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News |  15 May 2024 15:40 |  By RnMTeam

Seattle-based Toronto-Born Teen Guitarist and rocker Nikhil Bagga releases new single "Never Meant It"

MUMBAI: Even a 15-year-old guitar god-in-waiting occasionally has to deal with normal, everyday high-school angst. For Nikhil Bagga on his new single, “Never Meant It,” that means having to sit home with his trusty axe while everybody else is out having a good time.

I’ve been staying at home

And I’ve been checking my phone

But I see nothing

I’ve been laying in bed

Drowning with thoughts in my head

And you can’t save me

You don’t invite me to the party but you play my song

I know I should be happy but I feel so wrong


While everyone is having fun and shooting for the stars

I’m just a kid who’s strumming his guitar


“The song was inspired by a time when I saw a bunch of my friends having fun at a party online and I wasn’t invited,” Bagga explains, matter-of-factly. “Even though they didn’t mean to hurt me, it did.”

Yet somehow, this  fretboard prodigy who has already played “The Star-Spangled Banner” at several major sporting events resisted the temptation to take them all out in a blaze of fretboard pyrotechnics. Instead, “Never Meant It” airs its grievances via  chugging, percussive rhythm guitar and chord slashes that mesh perfectly with the outcast vibe of the lyrics—and Bagga’s raspy-yet-cherubic vocals—to create an aural effect that’s pure ’90s grunge. Which is not entirely inappropriate for a Seattle kid who’s already made quite a name for himself in his adoptive home of the Emerald City since relocating from his native Canada.

The throwback vibes notwithstanding, Bagga’s target audience is teenagers just like him: ones who are passionate about music, and particularly those who gravitate towards the gritty authenticity of rock ‘n roll. As the new single so ably demonstrates, his music is awash in the earnestness and frustration of being young and searching for meaning in a world that often feels chaotic and uncertain.

“Never Meant It” was recorded at London Bridge Studios with producer Eric Lilavois (Ayron Jones, Saint Motel, Island Apollo), whom Bagga describes as a vital collaborator on more than one front. “We orchestrated the whole thing and really made it come to life,” he enthuses. Accompanying him on the record are drummer Ben Smith and bassist Andy Stoller, the former rhythm section of the legendary Heart. And thus one generation of Seattle royalty meets the next.

Rites of passage are second nature by now to Bagga, who learned guitar at age 9 by playing along to records by AC/DC, Ed Sheeran, Nirvana and Queen. By his 10th birthday, he was making his public debut, busking on Pacific Beach in San Diego. When the pandemic hit, he kept himself in the public eye by sharing a song a day online, attracting an ever-growing legion of fans with his takes on pop and rock classics. Before long, his repertoire had swollen to 350 songs.  

The next step in his musical evolution saw him moving from covers to originals—the better to document his daily reality in song. He collected the cream of the crop on his debut full-length album, Leap of Faith, which he recorded at London Bridge with Lilavois and released in the spring of 2022. Glide called the record a love letter to “thick guitar tones and the ’90s punchy alt-rock of Teenage Fanclub and Matthew Sweet.”

In the wake of his emergence as an original act, he’s made more than 40 appearances at marquee Seattle venues like the Crocodile, Vera Project and Pike Place Market. He even took a road trip to perform at the famed Bluebird Café in Nashville. Bagga has also appeared on Voice of America and made numerous television appearances in Toronto and Seattle.

And then there’s that high-profile cottage industry he’s forged for himself as pregame entertainment.  Bagga has become a familiar face at Seattle’s professional sports stadiums, having played the national anthem multiple times for the Seattle Mariners (MLB) and the Seattle Kraken (NHL). He even busted out a rare electric-guitar version of “O Canada” for the visiting Toronto Maple Leafs.

In a true sign of multigenerational solidarity, he shared the bill with Mike McCready of Pearl Jam, Dave Matthews, Allen Stone, and an all-star cast of fellow players at the SMASH “Songs of Hope” concert (a benefit devised to provide affordable healthcare for musicians). Other worthy causes Bagga has lent his talents to include the Big Table Benefit (supporting restaurant workers impacted by COVID) and Champions of Change, an annual basketball game at Climate Pledge Arena that raises funds for underserved communities.

Bagga’s goal going forward is to continue to fuse the diverse influences of Seattle’s musical landscape —the electrifying riffs of Jimi Hendrix, the raw authenticity of Kurt Cobain and the soulful melodies of Pearl Jam—into a singular, powerful voice. He has a new EP coming soon that’ll take that agenda to the next level.