Douglas High graduate finds music success |

Douglas High graduate finds music success

by Sarah Hauck

Eight years ago Nick "RAS" Furlong abandoned what little furniture he had, packed up his less than perfect car and moved to Los Angeles, in hopes of becoming a common face in the music writing and producing scene.

Furlong's move was rewarded with his most recent success, "The Nights" by Avicii that had been viewed more than 8.2 million times only days after its Yahoo release on Dec. 18.

"It's been really rad," the 2005 Douglas High School graduate said. "We just went to radio as of the first week of January. Now we're picking up. To see the song charting with Kelly Clarkson and Imagine Dragons is crazy to me. It's pretty nuts to see how well it is doing and how its impacting people everywhere."

The song "The Nights" was a way for Furlong to thank his parents for their support in his music career from the very beginning.

"The song is kind of like a letter to my dad, like an ode to him to let him know that he and my mom have done a good job raising me. He'd always told me to go out and do things and always believed in me. It is like a hug to him for believing in me and letting me do my music. Not a lot of parents are brave enough to let their kids try music, let alone go from Minden, Nevada to LA. That in itself is pretty crazy. The first four years in LA were brutal. I didn't really have much, but I was relentless," Furlong said.

For months, Furlong slept on a friend's floor in San Diego trying to get noticed in the music industry.

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He spent countless hours on the phone with producers in Los Angeles, sending them examples of the music he had both written and produced.

"Any day I wasn't in LA, I was networking. I was constantly on the phone. I was always doing the stupid stuff you have to do to kind of put yourself out there," Furlong said.

Months after moving to California, Furlong landed his first big gig co-writing the song "Count on You" by Big Time Rush and Jordin Sparks.

"By working my butt off for two months I landed this gig. I didn't really know what I was doing, but I figured I should probably figure it out. That's how I afforded my first apartment in LA," Furlong said.

Since that time Furlong has been working as an independent music producer with people like Colbie Calliat, and people in the electronic music world like Steve Aoki.

Just before writing his hit "The Nights" Furlong worked with now chart-topping 5 Seconds of Summer, writing three songs on the Australian band's record.

"They just kind of came out of nowhere. We kind of took a shot in the dark, me and the collaborator did," Furlong said. "They were still unsigned and we just started jamming on all these songs. A month later they announced they were going to open for One Direction. A month later they were signed with Capital Records and now they are headlining their own show this year."

It was after working with 5 Seconds of Summer that Furlong began working on new material like his song "The Nights".

"I wrote this song, but didn't really know what to do with it at first. I collaborated with two friends on it and started writing music for it. I just had this song ready to go, sitting around. I remember the feeling I got when I heard Avicii's 'Wake Me Up'. It was really innovative and different and I honestly couldn't see anyone else singing this thing. It was just a shot in the dark. I sent it to his manager."

A week later the Swedish DJ's manager contacted Furlong, interested in his song.

The group worked on changing notes and lyrics to get the song back to Avicii's traditional electronic dance feel.

Furlong had no idea what the final product sounded like until months later.

"I got a phone call saying 'Check this out'. It was video of him playing it live on his last tour. I didn't even hear a mix of the song. I didn't hear what he did to it. The first time I'm hearing it it is being played for 20,000 people. It was baffling to me. The coolest part was that they thought no one could do the vocal justice so they left my vocal on," Furlong said.

Furlong's love for music was born at 11-years-old from hearing Nirvana coming from his brother's bedroom while they were getting ready for school one morning.

"I remember hearing Nirvana for the first time and it blew my mind. It was amazing," Furlong said.

Furlong began writing his own music to instrumental tracks of other artist's music he bought at a local CD shop in Carson City.

"Around 14 I decided I was going to start writing and producing my own original material. At 17 was when things really started clicking for me," Furlong said.

By then he was producing original music for video games.

Now "The Nights" is being featured on the FIFA 2015 (soccer video game) soundtrack.

Furlong never thought his music would take such a cliché road.

"It always blows my mind that that stereotypical saying of 'a boy from a small town makes it big' really does happen. It just goes to show if you really want to do something you can do it and if it doesn't happen the first time the worst that could happen is that you end up back where you started. There could be another dude making music in his bedroom, perfecting his craft, but hates the idea of living an average life and wants to pack his stuff and move to LA," Furlong said.

"The Nights" repeats what has become the foundation of Furlong's career; live a life to be remembered.

"Seize the day, live life, put yourself out there. You never know what life will give you unless you do it," Furlong said.

The music video that is working on 100 million views on YouTube depicts a friend of Furlong's that has deemed himself a "professional life liver" and the various family trips and adventures he's been on.

"Instead of it being a whole video with my face all over it, it's cooler for me that it elaborates more on the story," Furlong said of the video.

Focusing on family and living life to the fullest in LA, Furlong has not forgotten his Nevada beginnings wearing a key from his childhood home around his neck.

"It's a reminder of where I'm from and to be humble and remember where I came from. There was only one key to the lock on the door to that house. There are so many good memories of my childhood in that house. It's kind of cool to keep a piece of home with me," Furlong said.

Furlong continued that his successes are not only for himself.

"I'm still very much in contact with people I graduated with. It'd kind of like I try to do it so that we can all do it together. I want it to be something that I can share with the people back home. A victory for me is a victory for everybody."

"The Nights" can be viewed on YouTube or Furlong's website