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NYKY [Interview]

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Music is an odyssey. Inspired by a wide array of different musical genres, NYKY guides you through a diverse and unique blend of progressive techno, deep house and dance music. Taking the listener on an intense voyage of emotional discovery, he helps guide through the dark and obscure and onto joyous moments of ecstasy through powerful basslines, soaring melodies and energetic rhythms. NYKY creates a tension-laid story through his music; his dreamy and hypnotic builds are only interrupted to challenge and re-energize the listener’s dream-like state for the next emotionally intense chapter of the tale. Join the journey. This week finds NYKY launching his new 'Senaca Recordings' imprint with 'Lacrimosa', a melodic breaks track with club-effective vocals and a strong tension filled storyboard.

Progressive Astronaut caught up with NYKY to learn more about the release of ‘Lacrimosa’, his background, nightlife in France, studio process, DJing, and more. Enjoy.

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

Hey guys, it’s my pleasure! I’m pretty chilled today, it’s the weekend so I’m relaxing and producing. I think the last piece of music I listened to was Machine Gun Funk by Biggie. I’m a bit gangsta like that.

How has your start to the year been and what are your plans for the coming week?

Pretty busy, I have really been doing the last bits of preparation for the launch of Seneca. I’ve never started a label so this is all a bit new to me. For the rest of the week, I have a couple of tracks I need to finish off and also some final pieces of the puzzle for the label launch.

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?

I started going to raves when I was living in Birmingham around the age of 22 when I was really introduced to house music, but I was more a passive listener then. I really started getting into house music when I was around 25 or 26 or so when I was living in London, so some of my most memorable nights are at Egg London (I performed at Egg last summer which was a real honour!). I remember going to see Pete Tong and Eli & Fur there and thinking they were awesome. This was also around the time that I first went to Ibiza and went to Pacha and Hi where I saw DJs like Solomun and Camelphat.

I think the first time I really considered producing was after seeing Artbat at ADE, there was just something incredibly magical about their set and tracks, and I almost immediately downloaded FL Studio (although I’m now an Ableton fanboy). However, out of all the DJs I’ve seen live, my favourite set was probably Yotto at the Brixton Academy in London - I just remember being super enthralled by his track selection all night.

How did growing up in UK influence your music taste and direction? Or did it all?

I think that the UK has had a massive influence on me musically. I’ve been through a lot of different musical phases in my life, from listening to my sister’s music when I was a kid (like the Spice Girls and Destiny’s Child), and also loads of R&B at that time, and later I got into rap (and especially 90s rap) in a big way. I was also massively into UK Grime for quite a while. Later on in life I listened to loads of famous huge artists from the Beatles, the Rolling Stones and Ray Charles. Ray Charles probably sings several of my all time favourite songs. Since then I’ve really been listening to house music. It's not controversial to say that house music is huge in the UK, there’s just so much variety from so many talented artists and the industry is huge.

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

I’d probably take them to Yoyo, Rex or T7, three great and pretty famous clubs in Paris. Like the UK, France has a great electronic music scene, there are so many great producers; Notre Dame, Alex Wann and Romain Garcia to name a few. Shoutout to Helkah and K•Ban, two awesome up and coming French producers!

Your productions tend to have a nice balance of melodic house and progressive qualities, the former is still quite a trendy sound so how important do you think it is for artists like yourself to follow along with these trends?

Honestly, I try to do whatever I want. I think you’re ultimately setting yourself up for unhappiness if you are following a trend you don’t like, simply because it is ‘trendy’. I think a producer’s artistic output should be real to them. We are of course shaped by trends, but I guess whatever feels right artistically to make is what an artist should do. Seneca is really about this - often I send tracks to labels and receive feedback to change parts. Some of the feedback is useful and can be used to make my music better but other times I disagree. So Seneca can be a true representation of me.

You have a new single ‘Lacrimosa’ out now via your new Seneca Recordings imprint. Tell us a bit about the track and how it showcases your current sound.

This track has actually been sitting on my hard drive for over a year now, but has undergone a series of changes from the first version and I think it's a much better track for it. It’s dark, moody and kind of dramatic, and even a little nostalgic? These are feelings I generally try to evoke in my music, alongside hopefully also being danceable. I really like the juxtaposition of dark and moody dance music. Dancing is naturally quite a happy thing to be doing so pairing this with harmonies and melodies which are darker and grimier is what I really feel comes naturally to me.

You’ve been releasing music for around three years now, so why was now the right time to start your own label?

Honestly, I think my sound is a mix of all my influences and some of my tracks don’t have a natural home. They are progressive, but not progressive enough for some labels. They are melodic, but don't fit at melodic techno or melodic house labels. My music can be trancey but isn’t trance. So I figured as my sound develops, it gives me a whole level of creative freedom to do whatever I want without thinking about how it fits to a certain label. Seneca is basically my baby, so I’m free from any other type of influence and can release whatever I want. Also not being tied to another label’s release schedule means I can be much more flexible with my release schedule.

Now that you are a label owner, how do you decide which of your tracks you want to release there as opposed to shopping them to other labels?

For the moment, I’ll only be releasing my own music on Seneca, though I can maybe see a future where I’m releasing other artists’ music. In terms of my own artistic output, I think my own natural style sometimes doesn’t fit nicely into a box and this is what I’m going to release on Seneca. It’ll mostly be stuff that I vibe with and allows me my own creative freedom.

Let our readers inside your studio for a moment, what is your current setup and what studio tools are featured heavily in your recent productions and more specifically on ‘Lacrimosa’?

So I’m use Ableton as my DAW. I pretty much produce in the box, with a MIDI keyboard but I think my favourite things in my studio are my speakers - the KALI IN-8s. I’m not sponsored by them (although if they’d like to…), but they made one hell of a studio monitor. In terms of plugins, Diva is just a classic, very musical synth that is used in all my tracks, and Vital is very good too. I recently changed over to Mac after only ever using Windows and has made me regret not doing it sooner.

Finding the right track to launch a label is always a daunting task, what was it about ‘Lacrimosa’ that made it the right one to launch Seneca?

I could have started with so many tracks, but this one had been around for the longest! I’ve had some nice feedback on this track from established artists and people in the industry so let’s see how it lands.

What does inspiration come from for you and was there anything specific that inspired ‘Lacrimosa’?

I always find a huge amount of inspiration from the club. Just that feeling of the bass shaking your body always give me plenty of inspiration the next day - usually when I'm dying of hangover, when what else is there to do but make beats anyway?

With Lacrimosa, I pretty much sat down and it wrote itself, but it sort of reminded me of mass for some reason? (just don’t ask me what sort of mass I've been to…). The name means ‘weeping’ in Latin and I just think it's a really beautiful word.

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

My favourite part is that feeling of starting something new in a blank project, and also finding a sound that you think would be very difficult for somebody else to recreate. Creating totally unique sounds is becoming more special as I produce for longer.

I’m not a big fan of mastering tracks - which is great because generally that part is outsourced anyway!

Also if someone could name my unnamed tracks that would be great. I have no naming system so they end up a bit random.

Let’s shift gears and talk about DJing a bit, tell us about your approach to DJing. What can people expect when they go to see you perform at a club?

When I have time in a club set, I quite like creating sets which almost have this extended intro to them. What I mean by this is that I really like it when you have to wait ages for a vocal track, maybe even 1hr+ or so and it feels like such a relief to reach the song (especially if the vocal track is a banger). I also love creating those moments when the beat has been going on for a while, and the audience really needs a break so you choose a track with a really dramatic break section and you get a hands in the air moment. Super special!

How much prep do you put into the tracks you choose to play? Or are your sets totally spontaneous?

I put quite a lot of prep into my sets, but I feel like different clubs and settings require different approaches. I probably know broadly what I would like to play, but it wouldn’t be any fun if you just followed a routine every time, what’s life without a little spontaneity? To create the moments I mentioned before, I definitely allow for some creative freedom in my sets.

Can you tell me a bit about how your work as a DJ has influenced your view of music, your way of listening to tracks and perhaps also, your work as a producer?

Yeah, I mean I definitely try to produce club focused tracks. For me that means that the kick and bass come first as I always feel this in my chest in a club and is the thing which really makes me move. Even though I went to clubs before I started producing, I don't think I had an understanding of groove and the things which make people dance. So since producing, I definitely notice and imagine how a track would make people move much more than before.

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?

Excluding myself of course? Alright, let’s go with a warm up from Alex Wann, followed by Skiy and then Yotto as my main act for the night, around that nice 1am time once things really get going. After Yotto I’d maybe have LP Giobbi to throw in some banging piano house and maybe have Eli & Fur to top the night off?

If you are not DJing, producing or socializing at clubs, where do we find you? And doing what?

I would probably be at the gym, or maybe exploring Paris and France. Given I was born in the UK, it’s still like a new country to me.

If you were not a DJ/Producer what do you think you’d be doing with your life?

Formula 1 driver. Because they’re just cool aren’t they.

Current top five tracks?

Well my Spotify wrapped said…

This is a tricky one. Let’s say ‘currently’ means from the past year or so?

1. Grigore - El Tiempo
2. Martin Badder, Stealth - Another Life
3. MXV - It’s Always Been You
4. Mark Novas - Give Me A Feeling
5. OLING - Gershwin

What are some of your favourite TV series? Both past and present.

I used to love The Wire, The Sopranos and Band of Brothers. Those are probably my all time favourite TV series. I think more recently The Squid Games has been my favourite from the past couple of years.

Apart from music, what makes you happiest?

Sleeping and baths. Maybe not at the same time.

What does 2024 hold for you in terms of releases and gigs? Anything you can share with us?

I have another release coming out on Elliptical Sun in early February which I’m really proud of so make sure you check that out, followed by my next release on Seneca in March. I also have releases on art werk and As You Are later in the year.

My aim for this year is for one release each month, of which some will be two track EPs. So there should be a lot of music released. I should have some gigs in both London and Paris, but more information is coming soon!

Thanks for having me guys!

'Lacrimosa' is available now via Seneca Recordings: http://tinyurl.com/2pnzys6c

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