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Nick Newman [Interview]

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Manual Music is proud to present the first ever album release on its Manual Deep subsidiary. It's something they've been working towards for a while now and what better day to release it on the artists' birthday. Here we go with Nick Newman's long awaited debut album 'Wonder of You'. The album consists of 12 tracks, blending elements of minimalistic electronica with lush dreamy melodies. It's a journey into the deep, a playground for those who like their music intelligent, heady and rich of detail. Go ahead and dive into this timeless piece of electronic music, you won't be disappointed. We had a chance to catch up with Nick for an interview leading up to the release as well and we hope you enjoy it.

Hi Nick, thanks for joining us. What is your current mood and what was the last piece of music you listened to?

Hi! I really appreciate the opportunity to talk with you. I am well and definitely excited about future endeavors and the opportunity to grow as an artist. I feel like I am just getting starting with music. The last couple of years have been filled with releases I am proud of. The last song I actually listened to was Armen Miran’s remix of Scar In The Sky. Wonderful piece.

How’s your year been so far? And what are your plans for the coming week?

It’s early here and I am work preparing for this week. I am a college coach in the NCAA so there is always something to do. We have a lot of prospective athletes visiting us this coming weekend it will be a busy one.

Do you consider yourself a DJ or producer first? And which do you enjoy more and why?

I actually started DJing long before I thought about producing music. I began Djing when I was 13 or 14 but stopped around 17. I am definitely more of a producer now but would like to balance that eventually. My memories of playing in clubs were special and I miss that feeling. I love making new melodies though and it is also a great feeling when something beautiful is created.

 Talk to us about growing up and living in the UK and then eventually moving to the USA, how has it affected your musical taste and the music you make?

I grew up in a small town in England during the 90’s. The rave scene was pretty big at the time and was my first major musical influence. I gravitated toward happy hardcore and began DJing relatively young. I was deep into the race culture for a short time but inevitably opportunities in sport saw me drift away from music. I came to the US when I was 18 to pursue basketball and eventually would focus on Track & Field in college and beyond. Over the next 10 years I focused on being an athlete, earning an education, and becoming at coach. I never stopped listening to music but never considered returning to DJing and definitely not producing. Trance music was my go-to genre during my athletic career. It was an injury when I was 28 that effectively ended my athletics career and pushed me back into music. After watching a youtube video on music production I decided to give it a try. I feel like I picked up the concepts pretty quick, but I definitely wasn’t “good” for several years. The melodic aspects of happy hardcore and trance along with some groove influences of hip hop and RnB have likely shaped the music I make today.

 What are some of your best memories from first going to clubs? Were there specific nights or sets that really made you feel you wanted to pursue electronic music?

The small town I grew up in had one nightclub, Legends. Every Friday night they dedicated a couple of hours to electronic dance music. Those nights sparked by interest for sure. I always remember wishing I was the DJ. Dancing was never really my thing. I eventually began playing during those nights. Watching my friends dancing to my sets was a great feeling.

Can you name five tracks that were important in your musical development and why they are so significant for you?

Without really having to think about it the following tracks hit me the hardest and will forever be my favorites.

Sunlounger – Lost (Chill Mix)

The Doppler Effect - Beauty Hide In The Deep (The Blizzard Remix)

Andrew McDonnell – Patience of Envy (Navar Inside Out Mix)

Aly & Fila ft Jwaydan – We Control The Sunlight

BT – Skylarking

The feelings that these songs nuture are what make them so significant to me. They each represent vivid memories in my life. The aim to create music that allow such feelings to grow.

 Your debut album ‘Wonder of You’ is coming out shortly on Paul Hazendonk’s Manual Deep imprint, which is the label’s first ever artist album, please tell us about the release and how these tracks showcase your sound.

Each song evokes a feeling that everyone can relate to. Joy, sadness, passion, anxiety, love, uncertainly, hope, inspiration, freedom, and more. There is an organic beauty within each song that presents an opportunity for balance and expression. Those qualities are what my sound is all about.

Tell us how it began to take shape? Was there an initial goal of writing an album from the beginning or did this happen organically in a way?

Creating an album was not the initial goal. However, it occurred after almost a year without touching anything music related. I guess music was in there just waiting to escape. Each song happened relatively quickly, and it took shape organically over a few months. As always, I begin with experimental melodies and sound combinations. Once I find what I like and continue to evolve the melody and theme. Then I move onto the next song. Once I had several loops, I knew I had something special growing. I continued and ended up with 15 full loops. Then, one by one I turned them into songs.

The album is quite varied but there is an underlying organic and emotional quality which runs through all the tracks, whether they are made more for the dance floor or not. Where does the impulse to create something come from for you? What role do often-quoted sources of inspiration like dreams, other forms of art, personal relationships, politics etc play? Tell us about the inspiration behind the album and why it was important for you to express your thoughts, ideas and feelings with such a diverse selection of sounds.

My life has gone through a lot of change over the past few years, Both personal and professional. I have experienced a lot of emotion, all kinds. In retrospect, these experiences were being stored internally… Creating this album simply allowed me to express them. For me music is more of a subconscious creation, and I don’t necessarily give it a lot of “thought”.

 What does your studio set-up look like? Do you favor physical gear over digital? And what studio tools featured heavily in the writing of ‘Wonder of You’?

Relatively basic. I use ableton live, I have a 2 external synths, and a midi keyboard. I use omnisphere, nexus, and massive most for sound design. I am far more familiar with digital gear, but analogue sound certainly has a special presence.

Let’s continue talking about production for a moment, for you to get started on a track do there need to be concrete ideas – or what some have called ‘visualizations’ of the finished work? What does the balance between planning and chance look like for you?

I generally know what I'm “going for” when I begin but also never stop the natural process from occurring. Sometimes I end up with something completely different and that’s ok. I always start with pads, melody, and sound design/combinations.

 Do you have certain rituals to get you into the right mindset for creating? What role do certain foods or stimulants like coffee, lighting, scents, exercise or reading poetry play?

I definitely have something. I begin almost every song by laying on the couch and experimenting on the laptop… Once things are underway, I move to the studio. The couch is my creative place.

Especially in the digital age, the writing and production process tends towards the infinite, I think. What marks the end of the process for you? How do you know when a track is done?

I probably create at least 10 “FINAL Tracks” per track. When I can listen to it through my Beyerdynamics multiple times with my eyes closed and nothing annoys me, I know its done.

 Once a piece is finished, how important is it for you to let it lie and evaluate it later on? How much improvement and refinement do you personally allow until you're satisfied with a piece? What does this process look like in practice?

Seemingly endless referencing happens with each “final version” of a track. That part of the process always takes a few days or more. Most of the time ill make tiny edits to transitions or the odd note in a melody.

I would guess the writing of the album was a long process, now that it’s done what are your thoughts reflecting back on the process?

I am very happy with the final album. Wonder Of You (the single) is particularly special to me. The melody is endless and I am very proud of that track.

How would you feel about these tracks being remixed? And are there plans for this?

If the right artist approach me then it is a possibility. Generally, I am not a huge fan of remixes.

What’s the task you enjoy the most when producing and what is something you’d rather have taken care of by somebody else?

Mixing and arrangement is my favorite part. Mastering not so much.

If you could set up an event with a line-up of five artists of your choice, who would you book and what set times would you ascribe to the artists?

9-10 – Nick Newman

10-11 – MUUI

11-1 – Nick Warren & Hernan Cattaneo

1-3 – Guy J

3-4 - Budakid

What would be a musical extravagance for your studio you would pay for, if you were very wealthy?

My studio would look like BT’s and I would use 1/10th of it ☹ It would be awesome to have though. That’s a lot of wires!

What’s a book you’ve read or film you watched that has left an impact on you, and why?

Déjà vu… It really makes you value time and life.

What’s a superpower you wish you had and how would you use it?

Unlimited musical talent. I would it share it with everyone.

If you could travel anywhere for one day, all laws and limitations void, where would it be?

Definitely far into the future… Maybe a few 100 years or so. Curious what a mess earth will be by then.

In your opinion, what’s the biggest risk you’ve taken and what made you do it?

Leaving all I knew at aged 17 and moving to the US. Everything was unknown and I had no idea how I was going to make a life for myself over here.

Apart from music, what makes you happiest?

My 2 daughters, going places with them. I love playing darts, writing, watching The Office, playing basketball.

What does the remainder of 2022 hold for you? Anything you can share with us?

I have several unreleased songs at the moment. I’ll continue to make music and explore new labels. I do have a release on one of my all time favorite labels in January… But that remains a secret 😊

'Wonder of You' is out now via Manual Deep: http://manual-music.lnk.to/MANDEEP048

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