The Sounds of Nick Sentience
12 years of experience playing and producing electronic dance music - and still going strong. You better listen up, cause Nick Sentience has some stories to tell. Tales about productions released on various big labels and legendary DJ sets in the world’s best venues. It’s no fable, this guy is famous for some outstanding floorfillers, mainly within the hard dance genre. However, a true trance addict lives in him and so he lived out his passion in the studio, with ‘Nocturnal’ and ‘Kinetic’ as a result. These two Subculture releases, melodic and uplifting with a tight bite to it, reveal the versatile producer in Nick. High time for us to catch up with him, to find out what else awaits us on the Nick Sentience novel of music.
Armada: Since we’re all very summer-spirited right now, let’s start with the obvious question: How is the summer season treating you so far?
Nick:“It’s one of the nicest summer’s for a long time in London, lots of sun, so great!”
Armada: On August, 2nd your new double release ‘Nocturnal’ & ‘Kinetic’ will hit the stores. After twelve years of producing and about 150 releases – does it still give you that rush when you’ve finished a new track? Are you still excited to see the reactions?
Nick:“Definitely, the thing that keeps me writing music is that each track I finish has to feel like its an improvement on what I have done before, so that means there is always something new for me to achieve round the corner. With this EP it will be very interesting to see DJ reactions as it’s a new sound for me, and there is a huge buzz around the tracks on the internet from when Nocturnal was first played by John O Callaghan on ASOT 450. But nothing is guaranteed in this world, I just try to do tracks I like and with luck other people like them too.”
Armada: Since bursting into the dance music scene around 1998, you managed to reach the top and stay there, producing two outstanding artist albums, countless remixes and a broad range of high quality tracks. How did your sound develop in the meanwhile?
Nick:“As I started my career in 1998 at London based Nukleuz / Media records, I made a lot of music for the various labels that they did. I was their in-house producer for 4 years, so I did all sorts, from working on Mauro Picotto’s BXR label to some of the harder trance that was very big in the UK with BK. As these tracks came out I received a lot of support from Judge Jules and Dave Pearce at Radio 1, then remixes from Virgin, Incentive, AM PM and Ministry of Sound came in, and a lot of these were for Top 20 records, so that led to a lot of DJ work. As the DJ’ing grew I kept making records that were big in the clubs that I played at, and I have always enjoyed making all sorts of club music, some more progressive techno, some uplifting trance and some tougher tracks for the 4-6 am slots!”
Armada: You were quite young when you started working in the music industry. Can you tell us a little bit about your musical background? When was it that you decided to go for music professionally?
Nick:“I grew up in the UK when the early rave scene was huge, and a major influence when I was younger was the Prodigy, Orbital and Chemical Brothers. I was a big fan all through school and followed everything they did. I got my first vinyl decks when I was 15, then a computer and keyboard at 16. This was around 1996 and UK club land was growing and Goa trance was very big, with Paul Oakenfold and Danny Rampling, so that was a big impact on me as well. When I was 17 and still at college I sent a track to Future Music magazine, and they used it on their cover CD, from there Nukleuz/Media records signed me up and I moved to London… The rest is history!”
Armada: When you look at the diversity of tracks you’ve released, is there one that really stood out for you personally or one that was special in the way it came into being?
Nick:“From the older tracks, it’s hard to say, as I look back and think I was still learning so much in the studio that whole time and defining my style. But my first remix on Ministry of Sound for Storm ‘Time to Burn’ in 2002 sticks in my mind as it was one of the first tracks I made which really set the clubs on fire with hands in the air mayhem. The main club mix by Storm reached no. 4 in the UK top 40 charts with my remix and also Mauro Picotto’s on the B side, so the whole release was huge around the world. I was 22 then, so a very good start.”
Armada: What was it like with your current double release ‘Nocturnal’ & ’Kinetic’? Did they come naturally, or did you have a tough time in the studio?
Nick:“I think a bit of both. The musical parts of ‘Nocturnal’ were done quickly last year by playing piano and finding chords I liked, but I think I did about 4 remixes in the end until I got the version that is being released. I always think that tracks should be a bit tough to make or I’m not working hard enough! I finished it the day before John played in New York at ASOT 450. It was so amazing to see the track played to so many people so soon after it left my studio.”
Armada: Those two tunes fit the trance corner. Compared to your previous hard-dance productions, they are quite different but nonetheless with the typical Nick Sentience sound on top. Would you say your sound is not genre-defined, and open to any other genre-influences?
Nick:“I have always been a big fan of trance and other dance genres, even back to the 90’s, and the trance sound has crossed many styles and genres itself over the 15 years I’ve followed it. I was playing tracks by artists like Signum and John O’Callaghan, John Askew and Armin back in 2003, and these artists are still huge today, and all doing great things, so I think we all grow with music as trance changes. In recent years new artists such as Astrix, Zen Mechanics and Simon Patterson have made amazing new sounding trance tracks, which gave me inspiration and energy to keep producing. I buy music in many styles to listen to and I always like to hear new sounds. Dance music changes very fast, so you have to be open to change to stay with it.”
Armada: In the past few years, the ‘purity’ of trance has faded and it’s one big melting pot of styles. From your perspective, do you think there’s a lot of things that have changed since your first days in the scene?
Nick: “I think studio technology has increased at such a fast rate that the music of today is so much more sophisticated than even just a few years back. Apple mac and Pc with programs such as Logic and Cubase have made things possible at the touch of a button that would take hours to do 10 years ago. Tracks now, especially trance, can be very complex and detailed, and keeping up with the sound of new producers with exciting ideas is always a good challenge. I would say the MP3 revolution has made the sound of a genre mix more as before when people bought vinyl. DJ’s would go to a shop and maybe only hear the style they asked for, but now at the touch of a button, all artists can hear many things, and it means people are crossing styles more.”
Armada: Obviously, you haven’t only spent time in the studio, but touring the globe as well. You’ve been headliner at some of the world’s most prestigious clubs. Do you have any special gigs lined up for this summer?
Nick:“I have just got back from Argentina, where I did 2 great gigs and up next is Poland next week with John 00 Fleming and Greg Downey, then back to London for a DJ/Vj set at Frantic, then its off to Canada. So very busy!”
Armada: There are rumors you are working on your third artist album. What can you tell us about that one?
Nick:“I am working hard on many tracks, and as soon as I have enough that I think are ready I will put them together as an album. At the moment I am releasing some singles to get things moving.”
Armada: What else can we expect to hear from you this year?
Nick Sentience: “I have lots more exciting releases and tour dates planned. When the promotion for this release is done I will be back in the studio to do the follow up to Nocturnal. I have also started some more progressive trance tracks at around 130 BPM, so a bit slower than this Ep, which I will be hoping to release. I am talking to John O’Callaghan, Aly & Fila, Simon Patterson, Paul Webster and Astrix about joint projects such as collabs and remixes, so should be very exciting times.”
‘Nocturnal’ & ‘Kinetic’ are now exclusively available on Beatport.com.