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NIXIRO talks body, mind and music production ahead of his release 'Planet Impulse' on Static Movement's label - Sol Music!
Reported by Jessica Alici
Submitted 04-01-23 10:35
NIXIRO is a budding Psy-trance producer from Cambridge. He has been working tirelessly for years learning his craft, which has paid off - with his debut release ‘Planet Impulse’ on Static Movement’s label Sol Music - just out! Find out more about the track and the artist NIXIRO here…
What is your earliest memory of music?
My earliest memory of music is listening to the Beatles when I was a toddler living in Blackpool in the 70s. I became a huge fan of the Beatles and absolutely loved their music. I can remember a teacher telling me about John Lennon dying in 1980 when I was 7 years old and feeling upset.
Do you feel your childhood played a part in developing the artist you have become?
Yes, in a way. As a teenager, I became obsessed with heavy metal and learning to play the guitar. My favourite artists were virtuoso guitarists such as Yngwie Malmsteen and Steve Vai. I played for hours every day to try to get as good as them. I then discovered the rave scene in the early 90s and became passionate about electronic music. I was very much into science fiction as a child. When I discovered psytrance, I felt it had a science fiction element that I really enjoyed, such as the track High Energy Protons from Juno Reactor. I also find that psytrance and heavy metal both share very high production and technical values.
How would you describe your sound?
I’m more on the progressive side of the psytrance spectrum, although sometimes going more to full-on. I like the rolling basslines, the Middle Eastern arps and melodies, and the massive one-shots, peppered with typical psychedelic quotes.
When did you first DJ and what enticed you to?
I started DJing on my computer using Virtual DJ 10 years ago when I was living in Malaysia with my brother for a few months after a family member had suffered a serious injury. I’d always wanted to DJ and had tried vinyl while at university in the early 90s, but never found the time to practise or the money to buy decks.
When I came back to the UK in 2013, I thought I should really try to learn on CDJs and took a course at a place called Subbass in South London. It was really fun, but I couldn’t at the time afford CDJs so I started using Traktor instead with the S2 controller. After a while, I saved up and bought the Pioneer XDJ XZ a couple of years ago.
You have been learning the craft of production from different Psy-trance maestros. How valuable was this? Are you still being tutored?
I started producing 10 years ago, around the same time I started DJing, when I was working full-time running a medical charity to develop a treatment for the ultra-rare genetic disease affecting two of my children - a disease called Alkaptonuria or Black Bone Disease. I was DJing and producing in my spare time.
I spent the first couple of years trying to figure out how Ableton worked but the tracks I made didn’t sound anything like the psytrance tracks I listened to. Eventually I found an excellent psytrance teacher online called Charlie (artist name Tripy), who showed me how to make the rolling basslines, how to use my Virus Snow to make psychedelic sounds, and more generally how psytrance works. This was invaluable; I learnt a lot from him.
I then did some online modules in music composition, sound design, mixing and mastering with Point Blank music school, before going back to learn from psytrance producers such as Seb Memmott (Sebliminal/Otherworld) and Ralph Freund (Brain Cell).
Then last year I started taking regular lessons with Marko Radovanovic (E-Clip) who was amazing. He taught me the techniques to make professional psytrance tracks, such as how to make a grid, the one-shots, the melodies and overall structure. Psytrance is a super technical genre, and the production values are very high, which is why it’s good to learn from experts.
This year I started taking lessons with Marios Karakasidis (Inner State) who is equally amazing. Marios has a very rigorous and structured approach to teaching production. He taught me how to build a solid psytrance kick using the plug-in Kick 2, how to improve my grids, melodic variation, and how to make a great mix. He’s been incredible!
Without the tutoring I’d have struggled to improve my productions so effectively. While there are many YouTube tutorials it’s all a bit patchy. Nothing beats one-to-one lessons with an expert, which is why I’m continuing to learn from them.
Which parts of production do you like most and least?
I enjoy most aspects of production, particularly building the kick and bass, making the one-shots and figuring out good arps and melodies. The part I enjoy the least is all the time you have to spend updating your computer and plugins, dealing with crashes, and trying to figure out why you’re not getting any sound, particularly now that I’ve switched to Cubase, which is so much more complex.
Where does your artist’s name originate from?
NIXIRO is how my real name (Nick Sireau) is said phonetically. I was working for an NGO in Gujarat in north India after the earthquake there 20 years ago. I arrived at a tiny hotel where I’d reserved a room, but they couldn’t find me in their registration book. Eventually, we realized that they had spelt my name phonetically (NIXI RO), so when I started producing, I thought that would make a good artist name.
What do you think makes a good artist?
Perseverance, creativity, and the ability to keep learning and improving. The music space is so crowded nowadays that you must keep on learning and producing all the time to get better. You also need to be entrepreneurial as you need to learn all the aspects of music production as well as how to market yourself using social media.
You have a debut release called ‘Planet Impulse’ out on Static Movement’s label Sol Music. Tell us about the release. What inspired you to make it? What software/hardware did you use? What inspired the title? What does it mean to be releasing on this awesome label?
I’ve been working on this track for nearly a year. I kept writing it and then rewriting it, then getting feedback first from E-Clip and then from Inner State, then going back to the drawing board and writing new sections again. When I started producing 10 years ago, I used to produce a track every week. Now it takes months because I want to get it as perfect as possible before releasing it.
For the software, I use Cubase 12, which I find much more sophisticated than Ableton, although I do still use Ableton to make loops and to design sounds. Most of the sound design was in Serum, Sylenth, Omnisphere, Phase Plant, Vital, Spire and the Virus Snow.
The title comes from the vocal sample in the track that talks about psychedelics and ‘the creative impulse of the planet’. I’m a firm believer that psychedelics, if used properly, can be transformative spiritually and for mental health. I set up and run a charity called Orchard OCD, which is funding a clinical study of psilocybin (the active ingredient in magic mushrooms) as a potential treatment for obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), a devastating yet common and trivialized mental illness. We are running this study at Imperial College London, under Professor David Nutt.
I’m very excited to be releasing on Static Movement’s Sol Music. Charlie (my first psytrance tutor) introduced me to Static Movement. I sent him my track and he really liked it and offered to release it. Sol Music is a terrific label with great artists.
Are you currently working on more productions?
Yes, I’m finishing off a new track at the moment. It’s taking a lot of time as I want each track to be better than the previous one. I also have several other tracks in the pipeline.
Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? If so, how do you manage this?
I don’t suffer from writer’s block thankfully. I always get on with some aspect of my music when I sit in my studio, whether that’s sound design, arrangement, mixing or whatever. If I lack inspiration, I listen to tracks by my favourite artists. Fifteen years ago, I used to write thriller novels as a hobby under the pen name James Grenton. I’d get up at 5.30am and write for two hours before my children woke up. That taught me discipline and to get on with writing/producing however you feel.
As well as a DJ and producer, you also run a couple of promotions in Cambridge. Can you tell us about these?
I run two monthly club nights in Cambridge (UK): the first is called Transmission and starts with progressive house before moving to melodic techno and then finishing with psytrance. I run it with two friends (DJs Teknaut and George) and it’s always packed out. It’s great fun!
The second night is called God Dropped Acid and focuses exclusively on psychedelic dance music, starting with psychill and psydub, then moving to psytech before going onto progressive, full-on, forest and high tech psytrance. It’s on a Thursday night which can be trickier than a weekend at times, but the response from punters has been excellent.
You’re also a father. Do you feel this changed you as a person? How do you juggle work/family/music life?
Yes, having children has definitely changed my life. My two older boys are aged 22 and 19 and were born with a serious and ultra-rare genetic disease called Black Bone Disease (as I mentioned above). I’ve devoted the past 20 years of my life to developing a treatment for them. I raised £20 million in funding from sources such as trusts and foundations, family and friends, the Department of Health and the European Commission. I work closely with the Royal Liverpool University Hospital and the University of Liverpool and we have successfully carried out clinical trials for a drug called Nitisinone that treats the disease. I still spend most of my working time developing new and better treatments for Black Bone Disease and supporting my boys who are now on the treatment. We also have a three-year-old boy who joined our family this year (2022) – he is amazing!
Juggling work, family and music is not always easy. It takes organization and discipline!
Describe yourself in 3 words…
One of my brothers once described me as intense, sincere, and creative.
What is one of your biggest disappointments in life?
Rather than a disappointment, I’d say my biggest challenge has been dealing with severe mental health issues. I’ve suffered from obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) since I was in my late teens – particularly a lesser known but common form known as Pure OCD, where your mind is plagued by constant and crippling obsessions and ruminations 24 hours a day for years. Most people don’t realise how devastating OCD can be – in its severe form it can be as serious as full-blown schizophrenia. I had a particularly bad patch six years, along with a crippling depression. I managed to recover thanks to medication and psychotherapy, but a good friend of mine took his own life a few years later because his OCD had got so bad. That’s why I set up the charity Orchard OCD - in order to develop new and better treatments for this terrible condition.
What is one of your biggest achievements in life?
My biggest achievement is undoubtedly having successfully developed a treatment for my boys’ rare genetic disease which has now been approved by the European Medicines Agency and is available for patients with Black Bone Disease across Europe and the UK. My second biggest achievement is to have learnt to produce psytrance – I’ve found it such a complex and difficult skill to learn as you have to learn everything: sound design, arrangement, melody, harmony, composition techniques, sound engineering, mixing and mastering. Learning to play heavy metal guitar and writing novels is much easier!
What are your hopes, dreams and plans for the future?
I want to keep producing the kind of psytrance that I love to listen to and for increasing numbers of people to listen to it too. A lot of top producers and artists recommend that people should be open-minded and listen to all kinds of genres of music (classical, jazz, blues, techno, etc) but all I ever listen to is psytrance. I just can’t get enough of it! That’s why I want to keep producing psytrance – I love this music so much! I also want to grow the club nights I run (Transmission and God Dropped Acid) to introduce more people to electronic music and psytrance. And I’d love to play at psytrance festivals on massive rigs to really feel that psytrance kick and bass.
If someone wrote a book about your life to date, what would it be called?
A friend who is a bestselling author did write a proposal for a book about my life to date. It’s called ‘Black Bones - One Father’s Determination to Save his Children from a Crippling Disease’. However, we haven’t found a publisher for it yet!
Click here to buy NIXIRO’s debut release ‘Planet Impulse’ here:
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Images courtesy of NIXIRO. Not to be reproduced without permission.
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Other Features By Jessica Alici:
The Transmission Crew tell all and talk about their first London event on 24th February 2023!
The Psy-Sisters chat about music, achievements, aspirations and the 10-Year Anniversary Party - 18/12/22!
Earth Needs a Rebirth! Discussions with Psy-Trance Artist Numayma
New Techno Rising Star DKLUB talks about his debut release White Rock on Onhcet Republik!
PAN expands on many things including his new album 'Hyperbolic Oxymoron' due for release on the 14th April 2022 on PsyWorld Records!
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.