By Bre Cura and Emily Herbein
Philly bred and New York based artist Nick Cianci makes music for the masses. Relatable, candid and energetic in all of the right ways, Cianci’s discography reflects the genuine human experience. His newest release ‘Surrounded by Poets’ kicks you in the face (pun intended) with instrumentals that swell in a certain 90’s grunge-pop/singer songwriter kind of way that Cianci has mastered. Emily and I decided to start this series in which we dive into new music, dissect it, and then circle back with the artist to see if we have somehow tuned into their intentions.
First listening, this feel-good song could be played in any classic coming of age movie, but takes a turn about midway through as it blossoms into the epitome of what modern bedroom pop should be. This song is the work of a dude in his room with a lot of thoughts, and a lot of talent.
Conspicuous lyrics like, “my apathy just blossoms every time they coin a phrase”, “I repeatedly offend my heart and axe my soul like wood”, and “Now the beggars on the L can smell my worth, as I pretend like I’m the one who’s cursed”, show Cianci’s direct approach in craft.
“I’m surrounded by poets, they kick me in the face. And my apathy just blossoms every time they coin a phrase.”
Emily: “I think it’s about competition? Someone is always writing better than me, so it’s hard maybe?“
Bre: “The first two verses right away gave me the vibe that he’s not concerned about the products of his environment, and hes just focusing on himself. (Maybe too much of his own critic, but we’ll touch on that in a bit).“
Emily: “It’s either about caring too much, or caring too little.“
“And now the cops are taking over Bleecker Street, and I could not care less if it were me.”
Bre: “So I did cheat and look up what Bleecker Street is, and the internet has told me its a street in New York that connects a lot of music venues and such. So maybe if the cops are there, it’s really busy, and he’s saying he couldn’t care less if it were him playing the shows?“
Emily: “I want to know when he wrote this, and if it’s quarantine related. That to me could be taken as venues being busy, or closed. I have a feeling he didn’t write it in the past few weeks, but I think this song could be two parallel themes, mainly caring vs. not caring at all. I don’t think my origional thoughts of competition apply anymore.“
Bre: “Competition with one’s self maybe? “
Emily: “Yo, competition with your own expectations vs. what you are producing?“
“I really let myself down, I’d get it right if I could. But I repeatedly offend my heart and axe my soul like wood. Now the beggars on the L can smell my worth, and I pretend like I’m the one who’s cursed.”
Bre: “This kind of strikes me like he’s constantly wearing his heart on his sleeve, putting his feelings out there. And by doing so he’s betraying himself by falling short due to unrealistic expectations. Maybe pointing out that he causes a lot of his own problems? We’re probably both so wrong and this song is gonna be about a time he went to get Chik-fil-a or something.“
Emily: “This is why lyrics are so cool. We all get such different stuff from them, and yet they still work together. I really want to know what its about.“
Talking about the meaning of the song as a whole, Emily and I wondered whether it might be a reflection of the constant battle to be true to yourself in an industry saturated with talent. Or maybe the struggles of wearing your heart on your sleeve, and still coming up short.
We asked Nick to fill us in on a bit of the back story for ‘Surrounded by Poets‘, and here is what he had to say!
Nick: “I think you guys hit a bunch of the themes I was going for! Really resonated with the bit about falling short of unrealistic expectations and getting in your own way— or as you said ‘causing a lot of your own problems.’
From a wide lens, this song is about interrogating self-pity against the backdrop of a city that couldn’t care less. I think I started writing this song a little less than a year ago. I was spending too much time holed up in my apartment, tending to my ego and paying no mind to the real life going on a couple stories below. So I wrote this song to purge my self-pity, kick myself in the ass, and try to be a better member of my community
I thought the image of being ‘surrounded by poets’ was a funny, melodramatic way to describe a feeling of inferiority in the arts. Like taking these great artists whose work I admire and making them out to be like school bullies or something. In reality, I have nothing against these people—in fact I look up to them, but when you put so much pressure on yourself it’s easy to fall into a pit of self-pity and start to resent everything. Before long, you start to realize that the only thing holding you back is yourself, and that’s what the song is about.”
Stream ‘Surrounded by Poets’ here!