ARTIST SPOTLIGHT: Nick Neutronz
Hello Nick Neutronz! You're one of the most creative Hip-Hop producer out there. You have worked with Eminem, Jay Rock, Junnosuke Taguchi etc.. We love how you blend Hip-Hop with Vaporwave/Aesthetic art, musically and visually. How would you describe your vision?
PEACE V//95!! In Science Fiction, Terraforming is the process by which distant planets are made habitable for human life, presumably because Earth's people sadly could not save their planet. About a decade ago, I made the audio genre of Terraform, which uses atmospheres and harmonies inspired by space travel, impermanence and astral projection. It grounds them with the familiar rhythms, drum samples and bass textures of streets and club music. I hope that it will help people to dream, relax or release. It really aims to fuse a meditative and sensitive mind-state with a physical release that comes with dancing, chanting, or rapping.
When did you start making beats and what was some deciding factors that caused you to start on this journey?
I started making beats in the year 2000, in the first months of my junior year of high school. An old friend of mine, that I was living with at the time got a hold of Fruity Loops 3. We took turns on the purple Sony Vaio making short rhythms, which we'd burn to CD and play in the parking lot at high school. Soon, that friend of mine, also named Nick, bought a Korg Triton. We learned the ins and outs of that keyboard/sequencer of the course of some years. At that point in high school, I was throwing massive house parties. I'd been DJing for 4 years already. Back in 97, My sister was dating LX Paterson from The Orb, who later worked out a way to get me a set of decks! The Orb's music has been with me since 1997 at least, and LX Paterson is one of my biggest influences. My sister is another, as she really brought the electronic sounds of the world to my ears in the mid 90's, and it is in her spirit to find mind-blowing things to get into. She used to promote for Liquid Sky, DJ Soul Slinger, and ran a rave production company with 4 other people called Unit E. My earliest influence was the son of my mom's piano teacher, Ivan who I met when I was 4. Ivan was 9, twice my height, wrote rock songs, and played Ice T, NWA, Guns N Roses, Poison, and wall papered his room with his heroes. Ivan was my first really big influence to dive into music and pop culture.
What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you think of your music and where do you get the most inspiration from?
Sadness is probably the first thing, or sort of ambivalence about being alive. I identify very much as a Cancer. I'm a sort of "Walking raw nerve" that defines my life through feeling and the depth of that feeling. Well, it can be very hard to stay happy. But life is so intense! So the impermanence of all things, the sadness, those things come through in my music I feel. The second thing is probably kinetic energy. I've loved Hip-Hop dance since I was a toddler and transforming that sadness into action and athleticism, I think is really powerful. I love to dance, and to make people dance. My inspiration is most definitely from Science-Fiction and philosophy. Imagining alternate realities and futures where boundaries are not what they are today, this is an amazing escape and inspiration for me.
Tell us more about your beat making process. Where do you start making music from? Beats? Samples?
There are so many Yin and Yang aspects of making beats. For instance, finding great drum samples on the one hand, and learning to process them, so that your music has the energetic effect that you need it to. Keeping a fresh kit and learning new mixing methods keeps me inspired. My homie Listen2Liri sent me a pack of 8 bit inspired drums last week and I'm picking through them now. Quietly swallowing my excitement into my belly as I get them ready to paint with. I also like to draw synths and learn about new synthesis technology. I made an Ableton/Serum rack which can sweep the wave tables, filters, resonance, and adjust envelopes, with which I can make a lot of "Saw" and "Pulse" basses, leads or pads. This has definitely been a power move, since I make a lot of pulse synths and "Reese" basses. It's awesome to be able to make things really fast that are personal. I usually start making a melody, and then use a bass line to give that melody a few different moods in an 8 bar sequence.
Any other projects besides Nick Neutronz? Who you're working with currently, and who would you want to work with in the future?
I've produced maybe 50 records this year which are much more "Terrestrial Trap", and recorded, mixed and mastered quite a bit as well. I help run Cultr Candy, a record label and Soundcloud page, with producers Trap Tree and Patrick. My main collaborator is Fireman Band$, who is a high energy rap artist from Brooklyn with whom I've done quite a few songs. Also, Slick Pu$ha, from Baltimore; I've made a few great tracks with him, including a track called Perk 40rty feat. Mikey Polo, which I'm really proud of. In the future, I'd love for the Terraform vision and sound to find its way to artists like Rihanna, Miguel, Janelle Monae, Kelela, Jhene Aiko, and to collaborate on composition with Virtual Self, Sub Focus, Nero, and Machinedrum.
How far do you think you could take your music and where do you see yourself at the highest point of your career?
You know, I don't know how far I could take it. As a Cancer again, I am humbled by all I've been blessed to do already, and I have a strange relationship to desire. Much of what I've desired rings like greed or envy, and I'm not sure my aim is to be huge, as it once was. I have been really blessed to play some amazing stages. For some people who probably didn't know who I was: In 2012, I played Webster Hall's main-stage, opening for The Orb. It was an amazing moment, where I was encouraged to play an hour's worth of original music. I was really well received. The Orb's fans are so great! In Tokyo, whilst on my honeymoon, I played the radio show Inter.FM just before John Digweed and then went to play the main-stage at the insane venue Age-Ha. The other high point of my career, the placement of "Cinderella Man" on Eminem's album, was so surreal. My friends bought me a ticket to see Eminem and Jay Z perform at Yankee stadium and I got to hear my beat played in Yankee Stadium. That really blew my mind haha! My hopes for the future are to collaborate with great entertainers, artists, film makers and designers who stretch the spectator's imaginations and inspire us all to be the most open, strong, forgiving, feeling people we can be.
How often do you perform and where could we see you live? Can you tell us a little about your upcoming shows?
I love to play live! I play open format // Hip-Hop and electronic sets a few times a year. I soundscaped The Kollision Fashion Show on March 9th in Williamsburg, played Terraform, Ambient and Vapor Trap. I've also just connected with a virtual reality arcade in Soho/NYC and we're working on Nick Neutronz virtual rave in the near future. I'm excited to find more venues which are receptive and energized by the Terraform // Vapor Trap sound.
Finally we would love to ask - What would you say to up and coming artists who want to pursue their passion?
Always have a version of anything you've created that is READY TO PLAY for people, which can be played WITHOUT OPENING YOUR SESSION! Create habits for yourself that move you forward every day. Even if that means making music whether you're in the mood, collecting lists of labels you love and making sure to send them demos, exercising and meditating. It really is about habits more than any single idea or track you've created. When people are very excited about one track, it is usually the ego trying to avoid the hard work of making the next 4 tracks, one of which will be better than that one you love so much now. We are doing this because we love the process. You've got to be ready to do this music thing for your whole life! How committed to this music are you? The truth is, we can't control our rise to the top, or the reactions of listeners or tastemakers. Best to be patient, and learn to love the process and feeling of making the music. If you seek out a feedback and stay humble, you'll move in the right direction.
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