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FRED NIZNIK’S MODERN RENAISSANCE

By: Mark Mitchell



For all of those out there who believe that in these modern times, romance is a lost art, here is a man who should rekindle your faith. Fred Niznik’s “The Renaissance LP” is ten songs filled with well-written, intricately layered songs about the seemingly lost art of love.

The album opens with “Emotional Roller Coaster,” a song about persistence, about being knocked down by the girl you are in love with, and the struggle to either win back her heart, and to simply forget her. “I’m running headfirst into doors that just cannot be opened/But I keep going” is the line in the song that most shows the persistence of the singer to make right what has gone wrong in this relationship. The song truly lives up to the title in that it is a roller coaster, in that it starts off with an acoustic guitar, then after the first verse, it turns up a notch, adding drum fills and more guitars, then goes back down to just the acoustic guitar and vocal.

“Free Again” is a song about freeing yourself from the confines of a life that is going nowhere, by quitting your maligned job, leaving your pain-in-the-ass girlfriend, and chasing after the life you want to live. “No 9 to 5/No suit, no tie/So now I am free again/Or at least so, for a while.” This lyric embodies the middle finger in the air, spit in your face attitude of punk, but with a melody so pretty, it sounds like something that could have been written had Johnny Rotten met up with Nick Drake instead of Steve Jones and Paul Cook.

The song for all the timid guys out there is “Your Number.” It’s the story of a young man who ha the confidence in himself to approach an older woman, ask her for her number, then explain why she’d be satisfied if she went to bed with him. If you are at a bar with a few in you, and this song was playing, it would be inspiration enough to get up and go talk to the girl you’ve been eyeing up since you got in there. The simplicity of the line “Can I get your number? /I know that you’re older/But age is just a number,” is the power of it. It shows that you don’t have to be a Kerouac or a Hemmingway to convince a girl that you are worthy.

“My Sweet Lady” is the song on the album that has the most improvisational feel. It starts out being a traditional sounding ballad about the girl the singer loves, then it turns into free-form jazz, where the musicians let the instruments determine which notes will be played, and can only hope to hold on and enjoy the ride.

The best song on the album is “I Need You More,” partly because of the heartbreaking piano chords, which echo Thelonious Monk or Bill Evans, and partly because you can tell in Fred’s voice that he means every word he is singing. But mostly because it is an extremely mature love song, as is evident in the opening line, “I lie there staring at the lines in your face.” This is no high school ode to the girl you fucked last night, this is a song where Fred opens his heart and pours out absolutely everything he is capable of.

“I would reach into the sky/And take the sun away/So you could always be happy/On every cloudy day,” is one of the lines from the album’s closing song. “Remembrance.” That line in itself should be explanation enough of this song. It is a love letter that is a remarkable ending to the album. Sorry is the soul of the woman whose heart doesn’t melt when she hears this song, and sees the rays of hope for a revival of romanticism as blinding as the rays of the sun.

The only song that doesn’t seem to fit into the overall structure of the album is “Remitencia.” Amidst songs of love, there is this eyebrow raiser, which is a Portuguese voice speaking over a very pretty melody. It’s not a bad tune; it just distracts the listener from the rest of the album. After hearing it, it is puzzling to try and figure out where it fits in with the rest of the album.

Overall, “The Renaissance LP” is a powerful, vivid opening statement from Fred Niznik. The songs combine many different styles of music, from pop, to jazz, to the blues, to straight rock and roll, with a twist of R&B thrown in for good measure. The songs are structured so that improvisation during a live show would not only be welcomed, but also would be expected.

The voice of Fred Niznik, although young, has the weariness of an old man who has continuously had his dreams snatched away from him, and his heart shattered, by those closest to him. I predict many more albums full of great songs in the future by Fred Niznik, songs that will be included in the soundtrack to this generation’s lives.
- Mark Mitchell


"Lead Singer of FN-Co. (Fred Niznik) has more soul in his big toe than Joss Stone has in her entire body" - Emergenza.net


Fred Niznik - by Vicky U Lee
family inspired reinassaince
Fred Niznik is a Brooklyn-born, Jersey-bred, Ukrainian-American singer-songwriter whose arrangements vary from stuck-in-your-head pop ballads ("I Need You More") to spoken word over Iberian guitar picking ("Rêmitencia"). As influenced by Russian folk music as it is by R&B, Latin rhythms, and Q104.3 Classic Rock, Niznik is a distinctive version of the acoustic guitar playing singer-songwriter.

What are your creative influences?

I would have to say observing people- their expressions, jealousies, laughter, sighs- all affect and intrigue me. Musically, gotta start with the Beatles. Then the Gypsy Kings, Elvis, Django Reinhart. And my grandfather- he is OBSESSED with music, not just Russian, but opera, jazz, The Doors, folk, everything. My parents/grandparents helped mold my ear and let me go to find the music I really loved.

I read that you do your best songwriting at your parents' house.

Family is a very sacred thing where I'm from. I feel a sense of warmth & protection. At that comfort level, my songwriting is strongest. It's been hard at times with them in Florida [and me in Brooklyn].

Why did you choose to play rhythm, lead, and bass guitar yourself on The Renaissance LP?

I've always primarily played rhythm guitar with my music, but while recording, I was hearing ALL the parts in my head. And once your ideas start flowing, there is a certain magic that can't be duplicated.

Tell me about working with producer Ariel Borujow.

I was doing some guitar work during a recording session for some rap artists and Ariel was engineering. That was my first session in a nice studio with different artists. During a break I started to play "Your Number," not realizing that I was still being listened to by everyone in the control room. After finishing the song, I came into the booth and, to my surprise, received a roomful of applause. Ariel and I have not stopped working together since.

What do you think of the current state of radio today?

I think that a lot of the music on the radio is a direct reflection of the moment and dies off quickly. A timeless piece can be heard every week without growing old. I would like to hear more timeless music on the radio.

What are your ultimate hopes & dreams?

If I could make a living singing and playing my guitar that would make me the happiest man alive. There is so much stuff out there in the news about war, violence, disaster- all I want to do is take people's minds off that, and focus on turning my album on in the bedroom.
- Vicky U. Lee


This Brooklyn native creates a musical blend that’s definitely got an acoustic groove vibe going on, energetic yet smooth with plenty of space. The Renaissance LP is practically multicultural in its pop/jazz/latin diversity of sounds, all turning around the axis of Niznik’s engaging, rhythmic acoustic guitar work and flowingly resonating vocals. Standout track “White Soul (Partner In Crime)” has a joyous urgency that creates involuntary hip movement. Rhythms come tumbling, as on the guitar/piano closer “Remembrance” and “Emotional Rollercoaster” with its continuous tempo changes underscoring the theme. “Free Again” is breezy yet passionate in an understated way, and the romantic “Portuguesa” has a similar sense of cool. Go to www.fredniznik.com for online links to get this refreshing CD. - Don Thomason


Let's just say, for the sake of discussion, that your parents were Ukrainian ŽmigrŽs that raised you on classical music and the Beatles, you grew up near New York City, and you were heavily influenced by Dave Matthews. For burgeoning singer/songwriter Fred Niznik, it's a true story.

Now Fred Niznik isn't your average rock and roll moniker, and that in itself speaks volumes about how unaffected by mainstream auspices this artist is. Niznik deftly incorporates R&B, jazz and even spoken word poetry into his songs that, paired with great acoustic guitar runs, differentiates his debut album The Renaissance LP from a lot of the overproduced drudgery permeating the airwaves today. With production help from Ariel Borujow (P. Diddy, Black-Eyed Peas), Niznik not only authored all ten songs, but played acoustic, lead and bass guitars on the record. For the album, Niznik and Borujow brought in Ali Bhagat on percussion, Bob Reynolds on horns and Chad Dinzes on keys. It's a blend of musicians that jelled nicely. "I have worked on projects from J. Lo to The Strokes, and this project has blown me away as far as the amount of talent and diversity Fred has, he is the truth," Borujow recently reflected.

And the songs are quite diverse. "Free Again" features a small sampling of electronica married with a quasi-Caribbean beat. "White Soul," probably the most pop-radio friendly song on the album teems with nice Latin jazz rhythms and could perhaps spawn a video for the VH1 set with enough regional airplay. The R&B-infused "Your Number" could be a future Usher song, and "My Sweet Lady" alone is worth the price of admission. It's a true sonic masterpiece worthy of the long lost Mike Corrado Band, a greatly underappreciated ensemble of ex-Marines that could blow you away with their live shows.

Niznik's The Renaissance LP has been fully licensed for MTV's Road Rules and The Real World and it's simply a matter of time before his music is heard in our world.
- David Strickler


Fred Niznik’s Renaissance LP begins with the sweet strains of Spanish guitar. His impressive command of the instrument draws you in and keeps you enchanted through all 10 tracks of his debut album.
Opener “Emotional Rollercoaster” switches from a flowing 6/8 time into a jazz fusion 4/4, bass and drums locking into a tight double time beat. “Free Again” is in 5/4 time, but still manages to flow. The unlikely titled “White Soul” grooves with a funky bass line and smooth sax solo. “My Sweet Lady” features more of that beautiful Spanish guitar, this time accompanied by delicate piano. “Never try to rush your first kiss” Niznik advises as the guitar and piano perform a symphony for two. Renaissance is Niznik’s debut CD, but expect to hear more from him soon.
- Mare Wakefield


"Big Apple quartert FN-Co. have a lot in common with scruffy superstars Maroon 5. Elements of white soul, lite-funk, and jam can be heard in their tunes, which are full of sugary hooks and cozy come-ons. But what sets FN-Co. apart from other pop-rock pied pipers is their earnestness. the crooning seems sincere, the riffs enthusiastic, and the rhythms both intricate and accessible. Listen closely: You can almost hear the sound of hearts breaking and cash registers ringing" - Casey Rea


The music in the self-titled disc (FN-Co.) merges the freshness of pop with the roar of rock and passion of Latin styles.

With Ferd Niznik, principal songwriter and lead singer, Stevie G. on lead guitar, Mike Mason on bass, and Pete Cetinich of drums, FN-Co. proudly melds influences of old- Beatles and Carlos Santana- and new- Dave Matthews Band, Coldplay, and Maroon 5.

They're in the now, as "UR4Me" displays, a tight and tasty love song for the text-messaging crew if there was one.

On the Latin side, there's "Mezmerized", a lilting beat for Niznik's voice: "I knew that she, was the girl for me...it was meant to be, it was destiny" - Mark Bialczak


Fred Niznik, "The Renaissance LP", Prototype Entertainment, 2004
It's astounding how quickly a second-generation immigrant to America can assimilate the culture and authentically make it his own, especially when talent catalyzes the transformation. Fred Niznik, a Brooklynite whose parents originally hail from the Ukraine, has dusted off Russia's proud but staid 19th century classical music heritage to successfully resurrect himself amidst the modern pop, jazz and R&B idioms of his family's adopted homeland. As suggested by his first CD's title, it's a renaissance of sorts for Niznik, both personally and interculturally, but especially because his brand of pop is so very good and so quintessentially American. The apple pie stamp-of-approval has even been bestowed by MTV, who recently licensed the music on "The Renaissance LP" for the upcoming season of "The Real World". Listeners might hear traces of John Mayer, Jason Mraz or Gavin DeGraw in Niznik's music, though an undercurrent of Brasilian jazz oozes around the edges of the two openers "Emotional Rollercoaster" and "Free Again", making this music Niznik's very own hybrid. The R&B-inflected "White Soul" and "Your Number" ratchets the temperature up, the mercury rising very close to the fiery and soulful intensity of another rising star, Marc Broussard. The gulf between Niznik and Broussard's "grab-you quotient" is largely one of production than of talent: only when played side-by-side to Broussard does Niznik's barebones production sounds a little sparse and restrained. I'd recommend the American approach for his next release... spare no expense for a full-blown ride to the top.
© Alan Fark, February 14, 2005
- Alan Fark


Musician takes fans on 'Emotional Rollercoaster'

Fred Niznik's emotion and talent mesmerize this New York City concertgoer
By Melissa Davis
Published: Thursday, February 17, 2005

"Single White Male seeks someone who is down to earth, has a sense of humor and can deal with me being silly. Is not
scared by me jumping up and down on the bed in my boxers and can appreciate me and appreciate the fact that I am a
broke musician."
How can you put it any better than that?
This is up and coming artist Fred Niznik's fictional dating personal. He forgot to include "ridiculously talented" and "barrier
breaking" as two of his attributes. Fred, a man of Ukrainian lineage born in Brooklyn and raised in Hoboken, N.J. wrote
and arranged all 10 songs on his genre-blending debut album, "The Renaissance LP." His music style is a medley of rock,
pop and R&B, with a Latin chaser. Today, we can appreciate someone who doesn't fall into one category.
I attended his performance at Piano's in NYC, a former paint store turned multi-level bar, and suffice to say that I had a
smile on my face throughout his entire performance.
Fred's performance was truthfully emotive. That is the beauty of his music; emotional truth comes through in every song.
He is not interested in following a song writing system, all he's interested in is for every song to show an emotion. He's
telling a story about what he's felt in his life.
With songs titled "Your Number," "White Soul" and his current single, "Emotional Rollercoaster," he speaks to his peers.
Emotional Rollercoaster begins with: "Well I've tried so many times to carry the world on my shoulders, and I think it's time
to give it all a rest. I'm running head first into doors that just cannot be opened and I keep on moving... and what I want is
to be free of all the burdens left on me and I'll take what I can get, but I ain't giving up yet." When I first heard the song I
got that "yeah that's exactly how I feel" feeling. Which continued throughout the album. The hook on "Your Number" goes
"But I got to know one more thing before you go / Can I get your number? / I know that you're older / But age is just a
number." How many bar memories does that bring back?
Album producer Ariel Borujow, who has worked with the likes of J.Lo and The Strokes is impressed by Niznik's talent.
"This project has blown me away as far as the amount of talent and diversity Fred has, he is the truth," he said.
Fred's album was recently fully licensed for the upcoming seasons of MTV's The Real World, as well as Jimmy Fallon and
Kate Hudson's summer release, "Earth to Jimmy." His music is fully available online at his management's Web site
www.PrototypeEntertainment.com and on iTunes for download. Take a moment and listen to Fred's music it will be well
worth your time.
There is also a full-on college tour in the works. If you like what you hear, contact SPC directly to make sure Fred comes
to Marist (IM MaristSPC now and often!). Honestly, isn't live music just that much better? - Melissa Davis


Discography

Wonderlust is set to release their debut EP in the Fall of 2009 including:

"Hide Out", "Good Morning Sunshine", & "Modern People" both produced by Flytrap Productions and mixed by Grammy Award Winner Ken Lewis - they are available on iTunes HERE, as well as other fine online retailers such as Amazon and Rhapsody

FN-Co. released their self-titled 7 song EP on October 18, 2006. The album was produced and mixed by Ariel Borujow, who has worked with the likes Black Eyed Peas, Strokes, P. Diddy, and Dave Matthews. You can purchase the album at www.cdbaby.com/fnco or on iTunes.

Lead singer Fred Niznik's debut album, "The Renaissance LP", was released on November 16, 2004. Buy the CD at http://www.cdbaby.com/niznik or on iTunes

Photos

Bio

Time•less mu•sic [time-less myoo-zik]
Wonderlust is a 4-piece NYC-based Pop/Rock outfit that defines the term timeless music, by creating songs that supersede all current trends, fads, & “flavors of the week”. The music is universally appealing and memorable; with themes of love, desire, heartbreak, and lust that shatter all cultural & generational boundaries. They have been compared in the press to the likes of other timeless artists, such as Maroon 5, Coldplay, and John Mayer. Wonderlust’s four members are Fred Niznik (lead vocals, principle songwriter, & rhythm guitar), Steve Gregoire (lead guitar), Pete Cetinich (drums), and Cody Darbe (bass guitar & background vocals). They are set to release their first single, “Hide Out”, in July 2008, followed by “Good Morning Sunshine” in August ’08. Both songs are produced by Anand Gan & Doug Davis of Flytrap Productions, and mixed by Grammy-Winning engineer Ken Lewis (John Legend, Soul Asylum, Usher).

Wonderlust was formed in the autumn of 2007, after three of its members (Fred, Steve, & Pete) had a successful run from 2005-2007 as “FN-Co.” FN-Co. played a variety of colleges, universities, festivals, and clubs all over the U.S., as well as performing dates with the likes of Clarence Clemons (of the E-Street Band), Third Eye Blind, and Ben Folds. The band even went as far as having its music placed on popular MTV shows such as “The Hills”, “The Real World”, & “Two-A-Days”. Its ever-expanding fan base was strengthened by the media, with television appearances on PBS, as well as a myriad of interviews, features, and reviews in newspapers, magazines, and web sites throughout the country. After 2 years together and 6K MySpace fans, the band decided to change their name from FN-Co. (an acronym for Fred Niznik & Company) to Wonderlust. The new name represents the undeniable bond they have developed over the years, and breaks the mold of “a band backing up a lead singer.” Insert the multi-talented musician/vocalist Cody Darbe into the mix, and you have the current and most exciting line-up to date.

Wonderlust has also played in-stores at various Bloomingdale's, and are involved in certain charities such as Save Darfur and Action Against Hunger

Look out for this “timeless” band at your favorite club, website, or magazine very soon!

For all inquiries including live shows, press, etc., please contact:
Don Di Napoli – Owner & Founder of Prototype Entertainment, LLC (NYC)
don@prototypeentertainment.com