Sitting down with local musician Nick Eng over coffee seemed more like sitting across from a 1960s Liverpool transplant than it did sitting across from a pre-journalism major who writes original music in his spare time.
The singer-songwriter embodies what the British invasion of the 1960s would look like in the 21st century, complete with the iconic mop-top haircut and a pair of sideburns that no 19-year-old should be capable of growing.
The musical spirit of ’60s and early ’70s British rock is everywhere in Eng’s music, but it is the influence of the Beatles’ earliest records that comes through most prevalently.
“I would say that my music has a classic sound, but with a few new elements,” said Eng. “It is music that is reminiscent of the ’60s and ’70s, but with a clean production twist and a little more bite.”
In some ways, Eng’s music sounds more apropos for the Ed Sullivan sound stage than places like Rockbar Theater in downtown Reno, where Eng played in July. He endeavors to capture the atmosphere of the Beatles, but does so with some doo-wop-inspired moments and a little Best Coast-esque flair.
Eng’s loyalty to the 1960s British rock and pop aesthetic treads the line of being anachronistic in the modern age, where synth pop reigns supreme. But it is by that same token that Eng is such a standout act in 2016. His faithfulness to the style offers a welcome respite to the highly processed, synth-heavy trend that has dominated modern pop music as of late.
Even while using synthesized drums and other modern technologies, Eng has maintained the character of 1960s musicianship, but with a 21st-century polish on it.
While he has only been seriously performing his music for about a year, in that time he has already played multiple shows and released a digital album of nine original tracks on Bandcamp. The eponymously titled album, which dropped this past January, explores the familiar topic of love with a bit of 1960s sentimentality and a classic feel.
Currently, Eng is also working on a new EP, titled Real, Too Real. It will contain five new songs and is set to be released on Bandcamp and YouTube on Oct. 5. He’s also preparing for a show at The Jungle coffeehouse, where he will showcase songs from both his album and EP, merging live guitar and vocals with pre-recorded and synthesized tracks.
Even in the short time that Eng has been performing around town, he has made a definite mark on the Reno music scene—one that shows in his nomination as a candidate in the Reno Forte Awards, an awards show whose mission is to recognize a broad range of Reno’s performing artists. Fans can go online to vote for their favorite candidates in all of the categories on the Forte Awards website before the awards show, which is set for Nov. 3.