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Nihil Young - Studio

Interview: Nihil Young is all into music

Italy’s Nihil Young is a very busy man running his prolific Frequenza label. With Frequenza notching up a brilliant 10 years, we chat to the boss about his early days, successes, pitfalls, his new remixes for KMS and Spinning Records and his stunning new “Ascension EP” …

Nihil Young - Lone Wolf

A birdy tells us you were once a competitive level turntablist, tell us a bit about your early days as a DJ?
I started DJing at home when I was about 13 years old, I grew up listening to old school Hip Hop, amongst other genres, and I fell in love with the sound of scratching. When the internet was relatively young, I found out about the DMC championships and started following the likes of Q-bert, D-Styles, A-Track and all the top class turntablists. When I learned about the endless possibilities of cutting, scratching and juggling I decided I had to buy a set of Technics myself and learned my craft, I was addicted! Then I found out about the Italian ITF turntables competitions and signed in when I was 15.

When I learned about the endless possibilities of cutting, scratching and juggling I decided I had to buy a set of Technics myself and learned my craft, I was addicted!

So coming from Hip Hop and scratch background, what turned you on to making house and techno and who or what inspires your sound today?
I started moving to House and electronic music in general as my brother was spinning some vinyl records and I was also a disco and funk lover. I started listening to all those great remixes of classics that I used to love and remixing really caught my attention. I started to develop a passion for House music and later on, Techno, thanks to a couple of friends who introduced me to some Minimal and Techno records including Moonbootica and then Stephan Bodzin.

Being inspired by the sounds of Bodzin, Booka Shade, Apparat and so on, I decided my goal was to learn music producing. These names definitely inspired me in a big way in the beginning, but to tell you the truth, I barely have time to explore new artists and sounds these days as I prefer having a clear mindset when I produce. I also don’t want to sound like a copy of a copy and I’m trying to be honest, genuine and passionate with the music I produce.

Being inspired by the sounds of Bodzin, Booka Shade, Apparat and so on, I decided my goal was to learn music producing.

What was your first big break release, your most successful to date and your personal favourite own production or remix?
I had a very lucky beginning when I started the market was different, Beatport was the new big thing and you could sell vinyl copies easily. My first vinyl record was my own “Bye Bye My Brain”, which included a great Ramon Tapia remix. It sold out quickly and did well with digital sales too. I then had a couple of collaborative tunes with John Acquaviva, a no.1 Beatport Techno Top 100 remix for Spektre, and a remix for Matador on Sleaze Records.

One of my most successful releases was probably Less Hate “Soul Doubt” on Kindisch Berlin, it was played by Hot Since 82 on BBC Radio One, and the follow up ‘Bambino’ was played by Sasha. These were some of my proudest moments so far.

You’ve just released your brand new “Ascension EP”, championed by Tiesto no less! Please tell us a little about the 2 tracks, the inspiration behind them and how they sound?
This year marks the first 10 years of my career as a producer, so my intention was to summarise all that I’ve been doing in the past until now, including minimal, techno, electro, melodic and progressive sounds. So basically it is a mixture of Techno, Progressive and Electro that you can hear on ‘Ascension’ – a tune inspired by my spiritual path and by many good reads. Meanwhile, you can hear a more organic, minimalistic approach to ‘She’, dedicated to my wife and to all the mothers.

“Ascension EP” is out now on Frequenza Records. Have a listen »

You’ve also just landed back on Kevin Saunderson’s KMS label with a remix of Josh Bess ft Vanity Crime “Body Flow”, what can you tell us about that?
I’ve been working with KMS for the past 3 years, they are a second family to me, I’m good friends with Dantiez and DaMarii and I have the utmost respect for Kevin. My friend Vanity Crime has been releasing on Frequenza as well. This remix I did for Body Flow was crafted in my studio during a live session I did with my controllers and synths, I wanted to put it out as it was, symbolising a more free approach to music making.

A change of vibe, you’ve a catchy remix out for Mike Mago X Dog Collective ‘Always On My Mind’ on Spinnin’ Records, which has quite a commercial sound compared to your usual productions. Did you enjoy making it and do you feel it’s important for an artist to experiment with other genres and move outside their comfort zone?
Yes, yes and yes. I absolutely love all styles and genres and I feel the need to explore them. Mike is a good friend and he’s such a super cool guy, when he asked about the remix I couldn’t say no, even if this is not the style that I’ve been working on for the past 2 years. And to tell you the truth? The song is fresh and the lyrics are so cute.

If I hadn’t enjoyed making it, I wouldn’t have done it :). And yes, I do feel that it’s important not to get stuck in a single genre forever as it’s always good to learn. And for a self-taught produces as I am, song making is a great deal of learning and practicing, when you have vocals, real instruments and real recordings to deal with.

I personally have to move outside my comfort zone every single day due to my main job in the studio, so I’m very used to it!

You release under other alias’, please tell us a little about those projects and how they differ from your typical Nihil Young productions?
When I created “Less Hate” I was living in Berlin and I had a lot of personal issues to deal with at the time. One of many was the fact that I felt that my main project was ruined by previous experiences with other producers. So I wanted to start from scratch, with a different sound without anyone knowing who I was. Less Hate was more about deeper, organic, melodic, micro-house sounds in the beginning, it was going very very well, but I wasn’t very balanced back then and I started messing around with too many genres. Somehow it became a Disco thing, then a G-House thing and so on.

Nevertheless, I was contacted by none other than Etienne de Crecy who asked me to remix his single “ou”. I also made an album called “Memento” on King Street and a few remixes for legends like Roland Clark and Dennis Ferrer. As if that wasn’t enough, I then created another project called 7th Star to explore darker, more electro and deep techno sounds. I had good releases on excellent labels, but I couldn’t keep up with everything and a couple of very traumatic life lessons didn’t help. Hence my 2 year hiatus.

Your Frequenza label is 10 years old this year, you must be very proud! What are your favourite 5 releases from the label since you first started out?
Yes, it’s been amazing and I’m very happy to see the label’s first 10 years. These are my top 5 releases:

1 John Lagora ft. Jansen – Bitch inc. Maetrik Remix
2 Nihil Young – Bye Bye My Brain inc. Ramon Tapia Remix
3 Simina Grigoriu – Project Boondocks EP
4 Matteo Scaioli – Deepchandi inc. Andreas Henneberg Remix
5 Nihil Young ft Ninetto – Doomed inc. Gary Beck Remix

Have you any Frequenza celebration parties or release in the pipeline to celebrate?
Yes, I’ve got Ramon Tapia to remix a tune for Frequenza and the release will coincidentally happen exactly 10 years after the ‘Bye Bye My Brain EP’. I also intend to get some artists I had on board to do more singles and remixes. I’m also working on a series of events in Europe.

How do you see Frequenza evolving in the next 10 years?
A couple of things I’m working on is releasing Sample Packs for Frequenza Sounds, creating another sub-label and developing Frequenza Black further. Frequenza will stay the same as I always love to discover new talent and give them room to express themselves, without being genre-bound or an elitist entity.

There will be label parties, that’s for sure. It’s been very difficult for me, having to do everything by myself, to think about parties. But lately, I am happy to have found a good handful of trusted friends with whom I’m proud to create a team and I will have more time and chances to focus on that too.

What part of your job do you enjoy the most, writing and producing, performing or running the label and how do you manage to juggle it all being a one man band?
As I mentioned before it can be very time consuming having to take care of all the legal side, distribution, A&R, artwork design. Even the website that I’ve been rebranding and updating for the past 7 years, and so forth. That’s what’s kept me from making a lot more records than I have, but I truly love taking care of the label as well as much as making music in the studio and Djing.

What’s the best new piece of studio kit you bought recently?
Sub37 from Moog. Wowsers!

What else have you got coming up that you can share with us?
I intend to work on my second full length album this spring and summer. I will also have “Ascension” and “She” remixed. The first confirmed remixers are Teenage Mutants and Johnny Kaos. I just signed my next single “Teonanacatl” to Toolroom Records, I just worked on a set of Techno tunes with my friends Pols and I’m currently working on new songs for Mike Mago’s BMKLTSCH.

One project I’m very happy about is “Dimethyltryptamine”, a collaboration with my friend Durtysoxxx, coming soon on his Funk’n Deep label, which includes Konrad and Konstantin Yoodza remixes. And, I will also be releasing again soon on KMS records with some new remixes and EPs, including a few collaborative ones with The Saunderson Brothers.

“Ascension EP” is out now on Frequenza Records. Have a listen »

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