England has a big and quite colourful mixed Psy scene and Nikki S has been a well-known part of this scene, the producer signed at Alchemy Records and is about to produce her second album.
Short Intro/Bio about you
After the global success of her debut artist album ‘Frequency of Space’ on Alchemy Records and performances at some of the most sought after festivals on the planet, Nikki S has firmly established herself as one of the worlds top female psytrance artists.
Nikki’s sets are a unique blend of psychedelic grooves from fat progressive beats to driving grooves and high energy psychedelic melodies. They are high impact and guaranteed to rock the dance floor.
Over the years Nikki has developed a strong fan base with residencies at some of London’s most legendary events and has been recognised by DJ Mag as one of the ‘Major Impact’ artists for the future.
In between all of the jet-setting, gigs and studio sessions we caught up with Nikki S to find out what’s coming up next.
Your life-story and relationship with your work
Tell us a little about you and your work
I started DJing for fun back in 2005, but I had been a club promoter, artist and label manager for many years. DJing and learning to produce was something I did for fun as music is my passion. I am really happy that it has become a way for me to share some of the magical experiences that I had on the dance floor when I started clubbing.
In April 2014 I got serious about production and set myself the goal of making an album. The project has been a lot of fun and satisfyingly challenging. When I started producing I dreamt about getting a track signed to Alchemy Records alongside some of the artists that have been my biggest inspiration like Sonic Species and Burn In Noise.
Currently what projects are you working on? And what future plans have you chalked out for yourself?
I have some solo tracks that will be coming at the end of the summer on Alchemy Records and Dacru Records, plus my second artist album and new live set are in production … so watch this space!
What influenced you to get into your field?
I fell in love with dance music in the 90’s and started promoting events in London 2001. I was influenced and inspired by great electronic acts like Prodigy, Chemical Brothers, Leftfield and got turned on to psytrance in 2005 at Sonica Festival in Italy. I remember Sub 6 and Tristan blowing my mind.
But it was artists like Xerox, X-Noize, Sonic Species and Astrix that all inspired me to start playing and producing psy. To this day, they are still my favourites and biggest inspiration.
As an artist, what role do you think you play in society?
As a DJ, producer and promoter I see myself as being in the business of human happiness. I want to help share and create magical, fun and happy memories. Safe places where people can let loose, explore their minds, discover who they are, not have to worry about ‘fitting in’, and places where anyone is welcome.
You obviously love what you do…but what do you love the most about your work?
Seeing massive smiles on the dance floor … meeting so many new and amazing people, travelling to great locations, and always being inspired by the artists around me.
Creating on a regular basis can be a bloody tough job, so what motivates you to press yourself into the workstation every single day?
Ha ha …. some days can be tough indeed!! There are days when I say “that’s it … I’m selling all my kit” … but the thought of not doing music or letting something get the better of me makes me push through. It is usually in those moments that I have a flash of inspiration, an idea for a different way to work, try something new, or a flash of the great gigs I’ve just played and am about to play. Most of my motivation and inspiration comes from the dance floor. Seeing it move when I’m playing, and getting on the dance floor myself and experiencing it.
On the production front I think every producer would say they always want to push their boundaries, evolve and/or refine their sound. I want to do both; advance my productions and expand my creativity. What’s great about the psytrance scene is that it’s global and there are so many different shades of psy, with an abundance of amazing artists and events to stimulate and inspire.
Who or what inspires you to achieve the best results?
The dance floor is my biggest inspiration. Watching the reaction to my sets and tracks, and most importantly getting on the dance floor myself and experiencing it with others. That’s what it is about. You have to stay connected.
Also, other artists in the scene inspire me a great deal. The guys at the top just keep on getting better and better. They continue tops boundaries, and you can tell they love what they do. We are so privileged in this scene to have leaders that genuinely love what they do, where as in other genres the guys at the top often sell out.
Everybody has to start somewhere, usually at the bottom of the ladder, either as the bus-boy or the shoe-shiner. What was the very first job you had?
Pharmacy assistant. I studied Clinical Medicine majoring in Pharmacology … I’ve always had interest in the effects of substances on the body 😉
Party & Music experiences
What was your best set you have ever played and why?
There have been so many amazing gigs and sets from big festivals with thousands of people to more intimate and smaller club gigs. They all have unique vibes and energy. It is always very ‘WOW’ to play to massive audiences, but I feel the energy and connection with the people much more at the smaller events.
One of my most memorable gigs was Noisily 2017. It was a perfect summer day in a beautiful valley surrounded by lush forest. Everything was magic! The crowd, the vibes, the energy … and everything just flowed.
But Psygate in Bordeaux earlier this year was probably one of my favourite gigs ever. I wasn’t sure what to expect. I thought it was going to be 500-600 people in a club, but when I got there is was 2500 people in a massive warehouse!! Absolutely rammed!! The energy was through the roof!! The audience made this event so special. Thank you Bordeaux!!
What makes a (Psytrance) track great for you?
It’s got to have a bad ass groove, some cheekiness and some magic!
Your best release(s) – and why…
My first release ‘Mechanical World’ on Liquid Records is very special to me and it is still one of my favourites. I came up with the idea for this track on my balcony just using my laptop and headphones as I watch a thunder and lightening storm roll in. It’s got a stomping dark twisted rolling bassline, mad psychedelic sounds, acid hooks, hints of euphoria, tribal elements and some sci-fi and rasta vocals for good measure.
What made it extra special is that it shot to the top of the Beatport Release Chart in the first few days. It went beyond all that I could hope for on my first release. I still very grateful to everyone for all of the support and positive feedback.
Your best set on Soundcloud or similar website?
Why this is your best set?
Going by feedback, likes and plays probably my Earthcore 2016 or Noisily 2017 set. They feature a lot of my favourite tracks from some of my favourite artists and I really enjoyed mixing both.
What music do you listen to besides Psytrance – and why?
Down-tempo, mid-tempo, alternative, experimental electronica, a bit of psychedelic techno, Prodigy, Chemical Brothers, Leftfield – because variety is the spice of life!
Share your experiences and your characteristics/personality
Yeah, no one’s perfect, but there’s always something we really like about ourselves…what quality do you like about yourself the most?
I’d like to think I am very open and friendly. I also like being strong mentally.
When have you been most satisfied in your life? Care to share one of your happiest memories?
There have been so many amazing memories. I feel so lucky.
One moment that stands out was at Hill Top Festival in Goa 2017 – I was out in Goa for a holiday with a bunch of friends and going to the festival just for the party (not to DJ, which is a real treat). I remember being in the centre of the dance floor, surrounded by palm trees, sunshine, amazing decor, with a bunch of mates and looking around at 1000s of people from all over the world having the time of their life. Everyone getting along. No hatred, no anger, no war. Just people dancing and loving it. I thought how lucky I am to get to travel the world and play at these amazing festivals … and to see such a positive side of humanity.
Advice for the readers and fans
At the end of the ride, everyone’s looking for some form of success (tangible or not), what does success mean to you?
Achieving goals that I have set for myself (no matter how big or small), and most importantly loving what you do and the life you live.
Give us a nutshell of you the life philosophy/motto/mantra that you clutch close to your heart.
Do what you love and love what you do.
You’ve played at some of the worlds leading festivals like VooV Experience, Earthcore, Rainbow Serpent, Boomtown, Psychedelic Circus, Noisily and many more. What festivals are you most looking forward to this summer?
I’ve just finished playing at the massive AirbeatOne (as I answer this interview) and next up is the legendary VooV Festival. I am also looking forward to playing at Infected Festival (Portugal), Indian Spirit Festival (Germany), Psychedelic Malmo (Sweden), Goa Cream Festival (UK) and Earthcore Festival (Australia) later this summer.
You perform both Live sets and DJ sets. How do you approach these? Is the experience different? Which do you prefer?
I find my approach to Live and DJ sets is very different. In both cases the job is to rock the dance floor. DJing allows and requires me to be flexible – read, react and respond to the dance floor. Live sets are me presenting my productions as an artist. There’s a lot of preparation and planning into the live sets as I play off Ableton with the APC40 and have 15 channels set up with 12-15 clips, stems, samples and FX stacked on each channel. It’s a total buzz playing a whole set of your own tracks and watching it go off!