February 22, 2020

Interview: DJ Nihilist

DJ Nihilist Interview

Our artist spotlight interview series this time takes a deep dive with talented, Connecticut dubstep artist, DJ Nihilist!

DJ Nihilist Interview

AirdriftSignals: Hi DJ Nihilist? How are you doing today?

DJ Nihilist: I’m alright, just chilling... it’s been a long weekend haha.

AirSig: It’s a new year but more notably a new decade. How do you envision this turn of time for yourself creatively, or do you have any resolutions or goals in mind?

Nihilist: Musically the only real goal I have this year is to write my second EP, but I’m sure there will be other singles and what not that pop up. Personally my goal this year is to be more focused on my health, both physical and mental. I find that if I’m in a good space it’s easier to write more music too so it’s a win-win situation.

AirSig: Those are great resolutions! Just balancing the body and mind healthily could lead to more creative clarity. How do you feel your area of Newtown and more broadly Connecticut has contributed to the music scene and your overall molding as an artist?

Nihilist: I love the Connecticut music scene more than words can express; I’ve been in it for close to a decade now, which kind of bends my mind sometimes haha. There has and continues to be so much amazing talent coming out of the state that inspires me every day, and the tight knit nature of the scene we have creates some of the best energy at shows I’ve ever had the pleasure of experiencing . There have been a lot of shifts and changes over the 8 years, and keeping the scene alive can sometimes be a challenge... but I’d say it’s in a really good place right now and only getting stronger.

AirSig: Could you tell us what the inciting incident was that gave you the electronic music bug?

Nihilist: Really just going to my first show at the Dome at Oakdale in Wallingford. It was Kill the Noise and Figure with a bunch of other killer acts in 2012, and it was honestly one of the most freeing experiences of my life. I had been messing around with loops and such in garage band for years, but learning how these producers I admired made their stuff inspired me to get Ableton and start going in that direction.

AirSig: Who are some of your biggest influences in electronic music or just music in general?

Nihilist: As far as major artists go I’d say my longest running influences would be Liquid Stranger, Psymbionic, and Dirt Monkey. I’m also incredibly influenced just by music in general, like traditional music is beautiful and anything that makes you feel something can be learned from. But more than anything in the last few years I’ve been influenced by all the amazing producers in my community who inspire me to go my absolute hardest. Honestly too many to list but Tsimba, Second Nature, Ickis, Abomnabl, and Shiver Me Timbers would be just a few I could mention.

AirSig: I can tell from your recent singles and previous releases that you are a specialist in dubstep music. Dubstep is an interesting genre in that it originated from a much more mellow genre of dub, which in turn came from reggae. It has since morphed into an amalgam of side genres such as brostep and EDM. Where do you see your sound falling on the spectrum and where would you like to go with it?

Nihilist: Yeah, dubstep has definitely gone through a lot of changes since I got into the genre. I think that more melodic and wonky sound is coming back around though, and that’s definitely where I’d place my music these days. I’m not against harder stuff though, once my sound design gets super rough you can definitely expect bangers haha. I wouldn’t say I really specialize in dubstep though. In fact, I don’t think I specialize in anything. I have influences all over the place, and I find music for me is just very much about how I’m feeling at the time. But as a DJ I like to play around in all the BPM ranges, so I want to make music for every tempo.

AirSig: What equipment do you use when you produce? And mix?

Nihilist: I use Ableton Live with the Serum VST primarily (just like everyone else haha). I use Splice and a few other things sometimes, but I think you can do a lot with a little in Ableton. As far as mixing goes I’ve been trying to find gigs where I can use CDJs to get more comfortable with that. I really like the accessibility of just being able to have a flash drive with tunes on it for gigs, but at home I practice on a Pioneer DDJ-SR.

AirSig: Do you find it necessary to add any additional hardware or software in the future?

Nihilist: Not really, I mean like I said you can do a lot with just ableton and a flash drive haha. I mean I don’t know where I’d be without my midi keyboard cause I hate using the piano roll, but the only thing I’d really like in the somewhat distant future would be a nice MPC or other pad trigger controller.

AirSig: Tell us about your experiences playing live. You have a number of tracks that would do amazingly on a dance floor. What is it like to DJ a set with others and your own tunes?
DJ Nihilist Live
At Christy's Irish Pub, New Haven, CT

Nihilist: I actually don’t play out as much as I’d like, but DJing is one of the most fun things I’ve ever done in my life. And getting my tracks to a level of quality where they sound good being played out has been incredibly rewarding. But honestly my favorite thing about DJing is playing songs from my friends and finding cool ways to fit my own stuff in there.

AirSig: Are there any recent shows or mixes that you’re especially proud of or upcoming ones you’d like to talk about?

Nihilist: Last night (2/9) at Christy’s Irish Pub in New Haven was one of the most fun sets I’ve played because they had reinforced sound in that place, and it was knockinnnn. The promoters like it enough they wanted me back on February 25th for a house and bass night. I also had a lot of fun recently doing a set on Bridgeport’s radio WPKN, which I used to play on occasionally a few years ago. I forgot I wasn’t supposed to swear on air though, so I have to work on that for next time haha.

AirSig: In a genre that’s already full of so many players, what do you think it takes to rise above the sea of producers and DJs?

Nihilist: Honestly just individuality, long term dedication, and work ethic I think (I hope). And also a well founded and honest relationship with your fans and community. I will say as I approach 25 years old I’m starting to grow out of a desire to “rise above” other producers or “make it big”. I just want to be happy and healthy and able to make the music that speaks to me. And if that music connects with anyone then I’m just appreciative.

A very humble viewpoint indeed. 

DJ Nihilist's latest single, Outer World Bounce, can be heard on most major streaming platforms now! His previous singles can also be heard on most platforms. You can also read our full-length article of his production work here!