“There’s a deeply-rooted music and dance culture on the islands”
North American Dj Nickodemus, who, alongside Joey Negro and Hugo Ciprés is opening the first session of the Jameos Music Festival 2018 on 27th July, has told us in this interview about his musical journey and experience in the Canary Islands.
-When did you first realise that you wanted to become a musician? That first time when you said to yourself “I want to make people dance”…
It’s hard to pinpoint an exact time, but I do remember being the opening act to one of my heroes, KRS-One / BDP when I was 17 and I thought, “how can this be happening to me? Shortly after, during my residence in Giant Step and Organic Grooves, I came up with the conclusion that I was inspired by this more than by any other job, it was even better than what I was studying at university. I gave up my other jobs at 22, just after I graduated.
– Your sound is very eclectic. From tropical rhythms with “Mi Swing es tropical”, a Spanish guitar in “Los Tarantos”, an Arabic touch in “Cleopatra in New York”, African sounds in “Livin’ Your Dream…” A global melting pot that has become your hallmark, hasn’t it?
My family always used my name for the mixes I made, “the Nicky Mixer”, because regardless of whether I was drinking juice or soft drinks, or whatever else, I used to always mix 2 or 3 different things in the same glass. I guess I have always enjoyed combining styles, with their similarities and differences, in order to come up with something new. That’s probably also why I really like tinto de verano…I’m the same when it comes to music.
– Is it hard to find new sounds?
What’s hard is not to! Every time I go into a record shop or visit websites such as Bandcamp, SoundCloud or Spotify, I’m astonished by the amount of new things out there. Even some old music is new to me. I appreciate most of the music I come across, because music affects your senses and emotions hugely…
– You got started in the 90’s in the New York scene. What was it like before and to what extent has the scene changed since?
I always talk about this, so I’ll try to keep it brief. The music scene back then was available to all sorts of people from all kinds of financial status. Nobody had mobile phones at parties. Nobody knew what was in at the time, and what was not, and it was no big deal to be seen in trendy places. DJs had longer sessions and we used vinyl records. You could smoke. There were fewer security guards, and there was no need for you to show ID at the door, although your were frisked at most Hip Hop parties in case you carried weapons. We found out about parties through word of mouth or flyers in fashion and record stores. DJs became known selling the tapes with their sessions on the street or clubs. That was actually how it went for me. I recorded my tapes and sold them on the street and also in the places where I played.
– This year you published “A Long Engagement”, featuring Fémina, “Inmortales”, who is doing really well, and also La Yegros, Carol C., Alsarah,… women who are doing well in the industry. Tell us about these collaborations.
I hear voices for songs I’m working on. I often wait for the right time to take action. For instance, I knew that I wanted female voices for a song that was turca-funky based, and I didn’t release it until I found the right voice to collaborate with. Once I was at the Quantic studio and I met Fémina. I then knew they were a perfect fit and I knew I wanted to work on that tune. It was obvious to singers too. Then, they grabbed a mic and recorded their gorgeous voices and lyrics. The same happened with La Yegros and Alsarah.
They are both extremely professional and they knew exactly how to adapt and improve my songs to my full satisfaction.
– You’re coming to Lanzarote this month, to Jameos del Agua, a magic place to play that everyone talks about. Not long ago, you went to Tenerife to the Tropicalia event. Had you visited the Canary Islands before that? Are we any good at dancing?
A friend from NYC moved to the Canary Islands many years ago and he’s always sending pictures and inviting me to come over. I went to Tropicalia (in Tenerife) and I realised that there are a deeply-rooted music and dance culture on the islands. I’m sure that playing in such a mythical and mystical place and sharing it with all of you, must be absolutely incredible.
– Have we seen it all in the music industry? Sometimes commercial music only allows us to know about the same 4 DJs, the ones at the top, and nobody else.
Well, I hope that festivals such as these and wonderful interviews like this one too, open the way toward a more ingrained music culture for everyone. That would slightly help us steer away from the mediocre overwhelming commercial music we have seen in the past few years. I always support the smaller teams, and now that I’m seeing so many unexpected twists at the World Cup, I have faith in the fact that the world always finds a balance somehow.
– What are you bringing us to Jameos Music Festival?
The same as always, funky and rhythmic sounds with plenty of improvisation for us to dance and inspire one another.
Book your ticket HERE