#ThenAndNow: Nic Preen opens up about how his dad pushed him to become a musician

I’ve had both eyes on Nic Preen since he stepped onto the local live music scene in brightly coloured tie-dye as the front man from his former band, Al Bairre. 

Since then he’s ditched the tie-dye and reinvented his signature pop sound with his current band The World of Birds.

Whether he’s strumming a couple of chords on his ukelele, serenading you with the catchiest melodies (serious ear worm disclaimer), or bouncing around the stage, his playful charm is infectious and you can’t get enough of him.

Father’s Day and Youth day happen to fall on the same day this year and The World of Birds is one of three bands celebrating this at Mercury Live this upcoming weekend. The line-up includes Bam Bam Brown and Dope Folks, and the event is called #FreeForFathers.

A very difficult man to pin down, we had a chat with the prince of Cape Town pop about his childhood and his relationship with his dad.

What is your father’s nickname for you? 

Nick. My dad actually invented it. He told me he was the first person to ever shorten someone’s name when speaking and I was that first someone. It was a great honour. That’s why he called it a ‘nickname’ and not a ‘DENname’ – That’s my brothers name by the way. It’s not because I’m the favourite or anything, I’m just older and my dad had been using his name shortening invention for quite some time before Denham was born. Denham is actually the favourite. My friends in primary school all shook my dad’s hand when he picked me up from school in thanks for their ‘Nicknames’. …Everyone except for my friend Richard Stroker.

What was your father’s response when you decided to become a musician?

My dad actually decided I become a musician. Wanted me to live my dreams. I’ve been fighting him about it ever since. Why can’t I become a lawyer or doctor or something? I really just want some stability. I once told him I wanted to be a charted accountant and he laughed at me, just didn’t believe in me I guess . You sing at your mom’s 40th birthday one time and your whole life gets set out for you.

Growing up, did you and pops have any father-son traditions? If so, what were they?

My dad and I would go around introducing my mom to people as Margaret. Her name is Sally.

What is your favourite memory of you and your father?

I lost a dear friend one day and my dad gave me a hug I will never forget. 

What is a song you associate with your father? 

Men at Work “Who Can it Be Now?”

The competition for the city’s dankest dad is heating up…

Find out how you can nominate your old man and what, other than the coveted title, is up for grabs here.