Kizik & Catharsis: Portland transplant Josh Nielsen is excited to start fresh in Eau Claire

Eric Christenson, photos by Andrea Paulseth |

Josh Nielsen
Josh Nielsen

For Josh Nielsen, moving to Eau Claire from Portland was very much an escape. He was going through a pretty tragic breakup, and not feeling the drastic changes to the city he lived in, so he started pursuing a degree in rehabilitation counseling at UW-Stout. Reading about Eau Claire, he heard it was somewhat of a burgeoning music town, so the thought of getting ingrained in that creative energy sounded pretty nice. He’s now channelled many of those bad vibes and sad times into a new self-titled record for his project, Kizik. “I write songs as a way to process the bad stuff,” Nielsen said. “I wouldn’t know what to do with a positive emotion except to feel it.” Kizik boasts a polished alt-rock sound with much of the instrumentation being done by Neilsen himself, with some heavy lyrical content written mostly in a state of insomnia and depression. Album standout “Faith” encapsulates the cynicism of these emotions with lines like “how many evenings will you pray / how many mornings stay the same.” Nielsen said the process of writing, recording, and releasing this record really helped him heal in a big way from dark thoughts and trauma. And that alone is enough. He’s excited to be making stuff, start playing out more in Eau Claire, catching ears, and getting connected with other musicians in the area. Without all the pressure of “making it,” Neilsen said this record is therapeutic for him and helped pull him out of darkness in a real way. Maybe it can do that for you too. To stream and purchase Kizik’s self-titled debut album, go to

Journey Ahead

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