“I moved to Paris to pursue my own music as a composer,” says San Diego singer-guitarist Nick Norton (a Park Tradition, Honest Iago), who last year was awarded a scholarship by the European American Musical Alliance to study composition at the Ecole Normale de Musique in France. “I got to experience adventures like having to sleep outside a train station, in pouring rain, in a little town in northern France, where Radiohead and Sigur Rós had played, until after the last train back to Paris, where my apartment was.”
Improved public transport and budget accommodations were among the perks behind his relocation to London. “The modern classical music scene here is unbelievable. Concerts of music by Messiaen, Xenakis, and many lesser-known composers of the 20th Century and today are extremely well attended. There’s an attitude that truly progressive music is a worthwhile thing to spend time on. People [in London] tend to take ‘art music’ — though I hate that term — to be more important than we do at home.
“Part of that is the price of tickets. Seeing the L.A. Philharmonic starts at $50, while the London Symphony Orchestra has concerts for five bucks. That’s why I moved here.”
Booming nu-classical aside, Norton reports, “The British music industry doesn’t seem all that different from America, but the average Brit seems to have less knowledge of underground bands. I think my view might be a bit skewed being in London, where commercialism seems to have run rampant, but the best local scenes here are in the small towns.”
Norton is returning soon to San Diego, having made the most of his low-budget overseas adventures. “I once flew to Iceland, on a whim, right after their economy crashed, because I knew that would be the only time I could afford it. I ended up riding a horse through a lava field. That was pretty surreal.”