In Nikole's room there is a large blue trunk with brass latches and a lock—filled with dozens of journals, cassette tapes of family interviews, notes, and photographs. Nikole returns to again and again to this trunk for inspiration.
I Miss the Train came from an interview with her grandmother who grew up in a Southern Illinois coal mining town. When the mines were thriving, workers flocked to the region and opened four movie theaters, started a minor league baseball team, and people moved around on commuter trains. The region now suffers from the highest rates of unemployment in Illinois. Over a quarter of the downtown is boarded up and many homes are vacant. There is still small town charm, warmth—heart—but few jobs, no industry and folks struggling to get by.
What if You Don't was inspired by her friends in Hartsburg, Missouri, population 100, who joined the National Guard in the early 2000s so that they could earn a little extra money for a weekend a month and help their communities in case of disasters. But they found themselves doing back to back tours of duty in Afghanistan, in a twisted back draft. Nikole was writing music, tending bar, and spending a lot of time with the families left behind.
While making this album, Nikole noticed a repeat theme in her journal entries— many open with the salutation "Dear Nikole" This inspired Nikole to begin writing a series of essays called "Notes to Self" that chronicle the stories behind the songs on "You Want to Know About Me." Read more on her BLOG page.