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Nikola Jovanovic [Interview]

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Nikola Jovanovic is a progressive house music producer based in Belgrade, Serbia. With a passion for crafting emotive and dynamic tracks that blend melodic hooks with driving rhythms, Nikola has quickly gained recognition in the electronic music scene by releasing his music on leading labels such as AH Digital, in2U Records, Future Avenue, Big Bells Records and more. This week sees Nikola with the most anticipated release of his career, with his debut on Deep Down Music with 'Archipelago', alongside a remix from John Cosani.

Progressive Astronaut caught up with Nikola to learn more about the release of ‘Archipelago’, his background, studio process, inspirations and more. Enjoy.

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

Hello and thank you for having me! First of all, I must express how incredibly honored I am to be speaking with you! :)

My current mood is simply amazing; there's no better feeling than knowing that my long-anticipated track is just around the corner, ready to be released. Even more so, it's an absolute joy to know that it will be featured on one of my favorite labels!

Lastly I’ve listened to amazing releases that just came out from Deep Down Music recently.

Take us through a day in your life, from a possible morning routine through to your production work and otherwise, please.

Not that interesting ha-ha. I work as a consultant in regular working hours, and after work, I tend to spend some time outside with my loved ones. But at night, it's 'my time'—a period dedicated solely to production during late hours. It's the time I cherish, as it allows me to focus on myself, making it undoubtedly the best part of my day!

Tell us about growing up in Serbia, how did you discover electronic music (and more specifically progressive house) there and who were some local DJs and producers you looked up to early on?

I started listening to electronic music when I was around 9, mostly by listening to some CDs I had at that time. My musical taste went through different evolutionary phases, but I fell in love with the progressive sound around 2006. When I was younger, I used to watch the EXIT festival on TV, where I could hear a lot of different DJs spinning various genres of electronic music, and that surely influenced my musical taste.

To be honest, I didn't really look up to local DJs and producers. I mostly listened to foreign ones, and Eric Prydz was my favorite DJ and producer from 2005 for a long time, as his sound was what I really enjoyed during that period.

If you were a tour guide for nightlife in Serbia, what would be the clubs you’d take the people to see and what local DJs do they need to hear?

In Serbia, especially in Belgrade, you can find anything to suit everybody's taste, literally, 24/7. However, when it comes to my musical preferences, I'd say two places have special places in my heart - Barutana and 25th Bar.

There are so many talented local DJs who are not well-exposed, and both of the places mentioned above provide these DJs with an opportunity to showcase their skills. A big shout out to them!

Where do we find you if you are not DJing or socializing at clubs? And doing what?

I’m actually not DJing at any club; I'm just doing it with my friends to have a great time. :) In general, I enjoy being with positive people and sharing great energy. It really doesn’t matter where and when.

You’re still quite a new producer with just a handful of releases out but what advice would you have for artists who are just trying to find their way in learning production techniques? What or who helped you make progress early on?

Not sure if I’m the right person to give that kind of advice yet. :) What I can just say – everything is possible with work and dedication. That’s my motto and something that pushes me forward, since I still have a lot of doubts as well.

If I may, I’d like to mention 3 persons who helped in different ways.
– My friend Maxa who introduced me to DAWs when we were just playing around with music in our highschool days and who I bother the most with my new songs. :)
– My friend and talented producer Hobin Rude who was a turnaround point in my head when I saw big things are actually possible, humble and always eager to help.
– Last one, but not the least, is my friend Veljko Jovic, who’s one of the best producers out there, who helped so much with all of his advices.

You have a new single ‘Archipelago’ out now via Deep Down Music, tell us about the track release and how it showcases your current sound.

I can't wait for the release, to be honest! It's definitely one of the most anticipated releases from my end. When I was creating that track, I was just experimenting, trying to find a deeper emotion within myself, and I'm glad I managed to do so! While making the song, I imagined myself on an archipelago island, experiencing inner peace and enjoyment! :)

As a new producer, I'm still experimenting with different sounds, but this track definitely incorporates most of the progressive elements I'd like to stick with in future releases.

Progressive House veteran John Cosani delivered an awesome remix for you on this release, was he someone who you had in mind to remix the track? And how do you feel about your music being remixed in general?

When I found out that John would be working on my track, at first, I was scared, thinking about what he would think of my music, but at the same time, I felt excited!

What can I say about John? He's one of the best producers out there, and I've been listening to his tracks for years now. Having him as a remixer for my track is something I wouldn't even have dreamed of in my wildest imagination.

I have great admiration for people who can produce remixes. For me, it's a little harder compared to creating originals because with originals, you have complete freedom in choosing your inspiration and direction. However, when remixing, your creative freedom is not as extensive as when working on an original track, at least that's how I see it. So, a big shoutout to all the talented remixers out there! :)

This is your first appearance on Deep Down Music, what is it about the label that makes it a good home for your music?

I'm still not sure if I'm dreaming or not, ha-ha! Deep Down Music label is one of the labels I have admired for a long time, and it has a kind of spiritual essence for me. It's not just because it's a big label; there's something special about it, and that's my inner feeling.

Over the years, many of my favorite producers have released music on this label. The thing with Deep Down Music is that it's literally made for music lovers, and it provides support not only to famous producers but also to newcomers. I am incredibly grateful to Mark for giving me this amazing opportunity and for supporting my music whenever he can!

Let our readers inside your studio, what is your current setup, and what tools are featured heavily in the writing of ‘Archipelago’.

My current setup is not that big. I use Ableton as my DAW, DT 770 studio headphones, and an Alesis Q49 MIDI keyboard. Nowadays, you don't really need much to make music, which doesn't mean it's bad to have more equipment, of course. However, I like the motto of making the best out of what you have.

What is the task you enjoy the most when producing and what would you prefer someone else to do?

I try to enjoy the whole process in general. That feeling when you find the sound you were looking for is definitely the best feeling. I don't prefer having somebody else work on my tracks because that's where my freedom lies and it's my way to express myself. The only thing I’d always ask others to do is mastering for sure.

Now let’s talk about DJing for a moment, it’s a unique discipline at the border between presenting great music and creating something new with it, between composition and improvisation to an extent. How would you describe your approach to it?

I consider DJing and music production as completely different crafts. Nowadays, top DJs simply don’t have enough time to dedicate to production, and vice versa, if you’re really good at music production, you simply can’t dedicate a lot of time to DJing.

DJing is much more than just playing one produced track; it’s about the whole journey and flow of emotions. On the other hand, when you’re creating a track, you're fully focused on that particular piece with all of its details. From my perspective, I'd say it's a completely different story.

I would do DJing just to be able to see the reaction of people while listening to my tracks. It's a nice way to contribute to both DJing and music production. I still haven't had the chance to do that, but hopefully, I will!

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?

All of these artists from the list should have at least have 5h to play if you ask me :) But if that would be for a single night, schedule would be:

22-00h Sasha
00-02h Guy J
02-04h Hernan Cattaneo
04-06h John Digweed
06-08h Eric Prydz

Current five favourite tracks?

1. Pryda-Armed (Original Mix)
2. Hakan Ozurun-Life Invader (Original Mix)
3. Mayro-Tactical (Original Mix)
4. Hobin Rude-The Only Thing That Matters (Original Mix)
5. GMJ-Stage Flight (Jiminy Hop Remix)

Apart from music, what makes you happiest?

That feeling when you know you gave your all, nevertheless what’s it related to.

What does the remainder of 2023 hold for you? Anything you can share with us?

A lot of upcoming releases in the following months, and hopefully, there will be improvement in my own music. I am so grateful to have been able to meet so many amazing people during this past year when my music journey started. Thanks to all of them!

Again, thanks for having me!

'Archipelago' is available now via Deep Down Music: https://bit.ly/3OFo1fw

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