In the two years following the release of his third album Blissed Out in 2019, life moved in unexpected waves for the New York City artist Nic Vivid, who was still grieving the loss of both of his parents in recent years. Then the pandemic hit. “There was a number of experiences—good, bad, and strange—that all kind of hit me in this one period of my life,” says Vivid. “I was planning on making a new album after the tour, and I built a studio in a new apartment in Queens. With all of the unexpected pandemic-free time, it was like “OK universe, you tell me what kind of album to make.”
He adds, “I didn’t really care. I just wanted to be a channel for a certain kind of energy where I could do the most good and make the most inspiring statement I could.”
Working through some tracks that never made the cut on the first album Vivid began assembling a storyline on loss and the after-effects of an anxiety-ridden year living through a worldwide plague on No More Secrets, out Nov. 12.
Throughout No More Secrets, everything is clearly reflected, from “Ain’t Enough,” which Vivid originally started writing around his 2016 debut Watch It Fly, a song that resonates more today. “I kept going back to it because I knew I had something there, but it wasn’t showing itself to me until this time around,” says Vivid of the only older track on the album.
Spinning around 1970s disco and funk, and set around Vivid’s panache of falsetto, No More Secrets treks through trance pulses of “We Can Ride” and mellower moves of ‘Blackmail” and “The Sky is Falling.” First single “Hush Money (Straight to the Bribe),” explores one’s choices—for all the right and wrong reasons. “I have to make choices about who I’m gonna be and what I’m gonna be about and live with the consequence of those choices,” shares Vivid. “The ‘bribe’ in the song is the alluring shortcut to the fake, easier solution, but for me, that doesn’t work. I’ve tried.”
On “Trainers,” accompanied by lyric video playing out like a 1980s 8-bit video game, Vivid addresses how people define themselves based on extraneous elements rather than something more inherent. The first song that had a different twist from the rest for Vivid, “Trainers” ultimately dictated the vibe of the remainder of the album.
“It’s about allowing one’s self to change some aspect of their lives and start over in a different or modified direction if they so choose to,” says Vivid. “The pandemic afforded me the opportunity to sit with myself and see what I liked and what I didn’t like. I could picture myself emerging from the experience as more whole, more complete. Nothing was stopping me, and I had all the time in the world to pursue that kind of soul searching, so why not.”
Born in Buffalo, New York to a DJ father and rock n’ roll mom, Vivid moved to New York City and began working with Bill Aucoin, former manager of Billy Idol and KISS, before he started releasing some of his own music. A multi-instrumentalist, producer, and engineer, Vivid, also has some serious Jagger-swayed dance moves, and kept No More Secrets DIY, playing every instrument and self-producing the album out of his home studio.
“It felt right to make a dirty to-the-point album,” says Vivid, who mixed the album on an ’80s-era Yamaha RM2408 console. “I like to mess with gear and change caps, op-amps, and transformers to allow me to get things closer to how I want them to sound.” Another sonic influence for No More Secrets was the “concrete-ish” sounds of Vivid’s 1975 Chevy tour van engine.
“It has a certain heft and metallic muscle vibe to how it sounds,” says Vivid. “I listened to that thing humming for hours upon end every day during the tour. It really influenced how I was hearing the record and the choices I was making in the mix. To me, the album smells like white lithium grease.”
Lyrically, No More Secrets is searching for personal truth, says Vivid, even in its title, a literal nod to relieving the secrets often held deep inside. “We are only as sick as our secrets,” says Vivid. “I wanna be a happy, free, and joyous person. How do I get there? Let the secrets go, launch [them] into the wild—in my case, press them onto vinyl.”
Letting go is liberating, and on No More Secrets, Vivid is in his most vulnerable, bare state. “My favorite bands when I was a kid made me feel as if I wasn’t alone in this world,” he says. “I want to have that same kind of relationship with my audience. I believe that connecting on that deeper spiritual level can allow that to happen… I’m a believer that the more connected I am, the better my art will be.”
Mastering the album, along with Dan Millice, Vivid said he felt a hypnotic high once the album was complete, and hopes it offers the same “freeing vibe” for listeners.
“I worked really hard to make this the kind of album that can take you to that place,” says Vivid, “if that’s where you want to go.”