Guest Mix: The abrasive and sublime breakbeats of Nikki Nair

Nikki Nair is one of the most exciting producers in dance music right now, releasing a slew of centre-left, bass-heavy, breakbeat-focused techno since 2018 – or, in other words, music. by NairBUMPS. Nair’s Atlanta-based productions are in part the evolutionary offspring of the Florida station wagon sound made famous by DJ Icey, who in the ’90s spread the gospel of rave culture throughout the Southeast as a cross between the Pied Piper and Johnny Appleseed.

Nair found his first steps in dance music growing up in Knoxville, Tennessee, immersing himself in the DIY scene and underground parties, much to the chagrin of his Indian immigrant parents, who were looking for a straight and narrow path to their son to become a doctor or a lawyer. But teenage Nair couldn’t stay away, and a chance meeting with techno great Mike Banks, as well as exposure to Dieselboy, an American drum and bass pioneer, particularly piqued his interest in music from his beginnings as a DJ.

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“[Dieselboy] played in places where it was the only dance music people knew,” says Nair, whose soft, analytical demeanor contrasts with his alternately abrasive and sublime musical style. “I had friends who were into Dieselboy, and then outside of Dieselboy they only listened to jam bands.”

(As someone who grew up in Atlanta and is older than Nair, I can attest to the inexplicable power that Dieselboy had over crowds that otherwise weren’t really into dance music in the South, let alone drums and bass. It never made sense, but it’s a trick.)

Photo by Alec Robertson.

Nair also played in rock bands growing up, leading to a fascination with recording and production that evolved into more experimental forays into Aphex Twin-inspired electronic music. Nair largely reversed his early attempts at producing electronic music, but their groundwork shined through in the muscular realization of his future aspirations.

Since 2018, Nair has consistently released new music every two months, earning critical acclaim, building his reputation as an artist to watch, and racking up live bookings around the world. In February, Nair launched the label n goes to infinity, where he plans to release a track every month, and, unlike his releases on high-profile imprints like Dirtybird and Scuffed, will rely on him as a outlet to be “more creatively free”. , instead of trying to make a working dance record.

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While impressing dance music fans and other DJs around the world came quite naturally to Nair, impressing another very specific audience – his parents – did not.

“They’re very judgmental people and it takes a lot to impress them,” Nair says of their skepticism of his musical restlessness. “I can be in DJ Mag or Mixmag and it doesn’t matter because I haven’t been on CNN. … If I could afford to buy a house, they would be impressed. It is something concrete. »

Given his current momentum, they could well come back. In April, Nair released the frantic and futuristic EP “The World Is Always Ending” with LA singer, DJ and producer Nala on Dirtybird’s experimental White Label series. Plans to find a full album are also underway.

“I feel like I need to make an album,” he says. “I don’t listen to albums very well, unless they’re so compelling that I can’t stop listening to them from start to finish. So I feel like [my album] must be coherent and convincing. Otherwise, I should continue to make songs.

After: Explore the FREAKS ONLY Guest Mix Archive

Turn off the lights, fire up the subwoofer and put your ears to Nikki Nair’s exclusive FREAKS ONLY guest mix. Check out his tour dates below.

Sonic Bloom Festival 2022 at 9:30 p.m.
Rye, CO

MULTIPLICITY @ 9:00 p.m.
Ternion SoundAnna MorganAleph
Minneapolis, Minnesota

Greasy Rock Camp 2022 at 7:00 p.m.
Ternion SoundBlack Carl!
Sneedville, TN

Côte des Basses 2022 at 7:00 p.m.
Merritt, British Columbia, Canada

Shambhala Music Festival 2022 at 7:00 p.m.
His Termion
Jersey, British Columbia, Canada

Dirtybird Camp 2022 at 7:00 p.m.
Waterford, California

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