Hello Niko and welcome to Magazine Sixty. Your brilliant new album “Day Of Knowing” is such an exciting journey through many different styles and moods. And that bassline from the opener “Crank Shaft” is an absolute killer! How long did it take you to make the album?
The “Day of Knowing” album was actually two and half years in the making.
Can you talk us through where the inspiration came from and then how you created one of the tracks from the album?
The inspiration for the album came from having a desire to bring all the genres that I’m influenced by under one umbrella.
With the track “Crank Shaft”, I started with a chord progression that was almost jazzy but because I wanted it to fit the dance floor, I reflected on how the late, great Bernie Worrell would play smooth, jazzy and even classical chords atop of a funky groove so I began playing around with different bass lines until I found one that felt good and helped the track to flow.
Can you describe your studio set-up to us?
Yes. My studio set up has a few analogue pieces which include two Nord keyboards, Roland V-Synth XT, Roland 700NX , some NI products, Yamaha HS7 and, BX5 monitors and a Mackie ProFX mixer. Lately, I’ve been out of the box experimenting with software developed by Arturia. I’m also using Ableton, Logic and Pro Tools DAWs. The set up changes depending on what project is taking place and sometimes different pieces are brought in to replace others. I like having the flexibility.
What is your favorite instrument? Do you own one?
My favorite instrument is my voice. It’s the one that I got for free.
How do you feel about the importance of musicianship in today’s Dance music?
I feel that having musicianship in today’s dance music takes the genre to another level.
For me, it’s paramount to my sound and helps when engaging with an audience. It gives diversity to my performance. I’m more captivated by a performance that has someone playing an instrument as an accompaniment to the dance rhythms.
This is your 44th studio album, which is quite an achievement in today’s transient world. How do you approach your working day and what do you do to relax outside of the electronic environment?
I approach each day with an open mind, making sure my thoughts are clear in order to receive positive vibrations, be it musically or interacting with fellow musicians, producers. Checking for sessions with other producers as well as handle the business as it relates to U2XProductions Detroit. Outside of the electronic environment, I find pleasure and relaxation in drawing, painting, exercising, reading, nature walks, bike riding and traveling.
How would you describe Detroit’s musical culture at the moment?
Detroit’s current musical culture, from my perspective, seems to be gaining momentum in the way that it once had. Examples include several new projects, some of which I’m a part of due out later this year. Because of the current situation that faces Detroit, the passion of many music makers is at an all-time high, which usually results in new forms of music and revolutionary ideas. With dance music and its worldwide appeal, it’s only natural that attention be focused on Detroit where the techno sound has its origins.
There is talk of music becoming more political again with the inauguration of Trump? Do you see that happening?
Yes, I do. In fact, as an artist, I feel a responsibility to occasionally speak to certain issues that affect the masses. Furthermore, the voice of the artist is what many people will hear via music – whether it’s on radio, internet, TV or stage performance.
Who are your favorite vocalists?
Stevie Wonder, Chaka Khan, Luther Vandross, Nancy Wilson, Al Jarreau, Michael Jackson, Prince, Bono, Bob Marley, John Lucien and a few more.
And finally. What are your plans for the remainder of 2017?
I plan to continue recording and touring to promote the album. There will be more collaborative works with other artists. I will also be completing material for the BXT project along with Amp Fiddler. Most of all, I plan to continue growing spiritually, mentally and musically.
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U2XProductions // Detroit, MI USA