The artist known as Prichard Nixon.

Making a name for oneself in the music world is a feat in and of itself. But it’s even trickier when one’s name is actually a pseudonym.

Enter Prichard Nixon, the stage name for a Desert Hot Springs-based recording artist. Nixon’s music is rather eclectic and colorful. He released his second album, Animals, on Feb. 1, and the eight-song, 10-minute-total journey sees Nixon hop from a cappella rap and operatic harmony to acoustic-guitar experimentation. You can check out all of his releases here.

Nixon said he was influenced by some of his favorite creatives when he chose not to go by his legal name.

“It was something that I definitely took a lot of time thinking about and considering,” Nixon said during a recent phone interview. “I looked at a lot of artists I respected who used pseudonyms. … Author David Wong, for example, and the visual artist Raymond Pettibon, who’s famous for doing the album-cover artwork for Black Flag back in the late ’70s and early ’80s. It was a decision I did not take lightly, but once I decided to commit to it, it just felt right. I don’t regret going that route at all.”

Nixon said his music, for now, is a passion project.

“It’s one of those things that I commit myself to as time permits,” Nixon said. “I’m currently finishing double degrees in communications and English at College of the Desert. Additionally, I am taking employer-sponsored courses at an out-of-state campus. I’m waiting for a callback at the university level for the upcoming fall 2022 semester, and I work 40 plus hours a week for my current employer. That’s all before even touching anything associated with music.

“When I sit down, and I break it down like that, I’m kind of like, ‘Good grief, dude, what are you thinking?’ But it is something I love to do. I have played music since I was 14. My dad bought me my first instrument, a four-string Harmony bass guitar, for my 14th birthday. It’s just something I’ve always loved doing and have undertaken as time and as life have allowed me to do.”

With hints of various genres all over Nixon’s work, I was interested to hear what he was personally influenced by.

“When I started playing music, it was all about heavy metal, like Black Sabbath and Metallica,” Nixon said. “Around (age) 17 or 18, I started getting into punk rock and emocore and post-hardcore. This would have been around ’06, where a lot of the bands that were popular at the time were like Thursday, My Chemical Romance, and Thrice. Bands like that definitely made an impact as far as what influenced me from a musician’s perspective. Since then, it really depends on what I can get my hands on.

“One of the things I really miss, with the fruition of the internet as a tool for musicians, is the ability to go to the mall, for example, and go to the local record store, and walk up and down the aisles and peruse the names and see what jumps out at you. … I miss that thrill.”

Nixon reminisced about Record Alley in Palm Desert; the $2 CD bin there would be a place where one could find an artist name as unique as Prichard Nixon. The visuals are another factor that makes Prichard Nixon’s art quite colorful—literally. Check out the cover for his single “King Kong.”

“One of the things I really miss … is the ability to go to the mall, for example, and go to the local record store, and walk up and down the aisles and peruse the names and see what jumps out at you. … I miss that thrill.” Prichard Nixon

“I’m a big fan of the arts in general, regardless of the media—photography, graphic design, illustration—I love all of it, and I want all of it,” Nixon said. “That was one of the facets that I decided to really focus on when putting out music on my own, was to really spend the time to come up with album artwork, even if only in a digital realm, that complemented the song in the music itself. I’ve been lucky enough to collaborate with a lot of close friends, and in that way, make new friends on the artistic side of it. A lot of that is represented in the singles that I’ve posted online—like the album cover for ‘King Kong’ was hand-drawn by a girlfriend of mine, and the single cover for ‘I Got Flies’ was drawn by one of my close buddies, and then I came back and I messed around with the color and added text.”

The future for Prichard Nixon looks bright; after all, many things are possible when expansive creativity is one’s first priority.

“I was in the process of booking shows in early July of last year, and then with the rise of the delta variant, I decided to play it safe, and I took a step back,” Nixon said. “I don’t regret making that decision, and thankfully, I’m in a position where I’ve never stopped working during the pandemic. Having a home studio means it’s always been as easy as walking down the hallway, closing the door, queueing up the laptop and breaking out the microphones. I definitely don’t take that for granted, because I know there are a lot of artists out there who have definitely felt the impact of the ongoing pandemic and don’t necessarily have that luxury.

“As far as moving forward, I’m about six songs deep into a follow up album. I don’t have a timeline for when that will be released as of yet, but I definitely anticipate releasing several singles before then. On the other side, I’m definitely open to booking some live shows, but I would need to work out the logistics of that as well, considering that it’s just me playing alone. I’ll throw this out there as well: Writing is also one of my passions. Under the Prichard Nixon moniker, I’ve been able to do music, and I’ve been able to do artwork, so writing to me would be the next step as well. I don’t know what that would look like at the moment; it could be like a zine sold at live shows, or it could be maybe like a mini booklet that I can hand out to friends and family.”

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Matt King

Matt King is a freelance writer for the Coachella Valley Independent. A creative at heart, his love for music thrust him into the world of journalism at 17 years old, and he hasn't looked back. Before...