Composer Nik Phelps lives in Gent, Belgium with his wife, Nancy and Remi, a West Highland Terrier. He has recorded with Tom Waits and Dan Hicks, and has appeared with Tony Bennett, Earl "Fatha" Hines, Frank Zappa, Joe Williams and numerous other popular musicians.
Having spent twenty years as a wind instrument performance specialist, Nik began to work more exclusively on film composition upon joining the Club Foot Orchestra in 1989. In the CFO, widely known for creating eclectic and insightful soundtracks for silent films, Nik began working with the techniques of modern and period composition that he had immersed himself in as an instrumental musician. His work in this period included music for Fritz Lang's Metropolis, Buster Keaton's Sherlock, Jr., and G.W. Pabst's Pandora's Box. Llater compositions include commercial music for companies such as Herman Miller, Intel and the Smithsonian Institute, and film soundtracks for independent animators including , and .
As one of the lead composers in the CFO, he composed music for the CBS animated series The Twisted Tales of Felix the Cat, and in October 1996 was nominated for an Annie Award for Individual Achievement in Music by (International Animated Film Society for songs he wrote for the Felix series. As a result of his associations with and, later the Film Arts Foundation,(now ), he recognized a need and desire to develop a wider audience for the wide range of independent animation and film being currently produced, both by veteran artists and skilled newcomers.
In early 1997, he started his group, the Sprocket Ensemble, which, along with the concert series Ideas in Animation, was created to present workshop performances of his original music accompanying these films, featuring a variety of guest performing artists. In 1997, the Sprocket Ensemble was featured in concert at the 13th Annual Film Arts Festival, won an SF Weekly Wammie in the Beyond field, and provided ninety minutes of new music at the New Music Marathon - Opus 415. In following years, Nik obtained the fiscal sponsorship of the Film Arts Foundation and received grants through The Better World Fund, Meet The Composer and other funding organization, to create new works for Ideas in Animation.
Current projects include composing, arranging and recording music for independent animators, and holding workshops at universities and festivals on topics ranging from "Soundtrack Creation for Film" and "A History of Animation Through Music" to "Directors and Composers - a Working Relationship". He is currently organizing performances of Ideas in Animation, playing with singer/songwriter Tino Biddeloo in his and with traditional jazz group The Vintage Jazz Cats, and appears regularly at sessions in West Flanders. Besides his playing and writing, Nik acts as a consultant in woodwind instrument and mouthpiece technology and modification.