In my former life as a promoter from 2000 to 2006, one of its great joys was meeting so many richly talented and interesting people. In the process of staging shows for them, some became friends. Most, however, were the proverbial ships in the night, lighting up my life briefly on one stop on a tour - artists I would continue to follow, but from whom I never heard a word again unless staging another show somewhere down the line. One such musician was Nick Talbot, recording for the mainly electronica-oriented label, Warp, under the name Gravenhurst.
Nick played a show for us on the same bill as a one-off appearance from the reclusive Creation/4AD artist, Heidi Berry, and a third act I cannot recall as I write. It was one of our more delicate, introspective bills, and Nick played a beautiful set of his gorgeous, dark music. After originally stating upon arriving in Brighton that he would prefer to stay in a hotel or B&B, Nick later changed his mind and, like so many musicians before him, lodged with Susan and I. We found him utterly charming, highly intelligent, nerdy and sweet in his beige 'Rupert Bear' duffle coat. He made an impression, and we took to him instantly. However briefly, it was a real pleasure to meet Nick and spend a little time in his company, as both a working musician and a human being.
Nick passed away last week, aged just 37. The cause of death has yet to be revealed, and may not be. However Nick's life came to an end, it has had an impact on us. It appears that his career was poised to ramp up just a notch with the reissue of two albums and recent shows in Italy. He was tweeting up until December 1st, seemingly with a degree of anticipation at what lay ahead. But that his death was so sudden cannot help but sew the seeds of doubt in me that all was well with Nick. I do not wish to read between lines that may not even exist, but it just feels ominous, that perhaps Nick passed by his own hand. When I broke the news to Susan, without any prompting she immediately raised that possibility. There just seemed a fragility in Nick when we met him, a deep-rooted melancholy that coloured his dramatic music. This said, he was also very witty and sharp, with a lovely sense of humour.
I remain disturbed about Nick's death, just as I do to this day about the impossibly lovely, but deeply troubled Thomas Hansen, a beautiful and eccentric Norwegian songwriter I witnessed experience an onstage meltdown opening for Lambchop. He could barely string a sentence together, and had to have help from a roadie in forming a chord on his guitar, before stopping mid-song, saying, "I'm sorry...I can't do this," then walking off to a bewildered audience. It was heartbreaking to be party to, but what I believe was his first UK show after that was for us in Brighton, whereupon he apologized onstage and then delivered an incredible set of his wonderful music. We became pals very quickly, but then he was gone, aged just 31. I miss him, and I miss his music.
In the truest sense of the word Thomas was not a friend: our worlds collided and overlapped for a brief period, during which there was mutual respect and genuine warmth. Even less could be said of my brief encounter with Nick Talbot, but everyone has people that enter and exit their lives when the course of the meetings are meant to end, and Nick would be one who fleetingly crossed my path, leaving happy memories in his wake.
Rest in peace, Nick. Your music meant a lot to a great many, as did you.