Nothing like before: Nikki Nair’s unpredictable music takes you through a genre vortex – Music


Your music really varies, you transcend genres and your Mixmag the mixture proves it. Is there a way you would describe your own personal style?

No I do not know. I think all I do is techno. I know when people say techno they mean something very specific, but at the heart of my music it’s all techno. I feel like at the heart of it all, I was going to Detroit and thought it all came down to Jeff Mills or something in my head. So even though I do drum’n’bass, I think it’s techno. It’s always techno in my head.

I know you use a variety of technologies, instruments and equipment to make your music, including your Givson Jaguar Bass and your Sony MXP-290 mixing console. Do you still have them and what else do you have?

Yeah it’s all plugged in here and I still use it all! I have collected a bunch of gear over the past few years. I had bass, guitar, and drums for a while, but I didn’t start producing seriously like this until after college. As soon as I found a job, I started buying materials.

What is your thought process behind purchasing new equipment and equipment? You want to adopt the techniques of others, is it your own creativity? What’s going through your mind?

It’s a mixture of these things. As with the E-MU sampler, there is a YouTube video of Dillinja in the studio and that’s what he used, the old E-MU samplers. There’s this drum ‘n’ bass forum called ‘dogs on acid‘where they have sub-forums where they talk about production. These threads are super old, they’re from the 2000s, but they’re talking about E-MU samplers and I wanted to get that sound. I like to use older material because I feel like there is kind of a vibe. I think it may have been improved, but maybe it is my distrust of modern engineers. They have dedicated computers, they have specific chips designed for samplers, while newer technologies have generic chips that are not designed for samplers. For me, it’s an engineering marvel; I think it’s cool that these nerds spent a lot of time on this. I don’t use this in a derogatory way because I think I’m a nerd! But these engineers think of circuits and they think of floating point arithmetic to make this complex machine a perfect violin sound, let’s say. I also think the old material is cool because I don’t think people have techno in mind when making these products, they have medical use or symphonies or film music in mind, but it doesn’t. wasn’t someone to do a dance floor in their room. It was designed for someone to read a 300 page manual and create a soundtrack for a movie.

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This is a really interesting point, I bet there is a lot of creativity in using these devices. How to use and test these old school machines?

Usually I just plug them in and start screwing with them. I don’t like to read manuals or anything. I have a very, very short attention span. I got some pieces of equipment and realized I couldn’t use them! There was that Yamaha QY700 sequencer that I heard using Squarepusher and Robert Hood, and I understood it but I couldn’t get him to do anything! Really, I just plugged things in and saw what happens.

I read that you like math and physics. Does that happen in your music or in what you do?

Yeah, with the way I make songs it’s probably subconscious. For my EP titles, a lot of them are physics-related! I feel like there is some kind of relationship between creativity and math and physics. I don’t think technology is related to math and physics, I think math and physics is more related to the beauty of nature. I am inspired by math and physics. I would never put a funky algorithm in my music or anything – I don’t know how to do that!

Your songs vary in tempo and style. What is your thought process behind this way of transcending genres and is there a particular reason for the unpredictability of some of your music?

Within an individual track, I’m not quite sure. I feel like when I do a single track, I’m just trying to do it; it is not fully conscious. But when it varies from song to song, I don’t want what I’ve created to look too much like something I’ve done before. Sometimes this feeling is stronger than usual; I don’t even want it to be the same genre, especially if I’ve leaned too much into certain sounds. In the recent EP, while I was doing a lot of these tracks, I was particularly frustrated that I relied too much on things like electro breakbeats. There are still pauses and stuff in there, but I didn’t want to feel like I was just doing one thing. I am bored if I repeat myself.

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You recently released “More Is Different” as part of Dirtybird Records’ “White Label” series. How did the EP creation process go? And can you describe your journey with Dirtybird?

Most of this EP was done during the pandemic. It’s kind of a “dancefloor”, but it would be harder to play on a dance floor unless it’s a festival or something like that – like an American-style festival where you play melting songs, instead of trying to make people dance. I was just trying to push myself with the production and so that was the process, I was trying to learn new techniques. I wanted to do things that I could continue to get excited about and not be too comfortable with.

And the trip with Dirtybird, I got an email during the pandemic – I remember I was at work and I had an email in my inbox from Claude VonStroke. Originally, I thought it was spam, in a way, because I was like “why?” », And it was totally unexpected. I really thought it was just some kind of contest or something. I asked “why would he email me?” Because I don’t know how I would be on his radar. But he heard my track on Nala‘s [TV Party] flux [on the Dirtybird Live streaming network] – Nala is another DJ from Dirtybird – and he just asked me if I sent any tracks and I did, then he liked them and asked me if I wanted to release them on the label. That was it, it was that simple. It was easy to work with them, they supported me a lot and they did not ask me to change the way I do anything.

So you just said that the pandemic influenced the way you made your songs less ‘dance-y’ and more ‘face melt-y’ – would you say if the pandemic hadn’t happened this EP would have could turn out differently?

I think it could have been a bit more functional. I may not have hit such a high pace. During the pandemic I made a lot of friends on the internet that I may not have met in real life and they play over 160 BPM music; such as Anna morgan of The worst behavioral records. A lot of that also goes through Addison Groove who also does things on Twitch. I think meeting these people on the internet made me more excited to do stuff with a higher BPM and start doing 160 instead of everything being between 130, 140, or 150, like I did. was before.

You sound pretty international and have worked with Rinse FM from London, Reprezent Radio and other organizations in cities around the world and in the United States. Has working with artists in the UK and around the world influenced your sound?

Ah, definitely! I think the first UK label I worked with was scuffed, and before that, I considered myself a predominantly American dance musician. A lot of the music and records that I have come mostly from American labels, and I saw Detroit as the focal point of a lot of my style and influences. But working with Scuffed and listening to their music made me feel better about including more British influences in what I did, and ever since I grew up listening to drum’n ‘ bass, it made me realize that I had never tried to explicitly incorporate drum’n’bass into my music. The folks at Scuffed made me understand that. When I went to Reprezent, I met all these people, and I feel like listening to a lot of drum’n’bass gives you a fundamentally British taste because drum’n’bass is very British. So I guess meeting people and working with British people allowed me to incorporate another part of my musical influences into my music.

Drum’n’bass is very British! Do you have a favorite track and what is it and why?

I would say it’s probably ‘Mariah ‘on Suffed. When I did, I felt like I had done something new and I was excited about it. I look back and want to recreate, not the track, but that feeling of creating something new.

Finally, tell us about your Impact mix – these are all your own tracks, which is interesting. What was the thought process behind assembling it with these tracks in particular?

I was really excited that Mixmag asked me to make a mix! So I was like ‘oh I have to make it special’. I played around with the idea of ​​making a mix with all of the original tracks, but never felt ready, and when I had the push I realized it could work. I thought “maybe I have enough to do this” so it was just an attempt to make it work. There are a few tracks that have ADHD DJ there, so these two are collaborative, and I think there might be some edits so maybe it’s non-original material as well. The ADHD DJ tracks I’m really excited about, I love working with him, and I hope I will continue to do so.

Nikki Nair’s ‘More Is Different’ EP Is Now Out, Get It here

Aneesa Ahmed is Mixmag’s digital intern, follow her on Twitter


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