This telephone interview was conducted the morning of August 18, 2003 from Nicholas Payton’s home. All at jazzInternet and Caught Live Too! thank Nicholas for being so gracious as to take time from his busy schedule. I would also like to mention that I had some technical problems with my equipment so I relied on my notes and memory for this. We also wish to thank Arvella from Warner Brothers for setting up the interview.
DB: Was it easier for you to become a musician because your parents were musicians?
NP: Yes, it was easier because I didn’t have trouble trying to get them to realize I could make it as a jazz musician.
DB: Do you think that becoming a professional musician at such an early age was a good thing or a bad thing?
NP: It was definitely a good thing. I was 11, and I was getting paid for doing something that I loved. I felt like I was stealing, because I would have played for free.
DB: How was it to study with Ellis Marsalis?
NP: It was great, because he knows what it takes to bring out the best in you.
DB: You have worked with some great people, including Trey Anastasio and Clarence Gatemouth Brown. Who else would you like to work with?
NP: You might not believe this, but I’d love to work with Weird Al Yankovic. I think that would be alot of fun to do something like that.
DB: What CD’s and artists are you listening to right now?
NP: Nothing right now. I’ve been listening to so many different things for so long that I needed a break. I’m watching alot of movies right now.
DB: Are you satisfied with the way SONIC TRANCE turned out?
NP: I don’t think I’m ever satisfied with my records. I’m happy with the way it turned out, but never satisfied. I hope to keep evolving and moving forward musically.
DB: Who are your biggest musical influences?
NP: Just about everything, from my parents to Louis Armstrong, to rap and hip hop artists, they’ve all shaped my music. R&B; artists as well, it all has affected me in a different way.
DB: How did you come up with the concept for SONIC TRANCE?
NP: On the last CD, you could hear some of the changes that are more apparent on SONIC TRANCE. We took all our influences from the past and the present and meshed them together with all our individual styles.
DB: What was the first concert you ever attended?
NP: That’s easy, Jazzfest. We went every year. When I was 4 years old, they gave me a kazoo and put me on stage, not miced, but I loved it. There’s a picture of me in the Jazz Heritage Museum taken that day.
DB: You haven’t even turned 30 years old yet. What do you see for yourself in the future?
NP: I’d like to progress musically, to not get in a rut. I don’t want to only do one style for the rest of my career. I love jazz and I always will, but I like to keep taking chances, and take the music to different places.
DB: Are you happy with the way your career has developed?
NP: Yes, I am. I’ve been a professional musician since I was 11. I’ve been very lucky, and hopefully things will keep going in the right direction for me. I’d also like to do some film scores, I think that’d be great.
DB: Thank you, Nicholas.
NP: Thanks for your time, Don.
Nicholas Payton’s CD SONIC TRANCE will be released by Warner Bros. Records on September 9, 2003.