Published on March 28th, 2012 | by soundtrackofyourday0
Nicologik and Zephyr interview | Art of Trance mix
We were lucky to catch up with the pioneering brains behind the label, Nicologik and Zephyr this week for a quick chat.
Hi guys, I’d like to thank you for the opportunity to interview you both today. How are you keeping?
Hey, thank you too for this opportunity! It’s a pleasure to have this interview with you. We are fine, completely swamped with work in the studio, it’s an exciting period!
You started working together in 2009, can you tell me a little about your individual backgrounds and how music became the focus of your careers?
Luca: Music was always my biggest passion. When I was very young I took piano lessons, then at 16 my nightlife experiences began and this led to DJing in some clubs in Milan.
Nico: I started producing at the age of 15 with my first samplers, this was some years ago and everything was very different. After some years I started DJing in little clubs in my hometown.
And how did you two originally meet?
Luca: I was contacted by a local radio station to start a radioshow and for the first episode wanted to interview a producer from Milan. So I called Nico and asked him to be a guest on the show, when we met in the studio we found we have the same taste in music and same objectives, so working together was the natural consequence.
How have you learned your craft? Have you had any special help whilst learning to produce?
We always keep an eye on latest musical trends and listen to many tracks and podcasts, so that was our schooling so to speak. Trying to learn how that big producer made a particular sound or that explosion in a track is the best way to learn. We haven’t received direct help from anybody.
What kind of studio set up are you using?
Our sampler is Logic Studio 9 running on iMac. Many plugins like Waves and Sonnox Oxford, VST like Omnisphere, Sylent 1 and others. The main core of our armory is the Access Virus Ti, it’s a fantastic piece of hardware and you can do everything you want with this.
And your weekly Above The Mix radio show.. this is a popular show aired on quite a few different web and fm radio stations, tell us a little about the format?
Our radioshow is released every Saturday on iTunes and then during the week is broadcasted on radio stations like Puresound, Radiobrod, Enation, Clubstitute and Live1. It’s an hour with the best new trance and progressive music, sometimes with house or electro vibes.
We usually mix 10 tracks plus the redusted track, an old tune we particularly like. For special occasions, like Christmas, we propose special themes, covers or guests.
Gigs & productions
You’ve worked with event organizers including Trance Gate & Under the Spotlight to play gigs all over Italy and Switzerland, how do you see your electronic music scene in Italy developing at the moment?
Past years were characterized by the strong contrast between the “commercial” clubs and edm scene. In the last 2 years we’ve seen a musical melting pot emerge, it’s an exciting time because we have the occasion to introduce our style in many more clubs than in the past, playing for completely different audiences.
Which artists in your own country do you rate highly right now?
Benny Benassi, Crookers, Giuseppe Ottaviani and Bloody Beetroot.
And internationally, who do you admire?
The young talents coming out in these last years, like Avicii, Skrillex, Hardwell, W&W.
For any readers who may not have heard a Nicologik and Zephyr track before now, how would you describe your sound and who would you say have been your main influences?
In a few words our sounds is a mix of cool groove, open synths and progressive/trance sounds. Artists like W&W, Shogun, Tiesto, Martin O’Donnell and Iron Maiden have influenced our productions.
Being based in Milan you’ll have a very stylish, cosmopolitan crowd attending events around the city, how would you say the Italian EDM scene compares to the rest of Europe?
The downside of living in such a stylish city is that many people come to then clubs not for music but for appearances. Some years ago there was a strong contrast between clubs for appearances and clubs for music. The great thing is that style and music are fusing, mixing it all up and injecting new life into the clubs.. The melting pot.
Listening to your releases from the past few months you’ve got a real big room vibe going on, Arrive to Schiphol Plaza was an absolute monster and Emerald pretty much follows in it’s devastating footsteps, are you all about the floor-fillers?
We love to destroy the clubs with our productions, but the our next single will be a vocal with more progressive vibes. Will be an interesting mix between club vibes and radio sounds.
You have a new single featuring the amazing trance vocalist Tiff Lacey coming out in March; can you tell us a little about this?
Of course, was exciting to work in studio with such a big singer, her voice is amazing and ways of working so professional. In March we’ll release the single with an extended mix and a radio edit, and in the following months we’ll release the remixes, amazing artists are working on these.
What were some of your biggest moments of 2011?
We have had three days to remember: 26th February, when we were the special guests playing a 5 hour set at Fluo Party, in Como city. 2000 people came to listen to us but the club was only for 1200, it was so amazing to play for such long time to so packed club with the crowd loving our music. 2nd May, the day when we founded Graygoo Records (2nd May 2009 was the day when the first episode of Above the Mix was broadcasted). 22nd and 23rd November, when we went to Rotterdam to meet Jacob Van Hage in his amazing club Time Out, and we played together his great remix of our single Arrive to Schiphol Plaza.
You’ve achieved so much already as artists and now label owners, where would you like to be in say 5 years from now?
In 5 years we hope to go on with the work we are doing, maybe reaching the international EDM scene, playing in festivals and promoting our artists in the same way.
Moving on to your label, Graygoo Records, which you launched last year, what made you decide to take this step? Was it a natural progression in your career?
Having a label means we have total freedom in the creative process (music, but also covers and videos) and also means we can release our tunes whenever we want. But we are not focusing only on Graygoo Records, we are releasing remixes for other labels, increasing our network and label importance. Having a label means also helps to build a great artists network, it’s very exciting to publish young and talented artists, creating a network with remixes and collaborations. It’s a way to create something really artistic.
Can you describe the label ethos for me?
We want to promote young and talented artists, promoting true music and those who really make art and music by themselves. Today it’s very difficult for a young artist to be published by a serious label, they publish either on insignificant labels or on big labels but with tying contracts. As label owners we are artists just like the guys we produce, we understand what it means and we do the best by them.
Quite an eclectic sound from the base of your releases so far from big room progressive trance & tech trance to the electro-dubstep sounds of The Moogs, is it your intention to shake things up with the sound?
Of course yes! It’s stupid today to excessively split the music genres. Our label produces EDM music. Of course we have to focus on some style, and for this we paint our releases in Blue for Electro or Orange for Club Blowers for example. But we don’t hate any music genre, we only want to produce great music. In future you will see on our label also release tunes in other EDM styles, and we always stimulate our artists to experiment mixing different styles. Listen to Roosko by Matt Loki, the original version is an amazing mix of Electro, Progressive House and Dubstep, and the remixes are in different styles too. It is great to work with artists who understand our project and have the same modern mind.
What are you looking for in a track / artist to make the cut for a Graygoo release?
We want tracks full of quality and energy. And the artists must believe in our project as much as we do. We are not working “today, don’t know what will happen tomorrow”, but aiming for long term goals.
You’ve had some big names on remix duties so far this year including Erick Strong and Tigran Oganezov, a pretty big achievement for a label this young. What else has Graygoo got in store for us in the coming months?
We are increasing our “resident producers”, adding some names like Marco Miani, Lifeserzh, Junior Mancini and Creepers Gonna Creep. And of course also many big artists are going to release on our label, to name a few Steve Brian, Bartlett Bross (Fabio Xb), Kris O’Neil and Avengers.
Any plans to do a label branded night?
We are already testing some clubs and promoters without branding them GGR, but it’s a top secret project, shhhhh
Links & social media
Nicologik and Zephyr