Story by Allie Volpe
There is a fated moment among most who inhabit New York City where they accept their citizenship in the metropolis, when they feel like “a New Yorker.” It might not come all at once, trickling in, or it may be a lightning strike incident. Justin Wilcox has yet to experience it. He’s lived in the city for over two years, originally hailing from Tennessee.
It could be a ten-year-process, Wilcox’s bandmate Jeffrey Silverstein, who’s called New York home for over four years, hypothesizes.
While no coming-of-age moments directly influence Hoss, the four-song EP the duo have released as Nassau, living and existing in New York City, a place that offers so many distractions and distinctions, has colored the material.
“I definitely feel when we were writing this, every single day, my whole life changed and became different,” Wilcox said. “The things that I used to do and took for granted in Tennessee just weren’t there anymore.”
Upon moving to New York, Wilcox and Silverstein were introduced through a mutual friend and connected over their respective musical backgrounds, Wilcox in Tennessee and Silverstein in Baltimore, where he went to college. They’d both had bits and bobs of riffs, melodies and chord progressions that had been collecting dust, though when paired together, some of it clicked.  Beginning at the tail end of 2015, the pair would convene at Wilcox’s Williamsburg apartment and try things out: that riff here, that idea there. Some things worked and some didn’t -- which was OK and allowed for a healthy trial and error period.
Released in June, Hoss combines the wistful Americana songwriting and guitar work with hazy swells of synth and dreamy accompaniment. The ambient, echoing knock intro of opening track “Wake The Dead” leads into Wilcox’s southern-tinged vocals, steady strumming paired with a breezy baritone lead guitar creates warmth on “Desert Blues.” Taking cues from both Band of Horses and DIIV, Nassau combine hi-fi and low-fi for an elegantly unique take on guitar-lead music.
“Because it was two dudes with guitars, I felt like it was, ‘Well, what’s something neither of us has done before?’” Silverstein recalled. “That’s where adding electronic, ambient elements to it came.”
The purposeful small cast of characters -- Wilcox, Silverstein and their guitars -- adds for an element of surprise when it comes to their live setup and the fullness of their sound. Taking a singer-songwriter approach to their performances, both musicians will play seated with a keyboard in front of them that triggers the drones and other electronic elements. When Nassau played at their neighborhood joint Baby’s All Right, they walked over to the venue with no other equipment but themselves and their guitars.
“For a minute, we tried to play with a live drummer and ended up realizing that we wanted to keep it simple,” Wilcox explained. “Once we started recording these, we both realized we liked ambient music and wanted to bring a bit of that into it. It was conscious but it really felt right. That’s how this project has been. You do it and if it feels wrong, you don’t do it.”
Though this isn’t their first band, first release or first time playing live, there’s still a bit of experimentation to Nassau, a sonic collision of varied backgrounds and tastes and the two are excited to head into uncharted territory and nearing a point of completion on sorting through that area of unknown.
“A big part of this for me was about finishing something and not saying ‘whatever,’” Silverstein said. “It was more so that. Even if it is just for playing guitar for an hour, it provided a sense of calm.”