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Politics

Nicolas Savvides aka Nick Water Talks to TNH about His Work

February 10, 2018

LONG ISLAND CITY – Artist, rapper, activist Nicolas Savvides aka Nick Water is a multitalented, multidisciplinary artist born and raised in Queens, NY. Mr. Savvides, who recently received a Queens Council on the Arts New Works Grant, spoke with The National Herald about his life and work.

He told TNH that he found solace from his rough surroundings and his purpose in life through creating art. Growing up in the diverse Queens community, and of Cypriot-American and Colombian descent, he developed a keen sensitivity to the different cultures and energies in the city. He got his nickname “Water” for his shooting skills playing basketball at St. Demetrios, “One of my coaches shouted out ‘that kid shoots like a water fountain,’ and everybody just started calling me ‘Water’ so when I started doing art I decided to use that name.”

When asked if he always wanted to be an artist, Savvides said, “Definitely, always wanted to be an artist. I used to always draw, but I found architecture as a way to go to school and try something a little more technical, but it turned out that I always just wanted to be an artist anyway.”

Besides his artistic endeavors, Savvides also works with The ReNew Lots Artist Market which rehabilitates vacant lots to empower the community through the arts. He told TNH, “Most of the projects we do are in places that have not been used for many years so it’s really cool to do something that brings things to life and see it happen. I work for a small nonprofit so my role encompasses everything from looking over the design, making sure the construction happens on time, but also just making sure that the programming happens. It’s a cool place because it allows me to try all the different things I’m interested in with artists and drawings.”

When asked how it started, Savvides said, “I wasn’t exactly a founder, but I was with it when it started. When I got out of college my first jobs were teaching, elementary school kids, high school kids, after school programs, a lot of my work was in Brooklyn and I wanted to get to know the neighborhood more so I started attending these community meetings to just hear what was going on and my boss was at one of the meetings recruiting for this program where artists could get a studio space inside a shipping container. I guess I was kind of young at the time and I’m not from the neighborhood so she really wanted to focus on people from that neighborhood so instead of giving me the studio space she invited me to work with them and help lead the project so at the time there was nothing but I came in and I helped recruit people and do the youth program, that was how I got involved. We’ve done one and now we’re working on two new spaces. And since then I’ve met other people who do similar types of projects and I help them with their drawings.”

He added, “It’s like the most exciting thing. It’s cool because we make these spaces and then we invite people and it’s all about seeing what happens then, seeing this one place go from nothing to a place where you can have a 2,000-3,000 person party but also have small events almost every day, and that experience really helped me get better with things like event planning which I spend a lot of my outside time on, organizing my own shows, and organizing little meet-ups, and all types of shows.

“There’s this art collective, a little group that I’m a part of, we call ourselves the Funky Love Empire for the People that’s just the newest version of what I’m doing. I tried a bunch of things that failed but this one seems to be working. We’ve been on it for about a year doing 12 or 13 events in our first year so it’s pretty cool from comedy shows to jam sessions and live performances of different sorts so it’s really cool and dynamic, allowing different people to get involved. All types of programming and entertainment. It helps you start your own communities it helps you meet people who are more advanced than you and it’s a good time”

When asked about his music, Savvides said, “Music is actually one of the oldest things I was doing. Architecture came as a way to balance, if nothing else worked out, to maybe have a full time job, but growing up music always kept me thinking and writing and wanting to create something for the future or engage with multiple people and so at some point when I was working on my school stuff I realized there was no turning away from me wanting to write and share stories in a written way, too. So I decided to make some projects on that and I’ve been attached to it since and I get a crazy thrill performing in front of others. I’m not so loud as a person, so when people see me perform it’s like a whole different person. It’s cool to have that sort of engagement with people and it’s inspiring to younger people to see someone who’s able to do multiple things and be brave enough to go out and try some stuff.”

He added, “For me, at least, it’s becoming the thing I want to do all the time instead of part time, so that’s why I started applying for grants and this is basically one of the first times I’m pushing myself as an artist, a musical artist and organizer, instead of just an architect.”

When asked about any upcoming shows, Savvides said, “I have something on February 16 coming up, and I’m working on a rebranded online presence, right now it’s a mix of stuff, but I really want to make the Nick Water thing its own brand, and over the next few months, definitely going to be sharing a lot more music. I have a music video that came out recently, too.”

The video is available on Youtube: https://youtu.be/d2oKzliqcNs. More information is available online at: www.nicolas-savvides.com and at: www.artseastny.org/renewlots.

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