Nicolas Collins was born in New York City in 1954. He studied composition with Alvin Lucier at Wesleyan University, where he received his B.A. and M.A. He has performed as a composer and presented audio installations throughout the United States, Europe, South America and Japan. His work is represented on many recordings and has been broadcast on radio and television around the world. He was a pioneer in the use of microcomputers in live performance, and has made extensive use of "home-made" electronic circuitry, radio, found sound material, and transformed musical instruments. His recent work emphasizes spoken word, and combines idiosyncratic electronics with conventional acoustic instruments
Collins is also prominent as a curator of performance and installation art, and has been a board member, curator and policy advisor for numerous cultural organizations, including PS1, The Clocktower, The Kitchen, Roulette, Studio PASS, the Relache ensemble, De IJsbreker, Podewil and the Internationalen Musikfestwochen Luzern. In 1992 he relocated from New York to the Netherlands, where he was for three years Visiting Artistic Director of Stichting STEIM in Amsterdam. In 1996-97 he was a DAAD composer-in-residence in Berlin. He lives in Berlin with his wife, writer Susan Tallman, and their son and daughter.