Keeping moving with Mechanimal!
Reported by Andy Force
Submitted 31-03-14 19:27
When Mechanimal blasted into our field of vision a few years back, already an astute musician and producer, it didn’t take long for him to become ingratiated into the fold of the UK psychedelic scene. Since then, Nick has been creating an international profile through his hard work on the road and his prolific labour inside the studio with dozens of releases under his belt. Now, with his debut album just released on Mutagen Records, things are looking bright for him, and the future of the music scene appears to be in good hands.
For those who don’t know, Mechanimal is the epoch of morning psychedelic trance, encapsulating all the magic and sparkle of the UK sound, turbo charged with extra oomph. As his new album Inertia flies in at the top of the Beatport chart, we cornered Nick for a chat to find out where he’s been, and what it’s like being at the cornerstone of his career.
So you’re now flying solo with Mechanimal – how is this new phase in the life of your artistry, tell us what’s been happening?
When I worked with Junior he helped a lot with the music style, was very active with the promotion and also handled all the bookings. We used to joke that I was the mechanic and he was the animal so now I will have to compensate in some way – haha! He is now living in Brazil doing well with his projects: Noize Pirates and Earbug.
Since taking on the project alone I’ve had to build my own contacts and take a much more active approach to promotion. Promotion itself is a whole new skill set so now I’m often spending more time learning about social media tactics and graphic design rather than making tunes. The album was pretty much the turning point of when I started solo so hopefully everyone will enjoy the new sound.
You’ve got your first album out! How do you feel about it?
Relieved yet excited to see where it takes me next. Writing over an hour of music whilst keeping other releases going is a real challenge not to mention keeping it a secret for a year. I believe psy trance is very much music for the moment so even when I had finished and tested tracks I was always updating them to meet the standards of new material coming out. I could probably spend another two years editing, but best to take the plunge and get the release out while the magic is there.
The album showcases an impressive range of styles and sounds – deep groovers to twinkly morning stuff and some fantastic experimental territory with Psibindi’s vocals. What’s inspired you to keep moving forward into these newer directions?
I wanted each track on the album to be memorable with a different flavor, rather than a selection of cool tracks that you would forget a week later. I enjoy many genres of music so was also happy to write a chill out track to showcase different production skills. I hope the album is something that can be enjoyed at home as well as on the dance floor.
Do you think you will work on any other styles like chill/ambient again?
Definitely! I’m always writing different styles of music. I also play the bass, guitar and sitar so I want to keep that active. It’s important to try different genres; you can learn lots of valuable techniques that you can then apply back into psy trance. Even as a producer I think a lot can be gained from learning an instrument too. I’ve been running a liquid drum and bass label too so if you’re into that kinda music check it out here: www.facebook.com/figmentrecords
And now, where do you see Mechanimal’s journey going from here, creatively, and otherwise?
I have sorted out a couple of remixes, compilations and collaborations which are all due to come out later this year, but I’m hoping to focus on doing a big EP and/or album release yearly.
Before it was all about networking, learning production and getting the name out there, but now with over forty tracks (yes over forty!), it’s about time to release an album. I really need to focus on quality rather than quantity.
In terms of sound I’m always experimenting and trying to “reinvent myself” production-wise, but I don’t want to change the vibe too much. Since the beginning I’ve always strived to make tunes like the early Nano releases as that’s what got me into psy. Hopefully as I progress it will still sound like Mechanimal but better delivered every time.
The UK is burgeoning with talent at the moment. Is there anyone you haven’t worked with yet but would like to, or are planning to?
There are loads of artists I’d like to work with but my top three at the moment would be Eat Static, Beatnik and Tristan. I’ll test my luck and try and sort an opportunity out once the album release is out the way!
I hear from many sources you’re now a powerhouse in the studio – you have definitely come a long way since showing up on the scene a few years ago. What development have you made in terms of your own skills in that time; and what has been the most interesting, or valuable thing that has accelerated your learning?
I worked in music for many years full time and was doing ok but never gave it a strong push as I was dabbling in different genres and worrying about how to get by, rather than making something special. Ironically it was when I took a step back and started to work in a shoe shop that the music really got going. Whilst working there it really put into perspective how valuable time is and how amazing it is to do what you love for a living. As I only had a limited time to write music it gave me healthy pressure to get things done and it meant that I had to enforce structure to my creative processes. Since I had bills paid it also meant I could follow my dream and write some blasting tunes. Eventually opportunities really picked up and I could do music full time again, however this time for the right reasons. Now I’m the most organized, creative and inspired that I have ever been.
Nick in the studio with Lucas
“Enforcing structure to your creative process” – tell us more about creativity. What does it mean to you, why is it important, how do you harness it, and what gets in the way of it?
I’ve done a detailed write up called Studio tips from Mechanimal which goes into depth about how I keep productive and creative in the studio. This is available from the “downloads” tab on my fan page: www.facebook.com/mechanimalmusic
In short to harness creativity I create a clutter free workspace, put some good tunes on, learn new techniques from tutorials, help friends, go to events, collaborate with other people and set goals and opportunities to work towards.
In terms of what gets in the way: a messy studio, forgetting to eat, being afraid to move on from ideas which don’t work, too many plug ins, not working with other people and not going to events.
What is your summer looking like – many parties & festivals going on?
So far I’ve been booked to play at two festivals: Transition in sunny Spain 10/04 and I will also be playing for the first time in Serbia at Forest Sound Festival 30/04.
In the UK I’ll be playing at one of my favourite events: Tribe of Frog in Bristol 26/04 and I’m also very happy to be booked for Astral Circus in London for their 2nd birthday on 27/06! It’s going to be a blast.
Tell us about the worst gig or experience on the road that you’ve had.
Having looked back on some of the worst gigs, they’ve always ended up being a funny story to tell or a valuable lesson learned. Just to name a few I’ve done some very embarrassing things like setting up on a bass bin which was turned on during the set… laptop wasn’t very happy! Also I’ve had a battery run out at the end of the set and the one time I forgot a backup CD the computer crashed and I had to restart the LIVE — haha. I’ve learned the hard way but all has been smooth sailing since!
Psychedelic trance is a massive global culture. What do you think it is that keeps the scene alive and fresh where others wither away, or become absorbed into the mainstream?
Fat pumping tunes, beautiful decorations and epic surroundings. I feel that as long as these principles are in place it will never wither away. I don’t think it’s been absorbed into the mainstream because, for me, psy trance is more about an experience rather than something that can be packaged and sold on shelves.
Fan Page: www.facebook.com/mechanimalmusic
Catch Nick at Astral Circus!
All photos courtesy of Nick Sagar-House. Not to be reproduced without permission.
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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.