Nick Begbie


Nick grew up in a very musical family, however bucked the hereditary inclination for a while to graduate from The Australian National University (ANU) in 1994 with a Bachelor of Arts in Asian Studies (Japanese/Linguistics). His inescapable genes caught up with him again during his non-musical studies, however, and he’s been a professional singer since before his graduation from the ANU.

A lack of formal musical education didn’t slow him down, and he shortly thereafter (along with three friends from the Canberra School of Music’s vocal jazz ensemble), co-founded what was to become Australia’s most successful, most awarded, best-selling and longest-running contemporary a cappella groups ever.

While all that was happening, however, Nick was involved in a wide variety of musical groups - as a piano/vocalist throughout university, a soloist and lead in musical theatre (roles include 'Hero' from Sondheim's 'A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum', and Jesus in Lloyd-Weber's 'Jesus Christ Superstar'), fronting a big band, small jazz ensembles and as a member of a wide range of a cappella vocal groups. In one of these, a barbershop quartet – 'Four to the Bar' – produced the gold medal winning performance from forty-four other groups at the Australian National Barbershop Convention in 1997.

Nick is now the sole remaining founding member of The Idea of North, and is looking forward to eventually getting some long service leave (but not in any hurry for it).

Anagram of your name? Big sociable hen. I belch begonias. Singable bi-echo. (So many to choose from.)

If you weren’t a singer in The Idea of North, what would you be doing?  Wishing I were a singer in The Idea of North.

Most embarrassing moment on stage? No, my most embarrassing moment wasn't on stage.

Any on-tour shenanigans you wish to share? The time I was refused entry into a Brisbane pub because I had shorts on. Further enquiries revealed that girls were allowed to wear shorts even though guys weren't. So naturally I wanted to know if guys could wear skirts in. They didn't have a policy on this so couldn't refuse me. Trish (then soprano) and I swapped our bottom halves and I went in with her (long) skirt on. They gave me a free drink. Trish looked pretty funny in my shorts. I was smokin', although Trish's didn't fit me quite as well as some of my own skirts.

How do you prepare for a gig? Make sure I've just won a game of Scrabble. Even if I've just played against myself.

Top 5 favourite singers (in no particular order) Kenny Rankin, Sara Bareilles, Kurt Elling, Lior, Sting

Top 5 favourite bands (in no particular order) The Milk Carton Kids, The Police, Nils Landgren Funk Unit, Vulfpeck, Jamiroquai

Top 5 favourite albums (in no particular order) 'Brand New Day' – Sting, 'Never Quite' – Naked Raven, 'Hand-Built by Robots' – Newton Faulkner, 'Tremble My Heart' – Rebecka Törnqvist, 'Hooked on Classics III' – Various Artists

Top 5 favourite vocal groups (in no particular order) Naturally Seven, Rajaton, The Real Group, Amarcord, Bobby McFerrin, The New York Voices (whoops, that’s six).

Top 5 favourite songs (in no particular order) 'This Woman's Work' (Kate Bush), 'The Pirate's Bride' (Sting), 'You're Not Listening' (The Rescues), 'I'll Only Miss Her When I Think of Her' (standard, Sandro Bellino performance), 'A Case of You' (Joni Mitchell). OK. So, I’m a sucker for a good ballad. These are interchangeable with any number of other amazing ballads.

If you could only eat one cuisine for the rest of your life, it would be? And money were no object? And money were no object? Japanese. Or Mexican. Oh, or Indian. Vietnamese, maybe.

As an original founding member of TION, did you imagine or hope for TION's current status in the music industry? Describe your personal journey over the years and the changes you've seen unfold for TION through that time. TION was really one big accident that has had to become less and less accidental over the years. Most of what we do now is very deliberate and planned, which has helped us survive as a business. I couldn't have imagined this becoming our job for so long (since 1998). It may not pay so well, but I'd hazard a guess it's one of the better jobs in the world... Changes? Too many to list here!

Favourite types of TION gigs? Gigs for 'vocal' audiences – we love it when you make a lot of noise!

Favourite or most memorable TION gig(s)(specific) so far? One of the most memorable would have to be performing for a corporate audience who made sure they were always about 30db louder than us at all times. This was not my favourite gig, but it sure was memorable.

Best part of this job? Making people feel - emotions, that is!

What were you like in High School? Skinny. Square. Studious. So much can change in 30 years.

What is your pet peeve? The incorrect coupling of the compound word “there's” with a plural subject, e.g. 'There's lots of people who say that wrong!' (incorrectly, even).

What do you love about the other TION members specifically and individually, musically and also on a personal level? I love the specific individuality that the others bring to the group, both musically and personally. In all seriousness, the members of The Idea of North combine to create something that is far beyond its individual parts. That's the exciting part. As far as my lovely colleagues go, the shared passion for what we do is something I love about them all.

Specifically, though? Naomi's innately musical and emotionally insightful being, Em's awesome sense of humour and amazing wysiwyg-ness, Luke's generosity and humility and Kai’s gratitude and passion for music.

Favourite TION tour so far? Can't pick one. That's just too hard a question. Study tour 2005 (USA). Amazing Voice with The Real Group, Rajaton & M-Pact 2008 (Korea), Leipzig A Cappella Festival 2017 (GERMANY). Bathurst & Dubbo 2012 (RURAL NSW). Too many to choose from.

What is your ideal holiday (including what you wouldn't like to happen or do)? Time with family and friends without ANY work deadlines looming.

Who does your hair, make-up? Any secrets? Me + GHD.

Who would you invite to your ideal dinner party? My friends. However, to the 'you could invite anyone' dinner party (as opposed to my 'ideal' dinner party), I'd invite Eckhart Tolle, Brene Brown and Sting for conversation and Ben Stiller to ask him what he was thinking making the THIRD 'Meet The Parents' movie.

Which (10-ish) groups/bands would play at your ideal music festival if you were the director? Queen. Naked Raven. Bobby McFerrin. Sting. The Real Group. Stevie Wonder. Sting. Ray Brown Trio. Jamiroquai. Michael Jackson. Sting. Oscar Peterson. Michael Bublé.