Interview with Niic the Singing Dog - New album, Escape, on the way!
With a new album on the way, I had an opportunity to speak with a furry musician who has been creating musical content for the furry fandom for nearly a decade. Below is an interview I had with NIIC the Singing Dog, and his upcoming collection.
Thank you for interviewing with us! Who are you and what do you do? Describe yourself in a few sentences.
Hey hey! My name is Kyle McCarthy, but I'm wayyy better know as NIIC, or NIIC the Singing Dog. I am a furry singer-songwriter-producer from New York City, and my genre is a pop-hybrid of electronic and folk. I write and perform songs, collaborate with other awesome furry artists, and make my own album art and photography when I can!
When did you start having an interest in making music, and what/who gave you the inspiration to start releasing it?
I've always loved to make music. Since I was like six or whenever, I would hate how a song that I liked would go away. I was a kid and it was the 90s, so there weren't phones or YouTube or MP3 players. I couldn't just stream a song immediately or have a collection of CDs around. So I would figure out as many songs as I could and I would try playing them on an electric piano and try singing them. This way I could keep them around longer than the radio or a movie. This concept would just keep on rolling onward in my life. I'd pick up a guitar, play sax in marching band, and sing in drama club. I'd eventually go to University of the Arts in Philadelphia as a music composer. The idea just kept on evolving. It flipped from liking songs I heard and trying to make them eternal, to making songs of my own and making those eternal.
Prior to NIIC while at University, I was working on musicals. I liked the musical route because I could have my own characters and stories ALONG with music; so it was the whole package! I would make worlds and characters and songs for those worlds and characters. Then I would get college mates together to sing and play instruments and record the songs, it was a lot of fun. Right before I moved up to NYC and started NIIC, I worked at a panini-coffee shop and they let me film my puppets in there – I had a web musical show called Sebastian the Singing Cockroach. He's actually NIIC 1.0 haha. The singing dog used to be a cockroach. But it was a lot of work and not in a way that I felt fulfilled. A lot of fidgeting around with iMovie and the graphics/film editing part.
By the time I moved up to NYC, I was taking internship and gig leads from my professors' contacts and I was working in music studios while pulling two restaurant jobs. I was overworked, underpaid, and when I actually WAS doing music it wasn't even MY music, it was other peoples'. That was not for me. Probably a month or two before this revelation, I was scrolling on the internet and started seeing furries and art here and there. I wasn't active but I was always scrolling through stuff.
When I finally was at my peak of frustration with my life, I said to hell with it all and I just combined the coolest strangest things in my life at the time: my desire to do music my way; my arsenal of music equipment, education, and contacts; and the new element: furries! But different than before, I wouldn't figure out every dimension of this character right off the bat. I wasn't going to solve the meaning of life or map out the whole universe. This character would develop over time, he'd grow and shape as his world grew and shaped. At the start, my NIIC character would be some... um dog... green? sure! That... um, yeah... sings electronic pop songs, and um... stuff! Yeah!
What made you introduce the furry element to what you do? Any special moments with the fandom, a special connection, or is it just something that interested you?
NIIC— and I guess in this context the NIIC we're talking about is really at his core. The Music OF NIIC and all the songs I make for him. NIIC from the get-go was furry, so from the start this was non-negotiable. The actual idea that inspired me to really push forward with this furry character came in my initial research.
Yes, I was SUCH A NERD about all of this. I studied furries like it was my graduate dissertation. Before I pushed the button on him in March 2013, I spent that WHOLE winter surfing, seeing everyone's fursonas, looking at artists' work, trying to find musicians in the fandom too. Anything and everything I could absorb to give me a clear of idea of what I was getting into as NIIC as much as possible.
However, finding MUSICIANS was so difficult, especially at the time in 2013. The musicians I did find were DJs, a majority of their content - as awesome as it was - were EDM song remixes, a minority of the DJs actually having original EDM songs. These songs weren't very furry either. Other musicians I was looking at in the fandom were also skilled, but something I couldn't seem to find in all of them. Music about furry topics and things. I managed to find a furry musician here or there with actually a furry song or two, but they felt more novelty or just not something I would jam out to.
I don't mean to sound condescending because this was just my opinion, but this shaped the idea that would govern NIIC. I had an idea that I could be the one to add to the thin collection of furry songs for the fandom – by writing epic furry lyrics of my own with high-notch music backing them. This idea really sparked me to push NIIC as much as I could, the idea that I could contribute a ton to Furry Pride in the songs that we were all listening to.
Do you have any influences in mind, favorite artists, that help you develop your style?
My influences have changed as NIIC has become more defined. In the beginning, I needed to manifest him as this pop icon entity in my head: Ke$ha, Britney, and Karmin were my go-tos. The go-big or go-homes. Overtime, I was able to focus more on the music as I solidified my imagination of his character, and I started diving into inspirations like AJR, Imagine Dragons, Madeon, and Haelstorm. I'm still in the latter phase, to be honest haha. In all of my inspirations, no matter at which point in time, have always been artists who are characters themselves – larger-than-life musicians who have taken on an augmented ‘sona of their own and perpetuated it into epic songs!
I heard that you have a new album in the works! Can you tell us anything about it?
ESCAPE is NIIC's long awaited next album! Another entourage of high-energy electro-pop, these songs will cut to your core like an unapologetic buzz-saw! An ode to love, a suffocated cry for help, an existential crisis, a tribute to a bodega cat... this album is one giant tribute to the archangel and the monstrosity in all of us. Because the beast in us has been awakened, and instinct will save and will ruin you here. And if you don't unleash yourself from it all now, there may never be an escape! Those who supported the album during the Kickstarter can watch the songs unfold in their final phases of production on private Youtube livestream! Updates and other announcements are coming soon, too!
Any messages you want to send to people who read this, and anything you want to say about the community as a whole?
The Furry fandom is the purest Pandora's Box you could ever find. The possibilities are endless, the adventures are countless, the friends and relationships you'll make are as many as you're willing to reach out for. I have spent years working to get my life back together and even stronger, to bring NIIC back out from the shadows and even transcend with him father than I ever have before.
In my long and brutal search to find how I can truly move forward with myself and NIIC, and discovering what more I can contribute to the fandom, I have found my answer simply by looking at the fandom itself and everything it is. This is a place where anything and everything happens, and depending on the lens we use it can all look bleak and toxic, or it can be seen as a community of acceptable, support and love.
The only difference is our perception and what love we put into the fandom. And in a realm where we can be anything, I'd rather be that support and love. We all should be. It is up to us to take care of this fandom, and not just be reactive to it. It is not something we experience, it is an actively evolving story that we are all writing. And it is up to us to make this realm of ours the greatest story of our lives!