Rounding out the group was drummer Nik Hughes, whose love for music is only outweighed by his love of cardigans (shout out to Zanerobe!). “I was thinking about it, and [cardigans] have the best parts of a sweater and a jacket, you know?” he tells me over an early evening beer. “It’s comfortable like a sweater, but sometimes, it’s just annoying to put sweaters over your head. But then like a jacket, you can just put it on, but they’re not soft. Cardigans solve problems!”
Nik, like Simon and Tasso, knew from a very early age that music was his calling because it ran in his blood. His grandmother was a jazz singer who went by the stage name Jean Sawyer, singing in New York Hotels in the 1930s and 40s and even performing once alongside Nat King Cole, and his father was quite skilled on guitar and bass. However, it was a spare drum set that was lying around his suburban Virginia household that drew Nik’s attention.
“For some reason, when my parents bought a house, they didn’t get rid of the drums,” he told me during one of the days many soundchecks. “So I had a sick ’66 Ludwig kit. I’ll probably never play a kit better than that. I started taking lessons when I was six, which led to marching band in high school, jazz band in high school. Then I went to George Mason University, music performance there, in jazz and orchestral percussion.”
Nik continued playing even after graduating from college, but realized that if he wanted to achieve his musical dreams, he had to go west. “I had some friends in LA who were doing great things. A buddy of mine from Virginia plays guitar for Pink, and another plays bass for Bush, so it was a lot easier to network through them. I got hired to play for Iglu & Hartley. I did the last year of the tour with them. Then we did Coachella together, then that band phased out. Simon & Same were my roommates on the tour. At the time, I was playing with a Disney artist. Her name was Emily Osment. She’s a sweetheart, still a good friend of mine, but that project was kind of winding down because she went to college. And so I was kind of able to keep that gig while Youngblood was percolating, and it all kind of worked out.”