Nicola is based in London, UK.
In 1992 a home recorded, self-produced, 3-song demo was sent out to a few hand-picked record companies and as a result, Nicola was signed to Demon Records. Her debut solo album “A Bowl of Chalk” was released on FBeat/Demon Records in ’93 and featured guest musicians Danny Thompson on bass (Kate Bush, David Sylvian) & Neil Conti on drums (David Bowie, Prefab Sprout). She became a regular face on London’s folk/acoustic circuit, including performances at the Guildford and Cambridge Folk Festivals and Phoenix Festival.
“There’s something indefinably magical in her delivery and in the very human troubled personal conflicts in her exceptional lyrics … a remarkable debut” (Colin Irwin, Folk Roots)
Inspired by the music of Portishead and Massive attack, in ’95 she went on to form Mandalay with Saul Freeman and signed to David Steele’s independent label Organic Records. The first single release “Flowers Bloom” got single of the week in Melody Maker
“Nicola’s voice is extraordinary, a sort of static shiver … as chillingly beautiful as liquid nitrogen sculpture.” (David Stubbs, Melody Maker)
Shortly after the release of their first single, David Steele was asked to head up Richard Branson’s new label V2 Records and took Mandalay with him. Mandalay’s debut album “Empathy” was released to critical acclaim, co-produced with Guy Sigsworth (Bjork, Madonna, Bebel Gilberto) it featured drummer and percussionist Steve Jansen (Japan) and the beautiful ethereal sounds of Jon Hassell on trumpet (Brian Eno, Harold Budd).
“one of the most surprising understated albums in eons … illuminating and optimistic. A muted beauty.” (Andrew Emery, Vox)
“passionate and honest … moody mood music of the highest order … a fine debut” (Phil Strongman, The Mix)
Mandalay’s live performances included Andy Gangadeen on drums (massive attack, faithless) and they became a regular favourite at The Big Chill festivals.
“Troubled fluid, gorgeous oils and waters creating a river of sound that leaves you aching for more” (Melody Maker Live Review)
On hearing “Empathy”, Madonna sited Mandalay as her favourite band and chose the first single “This Life” to be featured on the film soundtrack for her film. “The Next Best Thing”. “This Life” was also chosen to feature on the soundtrack to the hit British film “This Year’s Love”
“a fusion of classical music, electronics and dance beats. Nicola Hitchcock’s strange, emotive vocals seem to come from someone on the edge of a meltdown. The musical canvass paints a picture of a musical Ice Age to come.” (NME singles review)
Many other Mandalay songs were featured on cult TV series’ including “La Femme Nikita”, “Six Feet Under” and “CSI MIami”.
The third single “Beautiful” appeared on a number of chillout albums of the time including the world famous compilation series’ “cafe del mar (vol 6)” and Hedkandi’s “Serve Chilled”. As a result Mandalay were invited to headline at the Cafe del mar 2oth anniversary celebrations in Ibiza in 2000. A sunset remix of “Beautiful” was recorded and mixed by Lenny Ibizarre, the leading chillout DJ/musician on the island. The song “Beautiful” went on to win a major advertising campaign (Estee Lauder, featuring Liz Hurley) and was chosen for the title track of German film “Der Eisbar”. More recently “Beautiful” was covered by Sarah Brightman and released as the lead single for her hit album “Harem”.
Mandalay’s 2nd album “Instinct” was co-produced with Andy Bradfield (Everything But the Girl, Future Sound of London, Bjork) and Yoad Nevo (Jem)
“.. draws inspiration from jazz and classical music to create resolutely elegant, affecting pop …. lush and expansive, Instinct’s musical world is perfectly realised” (MK The Guardian).
A third and final album “Solace” was released exclusively in the U.S.
Mandalay disbanded in 2002.
In the following years Nicola began working with avant garde composers Hector Zazou and Ryuichi Sakomoto, Lenny Ibizarre and the underground artist & DJ Chris Brann (Wamdue Project, P’taah etc). The resulting album “Passive Aggressive” stands a collection of her favourite songs from this time and is the first release on her own label Tempted.
” …. Plaintive, melancholy and full of feeling; Nicola’s songs have an honesty that you can feel in her voice even before you hear it in the words. The singing here is soft, close up, often little more than a whisper. The uncluttered arrangements on this CD add to the intimacy, at times just drums, bass and minimal pianos or electronica. The more intense musical structure of ‘I Forgive Me’ combines with sweet vocals to create a sense of brooding, a weight that carries over into the following track ‘Cloudy Skies and Rain’ where the drums are stronger and looser than most of the album. There is a beautiful surreal quality to the final track ‘Morning’ featuring Ryuichi Sakomoto’s subtle piano, enhanced by an achingly melancholic string arrangement from Hector Zazou”
An exclusive edition of Passive Aggressive was subsequently released in the US by Barnes & Noble including two previously unreleased tracks (currently available as free downloads via her website to those on the mailing list).
Nicola is currently working on a new solo album.