Nicholas Freiman has been around music his entire life- his mother was an opera singer and met his father, who was a director, at the Amato Opera house in lower Manhattan. He performed there as a young child and began his life as a performer, singer, and actor, although he did not know it at the time. He wrote songs in a high school band, performed at school musicals, and began singing at open mic events around New York since he was just 16 years old. In the beginning, he performed mostly acoustic shows, under the stage name Nick Abushady (Abushady is a family name with Egyptian origins and ties to a sort of secret society of scientists that his Great Grandfather was a part of). “I was tripping acid in college and said ‘Nick Abushady’ out loud and remember just being like, ‘Woah.’” Most of his fans referred to him as just Abushady, and as his music evolved more towards hip hop he dropped the "Nick" altogether.
Abushady eventually started college at the State University of New York (SUNY) at Oneonta where he would major in Music Industry with a minor in Audio Productions. His sophomore year he enrolled in a Rock Combo class where all the students were formed into bands that would eventually perform a live set as their final project. Before the class started, he recognized a guitarist that he met at the school’s funk band auditions and joined their group rather than being randomly assigned by the teacher. Realizing they needed a name for their new band, the group asked, “What are two things we all love?” “Marijuana and Iguanas were the two things we decided, and I was just like, ‘The Mariguanas’ and that was it.”
Once the class ended, The Mariguanas went their separate ways and Abushady kept pursuing his solo career. As time passed, however, he began to realize that he missed being a part of a group and wanted to join a band. He thought to himself “Shit, I have this whole band that I haven’t even reached out to” and contacted the other members from The Mariguanas. Abushady and four others (the class group originally had 8 members, but not everyone continued) met up and wrote an entire song in their first meeting! They knew they had something special.
The Mariguanas performed at their first gig at one of Abushady’s personal shows when he decided to bring out the band for the last half of his set. They only had three songs at the time, but the performance was a hit. Fortunately, the campus was kind of looking for a new band and they were able to grow their fanbase really quickly. The Mariguanas performed at tons of house shows and venues around town before recording their first album in the recording studios at SUNY Oneonta. They were constantly reaching out to venues and other artists in the area to look for gigs, and eventually had the opportunity to open for Matisyahu (you may know him from his song “One Day”) through a friend who worked at one of the venues.
“Since graduation, we aren’t all in the same location which has definitely made things harder.” The Mariguanas are performing about a show a month right now, sometimes with only one or two rehearsals due to the difficulty in getting everyone together. They recently began working with a manager that they found through a Facebook group that has some exciting plans for the group. Once they put the final touches on their current project (also being recorded at the SUNY Oneonta studios) they are planning a tour with the help of their manager.
In 2018, Abushady wanted to challenge himself so he started the #GetFamousChallenge. His goal? To put out a song a week that he personally wrote, produced, mixed, and mastered. “I knew that it would help me grow and be a good place to start.” The songs are organized into 4 tapes with 13 tracks each, named The Abushady Tapes Volumes 1-4. Volumes 1, 2, and 3 are available now on all streaming services with Volume 4 coming soon. While becoming famous would have been a nice side effect, that was never the true goal. "It was ironic calling it the get famous challenge because my movement isn't about the fame and fortune. It's a much bigger message of spreading peace and unity, coming together as a loving, building, intelligent evolving human race, ridding of the evils of the world, cleansing ourselves and the planet, and becoming our best versions."
I asked Abushady about the hardest parts of his journey, which he said is “easily making a living while pursuing the music career.” Unfortunately, this is a story I hear far too often. Abushady has done freelance work on sites like Upwork.com but feels that the market heavily undervalues skills such as mixing and mastering songs. “It’s really barely worth it to mix and master a song for $15-$20.” Once, he had someone reach out to him to sing a song that they had written. He received a flat payment for the service and wishes he could find more opportunities like that. Other ways he is trying to make a living include charging hourly for production, mixing, and mastering as well as renting out his home studio by the hour. Eventually, he wants to make a digital flyer that outlines all of his services and hopes that spreading it on social media will help him bring in some income in the future.
"After putting out music for the past 5 years I have some solid experience and a lot of good advice to other artists reading this. Take advantage of social media. This is where the attention is at right now. Be posting consistent content on the feeds and stories, sharing and reposting on Twitter, running ads on Facebook and Instagram, putting song covers and knowledge and music videos on YouTube, etc. The idea is to go consistently hard across all platforms and improve as you go along. Invest time and money into yourself and focus. You need to focus and implement positive thinking, mindfulness, and patience to manifest anything in this world. Speak from your heart, express yourself, create because you enjoy it and because you have a passion for it. Don’t force anything. Take your time, build a strong foundation and brand and execute your plan."
On February 17 he dropped "Phantom" which will be included on his upcoming Abushady Tapes Vol. 4.
Abushady is set to release the final project of his #GetFamousChallenge very soon. Be on the lookout for The Abushady Tapes Vol. 4, and check out some of the singles available now on SoundCloud.
The Mariguanas are also planning a tour, so stay tuned for more information on dates and locations!
Artists: Kid Cudi, Childish Gambino, Frank Ocean, Kanye West, Raury
Album: Kid Cudi- Man on the Moon End of Day
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