Nikos Kilcher debuts album that was 20 years in the making

  • Photo courtesy Nikos Kilcher Nikos Kilcher plays at an unknown date in Homer. His debut album, ‘Pilgrim,’ is being released this week.
  • Photo courtesy Nikos Kilcher Nikos Kilcher’s debut album, the cover art of which is shown here, was released Thursday, July 27, 2017 in Homer, Alaska.

As a singer-songwriter, Nikos Kilcher said he always wants his songs to hit the streets in tuxedos, not rags.

“You want your songs to be so perfect, because they’re like your children,” he said.

Many of his songs’ debut outfits will be revealed this week in a CD release concert showcasing his first album, “Pilgrim.”

Learning to let go and not be such a perfectionist about the compositions was one of the biggest challenges Kilcher said he faced when producing his inaugural album. The 10-track CD is hitting iTunes and certain stores in Homer on Thursday, and is a guitar-forward, folk-acoustic album with a few other elements thrown in. Kilcher said he learned through the last 12 years of performing solo in bars and other settings that you can’t just be a guy with a guitar, so he tried to keep his album versatile. There’s even a bit of beatboxing involved.

“It’s kind of just been the culmination of 20 years of song writing and kind of my favorites,” he said. “And finally getting it all together and producing a product.”

“Pilgrim” drew inspiration from Kilcher’s travels to places like India, which he visited several times in his late teens and 20s. As a wildland firefighter, he works grueling hours in the summer and subsequently has winters off to dedicate to music and travel. His job also inspired his music, in a way. Seeing the destruction to lives caused by wildfires serves as a good reminder of what really matters and to maybe take smaller things less seriously, Kilcher said.

Some of his biggest inspirations, though, come from the Kilcher family, well-known for being musically inclined. His dad, Atz, is “the most prolific song writer” he knows, and what he knows about stage presence and being a gracious performer comes from his older brother, Atz Lee. Watching his sister, Jewel, be “a rock star” while he was in middle school kept his musical roots at the forefront of his mind, Kilcher said. The album 20 years in the making finally came to fruition when Kilcher’s wife, Kate, bought him a day session in a San Diego recording studio for Christmas. After using that time to get a few of the songs down, the ball just kept rolling from there, he said. And he’s not stopping here. He’s “excited to put a period” on “Pilgrim,” which he said spurred him to write even more songs. He’s already started on compositions for a future album.

“I’d love to do a tour of the West Coast,” Kilcher said of the album’s completion.

The community of Homer, though, will always have special meaning when it comes to Kilcher’s music. He credited that community with being yet another influence on his music, as well as shaping him as an artist overall.

“I’ve lived here most of my life and (have) been playing here,” Kilcher said. “So people are excited about it (the album). It feels like this has been a long time coming.”

The album release concert will be held from 7-9 p.m. Thursday at the Bunnell Street Arts Center in Old Town Homer. There’s no cover fee to get in, though donations will be accepted and CDs will be available for purchase. Attendees can also enjoy a food spread including venison from deer Kilcher harvested himself, he said.

Albums will be sold at The Bagel Shop and Spit Tobacco in Homer. For more information or to listen to one of the songs from “Pilgrim,” visit nikoskilcher.com.

Reach Megan Pacer at megan.pacer@homernews.com.

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