Appearing out of the murky unknown, Nomine’s enigmatic presence has charmed the best of us. A refreshing approach in a time when accessibility has no boundaries within the confines of digital hyperspace. For Nomine, resisting the status quo has allowed him to ignore the ‘politics’ and focus on what matters. It’s a complexing notion to the social media generation but paradoxically, the bigger detachment from the artist the greater connection we have with the music. Perhaps an old school habit, yet one that still carries value in the Internet age. His experience has been indispensable. With an interminable relationship with the electronic music scene since his early teens, our shadowy operator has lived and breathed music his entire life. Witnessing the evolution of the underground firsthand, Nomine’s musical journey has taken him around the world, through eye-opening adventures to life changing encounters, instilling a perspective which guides him to this day. It is of no surprise then to find all of this grounding reflected in his work. An advocate of abstract textures and sound design, there’s incredible depth to be found in his music. With a creative instinct for innovative engineering, Nomine has fabricated distinctive “echo-drenched melodies that drift like a distant brass chorus, sub-bass as soft and powerful as an ocean current, and turbulent, continually shifting percussion”. With originality taking centre stage and full support from Tempa, Nomine is on a mission. Never forgetting the rave cultures deeply embedded within underground genres, “Nomine is poised among a generation of dubstep and experimental electronic music producers reclaiming the 140bpm template… and turning it once again into a vehicle for potent exploration”. Nomine and his Tempa contemporaries are at the forefront of the electronic music scene, and I was eager to know more. Along with an engaging interview, he’s contributed an interesting mix traversing through different styles and tempos showcasing a body of exclusive music. This is the sound of Nomine.
Nomine: Alright mate
TRUSIK: Hello, how’s it going?
All good, how are you?
Yeah I’m good, so thank you for taking some time to speak to me.
Yeah no problem, thanks for obviously showing some interest in the project.
Definitely! I really like your music and as it goes… Tempa as a label, I’m completely into this sound.
(laughs) Yeah, nice one!
And I’ve always wanted to work with Tempa and get to know their artists more…
Yeah man! Let’s do it.
So to get into the swing of things, tell us a little bit about yourself, your sound….
To be honest, I’ve been around the whole UK music scene ever since…. (laughs) I’ve seen it basically progress from hardcore into jungle techno into jungle into garage into grime into dubstep into the bass music thing we’ve got going on now. So I’ve seen the whole journey for the last 20 years. I got into music when I was, well I started listening to radio music when I was 12, and went to my first rave when I was 14. I then started to make music when I was 15 and by the time I was 16 I was very fortunate to be going over to Germany to DJ, by the time I was 19, I was touring America. So it’s been a bit of a mad journey but I’ve literally seen the progression of the UK music scene over that period of time and been fully involved with it throughout my whole life. I’ve lived and breathed the music, so yeah, that’s kind of where I’ve come from and where I’m at right now.
So why has ‘Nomine’ only started to appear now…?
Nomine didn’t even exist until… basically in 2011 I was gonna give up music. I was at a point where I was getting a bit tired of the rat race, the hustle, I was bored of it. When I say I lived and breathed it, I lived and breathed it my whole life. It got to the point where I was tired and I was about to give up. I’ve been doing various things in the music industry as far as producing but I started to dabble in the 140 area in around 2006 / 2007, and did it for a few years, had a few things come out under a different name. When I say 140, it wasn’t dubstep, it was 140 but more breakbeat orientated so it still had a drum and bass vibe but at 140, kind of similar to the jungle techno sound but with a fresh twist. So I did that for a few years, then in 2011 I was about to give up, spoke to a few friends who suggested I start a new alias, something I had toyed with anyway, so I started Nomine. I made a few tracks, sent them to a friend of mine who runs Dubzilla and he was happy to put them out, which was the Jahpan EP which was the first release…
Which was a good EP mate, really nice…
Yeah I liked it, to be honest, it was nothing different to what I was doing anyway since I had started producing music I just did it at a different tempo. It’s a similar process, similar vibe, similar sound, I just did it at 140 and it worked.
What was your previous alias?
(laughs) There’s a couple.
You really are a man of mystery (laughs)
To be honest with you, this whole Nomine thing, it was an opportunity for me to start a clean slate. If it comes out out, it comes out, it’s not a massive secret. I’m enjoying making music and not worrying about what I was worrying about before – giving up music. I got into this for the love of music and I fell out of love with making music and now I’m love making music again and I think that’s partly because I can sit and do what the fuck I want and not have to answer to anybody.
I’ve noticed that you take a back seat approach to the ‘politics’ surrounding music. Whereas most producers are accessible via all the media platforms and involved with everyone’s discussions it must be quite nice to have that distance and just concentrate on the music.
Well back in the day, it was cool to just listen to music and you didn’t know what the hell it was, but now everything is really accessible and it takes the shine out of it. Today, you hear tracks a good six months to a year before they come out, and by the time it comes out, people are bored of it. I feel it’s good to drop things on people rather than giving away too much too soon. I think people enjoy discovering things as well, they don’t always want to have things pushed in their face. It’s nice sometimes to be able to talk to a friend and be like “look what I’ve found, look at this track!” rather than everyone knowing about it. It’s nice to find something and discover something new. Back when I bought records, it was nice to walk into a shop with a tape and say “do you know what this is” to the record shop owner and it was a good feeling that I discovered it. Then when I picked it up, none of my friends on the pirate radio stations knew what it was, and I had it, and I was the only person to have it, and they didn’t know what it was. I just find it a bit more exciting for me rather than just knowing everything about everyone all the time.
It’s the same for tracklists too. Everybody always wants to know every track, every dubplate played, so the element of surprise is lost. When you arrived on Tempa, I remember everyone saying “who the hell is this guy?”, “where did he come from?”, “where can I hear his tracks?”. You came out of thin air. You had that effect.
That wasn’t exactly planned but it’s kind of how it developed. Both releases were a fast turnaround so they didn’t sit around as dubplates for ages.
Have you got more material coming out on Tempa this year or perhaps next year? I’ve noticed subtle hints in some of your statuses, what’s that about?
Yeah, I’m doing an album for Tempa so I’m focusing on that for the moment.
I want to move onto the beat building process. When in the studio do you always have an idea of what you want to produce, or do you begin with one part and let the process organically take form itself?
It’s a bit of both, I never sit down without an idea, there always has to be an idea. Nine times out of ten, I can hear the track in my head before I make it. Or it will come from some poetry or short stories I’d written while travelling, which would represent the track I had in mind. Which then of course develops into a composition. There’s always a solid idea before I get stuck in.
I remember you talking about that in your interview with Nihal on Radio 1. You spoke about your travels around Asia, and how the experiences heavily influence your music writing, reflecting that current moment.
It hasn’t happened so much lately, whereas before every track had to give a message, some emotional message, I haven’t gone off that idea but instead let people make their own mind up, and have their own message for a particular song. Before I may have given a track a political title or some other title but now it is what it is and let people take it as they want to take it and have their own interpretation on what it means, rather than try and push a message on somebody.
The music you’ve put out so far certainly reflects a cultural aesthetic, the vibe and the tropical samples. Do you try and travel as much as possible to keep the inspiration flowing?
I’ve been fortunate and very lucky through DJing to travel around the world since 1998 / 1999 literally non stop so I’ve been very lucky in that aspect to see many countries and cultures. I lived in Asia for a period of time, in Thailand from 2007 for about a year and half, so I did some touring around Asia. The culture really grabs me, the sounds, the percussion and the music which you’ll find in the Nomine stuff that’s come out, it’s quite I guess Asian, Eastern influenced if you like…
And quite colourful as well, there’s a lot of depth in your music.
Yeah and I find that in that kind of music. If you listen to music in foreign countries that’s exactly how it is, the beats are just so… even just listening to a percussion loop, it’s got so much depth to it whereas the average pop song you just hear a meaningless… the percussion really grabbed me in those kind of countries and that’s why I started to use in the Nomine stuff that’s been released to date.
Which country did you build a strong connection with?
I would definitely say Thailand because before I went there I was an angry fucker. Going to live in a country like that, a third world country and seeing those people smile when at the end of the day they’re getting paid probably £2 for a hard days graft and they’ve still got the time to give you a smile and the best service in the world in the restaurants and just the way they live and their hospitality, it just made me think I’ve got no reason to be angry whatsoever. I really connected with that country. So on a personal level it’s definitely Thailand, not so much musically, it was the whole Asian experience musically because while I was out there I got to hear loads of different kinds of music on the streets while I was travelling around Hong Kong and other parts of Asia and it just really grabbed me. Even with the other stuff I made, I’ve always been into the tribal elements. Obviously, Amit is a good friend of mine and we’ve known each other since ’99 and we went on a journey together so that whole vibe has been a part of me anyway even more so when I got to travel around those countries.
Another detail that I picked up on in your interview with Nihal was your interest in film scores. Which scores are you drawn to and do you have a favourite?
To be honest my favourite ‘score’ is by Brain Eno. He did the sound and scoring for a 1976 film ‘Land of the Minotaur’. It’s really obscure random sound effects, very experimental and ambient. I’m very much into collages of sound and ambience, you know, sound design. I used to sample that kind of stuff but not anymore. A lot of my sounds are designed from scratch. Eno has been a big influence for me. On top of that there’s a piece by Stockhausen who’s quite an innovative character in the electronic music scene, are you aware of him, do you know who he is?
Not at all…
Karlheinz Stockhausen was an experimental composer from Germany and he did a piece called ‘Trans’. He came up with the idea in a dream and it ended up being a composition, an orchestrated piece, I can’t remember which film it was used in, but I know it was used in a film [Trans Und So Weiter]. Stockhausen was the first person to really embrace electronic sounds and instruments back in the day and he inspired a lot of people to go on and make electronic music. So him and John Cage have been a big influence in my journey, more so since I started University looking at the avant-garde experimental composers.
Incredible, you have to send me some links…
Yeah deffo, makes sense as people will then know what I’m talking about because some of this stuff dates back to the early ‘70s. Modern day soundtracks I wouldn’t know to be honest with you. As I’ve said, I’m more into the weird and wonderful and ambient – textures of sound.
Your Nomine alias has taken off fairly well. Are you happy with the progress and the reception you’ve had from people?
Yeah definitely, you know I used to play on Rinse FM in ’99 which is quite funny as we were pirates! We used to have to climb up a tree house every Saturday afternoon, I used to play after Stamina MC and before DJ Flight, I was in the middle of those every Saturday. I used to go down to music house 10 o’clock on a Saturday morning to cut dubplates to ensure I got a place before someone like Grooverider would walk in with a hundred DATs to cut. I would get down there, get my place in the queue, and cut my dubs. I would spend £200 to cut dubplates, just to play on radio. Then I would go to East London and play on Rinse FM 5-7pm. I did that for a year and half, two years I think. So it’s weird how it’s come back round full circle, and obviously Rinse is part of Tempa so yeah, I’m really happy. I couldn’t really ask for a better platform for my music with the kind of stuff I’m doing with Nomine to be honest with you. I mean Tempa are the innovators of early grime, garage and dubstep. So definitely really happy.
Tempa is definitely pushing, for most of the time, originality. I saw something about a new Horsepower Productions album coming out, you’ve got an album coming out, Proxima’s got an album coming out, so they’re really catering for a mixture of sound.
They’ve done it all. They’ve been in the middle of all of it, at the top of all of it, whatever they’ve done, I’m pretty sure some of these albums you’re gonna hear coming out from Tempa are gonna be mix bag. I heard J:Kenzo talking about his next project and he’s going to be going down more of the 2 step route. My album is not gonna be stuck on one sound, I can tell you that right now. An album needs to be more colourful for me. So I think that the label is gonna be pushing out some different vibes which is good.
So what else lies ahead for Nomine? You’ve almost finished your Masters, you’re working on your first album, is it your first album?
I’ve had an album out before under a different alias in 2009 but this will be my first solo project. I’ve been working on a lot of music at the moment. I also teach music performance and music technology part time. I teach different students as well, students with specials needs and kids that have been kicked out of school, I really love teaching so I’m always going to be doing bits of that. But to be honest, I still feel I have a lot to give in music and I’m going to put as much as I can into the Nomine project, that’s my baby at the moment.
Before we wrap up, I would like to go back to something we talked about earlier. You mentioned the evolution of electronic music from happy hardcore all the way through to dubstep. 140 has been massively explored and beginning to have it’s little offshoots which are going in their own direction. It’s quite interesting to observe what people bring to the table. Perhaps a clichéd question but from your experience, what do you believe will be the next development of dance music?
I think it’s good but my biggest fear at the moment are these umbrella tags to label bass music or EDM. When I teach these leaners, I’m always asking them questions and it’s frightening to hear some of their responses. For example, I’ll ask them what’s your favourite genre? “Drum and bass”. Who’s your favourite drum and bass DJ? “deadmau5”. What bpm do you think dubstep is? “180”. They’re clueless, but it’s fine because they don’t care, they like what they like, they’ll call it EDM, they’ll call it bass music and that’s good because it opens up the doors to the people who may not be exposed to it. If it’s called one umbrella term they don’t know what it is, they’re buying it because they like it. In that respect, I think it’s good. But my fear is if you keep calling it bass music, if you keep calling it this and that, it’s just going to become an amalgamation, one big mess of a sound. The next generation won’t know what the fuck is going on, their not gonna know about house, techno, acid house, dub techno, dubstep, garage, grime, drum and bass, all these valid genres that have got their own cultures and their own place in in the EDM journey. It’s just gonna be forgotten and these younger producers are only going to copy what’s available. It’s going to be one big mess, and eventually, I feel it’s going to eat itself alive. And it will be like what our mum’s used to say, that all that stuff sounds the same. And it fucking will, because that’s what’s going to happen, it’s all going to sound the same. I agree that there’s different things going on and people are bringing different things to the table but I feel people need to have genres, because people like to feel a part of something, people like a bit of segregation, they like to be a part of a genre, that’s just how the world is. I think for cultural reasons, and for the sake of electronic music I think that genres need to keep their identity. If someone makes a dubstep track they need to call it a dubstep track. If someone makes a techno track, they need to call it a techno track. I’m not saying they have to stick to one genre but I really believe they should wave the flag for whatever genre it is that they’re making.
The whole labelling agenda is a tricky one. Some producers don’t want to label their music as dubstep because of it’s association with the commercial sound. While some just think labels are a nuisance and don’t believe in them at all. An iconic figure such as Mala immediately comes to mind.
Genres are built on tempos and cultures. If you’re making a track at 140 in that environment in that culture, it’s a dubstep track. Don’t call it anything else because it’s not. It’s dubstep. Don’t get it twisted. I think people should experiment. Right now the next generation love everything, which is another great thing. When I was growing up into music you couldn’t like house because you would be called gay, you had to like either jungle or garage, you couldn’t like both. It was too segregated. And now, for the first time in history, America has embraced electronic dance music to the fullest. Prior to Skrillex winning those Grammys, you would never hear it on mainstream radio. So for the first time, it’s been embraced in the mainstream and some are seeing it as a cash machine which is fair play, a lot of western promotors are now booking electronic acts. I can’t remember the name of the company, but they just bough out Cream and Beatport so they’re really pushing EDM. I respect Skrillex and everything he’s done, I think the guy’s got a lot of talent and a lot of those American producers do but I think the whole EDM thing could end up back firing …. there’s pros and cons to the whole thing, for example, a couple years back you could only go to specialised nights, you could only go to a dubstep night or a drum and bass night. It is good that you can now go into a club and hear a mixed bag of music.
Nomine, it’s been a pleasure to meet you.
Yeah nice one mate, thanks again for the opportunity and keep in touch mate.
Definitely. All the best with your Masters. Easy
TEMPA071 and TEMPA078 are out now and available from Juno Download.