Valensi performing with The Strokes in 2002
|Birth name||Nicholas Valensi|
January 16, 1981 |
New York City, New York, U.S.
Nicholas "Nick" Valensi (born January 16, 1981) is an American guitarist, singer, songwriter and session musician. He is most famous for his role as lead and rhythm guitarist, as well as occasional backing vocalist and mellotron player, in the American rock band The Strokes. Valensi has also worked as a songwriter and session guitarist with various artists, including Sia, Blondie, Brody Dalle, Regina Spektor and Kate Pierson. In 2013, he founded side-project CRX, for which he acts as singer, songwriter and lead and rhythm guitarist. Their debut album, New Skin, was released on October 28, 2016.
Valensi was born in New York City, to a Jewish Tunisian father and a French mother, Danielle. Valensi’s father died when Nick was nine. He began learning guitar at the age of 5, following an impromptu strum on one of his father's guitars. His father described him as a natural guitarist, due to his quickness at picking up the ability to strum along with the rhythm of songs at a young age. Growing up, Valensi spent many summers at his grandfather's home near Bordeaux, until the age of 16. He has two sisters, Céline and Alessandra. He attended The Dwight School, where he met and formed a band with Fabrizio Moretti and Julian Casablancas, and later Hunter College, where he met Nikolai Fraiture. He was once quoted as saying, "I always thought I wanted to be able to play any song you could name. But once I started playing with Julian, that's when I really started to understand music."
Instruments and influences
Valensi's main guitar, which he uses for nearly every live show and recorded song, is a 1990s Epiphone Riviera with Gibson P-94 pick-ups, which was given to him by friend and fellow Strokes guitarist Albert Hammond Jr. In a 2004 interview with Epiphone, he called it "the greatest guitar never made" because Gibson had never produced a semi-hollow with P-94 style pickups, except for the fully hollow ES-330 and the Epiphone Casino. He has several models in different colours (all with P-94s), including multiple naturals, one in vintage sunburst, one in red, and a 12-string elite in red. In 2005, Epiphone released a signature model of his guitar, the Elitist Nick Valensi Riviera P-94, and followed it up with a standard model Nick Valensi Riviera P-94 in 2007. Back-up/warm-up guitars include an Epiphone Dot fitted with 2 P-94s, an Epiphone Casino, an Epiphone Sheraton, and a Gibson Faded Special Double Cutaway with 2 P-90s. Valensi often borrows fellow Strokes guitarist Albert Hammond, Jr.'s backup guitars, which include a Gibson Les Paul Jr. and a Les Paul Special. New guitars used for the First Impressions of Earth tour include a Les Paul Custom in black, a Fender Telecaster Custom (which he can be seen using in the music video for Under Cover of Darkness ), and a Duesenberg semi-hollow. Valensi's main amplifier is a 2x12" Fender Hot Rod DeVille, used with Fender 4x12" extension cabinets during live shows. He also recently purchased a Carr amplifier to use on the last few stops of the First Impressions tour. His pedalboard consists of a Visual Sound Jekyll & Hyde Ultimate Overdrive pedal, Boss TR-2 Tremolo, Vox Cooltron Bulldog Distortion, MXR Micro Amp (2) and a Boss TU-2 Chromatic Tuner. He has also been seen with an Electro Harmonix Memory Man and a Boss Blues Driver.
His recent pedalboard consists of a Fulltone GT-500 Distortion/Booster, a Korg Pitchblack Tuner, A Visual Sound Visual Volume Pedal, a Visual Sound Double Trouble dual overdrive, a Maxon Distortion Master, an Electro-Harmonix XO Holy Grail Reverb, an Electro-Harmonix Deluxe Memory Man, and an MXR Micro Amp Boost. He uses a Fender Super-Sonic 100-watt head into two Fender 2x12" cabinets.
In the summer of 2006, Nick married his girlfriend of five years, photographer and actress Amanda de Cadenet. De Cadenet published a book of photographs entitled Rare Birds in 2005, which includes several pictures of Valensi, whom she refers to as her "muse" on her website.
Valensi has described his wife as "The coolest person I know."
Nick Valensi sang backing vocals and played guitar for Devendra Banhart's song "Shabop Shalom" on the 2007 album Smokey Rolls Down Thunder Canyon. Furthermore, he contributed backing vocals on the self-titled debut album of his bandmate Fab Moretti's band, Little Joy.
He also played guitar for Regina Spektor's song "Better", which was released on her album Begin to Hope and also published as a single in a slightly different version on which the guitar parts are rearranged.
He appears in the video for "No One's Better Sake" by Little Joy as drummer.
He plays guitar on Sia's album We Are Born and has also written several hooks and melodies on it. Sia has also stated that she and Valensi are planning to write songs together for other artists. Also, he plays guitar on Sia's album 1000 Forms of Fear on the track "Hostage", being listed as a co-writer.
- "063 – NICK VALENSI – on early memories of the Strokes, meeting David Bowie, and working with Josh Homme on his new band CRX". 2 Hours with Matt Pinfield. Retrieved 12 January 2017.
- Itzkoff, Dave (2005-06-05). "DIRECTIONS - ON THE WEB - Rockin' the Torah - NYTimes.com". Select.nytimes.com. Retrieved 2011-12-08.
- "Shes Fixing Her Hair – The Strokes Latest Album Angles Is Out Now! » Interviews – Rock & Folk April 2011". Shesfixingherhair.co.uk. Retrieved 2011-12-08.
- The Face Magazine August 2002 Archived March 9, 2005, at the Wayback Machine.
- "''Rolling Stone'' 2001 Interview". Rollingstone.com. Retrieved 2011-12-08.
- "Interview with Epiphone 2004". Epiphone.com. 2004-05-28. Retrieved 2012-02-24.
- "Epiphone Nick Valensi Riviera P94". Epiphone.com. Retrieved 24 February 2012.
- "Interview with Swedish magazine". Aftonbladet.se. 2006-06-16. Retrieved 2011-12-08.
- Confirmed by Amanda in Hello Magazine January 2007
- Article on billboard.com Archived September 5, 2014, at the Wayback Machine.
- ""Adam & Steve" on Youtube". Youtube.com. 2008-11-05. Retrieved 2011-12-08.