Kacy Hill and Nourished by Time on Taking No Days Off

Kacy Hill and Nourished by Time on Taking No Days Off

By Tobias HessMay 21, 2024

Kacy Hill and Nourished by Time (Marcus Brown) may have entered the public consciousness at very different times, but they're united by a shared independent streak.

Hill first jetted onto the scene as the serene voice floating through Travis Scott’s seminal hit, "90210." After signing on to Ye’s GOOD Music label, Hill found herself learning how to swim in the deep end, suddenly in the company of music’s biggest and brightest stars, all while figuring out how to navigate the industry and hone her craft. After getting out of her label deal, Hill went on to release a series of albums that further clarified her voice and vision. Her delivery, at once light and lilting, often mixes with lyrics that bristle with pain and self-reflection. Her newest, Bug (out on Nettwerk), continues her contemplation of contrasts as she leans into a brighter sound that evokes the natural sunny play of the album’s title.

Brown’s career, however, didn’t start with a bang but rather a simmer. He toiled in relative anonymity, first as a Berklee music student, a musician in LA and then as a relatively low-key artist in his hometown of Baltimore. His debut album Erotic Probiotic 2 turned up the temperature considerably, emerging as a favorite of critics and tastemakers alike (including PAPER, who listed the album as one of the best of 2023). Now signed to legendary indie label XL, Brown is figuring things out: where to live, how to survive as a full-time artist and how to manage a chaotic tour-life. Music, it turns out, is a strange, overwhelming affair. Fortunately, he's found camaraderie in friends like Hill who have seen the industry in all of its complicated glory and who can share some tips and tricks for the winding road ahead.

The two fast friends came together for “My Day Off” (feat. Nourished By Time) a swaying love song off Bug that features bright guitar-forward production from Jim-E Stack. Paired with a music video (directed by Hill and co-directed by Sadie Wilking) depicting the duo rolling around sunny, flower-speckled hills, the song and video are a testament to the many pleasures of daydreaming.

Two weeks after Hill’s album release, PAPER spoke with the duo, to discuss the big questions around being a working artist in 2024: navigating labels, finding the right place to put down your roots and staying true to yourself in an industry that seems stuck on prizing artifice.

Nourished by Time: Hey! It's early for you, right?

Kacy Hill: Yeah, I'm a little bit sleepy, but it's okay. I have this show tomorrow, so I'm just doing pre-show errands. Going to Guitar Center, the greatest place on Earth.

Nourished by Time: They have really nice ones in LA, though.

Kacy Hill: There’s the Pasadena Guitar Center. That's the one. It’s maybe a little less bad. What are you up to?

Nourished by Time: I'm working on this next album, but I'm gonna chill out so I can focus on my tour. I thought I would have to get my album done by now if I wanted it to come out next year, but the label was like, “Bro, you made that up. You're good.” I'm gonna have other musicians on tour with me for the first time, which is pretty exciting. One of my best friends since I was like 17 is gonna be on tour with me, which is cool.

Kacy Hill: That'll be so fun.

Nourished by Time: Or it'll just ruin our relationships forever.

Kacy Hill: That's fine: One or the other.

Nourished by Time: We've been through way worse, so it'll be really fun. Last year, when I was touring, it wasn't as fun because I was just alone. It was very much a survival mode way of performing. I have more support now, which is awesome. I just want to put on a good show. I'm also trying to figure out where I want to live, so I'm floating around the country.

Kacy Hill: Where do you feel like you're gonna plant yourself?

Nourished by Time: I don't know. I am so cheap right now. I wanna live somewhere very simple, but also I want to be in the mix. I might move to Flatbush, Brooklyn, which is kind of removed. Part of me wants to move to Tucson, Arizona. I had a really weird connection with Tucson when I was there. I played a show there last year and just had a really weird spiritual connection with it. I met these really cool people there and I like how close it is to Mexico. The radio kept picking up the Mexican radio stations when we were in Tucson, which was cool. I sort of just want to go somewhere for a year to finish this album.

Kacy Hill: It’s funny you say Tucson, because I'm from Arizona and I've been really thinking about going to Arizona for a second. You can always come back to LA. I feel like it's hard, though, because once you leave, it’s hard to get back to where you were again. You have to reacclimate, which maybe would be good for me.

Nourished by Time: But I feel like you’ve already done so much as an artist. People already know you. All of last year, I felt like, I can't fuck up once. But people have known you for a minute and respect you. I feel like you can do your artist shit and go to Antarctica or somewhere.

Kacy Hill: That's really nice. I don't feel like I have that. I feel like so few people have that ... where they can just go somewhere else and disappear.

Nourished by Time: Stevie Wonder has it.

Kacy Hill: Stevie Wonder has it and then Bon Iver has it. Otherwise, you do PAPER mag interviews to keep things going.

Nourished by Time: That's kinda like the streaming thing. You're constantly on the hamster wheel. You take a break and your monthly listeners go down, so you gotta feed it constantly. It depends on how much you care about that shit though.

Kacy Hill: It's hard not to.

Nourished by Time: It’s almost impossible not to when you're in the system. I wish we would all say “fuck it” for a whole year and not put out shit.

Kacy Hill: Or not put it out on streaming, or not do social media. I don't know if that'll ever happen, but it would be beautiful. I guess you can always just fuck off and go somewhere else and not care. But you probably won't make money.

Nourished by Time: I was gonna ask you, because I'm in this weird situation. I just got signed and I really don’t know where I want to go. I don't know if I have to be in New York or LA. Part of me just wants to move to Chicago or San Francisco, or Tucson, and just pop into New York and LA when I need to. We talked about this at the [music video] shoot [for “My Day Off”]. I don't know how much I wanna invest into this system. I want to have my own shit set up so when all this shit is over, I at least have a house. I want real life things. But also at the same time, I wanna shoot for the stars. I don't wanna limit myself.

Kacy Hill: But I think the music you make is so good and so true to yourself. I don't think you could ever fully sell out or make something that isn't true to you. However you reach your goals, you'll get there because you've done things that feel good. I don't see you as someone that would ever do something for money. We all do shit because this is the job, but I feel like your music will always be real.

Nourished by Time: I appreciate you saying that. That's my main focus: the music.

Kacy Hill: Yeah. But I think we should move to Arizona. [laughs]

Nourished by Time: For a year, that'd be fire.

Kacy Hill: Wait, I also wanna ask you about not working with anyone else. I work alone on lyrics, recording my vocals and arranging songs and stuff, but I love working with people. I really like collaborating. Do you ever get lonely? Like do you ever just get so in your head?

Nourished by Time: I see my career as having phases. I don't think I'm going to work alone for much longer. A lot of the music from Erotic Probiotic was written in 2021, and I just wanted to get that shit out. A lot of music from Catching Chickens was from 2021-2022. I wrote a lot of music in a four to five year timespan. I think there's gonna come a point where I become a caricature of myself or keep repeating the same shit, and I don't wanna do that. But, to be honest, I can be a control freak, honestly, and it's also easier for me to just do things myself. I already know what I want and I already know how to do it, so I might as well just do it.

Kacy Hill: We were talking about being a control freaks on the shoot.

Nourished by Time: I was gonna say, you directed the whole video. [On the shoot, I was like], It looks exactly like the vision board. It's cool to see other people do it.

Kacy Hill: It’s a control freak thing, isn't it? I was literally just texting my manager this week because I was feeling so burnt out. He was like, “You have to let me do stuff.”

Nourished by Time: It's probably something fucked up inside of us. [laughs]

Kacy Hill: That's some trauma to unpack. But it's yielded positive results for the most part, I think.

Nourished by Time: I think it's just the fear of going through that process. I've tried to write with best friends, and it was not a vibe. People's ego really gets into it. I've written a lot of music, and I want to write with other people who have written a lot of music. I feel like a lot of musicians think, Oh, I know how to play guitar. So that means I'll be able to write a song. No, you gotta actually write a bunch of songs. I was trash when I started. My first 150 were not very good.

Kacy Hill: Something I respect about you is that you've been doing it for a long time. I respect when people don't pop out of the gate, and they're like, “Woohoo!” I'm saying this as someone who also literally got signed off the second song I wrote. But that's crazy, cause I was not ready to do that.

Nourished by Time: That’s crazy. You should write a movie.

Kacy Hill: Yeah, I need to write a book or something.

Nourished by Time: For me, I didn't think it was gonna ever happen. I thought I was going to be like 50 and someone was gonna find some shit that I did and be like, “Okay, that was cool.” That's why I'm so fucked up right now, because I'm like, Damn people are treating me so different than they were like two years ago. It's just so funny. But for you, you’ve had time in the market, time in the system, time in the industry. But also, at the same time, you got signed at a time when everything was changing and no one knew what the fuck was going on, and they were all acting like they did. They were just being really superficial. I'm really happy that you worked your way out of it, but still have this name from being associated with the best music from that era. Like when you hit me up, I instantly was like, “Oh shit, yeah.” I remember Rodeo being dope. And I remember that era of GOOD Music being really cool.

I also know that the industry is really weird. And I can't imagine what it was like as a young woman at that time, especially if you're trying to figure yourself out as an artist. But it’s a wild tradeoff to think about. It's like it's either you're a teenager and you don't know what the fuck you're doing, or you're 30 in a basement.

Kacy Hill: But that's the gift of getting older. When I was making music back then I didn’t know what I was doing. I feel like my music wasn't great, and I wrote so many songs that were so bad. My first album sounds like the first album of someone who's just learning. But I feel like with each album, I'm like, Okay, cool. I'm learning more, and I'm getting better. But it takes so much time to be good at something. I feel like it takes so much time to get good at saying something.

Nourished by Time: And that's the problem: you were an artist and they were just trying to make money. Art and commerce really don't mix, especially not now. But at the same time, I'm of the belief that all you need is just one great album to change everything.

Photography: Chuck Grant, Lauren Davis