Patrick Lawrence captures the perfect bubble in ‘Nostalgic For Now’ where family, love and the creative journey are one and the same
Meet Patrick Lawrence, the folk musician and doctor behind “Nostalgic For Now.“
Amidst the hustle of moving and gearing up for a new hospital job, Patrick shares the cozy chaos of his life, including his eight-week-old son who doubles as his unofficial roadie.
In our chat, Patrick dives into the heartfelt process of recording, touching on collaborations and the therapeutic power of music, especially in navigating burnout.
With a laid-back candour, he unveils the story behind his musical “comeback” and the subtle influence of his screamo roots. Teasing an acoustic version of the EP and new originals in 2024, Patrick’s joy is found in the simple moments of family life, echoing the warmth of his track, “These Are the Good Old Days.”
Happy: What are you up to today?
Patrick: The last couple of weeks have been a whirlwind – moving from Sydney to Brisbane with a newborn has been a bit of an adventure. It’s been a busy time but we’re mostly settled in and I start my new hospital job on Monday. I’ve currently got my eight-week old son (and unofficial roadie) strapped to my chest and am setting up my studio in hopes of doing some recording soon!
I also do weekly covers of popular songs on YouTube so I’ll spend an hour or so later editing and uploading next week’s cover (White Flag by Dido, check it out on YouTube).
Happy: What does a typical day look like when recording tracks on Nostalgic for Now?
Patrick: The recording process was more of a slow graze than a set block of studio time – each part was recorded in my home studio when I had the time in evenings and on weekends. I also collaborated with musicians from around the world who brought their own idea and made the songs sound much richer.
But for the most part, it was a solo album and a labour of love. I set up a production and recording plan in Notion and slowly chipped away at it – I love creating lists and ticking things off of lists, so that approached worked well for me. Watching and hearing it all come together and improve was such a fantastic experience.
Happy: The EP touches on the idea of burnout. Why is music a particularly useful tool/medium in processing these feelings?
Patrick: I think that music is particularly helpful for processing difficult experiences because it allows you to say something in a way that you couldn’t in normal conversation. Lyrics provide an opportunity to capture feelings concisely, while the underlying music allows for a deeper emotional expression.
I find that writing songs about personal issues helps me to understand problem more easily and better articulate what is wrong. Music – both playing and listening – also has direct physical and mental health benefits, like releasing feel-good hormones such as oxytocin and dopamine. I’ve written more about this elsewhere (link) and it’s interesting to consider that music can have such direct health effects!
Happy: Nostalgic for Now offers moments of both sadness and optimism. How did you go about striking this tonal balance?
Patrick: It was an easy balance to strike because it was real! Each of the tracks is about experiences or challenges I’ve faced so overall it’s an EP about life. Life is such a mix of the good and the bad so I particularly enjoy writing bittersweet songs that capture both of these feelings.
Also, whenever I write a purely sad song my wife somehow convinces me to add a glimmer of hope at the end so that I don’t end them on a bad note!
Happy: The EP marks your return after a years-long hiatus from music. Was there a certain level of pressure in making a “comeback”, or were you just eager to get the tunes out there?
Patrick: It was totally chill! I returned to music after so much time in medicine because I wrote Forever Home for my wife and played it at our wedding. It went down so well and that really fuelled the fire to get back into music seriously. I think it was so chill because I kept the pressure off and focused on enjoying the process.
I started working on these songs in December 2022 and gave myself a year to remember how to write, produce and record after so much time away. There was that feeling of really wanting to do justice to the songs that I’d written so I went through so many different versions of each recording to try to get to the root of the songs and what they meant to me.
Happy: Your early music career involved a stint in a screamo band. Are there any techniques, tools, or stylings that you drew from the genre for Nostalgic for Now?
Patrick: That was such a formative period for me – I was 16, had just started playing guitar and joined this screamo band as a vocalist. It was during that time where my overall approach to songwriting first started to percolate, and I learned a lot about tonality and dynamics from that style of music. In my track “These Are the Good Old Days” the verses are really quiet and the choruses get really big and emotive – that’s definitely a nod to some of the heavier artists I was listening to during my screamo phase.
Happy: Alongside your music career, you also work as a doctor. Are there any parallels between the two fields that people might find surprising?
Patrick: I see doctors as incredibly detail-oriented people – always focusing on small details and striving for perfection. I’m constantly pleasantly surprised that so many musicians also display this characteristic – seemingly simple songs often were the product of so much hard work and hyper-focus on small things that most listeners won’t even notice!
Happy: Anything else exciting on the horizon that you can tease for us?
Patrick: 2024 is going to be a big year – I’m working on an acoustic reimagining of Nostalgic for Now which I’m hoping to get out in a couple of months. I’ve also got a few new originals in the works!
Happy: What makes you happy?
Patrick: Right now I’m definitely in the family bubble. Spending time with my wife, son and dog is what I really love doing – slow days with morning coffee together, going on walks and generally feeling close to my family. It’s that happiness that’s captured in my track “These Are the Good Old Days”.
From a music perspective I really enjoy writing songs that elicit real emotion, and finding ways to record them in a way that captures that emotion. It’s a great feeling to listen to a track in the studio and finally feel the chills that I felt when I first wrote the song!