WORDS: Alex Caslano
“The learning curve has always been massive; the music industry is expanding and advancing at an extremely fast pace, but I that’s what I love about it.” As more and more young hopefuls throw themselves into the world of music production, only those with a true passion for their craft will succeed in making an impact. One such producer is Nico Mendez, a Glaswegian artist who has been steadily building a back catalogue of deep, mesmerising beats. Citing the likes of Motor City Drum Ensemble and Max Graef as inspiration, his sound swims against the tide of over-produced house currently doing the rounds, slipping into a more organic groove.
“It’s taken a few years, but over the last twelve months or so it feels like my productions have fallen into place” he tells us. With releases on Underground Source and What Happens propping up his Soundcloud, his latest efforts have an assured quality which hints at a promising future. “I just want to keep making and playing out the music that I love and hopefully other people enjoy as well; maybe one day it will turn into a full time career that will take me places” he suggests modestly. Wherever it takes him, it will be his love of music that takes him there.
Check out two of Nico’s recent productions below, as well as an interview in which talk influences, the learning curve and why having a limited studio set-up can still produce great results:
SG: So as an introduction, could you tell us a little about how you found your way into electronic music and when you decided to start working on your own productions?
Nico: I guess I’ve always had a keen interest in electronic music from quite a young age! I remember I used to fool around with software I picked up from PC World back when I must have been about fifteen; I think it was called ‘Dance E-Jay’. It wasn’t until some friends linked me with an online stream of them mixing mostly electro and house that I got hooked! Eventually I got myself a Numark controller with Traktor and was even brave enough to host my own online streams from time to time. In 2010, after a long string of dead end jobs I decided that music is fully what I wanted to do, so I started a course in sound production at James Watt College where I became really good friends with Jane ‘Jaya’ Ayres (DC Sessions). She invited me to her night Depth Charge and I remember she spun a track called ‘Monday’ by Channel X & Meggy. I don’t know if it was the alcohol or another substance I may or may not have consumed that night, but that was the track that made me think “I need to be making music like this!”
SG: Judging by your recent releases, it seems like you’re an advocate of deep house in its purest form; what sounds and styles inspire you when making music? And who influenced your first tracks?
Nico: When I first started producing I was listening to a lot of stuff from the likes of Efdemin, Stimming, Four Tet and Marek Hemmann who are really intricate in their use of sound and space. Those artists definitely had a major influence on me when I first started and still do! When it comes to making music these days, I tend to try and keep a really open field for inspiration on sounds and styles; artists like Glenn Underground, Peven Everett, The Planty Herbs, Motor City Drum Ensemble, Max Graef and many more (the list could go on and on) are currently pushing my buttons! I’m also listening to a lot of really dub techno/minimal from labels like Tip Tap and Whoyostro, as I’ve been recently experimenting with those sorts of sounds under my new alias Lou Der.
SG: You’ve been settling into a new studio space recently; what do you rely on for making music and how has your set-up progressed since your first started? Can you get by with just a laptop and monitors?
Nico: That’s right, took me a while but I’ve finally got a decent space I can retreat to and get lost in noise. As far as my set-up goes, I feel I’m lucky enough to even have a semi decent laptop and pair of monitors. I mean, of course it's limited and of course I've got a list as long as my arm of hardware software that I want or plan to get, but funding is a common issue I think I share with a lot of budding producers out there. For as long as I have been working with music, I have been making use of what has been available to me, and it seems to be working to my favour so far. Over time my plugin/VST library has extended, and friends have been kind enough to hook me up with new toys here and there and allowed me to spend time in their pimped out studios. Over the past couple of years I have learned a lot of neat tips and tricks to make ends meet in situations were tools haven’t been available.
SG: You seem to have really honed in on your sound over the last year or so; has it been a steep learning curve to get to this point? And do you have any personal goals with regards to your music?
Nico: It’s taken a few years, but yeah, over the last twelve months or so it feels like my productions have fallen into place. The learning curve has always been massive for me; the music industry itself is always expanding and advancing at an extremely fast pace, but I believe that’s what I love about it. The day you stop learning is the day you stop growing. As much of a cheesy comment that is, it’s got a fair amount of truth to it, and I think you can apply that to anything you do in music. As for personal goals, I just want to keep making and playing out the music that I love and hopefully other people enjoy as well; maybe one day it will turn into a full time career that will take me places…