I get to Cute Nick’s 10 minutes early to set up the interview. It’s a quiet cafe in a surprisingly residential part of Thundertown. The kind of place you stop by before work but never actually go to. I prefer interviews in places like this--normal places, nice places--but it’s rare that artists (or more often, their agents) want to meet in them. Usually they pick spots that have an obvious story or angle.
When I walk through the door, shuffling my notes and reviewing my questions, I see Opal Voss has beaten me there. She’s chatting--flirting?--with the man I later learn is Cute Nick himself while she’s foaming another customer’s milk. Does she work here, I wonder? Did she invite me to her day job? Cute Nick takes my order, and when he asks for my name, Voss looks right at me and hands the foamer to another barista. “Tennison from Plastic Platemail?” Cute Nick understands this interjection, and despite my protests, my cappuccino becomes free of charge.
We find a secluded table near a window that Cute Nick has reserved for us. “Whenever Nick comps someone,” Voss says, swirling her americano, “They always end up tipping more than the price of the drink.” I have the distinct impression that Voss arrived early, warned Nick about our interview, and had my drink comped just so she could make this observation. “I think that’s cute,” Voss says, and she takes an excited bite into her puffy pastry.
No, Opal Voss does not work at this coffee shop, though she tells me that she’d love to. She smiles at me, as if foaming someone’s drink is one of the many activities available to customers at a cafe, and asks, “is that your first question?”
Okay - to get us started I have some RAPID FIRE questions from readers of our magazine:
What are some of your favorite ways to unwind after a hard day? I like to fix myself a potion of calming, do a bit of journaling, and, if I’m being honest, watch a romantic movie. I love love!
What’s your biggest inspiration for lyrics? People... Three Cloud City! So… people in Three Cloud City? Yes. Everyday people, people I see on the train, people in this coffee shop. I don’t like to think about myself, so I think about them. And then I write their songs.
[At this point, it seemed like Opal didn’t want to elaborate, so I moved on.]
What’s your favorite place in Three Cloud City? Any place that’s new to me. There’s so much to see here. Every time I take a different turn I feel like I’m somewhere new. Oh! Have you been to TerryTerroir’s in the Umbrella district?
-No, I haven’t.
One of my fav bars/isolation chambers. The top floor’s got a solid glass roof, and you can watch the rain fall at you all day long--I never feel closer to the clouds than when I’m at Terry’s. When you go, order a Courier and wink with your left eye when you do. They’ll know.
Do you have a water bottle to show off? I just reuse an empty potion vial.
How long have you been a singer? I started singing when I moved to Three Cloud City. Before then I was a producer flirting with the possibility of singing. When I got here, I said to heck with it and just started singing. I realized that I needed to use my voice to tell the stories I needed to tell.
So you haven’t been singing that long? No, I haven’t. Learning how to sing in the city is a trial - it’s hard to find a place you can belt. In my first place, my neighbors used to bang on the wall whenever I started to really get into a song - great people though, made a mean lasagna. I’m still learning, so a lot of the time I make potions to help me with pitch and range. But that kinda feels like cheating.
Alright Opal, those are all of the reader questions we had for you. I have some questions for you myself though. Fire away.
Three Cloud City has a very specific sound, which you don’t quite slot into. How did you develop your music? I grew up in a One-Dynastid Town. Nothing to do, no one to meet. I visited Three Cloud once when I was young, and I immediately knew I had to live here. As soon as I moved, I fell in love with the music scene here, especially what they played in clubs. It’s a real inspiration - the high impact, glittering sounds of MEGAPLEXX artists, in particular - but the core of my songs are still rooted in the music my dad played in the car. I just can’t escape my hometown, I guess.
Tell me about the process of writing I’m a Snake? Every Thursday night I play a set at the Cryland bar. I know it’s called Cryland, but my sad stuff never seemed to land. It hurt to submit myself to this week after week so I finally decided to sit down and write some fun ones. I wrote this one song back at my mom’s house that was a major bummer, and I thought: “what if I made this a dance track?” The song was always about how you have to change yourself to reach your goals, so it felt right to turn the track itself inside out. This is actually the first song I finished in Three Cloud, which makes it super special to me.
You have an EP on the way. What can we expect from that? These are my misfit songs. I stand behind each of them, but they don’t really have a home anywhere else. Except for Snake, which is my baby who I love very much!