If you wanted to find out a little bit more about Nicky and his musical journey from the beginning then you have come to the right place. Strap yourselves in, get your reading glasses on and enjoy!
The Early Days
Nicky’s musical journey started way back in 1996 when he received his first keyboard (Casio CTK-611) as a birthday present. This keyboard, although incredibly limited, served its purpose and allowed him to teach himself the essentials of making music.
As Nicky remembers,
“It’s funny actually looking back on the way I used to upload videos of my music to YouTube. I had a digital camera that I placed on the keyboard speaker, pressed record and played live. So the video itself would be this terrible sound quality with slightly shaky images (and wonderful views of my curtains and ceiling) as I tried not to be too aggressive with my playing.
I did actually manage to knock the camera off at one point because the stand I used for the keyboard was so unstable! Still at least I got a comment from one YouTube user complimenting me on my curtains so that was nice!
At this point in his life, all he wanted was to be able to make mp3s/CDs of his music. A simple dream really in hindsight, but for 15 years, it never felt like it would come to reality, or would it?
When asked what his musical influences were growing up, Nicky recalls:
When I was between 4-8 years old, my parents used to play all kinds of music from the 1950s through to the then current day (early 1990s). However, it was when they played a few songs from Kraftwerk that I first heard electronic sounding music and I remember being mesmerised by the style.
Going in to the late 1990s and early 2000s, I began listening to the Ministry of Sound and all their trance compilations/releases. This started to influence my sound as I tinkled away on the Casio keyboard. I’m sure you’re aware that Ministry of Sound predominantly play songs that are around 140BPM and of a club/big room style.
So how did you get in to Drum & Bass?
Well, now I have my brother to thank for that as I heard him blast out DJ Hype’s “Bass, Breaks & Beats” mix back in 2003. I was trying to do some homework but when I heard this new, fast paced style of music, I went in to his room and we just started going mental!
I was then on a mission to find some Drum & Bass albums/compilations and got myself Hospital Records Mix 4, which was mixed by Cyantific and I haven’t looked back. I bought loads more Drum & Bass CDs and engrossed myself in this genre, whilst still listening to the Ministry of Sound, some breakbeat, garage and went in to chillout sounds as well from 2003-2005.
The Man Who Changed It All
Life changes and as Nicky headed off to University in 2005, he left his beloved keyboard behind to focus on his studies. But life had other plans for him and a chance conversation lead to something that inspired his music spark again:
When it looked like I was just going to be focusing on a career in Materials Science, along came a lad who pretty much changed everything in my music world in 2011. He goes by the name of Shell (well, he does now at least) and he used to run a music studio. We got talking about music when he first joined the University as we took an extended coffee break, which turned in to lunch and then a continued coffee break (it was quite flexible in those days)!
Anyway, in this conversation, I was listening with intent as Shell went through all the different music software out there and what platforms I can share it on (I hadn’t even heard of SoundCloud before this point). He suggested I get some music software and specifically, FL Studio as the style of Drum & Bass is very much based on loops so it was an obvious choice. Since then, I have been playing, learning, getting lost in a world of synths, virtual instruments, effects and everything else that comes with it.
This discovery of a new world of music software and FL Studio had re-ignited a love he once had:
You should have seen me, I was pretty much the happiest person in the world at that point when I made my first song and could save it as an mp3. Gone were the days of YouTube videos with shaking curtains, ceiling images and poor sound quality. All I ever wanted was to be able to be able to make mp3s and that dream had now become a reality! I started uploading to YouTube and this “SoundCloud” to see if I could get any feedback.
Feeling the Airlove
As he was diving deeper in to the world of online platforms, Nicky tells us about some of the first uploads he made, how it lead to a discovery by a record label and to his first release:
I believe the first track I made was called “Prepare for Launch”. I didn’t have any followers to begin with so getting plays and feedback was hard to come by (except from some of my friends on Facebook). So, I thought I’d try to do some remixes of some of the trance tracks I really enjoyed from the early 2000s. Eternity by Orion and On The Beach by York were a couple of the classics I went for. I received some good comments on these tracks and pretty positive feedback all round.
However, a man who goes by the name of “TigerPaw” changed everything:
One of those comments was from a guy called “TigerPaw”. I was intrigued who this guy was as he was leaving comments all over my recent uploads so I had a look over at his profile and saw that he ran a record label over in USA called AirPlus Recordings. That sent me through the roof as to have someone who runs a record label giving you positive feedback like that is very warming indeed!
I checked out some of his music and the style he created was very unique as well. I thought it would be a long shot but I asked to make a remix of one of his tracks, “Good Days”, and he happily sent me over the stems and his fans enjoyed what I created. From here, I was asked to join AirPlus and TigerPaw’s team of up and coming producers, some of which have gone on to mega scenes and it was a great experience to be a a part of.
I released my first ever album called AirLove, an 11 track global collaboration with Deb D (UK), Vague Illusion (South Africa), Blindstate (USA) and TigerPaw (USA). It was an album that a lot of people related to as it depicted the emotions we feel as we go through what feels like a good relationship, to the break-up, to moving on through it.
Good Things Must Come To An End
However, I was going through a very tough time as my PhD took over and I tried to get my head down to complete this mammoth task. It saw me leave AirPlus in 2013 as I couldn’t continue with releasing music and everything else that was going on. Releasing music wasn’t something I would be a part of for now as I needed to focus on getting a career sorted out. Having said that, I was still making tracks to help express my mood as I was going through these tough times, I just never uploaded them or shared them…yet.
End Of The Tunnel
After another couple of years focusing on getting to the end of his PhD, there was a new light approaching fast and it wasn’t another train!
I had been upgrading my music hardware, slowly but surely, with a newer keyboard (that would plug in to my PC), some proper speakers that would help me improve sound quality and a new PC that was powerful enough to deal with the processing power required (forever known as the Gladiator). However, it wasn’t until the beginning of 2015 when I had the time to get back to making music again and decided to start making a real push. For the first time, I investigated mastering on one of my tracks and sought the services of Audio Animals and submitted “End Of The Tunnel”.
I received the mastered version back and I thought to myself “WOW!!!” The difference it made was unreal, I knew I had to send off everything I made to these guys to get the songs sounding as epic as possible. I took down all of my tracks until I got them mastered. It’s not just the difference in sound but I found from this point that a lot more people started following me and reposted my tracks. The picture I used for the “End Of The Tunnel” is from my talented friend in Photography, Laura Witherden and it fitted perfectly to the track, she has some great pictures so definitely check her out too.
Mixing It Up
With the increased interaction on his music and a desire to start creating his own shows, Nicky then decided to change it up a bit and put himself to the test:
I decided I wanted to start making podcasts and mixes of my own tracks by investing in a USB controller/mixer, my first one was pretty basic but did what I needed it to do. My aim was to just showcase 8 tracks per podcast of songs that I liked on SoundCloud recently and see how it would be received.
I bought a microphone as well so that I could introduce the podcasts and give voiceovers so that people who downloaded the podcast would know who they were listening to and give that artist some support as well. It’s part of a “help out our fellow artists” campaign that I’ve always wanted to do and hopefully it will help everyone grow a bit more.
Since then, things have gone from strength to strength as Nicky is now part of the Platform Project, which airs a live Drum & Bass show every third Saturday of the month at 9-10pm UK time.
Fiend Request (pun-tastic)
With the continued uploading of the mastered tracks from Audio Animals, the responses kept coming in thick and fast, almost too quickly but Nicky received a message from another label owner:
I got a message out of the blue from an artist called FiendReflex, whose tracks I had been commenting on, asking me if I wanted to start releasing on his label Allowance Records. I was very excited at the time and he is a sound guy with some talented artists on his label making heavy, unique beats so I thought, why not go for it? I had a mastered EP ready, which was accepted by Allowance Records and had my début release at the end of May, Tides of Time.
Where Is Nicky Now?
As of July 2018, Nicky is now focusing on the Platform Project radio show, independently releasing new EPs and getting involved with emerging music websites that combine with cryptocurrency. Follow him on Facebook, Twitter and this website as he is active on those platforms, posting blogs and little skits about travelling, crypto and of course Drum & Bass!