HHM: Being a DJ/Producer isn’t a typical route to take in the music industry. At what age did you first get the idea in your head that it might be for you?
Nessex: I started making music when I was really young, like at 15. It was pretty much automatic, I had friends that were trying to make music and I just figured out how to actually do it. It wasn’t easy, and I wasn’t very good but eventually I got better, and took it seriously. I never thought about DJing until I got into dubstep, and started going to raves. I went to a lot of hip hop shows but raving really made me want to make & perform music live. Once I got good enough at producing dance music to play the songs at my shows it just went from there…
HHM: Were there any keys artists coming up that gave you the most inspiration?
Nessex: I had a lot of talented friends that influenced me, but really they introduced me to some of my real inspiration when I was hella young. I grew up listening to RJD2, MF DOOM, Block Head, a lot of Atmosphere, which led to my idolizing Ant from atmosphere after I realized he had done all of the production for a bunch of music I was listening to at the time. I would say vocalist like Regina Spektor made me really respect and admire female vocalist and of course I listen to a lot of dubstep, drumstep, and EDM in general whenever I’m not too busy making music.
HHM: The craft of producing tracks has come a long way over the past few years. With so many companies building software to aid in the process, do you think it has hurt the market at all?
Nessex: Not at all! In fact I’m stoked on how user-friendly music production has become. I remember when I was younger it was hours and hours of trial and error if you wanted to learn something new in your DAW… Now you can just pop on a youtube video and there’s some preteen in middle school or 40-year old sound designer explaining how to use you favorite VST & DAWs, sometimes even exactly the way you’re trying to emulate. It’s amazing, because unlike anything else in the world.. if you truely want to make quality music that you love there is nothing stopping you besides lack of motivation and a slow internet connection (haha…)
HHM: When you start out to write a new track….is it usually something you already have some ideas in your head or do you tend to take off once you get started?
Nessex: I just start creating sounds… If I really need to work on a certain song, usually dubstep, I start with the bass and try to make something I can build up and drop in brutal way… Anything else is just drum or synth work until I figure out what it is I really want to do with the project. Hell, I’ve even started songs purely with samples and sound effects and built full tracks around that. Just being creative, all of my songs start in a different place.
HHM: Can you give us a brief synopsis of the overall process of producing a track?
Nessex: Well I fire up my turntables, audio interface, a couple laptops, and plug in my MIDI controllers. I load Ableton on one computer, load Traktor onto the other laptop, and then make sure the clocks are synced. Start work on mixing in Ableton and once I get a good set of arrangements I go to Traktor and I can trigger effects, do some build ups and drop using the tables to warp samples, or just record myself scratching over whatever it is I’m working on. It’s a pretty rad workflow, but I’m constantly adding new things and trying to find a more creative way of making music on the fly. I really like the idea of live-remixing and producing without sequencing, just record & go! Sort of like playing an instrument…. So I’d consider myself an Electronic Musician.
HHM: How long does it typical take before you have working everything out and you’re happy with it and ready to master it?
Nessex: It changes. It could be just one day, start mixing in the morning, finish by noon and master that night. But sometimes it can get brutal, like last night…. I spend about 9 hours mixing the master levels on a track just to get the bass & distortion perfect, but ended up mixing down the song all over because while I mastered it I heard different ideas and things I really wanted to put into the mix. So there’s almost no-telling how long it will take… that’s the gamble of making a song sometimes; will it ever be done?!
HHM: You do a lot of remixing as well…do you enjoy working on them?
Nessex: I love remixing! it’s just too much fun…. it takes the pressure out of making a song really. Unless I’m being paid to officially remix a release which is fun but can also be pretty stressful. If it’s just a promo remix I pretty much do whatever I want & make something new that people can get into if they liked the original, or even if they didn’t. Commissioned remixes are more thought-out and have several different drafts that I run by whoever’s in charge so I know they’ll be happy with my work. It’s a real give & take kind of collaboration, I try to involve them in what I’m doing.
HHM: A typical DJ set for you, how much of a mix of originals and remixes to you like to put together?
Nessex: I like to stick purely to my own playlist. I might play a song made by someone who’s talented and I think needs more exposure, or maybe a fellow producer or friend, but if you’re there to see me perform I make sure I fill the set with Nessex music. I’d hate to go see Datsik spin and hear an entire set of other people’s music, and that goes for any artist. Of course there’s always exceptions, but I would never lean to heavy on the music of others in a live show.
HHM: When you’re not writing music or in the clubs working, what other things do you like to get involved with musically?
Nessex: I contact other producers to trade tips and collaborate. I spend a lot of time on YouTube reading people’s opinions on certain sounds and getting to know the workflow of people that inspire me.
HHM: If you had to state the biggest misconception of this side of the industry, what would you say it is?
Nessex: That being a DJ is easy, or that producing electronic music doesn’t take any musical talent. I hear these things a lot from. It’s not surprising, people that play tradition instruments & have never seen the inside of a DAW (Digital Audio Workstation), or have been to a show & seen some cat spin a set without doing much besides track selection & they decided that neither of these things take talent based upon what they’ve seen…. The truth is I spend hours mixing, mastering, working on my setup, and trying to learn to new hardware/software every single day. That’s just production, Djing means a lot of practice & getting to know your equipment. When I’m on stage there’s samples triggered left & right, beat skipping, beat matching, fades, echoes, reverbs, delays… you name it, I’ve got a button to do it in a live set. So when someone says “Do DJs really need all of those buttons?” I’d say “No, we actually need a lot more but we can’t bring everything we own to the clubs, every night.”
HHM: How much traveling do you do DJing, playing your music for people?
Nessex: Well, I’m still in college so it’s hard to travel but I’d say I do a lot. I like visiting Mexico, and DJing out-of-state. Living in Texas means I don’t get a lot of diversity sometimes, but the people are great & I get to go other places, meeting new people, which makes it awesome to come home to familiar faces.
HHM: Any touring plans, festival plans coming up this year for you?
Nessex: Yeah, definitely! Opening for Steve Aoki in Zapopan, Mexico in a couple days.. Playing a set in NY with Matt & Kim in NY after that, and I’m pretty stoked I’ll be having a chance to see Rusko spin when I open for him at the end of the month.
HHM: If you had to name one person, who was the hands down biggest influence in your life musically? Who would you say would get that honor and why?
Nessex: Wow, that’s such a hard question for me because my favorite artist changes every week. I would have to say RJD2 if I really had to pick, only because I found his music when I was really young and it changed the way I looked at everything. I was already making beats, but when I found out you could make instrumentalism & still call it hip hop I was amazed…. Eventually he switched over to more electro-pop but it’s still very soul-ful & always something I can enjoy. I’ve never really heard an RJD2 songs & thought “I don’t like that” – it’s like it was made for my ears. Also, Mr. Buttons is pretty rad, haha.
Interview by DaveHHM