Mutagen production masters Mechanimal get ready to join the Astral Circus
Reported by Tara
Submitted 18-07-12 06:27
Nick Sagar-House has worked hard to get to his current spot, positioned at the forefront of one of London’s most vibrant underground scenes. Originating from the world of thrash metal, which included gigs as a guitarist for A.L.I.V.E., his experience stretches back over 12 years. Long since having settled on the journey of psychedelic trance, he teamed up with Junior Oliveira in 2008 to develop the Mechanimal project, performing at festivals and parties across several different continents, from Brazil’s Universo Paralello to London’s Halcyon.
We caught up with Mutagen Record’s prize property ahead of London’s most exciting new event this summer, Astral Circus, this Friday 20 July at Brixton Jamm.
Hi Nick, thanks for taking some of your valuable time to answer a few questions when I’m sure you’d rather be making music!
You initially got into playing music as a guitarist in a thrash metal band. For those who don’t know you, could you please tell us a bit about what inspired you to first pick up the guitar and your subsequent journey from playing in a metal band to being part of dynamic psy trance duo Mechanimal.
I was about 11 years old and terrible at sports so I thought I’d try and learn an instrument as some friends played guitar. I went into a shop and thought the basses were really cool, loved the fat strings and the deep sounds.
I remember buying my first CD, Prodigy’s Fat of the land, before this and listening to it on the bus to school every day for a whole year without fail – so that might explain my obsession with bass music haha.
As I got more confident with my abilities I started to join many different bands and play gigs. I was making lots of friends, getting creative and was really happy that I found something that I was good at, so it was clear that I wanted to pursue music.
After hitting a bit of a creative block with bass I moved on to guitar to keep inspired and it’s been the same story since. I went to university as a metal head dreaming of starting a band and getting signed to a good label, but I then I met Greg Brookman and everything changed. He was looking for a guitarist for his live act and I was keen to try out new projects so I came on board.
Within a couple of weeks I was playing metal guitar over hard trance to about five thousand people and was blown away by the energy. Following this I had a long drive back listening to psy trance and heard the Eskimo Can you pick me up album. It had all the elements that I loved in music: drive, melody, ambience, power, strong bass. I had never found music that could be so indepth and intelligent yet at the same time direct and full of energy. I couldn’t wait to set up a studio and start learning. I eventually went to Glade festival for the first time in 2006 and found the Origin stage and it totally blew me away – it was then that I decided to start writing psy trance.
After a few years of writing music and performing in different acts I met Junior through a mutual friend. He said that when I was ready I could play at a Psy Invasion party. One day we decided to have a jam in the studio and we ended up making about 3 tune ideas. We thought it would be a good idea to pull together his contacts and experience with my skills as an engineer to form Mechanimal. We worked like mad and wrote our first live act within about 2 weeks just in time to play at one of the parties – it was rocking!
You were first interviewed on this site as a rock guitarist for ginger genius Greg Brookman’s A.L.I.V.E. PA project just over six years ago in May 2006, when you’d only just got into dance music and were loving it. Six years on, you’ve come a long way, being a sought after producer, collaborator and live act. What have been the highlights of the last six years for you? And what goals do you have for the next six?
The highlights have been the great support I’ve had from fans and other artists. It’s the best feeling seeing people having a great time on the dance floor when you play your own music. There have been some better gigs than others but each and every performance has been an important learning curve and experience for me.
My goals for the future are to keep on learning, progressing and evolving as an artist. I really want to launch my name as an engineer and work with many different creative people.
You’ve been a prolific producer for several years now: what software and hardware are you currently using? Do you have a favourite piece of kit?
I use Cubase for composing and Ableton for performance. As for hardware I use a Nord Lead and Access Virus. As for favourite kit, the virus is the most inspiring but NI Massive is my go to tool for programming.
Who or what have been your greatest influences over the years? And now?
I’ve had many favourite artists and enjoyed some amazing events, but it’s all down to the fans. They give inspiration, energy and their support is essential.
When you sit down to start a track, do you have a specific idea in your mind of how you want it to sound, or do just go with the flow?
I normally have quite a clear idea of where I want to go. I always spend a lot of time before writing a track referencing and researching the charts, getting ideas from and browsing YouTube to watch inspiring festival moments and build a picture in my head. During my performances I always remember the best moments and then try to recreate them in a new tune.
You’ve just released the Life Cycles EP, which is doing phenomenally well in the charts. Does it have any overall theme or concept, or is it more a collection of your latest tracks?
We wanted to put an EP out which reflected all our styles: morning (Ilai – Virus theory remix), psychedelic (Cycles & rhythms) and driving (Beyond within).
As for Life Cycles the EP also represents how we’ve grown and evolved as artists since we started. Beyond Within was actually the second track we ever wrote together so it’s a good way of summarising our act to date.
In the age of expanding music technology, as a music producer, how important is it to have an understanding of music theory?
I feel it’s important in music to embrace as many techniques and advice to help improve your work. Music theory is not essential but if you’re starting out as a producer it provides a fail safe way to write music that works on a melodic level. Even if you’re an advanced producer making great tracks, knowing some theory can help you try new techniques and broaden the palette instead of sticking to habits and routines which you know already work.
You were signed to Mutagen Records a couple of years ago: you really do have an affinity with slightly unhinged ginger musical geniuses don’t you?! How did you first hook up with DJ Mif aka Contineum aka Matt Kyriakides and get involved with his label Mutagen Records?
I met Matt at a few of Junior’s parties. Mutagen had already released a compilation a while back but was looking to get the label rolling again with frequent digital releases and some core label artists. He was interested in taking us on as we had a ton of material and we were starting to get a lot of bookings. With the contacts, determination and energy that Matt has we saw a good future for Mutagen so we wanted to be part of it and grow with the label.
You’re currently working on an album for release in early 2013. Dare I ask how that’s coming together, or is it still too early to say?
We’ve had some incredible feedback from our gigs and releases to date and I feel we are confident with our sound so it’s about time to start writing the album. We’re aiming to get in the studio within the next two months to make a start, will be sure to keep everyone posted on progress. Between now and then we have a melodic style EP coming out on Profound Records and a few unreleased single tracks.
What’s your advice to new producers or those thinking of starting out?
Do music that you love, work hard and perfect your skills. If you enjoy what you do, make good music and if you’re persistent there is no reason why you won’t be successful.
You’ve got gigs coming up in Italy, Poland and Portugal. What’s been your favourite gig over the years? And is there anywhere that you haven’t played yet where you’d love to?
My favourite gig so far would be Supernova at Brixton Academy. Playing Adagio for strings on electric guitar to a few thousand people is a moment I’ll never forget!
I’d really love to play at Glade festival, it’s what inspired me to write psy trance in the first place.
What have you got playing on your home stereo at the moment?
I have been listening to Submotion Orchestra. Love the dub delays, deep bass and chilled soulful vibe.
A lot of hippies are saying that the world is going to end later this year. If this is indeed the case, what are the main things you would try and do before this happens?
I’d love to do a studio session outdoors with an epic view alongside Vangelis and travel the world with my family and friends.
The DJ Magazine Top 100 Awards voting started up a couple of weeks ago: can you tell us who’ll be getting your votes this year and why (if anyone!)?
If I were going to vote it would probably be for Liquid Ross, I have always had a great time listening to his sets and they’re always so diverse. I think it’s a great skill to be flexible with the music and play according the vibe of the party and venue, that’s always come across in what he plays. That’s been the main learning curve for me – knowing what works better in a club, outdoors, what style people in Europe enjoy or in Brazil etc. for example. These things can only be learned with experience.
If you were going to plan a dinner party and could invite any six people from any place or time in history, who would you ask and what would you cook? Do you have a favourite recipe?
Haha well could have Dimebag Darrell for the drinking games, Kevin Spacey for the impersonation jokes, Darth Vader so he could pass me the salt with the force, Cookie Monster to sort out the dessert, Turok for the awesome dinosaur hunting stories and Falkor the lucky dragon to go for a fly around after. As for the food, it would have to be an epic roast dinner, I always love those.
The world starts to end in 2012 (as a few crazy hippies are predicting…) and you get offered the chance to escape to another galaxy with your friends and family – but are only allowed to take five albums with you. What would they be?
Deftones – White pony
Prodigy – Fat of the land
Jimi Hendrix – All along the watch tower
Limp Bizkit – Everything
Domestic – Art making machine
You’re playing a live set at the Astral Circus launch party on Friday 20 July alongside Nick Sentience, Cathar, Savage Circuit, Liquid Ross, Nikki S, Andy Force, Nolan Schmolan and many more. What can your fans expect from your set next Friday? And why should readers who’ve never seen you play before come and check it out?
I’m going to be playing some unreleased material and re-masters of older tracks so hopefully Mechanimal is going to sound fatter than ever before!
Loads of work has been put into the music and everyone at Astral Circus is putting a lot of thought into the party so there’s no reason why not to come down and have a good time.
What else do you have planned for the rest of 2012?
Other than the album I’m currently working on a new solo project Saga; so far I’ve got releases coming out on Aphid Records, 24/7 Records, Maharetta Records and Vuuv. Hopefully going to get an EP and an album released alongside the Mechanimal album so I can tour with both acts next year. www.soundcloud.com/sagalive
Finally, if a fan sees you at the bar next Friday night, what should they buy you to drink?
If I would be so lucky I normally drink whiskey and coke.
See you at the bar! Thanks for your time Nick! Looking forward to seeing you at Astral Circus!
For news and info about Mechanimal check out their FaceBook page.
Follow Mutagen Records on FaceBook here.
For news and info about Astral Circus check here.
Join the Astral Circus launch party here.
All images courtesy of Nick Sagar-House and Mechanimal. Not to be reproduced without permission.
Astral Circus Launch Party
Friday 20th July
22:00 - 06:00
Early bird - £5 +bf, Advance - £10 + bf, MOTD
Access All Areas - 020 7267 8320
Click here to buy tickets
Welcome… to Astral Circus!
Astral Circus is a manifestation of collective endeavour, combining the talents of audio and visual artists, to create a multi-dimensional event that provides a perfect environment to immerse the senses and stimulate the mind. Astral Circus will submerge the mind into the prismatic colours and symbols of the unconscious, transporting its travellers beyond the confines of 3-dimensional reality to a place of unhindered creativity, excitement and exploration.
Accompanying you on your journey is a range of exceptionally talented live Acts, DJs and visual artists, including UV Decor by Cognitive Dissidents, Ink Junkie, Floating Bush Collective & more and visuals by VJ Baby K & Nikki S. Funktion One Sound System.
Psy Trance. Chillout / Leftfield.
Main Room: Psychedelic trance
Savage Circuit [Live]
Room 2: Electronica/Psy-gressive
Cosmic Warrior [Live]
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Other Features By Tara:
Talking psy trance with Jules Hamer
Contineum prepare to propel Astral Circus into a new dimension
System 7 raise the phoenix with Rovo ahead of The Orb's 25th anniversary tour
“Be nice, have fun and don’t get pregnant!” Al Shanka and Rinkadink get psyched for Pearl Festival.
Astral traveller Laughing Buddha joins the circus to preview his new album
The views and opinions expressed in this review are strictly those of the author only for which HarderFaster will not be held responsible or liable.
| From: Cognitive Dissidents on 18th Jul 2012 14:30.32|
Really looking forward to the Mechanimal set at Astral Circus! Just to let you all know we've got another decor team on board, Transcendental Spirit Decor, who along with Ink Junkie, Cognitive Dissidents and Floating Bush Collective will be transfoming the Jamm, so the production is going to be out of this world!!!
From: NickiS on 19th Jul 2012 10:18.27
Mechanimal are on fire!! I've been looking forward to their set for the past 2 months!! BIG FAN ... LOL .... all I can say is 'Xeno'