Each week you watch your favorite Glee(ks) sing their hearts out to the tunes of the Beatles, Madonna, and even The Rocky Horror Picture Show, but do you know who’s talents are behind the tunes? That would be singer/songwriter and producer Derik Nelson who plays guitar on the hit FOX television show each week. Whether in the Glee pit band or front and center among thousands of fans, Derik is at home on any stage. In addition to his weekly gig on Glee, Derik has performed alongside Mary J. Blige and Dionne Warwick and his vocals have been featured on The New Girl, The Voice, and How I Met Your Mother. Any other musician might be content to record, perform, and reap the rewards. Not Derik. He is currently combining his passion for music with his passion for activism in his Take Chances Tour: a tour that brings Derik to select high schools for a master class and one-of-a-kind fundraising concert. Portions of the concert go to directly fund arts and music education programs at the designated high school. Without his own foundation in music education, Derik’s path might have turned out very different, a fact he takes time to acknowledge each day. “Having the realization every day,” says Derik, “that I am surrounded by awesome people helping me do what I do, getting to make music every day, that’s the best part of my day.”
Photo courtesy of Riana Nelson
If you could describe yourself in three words, what would those words be?
Dedicated, compassionate, creative. Dedicated to my goals, to my family, to my future; compassionate and understanding towards others, towards the creative process, and towards myself; creative as a leader and as an artist.
Tell us about a girl in your life who rocks.
My sister Riana is a girl in my life who rocks. She rocks at everything she does... music, writing, management, art, design, marketing, and the list goes on. Communication, respect, and open-mindedness are some strengths of hers that I admire, and she lives each day with a love for life and a curiosity and wonder for the world around her. She has always been there for me from my earliest memories, acting as a role model and best friend. I trust her more than I trust myself. She exemplifies the ideals that every woman passionately strives to encompass: confidence, beauty, intelligence, warmth, and strength of body, mind, and soul. Riana is also my manager, and not only is she a pillar of support in my career, but she is a pillar of support in our family, as well. I am grateful every day to have such an amazing sister, friend, and collaborator. My latest theory is that Riana has magical powers that allow her to rock as hard as she does. I don't think ordinary human beings are capable of such magnificence.
What are your dreams/goals/ambitions?
My biggest dream is to share my music with as many people as possible, and to make my living doing so. I want to inspire people and instill positivity in the world, and accomplishing that through music, art, and creativity is my ultimate goal.
What are you most proud of?
I am most proud of the bond I share with my siblings. For three very passionate, opinionated, and goal-oriented siblings to even get along is one thing, but to work together, trust each other, and depend on one another as family and as business partners is quite another. The fact that we accomplish both while continuing to collaborate, confide in each other, and make each other laugh the entire time is a unique and inimitable connection that I deeply cherish.
What do you find most sexy about a girl?
Independence. A girl who is strong, smart, and independent is extremely sexy, because not only does she have her own thing going on, but she is clearly very comfortable and secure in who she is (and isn't afraid to make that known). To be independent also means having the passion and motivation to create and capitalize on opportunities, which implies intelligence, confidence, and social aptitude.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Ten years from now, I will be spending part of my time working on creative projects with my siblings and traveling the world playing music for people, and the other part of my time with an amazing family of my own.
What is the number one item on your bucket list?
The number one item on my bucket list is to be a great dad.
Who has been the biggest male influence in your life and why?
My dad has been the biggest male influence in my life. As a business owner, he has taught me the importance of self-discipline, time management, and how to achieve independent success outside of the traditional corporate structure. As a father, he has encouraged me to grow through goal setting and positive thinking. My dad has always believed in me, and his undying support and faith in his kids has forever made him a hero in my eyes.
What is the biggest risk you’ve ever taken and what did you learn from it?
The biggest risk I ever took was making the decision to transfer colleges and move to Los Angeles without ever having visited before, and without knowing anyone. It ended up being the best decision of my life. It gave me the foundation and network necessary to establish an independent career in music, and the opportunities that opened up for me would never have existed had I not taken that risk to leave behind the comfortable path I had chosen. I learned that taking chances is the catalyst for success.
What is one stereotype about men that isn’t really true?
The biggest stereotype about men that isn't really true is that men lack emotional depth. Every guy has a "sensitive side," but many are simply too insecure, uncomfortable, or embarrassed to let people see it.
*Interview conducted and compiled by Sheila Moeschen, IATG Senior Editor