited about is releasing my album #FarFromHome and releasing new music I've been working on. The album features collaborations with Rick Ross, Scott Storch, Steve Morales, Bryson Tiller and more. Make sure to check out my single, "He Ain't Better with Zoey Dollaz," September 17th on iTunes, Spotify and all digital platforms.
My first album means so much to me because after all this time, I'm finally going to be able to introduce myself to the world and feel confident that this is who I am. Sometimes I randomly DM the album's private link to a fan, and seeing their reactions and feedback to the songs is so inspiring. I'm just happy to be doing what I'm doing, and I'm so thankful to have the opportunity to love and be loved back by so many people. It's like one big family, or a global community—hence, Hizzy Nation.