by Chandler Christopher
“College really just didn’t feel right. I finally had to make the decision that I wasn’t going to make myself miserable to make other people comfortable” – a life-changing realization made by Tucker Nicholas, more commonly known as Inner State 81. It was in this moment that a young Tucker decided he would drop out of college and make the brisky (brisk + risky…) decision to move in with some of his music making comrades in Atlanta, Georgia. It was a lengthy leap from the secure path of a marketing major at the University of Pittsburgh (Pitt) to diving fully into Inner State 81. While it’s evident that this leap of faith displays the confidence Tucker has in himself as a musician, it took a few indicative signs to sway his flimsy (at the time) path towards life as a full-time producer.
It’s a cool, east coast summer for the Harrisburg, Pennsylvania native, Tucker Nicholas. It’s 2016 and he and his friends are fresh, high school graduates and it’s in the air that something new and unfamiliar is on the way. Tucker and his friends have embarked on a spontaneous road trip to Virginia on a drive that winds its way through the shallows of the beautiful Appalachian Mountains. It’s in these unknowingly impactful moments that Tucker says “there was just a feeling I had never felt before. Just the feeling that absolutely anything was possible.” The road which this wholesome, inner thought was conceived was Interstate 81… hence, Inner State 81.
Tucker began producing music and making beats during his first semester at Pitt, and he soon realized he had a genuine passion for creating music. This led to hours on end of grinding production software, learning the ins and outs in the fine print. Following this spark of musical interest from Tucker, the aspiring artist spent the fall of 2018 working for a record label in London through a study abroad program at Pitt. This is where Inner State 81 released the track ‘Livin’ at Mumsies,’ which also happens to be the first track I heard from him. The song went viral and Tucker Nicholas experienced success with his music for the very first time. Upon his return to Pitt, Tucker felt something different. His thoughts began to become clouded with the thought of pursuing his passion full time and dropping out of school. However, clouded isn’t actually the right word… Clarity is what Tucker was experiencing. Amidst the peer pressure that college life can urge, Inner State 81 made his dicey decision to leave and has happily not looked back since.
“I realized that music is my tool to take me
from the position I’m in and do something
much bigger, and this journey has
never felt like a job.”
As a result of the success of his debut project ‘A Midsummers Night’s Day Dream’, Inner State 81 is often categorized as lo-fi hip-hop. He emphasized that since then, he’s been hesitant to release his next personal project, primarily focusing on producing his friends’ rap projects. In Inner State 81’s upcoming album, he is excited to step into a new space with his music. He describes it as dance, funk, electronic, coming of age, and synth rock that is pop music under disguise… When asked about the goal for the project, Tucker explained, “I feel like I subconsciously made the album with the goal to connect with as many people as possible. These tracks were made in my isolated mind, so I made these tracks for the world I envision when the project is released.” Tune in for the exciting future of Inner State 81, who is set to evolve his already impressive catalogue with jams that have forced Tucker Nicholas to step out of his comfort zone.