NGHTMRE is closing the year off strong with his ‘NGHTMRE before Xmas’ tour and his newest release “On The Run.” He doesn’t seem to be showing any signs of slowing down, so I wanted to catch up with him to see what makes him tick. I sat down with him at Electric Zoo to talk about upcoming projects, what brought him into the scene, his tour, and beer pong. The interview hints at what to expect from him for the rest of the year, so read through to know the juicy deets.
You got into electronic music through Girl Talk. What were your first mashups?
I remember searching any rap a cappella that I could find that was available. It was like 2008 so…you were able to find them, but a lot of times you had to rip it from the original. So anything in the top 40…like Lil’ Wayne…I remember doing like a million mashups with this one old Outkast song. I would try and do what Girl Talk did where he would make a song that’s three-four minutes and it has 5-6 different, really cool samples in it that you’d recognize.
That’s hard to do…
It’s definitely not easy. If you have an ear for it and you know…like I grew up taking piano lessons and stuff like that, which definitely helps because knowing what key songs are in and making them up like that is good. It can be pretty cringey if you don’t that stuff haha.
What made you switch over to doing remixes and originals?
That was the easiest thing to start with, mashups, because I did it literally in garageband for the first ones. You know, it was like I could drag in a drum loop and do a couple things. Then I got Reason which was a little more proper DAW. I started using the re-drum in that. The first Reason I got, I think Reason 4, didn’t have any audio tracks, it only had MIDI tracks. You could only create MIDI. The only way you could get audio was to put it in a sampler or something like that, which was still cool but it was good because it made me learn sequencing and all that stuff. It was the opposite of making mashups because you couldn’t even do it in Reason because there was no audio.
Then I started making my own original stuff like house and electro kind of stuff.
That was one of the things I wanted to ask you about was one of your first releases was a house track.
Oh yea, Walking on Sunshine. That came about because one of my first jobs in LA was doing engineering for [guy he did song with]. He’s like an OG LA DJ dude who has been around forever. He had this show on Power 106 forever and has this big dance show. So I was working with him and he does house shit and we just made a song together.
I definitely made a lot of house stuff though. Before I was doing NGHTMRE stuff I had just my nickname…
Yea, yea. All the stuff I did for that was super house music. Not all of it, but there was a lot of house.
Yea the Tmare days haha.
So you’ve been touring hard core so I imagine you’re exhausted now.
I don’t know why, but this time between summer festivals and winter tour I get to go abroad and do stuff. So I had like Europe a month and half ago for like a week. Then I was just there last week for another week. Then I flew back from Amsterdam and then had these three shows, then I go back on Wednesday, then I go Asia right after that.
It’s good though. I’ve gotten used to it so now…I don’t know I’m just used to being on the move all the time. But it also comes in waves of two weeks where I’m running around like crazy then two weeks of like I have two shows like one a week or something and I have time to be at home and relax and work on music.
What has been your favorite festival you hit this summer? Or Top 3?
Hangout was one of my favorites. Bonnaroo was insane. I guess this is more from my perspective, like how the crowd reacted to my set. I went to Shambala which was amazing. The set was cool too, it wasn’t an insane raging crowd. It was a totally different vibe there. Super cool. It’s in British Columbia so right in the middle of the mountains with rivers running through and people chilling and partying all day in the rivers with the stage right. No alcohol there. There were a bunch of drug testing facilities to make sure everyone was like clean. All these places you can go to chill if you feel like you’re too faded. They’re open about drugs, but really safe about it. Seems better than some places that just have alcohol.
What’s next for you?
I’m announcing a tour in like two days and all of November and December I’ll be touring. There’s one that we can’t announce yet, but I’m super stoked about it. Holy Ship just got announced, so I’m stoked on that. I’m doing a few ADE events out in Amsterdam, so going back to Europe again.
Did you ever throw any shows when you were at Elon?
Not really. I played a few. At the time, I wasn’t a DJ I was just producing. I would DJ for fun just around. Towards the end…the last year of my school I did an event as Tmare and I was opening for like 3lau and Big Sean. Elon has like two bars around, there wasn’t a huge DJ scene around.
My first show in North Carolina was opening for the Pegboard Nerds for their first ever show in the US. I remember it was in Raleigh. I remember they had just came out with their “Alive” remix and that blew them up. Super nice guys.
Speaking of college, your new video with Ghastly…your playing beer pong in it. I was wondering if you have any funny beer pong stories?
I have free friends that went to Elon with me and they live in New York now so they’re all chillin’ with me. I remember one specific time where me and Nate…you know how you lose without making a cup you’re supposed to do a naked lap. We immediately just left the party haha. We lost so quickly we were just like “we’re not doing it, we’re just going to home and drink by ourselves.” I’ve only lost that bad one time, but it was funny.
What inspired you to work with Carmada on “Embrace”? What was it like to work with them?
Those dudes are also super super chill. I’m pretty sure I started that song before starting any songs on my last EP that came out last year. It was sitting for awhile and I basically made that drop, well most of it, I felt like it sounded to weird. At least it sounded to weird for everything then. But then we were just sitting in the studio trying to think of things to work on and I had that basic drop and nothing else really. They were going through some demos that they had and then we both really liked the “Embrace” vocal. It was combining everything and working on it together. It’s been a long time coming and it’s definitely exciting to have it out. Especially right before the EP and everything. It’s just a cool song that I really love that I think sounds unique.
So you have an EP coming out too?
This summer I’ve been going hard with music. I have about 12 songs that are at least 95% finished. It’s all these things I’ve been working on for so long. We just had these meetings with Mad Decent trying to figure out and plan out everything. It’s hard because now-a-days I just want to put out the like ten songs. One song will get attention, the coolest song will be at the end and no one will actually hear it. So we want to push out one song every month so that’s a year of songs already done. So it’s just figuring out how to get it out there at the right time. So basically we decided I’m going to have a six track EP and I’m going to get everything out by the end of the year. The first one comes out in like two weeks, it’s “On The Run.” Super cool vocal track with flute.
The second one is going to be the song with Dillon Francis with a trap drop and a drum n bass drop with a Prodigy sample. And then I’m going to have a song I made with two homies I have from Icon. I lived with them for the last four years in LA. They’re both super talented dudes. One is singing and the other kid made the idea for the song and brought it to me to work on together. It’s another one that’s unique and has a foreign twang to it. And then I have a really dope song with ASAP Ferg. And I have a VIP for it that’s sick. I made the VIP as a cool song and we were trying to send beats to him and the breakdown just ended up being perfect for it. So I sent him that on a loop because I didn’t want to scare him away with a crazy trap banger. Eventually he just wrote a banger. Really stoked for that. Then there’s one more track on there that I did with this kid Alex Wiley from Chicago. He’s a rapper. He’s coupled with Chance, he has a couple tracks with him. He’s part of that Chicago squad. Incredibly dope, such a talented kid. And then this girl from London wrote a cool hook for it. That one’s a bit more vibey that’s not a banger. It’s a well balanced project. There’s probably another 6-8 songs that I’ll put on a second EP next year or figure it out when the time comes. We finally got all that shit figured out yesterday.
Photo via Rukes.com