New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

Producer and artist Nicknames discusses finding confidence in his musical journey

Nicknames’ most recent single, “It’s Alright,” was released on Jan. 17.
NYU Music Business senior Max Strite, who produces under the name of Nicknames. (Photo by Laura Song, courtesy of Acedia Studios)

Back when NYU senior Max Strite was still a high school student living in Washington D.C., he dreamed of becoming a professional DJ. Inspired by artists like Calvin Harris and The Chainsmokers, he set a goal to pursue a music career, and was admitted to the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development’s Music Business program. Strite now produces and performs under the stage persona Nicknames, earning hundreds of thousands of streams on Spotify. But, his journey to success wasn’t easy. 

“Producing music takes a lot of diligence, time and attention to detail,” he said.  “I was producing music for three years before I had the confidence to put anything out.”

Nicknames has released two EPs since his start in 2021. Most recently, he released a single titled “It’s Alright,” which is featured in the short film “Pennies.” 

Nicknames has had a vast amount of opportunities presented to him as both a student and a musician. His last single of 2023, “Your Room,” marked his first collaboration with NYU’s Village Records, an organization run by Music Business majors that imitates real record labels in the music industry. As an artist, Nicknames worked closely with his peers to tackle all fronts of the creation and production of the single. 

“It was also my first time working with something that imitated a real record label, so it was cool learning how to collaborate with people on the business side of things and make them happy while staying true to my vision,” said Nicknames.

Primarily a producer, Nicknames initially struggled to add lyrics and vocals to his tracks. Throughout his journey, he began working with other musicians and found it only aided his music. 

“I love collaboration,” said Nicknames. “A lot of my music is just me doing everything, which I love and I’m proud of, but my collaborators can do stuff that I can’t do. It adds more flavor and spice.” 

One of his most frequent collaborators is his roommate, Royce Fisherman. With both being musicians, collaboration between the two was only natural. Fisherman had two appearances on Nicknames’ 2022 debut EP “Oh, What A Time To Be ‘Alive,’” on the tracks “Oh, What A Time” and “Abduction 2021.” 

Another one of Nicknames’ friends and collaborators, Chunnii, also played a large role in his growth as a musician. 

“Chunii does a lot of freestyle rapping, so he inspired me to freestyle for fun with all of our friends,” Nicknames said. “That has definitely helped my songwriting process, just going with the first ideas in my head whether it’s for producing or singing.”

With all of the exciting things happening in Nicknames’ life, it seems almost impossible that he is also pursuing a full-time education. His work and his academics help keep him balanced. Since his first year at NYU, he has kept his gaze focused on his goals post-graduation. 

“I’m not looking to be signed by a record label as of right now, but I want to write records for bigger artists,” Nicknames said. “I need to figure out how to make money, of course, but also have my creative freedom and not let the industry beat me down. Just gotta work hard, say yes to things and be confident.”

Contact Alan Zhang at [email protected].

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