Nicholas Durocher, professionally known as TALK, is returning home after the release of his debut album "Lord of the Flies and Birds and Bees." Photo credit: Carina Allen

Your goals, your career, your college.

That is the motto for Algonquin College, and many students see that motto realized throughout their time on campus. Some find their career after graduation; others discover their goals during their education. In some cases, students discover their careers lie in a different field than what they are studying.

Nicholas Durocher left the school after completing only one year of the public relations program to chase his dreams in the music industry. At the time, he was searching for a program that would further his dreams of becoming a famous musician, but there were limited options.

After a year in the difficult program, Durocher was advised to leave and chase his dreams of making music.

“He (his professor) pulled me aside and he was like, ‘This isn’t what you should be doing, you should be doing music. Your talents are wasted here, go try and make it happen for yourself’,” said Durocher. “So, that’s what I did.”

Growing up, Durocher took music lessons, including piano, guitar and drums, and his devotion to music grew as he aged. In high school and the beginning of college, he collaborated with several different small rock bands and a solo artist, until he decided to branch off and focus on his own craft.

“I was always playing with other people and collaborating with other people,” said Durocher. “And then at one point, probably in that year 2013-2014, I started just trying to be with myself.”

Seven years after he left Algonquin, Durocher, now professionally known as TALK, released his hit single Run Away to Mars in 2021. Only a year later, that song made him an international success.

Durocher has been passionate about music his entire life, and during his time at Algonquin, he was given the advice that pushed him to chase his aspirations. Now, with the success of his hit single, and the release of his debut album Lord of the Flies & Birds & Bees coming out Oct. 20, TALK is returning home for the final three shows of his tour with his dreams now a reality.

“We’ve done a lot in the last few years,” said Durocher. “It’s felt short, but a lot at the same time. It feels like Mars blew up yesterday, but it was a year ago.”

“He’s earned it,” said Stephen Heckbert, a former professor in the public relations program. “It’s not an easy road to get there, it requires such a commitment and such a dedication to your craft, and you’ve got to be good at it.”

Although it took some time to reach his goals, Durocher worked hard for many years to get there.

“It was by no means instant success,” said Durocher. “I worked classic minimum wage jobs for a couple of years while doing music stuff on the side and kind of sharpened my skills.”

As Run Away to Mars exploded on TikTok and other social media platforms, the halls of Algonquin College’s N-building echoed with the lyrics as the CKDJ radio station played it on repeat.

“He plays a lot on CKDJ,” said radio broadcasting student Davide Donato, 19. “We have lessened it from what it was before. (Run Away to Mars) used to be on power (most frequently played).”

Lord of the Flies & Birds & Bees is set to release on Oct. 20, featuring his songs Run Away to Mars, A Little Bit Happy, and Afraid of the Dark.

“I like his music, I think it’s pretty cool,” said Donato. “It doesn’t sound like music that comes out often, because lately it’s been a lot of rap and stuff like that. So, hearing this kind of music is nice.”

A goal has been met, a career set in motion. But Durocher’s dreams are as high as Mars, and who’s to say he won’t reach it?

“I always dreamed of being at the top. I feel like I want to be Beyoncé,” said Durocher. “I could do this for 40 years, but I would love to tour arenas and be the best in the world.”

“I think he’s the perfect example of what an Algonquin College success story would look like,” said Heckbert. “Sometimes the path someone chooses is not the path they are meant to be on, but the goal is to give them the tools so that they can take advantage of whatever opportunities life throws their way.”