We sit down with Greek DJ and producer Nixxie ahead of his ’Silver Sails’ EP on Maera Music. We discuss the scene in Mykonos, the inspiration behind the release, his studio set and more…
How are you, what have been the highlights of your 2023 so far?
Well its been very eventful so far, to say the least. I was asked to be the music director for a really high-end private festival on the island of Antiparos; it was a lot of work, but the results were incredible. I invited Satori, Birds of Mind, Chambord, DJ Gregory, The Mekanism and some others, and together we kept everyone dancing for a solid 18 hours spread over 2 days. Intensely fun!
What is the scene in Mykonos like? Is that what got you into electronic music?
I used to go to the island as a kid and walk around the town with my parents, constantly amazed by the diversity of people out and about at any given moment. All types of fashion, ethnicities, orientations… perhaps the most impressive would be some of the drag queens frequenting Pierro’s – so flamboyant!
I feel like Mykonos is still a place full of wonder and awe, mostly people driven. The key word, for me, is “freedom” (of expression). It’s a place that, through its popularity, has the resources to gather some of the worlds leading talents. And since I’ve been here so many years (since 2015 on a quasi full-time basis, in terms of summer at least), I’ve often felt intensely privileged to be surrounded by all this creativity. I feel that it’s rubbed off in many ways.
What are or were your inspirations?
Musicians. I was lucky to work closely with or around a lot of them. When I was 21 I worked at a pretty cool company in London called Sanctuary Music Group. I got to spend some time with some proper legends, including the Iron Maiden guys, Jimmy Page (Led Zeppelin) and Michael Amott (Arch Enemy / Spiritual Beggars). Any time I’d get a little window of opportunity, I’d try to deconstruct their creative processes. I would ask a million questions. I’m sure I must have bored them to death. In the end, what I’ve surmised is that inspiration often comes through persistence, endurance, and occasionally in the places you least expect to find it. It’s worth mentioning that days I’ve been listening to Nicola Cruz a lot.
What are your aims when producing, what do you want your signature sound to be?
This is perhaps my biggest weakness: I don’t belong to any musical niche. I’m into at least 8 different types of electronic music, from ambient through to progressive, deep to groovy. I’m sure I’m not doing myself too many favours by not focusing on one area, but I simply cannot bring myself to stick to one area. In some ways I’m inspired by the great Stanley Kubrick, who as we know was able to create high-quality films in every major genre. Perhaps it’s possible to be a musical polymath? The only thing I know for sure is that I will keep trying to push my limits.
What inspired your Silver Sails EP?
I’m going through some difficult things in my private life at the moment and there was a period earlier in the year when things got almost too overwhelming; one of the ways I worked through the difficult times was to create new music, and with Silver Sails it turned into a statement: there are storms out there, but they invariably pass eventually. And when you’re in the middle of one, even though it can be very hard to see the sunlight breaking through, it’s good to try and stay grounded, mindful, and aware that it will pass. And as my friend Djordje (aka Satori) recently suggested: sometimes you also just have to f&*k it and go dance in the rain!
Where and when was it written and do outside factors like that affect the music you write?
Yeah, outside factors totally play a part, as I said previously… its almost as if the track is a snapshot in time, encapsulating what I was going through and to an extent my thoughts and coping mechanisms. I wrote this in October / November 2022.
How did you hook up with the vocalist? Is it about the woods or the sounds of the voice more?
If you’re referring to the remix, it was done by dOP, super talented French duo who I had the chance to meet in Mykonos last year at an event that took place in Maera (also our label headquarters). They did a really great job of preserving the original intentions of the track while adding their own very distinctive flavours.
What gear do you use in the studio? Does that matter?
Gulp. This might be the moment im found out for the hack that I am. I really dont have much at all in the form of hardware. Ive picked up a number of instruments (mainly percussive) that I’ll mess around with occasionally, there’s a Moog grandmother. My DAW is Live, I have a Push and some other bits and bobs. A lot of plugins, Diva, the Arturia collections, a bunch of Fabfilters… it’s all rather underwhelming isn’t it? But then perhaps my “secret weapon” is that I have a very solid list of friends who own all sorts of goodies in their studios…
What else you got coming up?
Quite a lot actually. I have an EP on Birds Of Mind’s Mindgame label, coming in early September. There’s also two more Nixxie tracks on my own label, Maera Music that will be part of a very special Various Artists compilation, featuring a lot of my friends as well. Given how much name-dropping has already taken place here, I see no reason to stop now: there’s music by Stefano Ritteri, Musta, Thabo, Manuel Fischer, Afrofox, Lica, Dario Dea, Greg Foat, Ramyen, The Mekanism, Manqo and my local Mykonos compadres P A N and Dest. We don’t have a release date set for the VA yet but I’m thinking it will be September as well, and I can’t wait.
I’ve got a couple of very fun collaborations with the British jazz musician Greg Foat, and I’ve also made what could almost be considered an electronic pop tune… all very confusing for my followers I’m sure (apologies!)
What artists have you got your eye on at the moment? Who are you feeling?
M.RUX has been doing some very interesting things for quite a while now. I also enjoying Laurence Guy’s new stuff too.
What music to you listen to outside of the electronic world?
Some examples of artists I really can’t seem to get enough of: Mulatu Astatke, Woo, Gigi Masin, Ali Farka Toure, The Vernon Spring, Frank Ocean, Chelsea Wolfe, Khruangbin, the Clash, Kyuss, Type O Negative, Gojira, Prince
What do you do to relax outside of the studio and booth?
In summer I go and swim in the sea almost every single day. Its such a game changer. In winter I go on long walks… wait this is starting to sound like a dating app profile! All joking aside, I take self-care very seriously, and I ensure I have some form of it each and every day, even if sometimes it might just mean playing with my two cats Psipsi and Remi (both rescues from Mykonos)
What hopes and goals do you have for your career?
I’m focused on achieving 3 goals: being able to consistently create music that doesn’t make me (or others for that matter) throw up, pushing my boundaries as far as they will go, and always trying to stay in touch my inner, playful child – seen as this is where a lot of the best stuff comes from. I’m not driven by goals such as having a “hit”, though I’d be lying if I said I don’t care what people think.
Eventually, I hope to run an immersive 3-4 day festival somewhere Greece’s nature. To that end, I’ve been working on a specific concept for more than 6 years now, I’ve been testing it in Mykonos each end of August, when I host the Maerae (mini) Festival. Hopefully sometime in the not too distant future we can perhaps run a feature on The Maerae, when it becomes a full-blown event.
Nixxie EP “Silver Sails” feat. dOP & Boubacar Samake Vocal Edit is out now on Maera Music
Grab it here