NIKKA is a Spanish electronic producer that has a distinct style deriving from her fascination with dualities – she explores what it means to be human through entering a dialogue with machines. That very paradox is the crux of her art as evocative, cinematic melodies build and sustain while distorted rhythms course and buckle, reflecting the chaos of infinity and the beauty that comes from it. The Barcelona-based sound artist who originally studied to become a food industry engineer, her scientific background suggests she’s qualified for grasping the big issues better than most. Despite a decade working in laboratories it’s her work in the studio that has marked Nikka out as someone to watch. Cutting her teeth as a resident DJ at London’s 1001, her debut album Isotopos was released on Lovethechaos .
Nikka performed The Space In Between – a interdisciplinary collaboration with Alba G. Corral that explores generative art and digital sound – at the second Alpha-ville Festival. For now though, this podcast provides an introduction to an emerging artist who constantly asks questions of herself, and the listener.
Why did you choose these records? Is the mix an accurate representation of your sound or perhaps aligned to a mood that you strive for?
“The records have been chosen to represent my favorite frequencies, influences and musical tastes, as well as reflecting part of my life and experiences. The mix is a compilation of music I admire and also music that has inspired me.”
How did you become involved in making music, and why electronic music?
“The process started long time ago before I moved to London and started DJing at Cafe 1001. There, I was exposed to many different music tendencies and to international artists and it was behind the turntables when I became increasingly interested in music production and electronic music. I have been also influenced and motivated by my brother who is a music producer. Back in Barcelona I met Alba.G. Corral, a visual artist who works with real time processing graphics. We got together and we started a creative collaboration ‘the Space in Between’, a space for creativity and ‘real creation’. With this project we want to focus on the craftsmanship that is behind the production. We both are very committed to bolster digital culture, taking electronic music outside of a club environment and visuals beyond repetitive loops.”
The beats throughout the podcast are predominantly arrhythmic, do you aim to challenge the listener or are you just eager to escape the predictability of ‘dance’ music?
“I guess both. I’ve always been attracted to the arrhythmia, the chaos, the antithesis and asymmetry of things. My music is equally informed by all these elements so it’s clearly far from the commercial and predictable ‘dance music’. I ultimately seek to provoke a reaction in the audience.”
Throughout the mix the backdrop is composed of quite cinematic elements – the piano, the sweeping, evocative soundscapes. Similarly your own productions are concerned with the play-off between almost violent rhythms and ambient textures. What is it about this juxtaposition that provides a rich source of inspiration?
“Juxtaposition and asymmetry provide a continued source of inspiration for my work and life. I find balance and harmony within the Chaos – just as it happens in the Universe. The universe is chaos but if you look further and change the scale you can find harmony. I like to use Digital Entropry, a thermodynamics term, to define my music. It refers to a state of mind, a digital disorder where I always find creativity.”
Your compositions often feel quite organic in how they build and flow, what’s the creative process when you create a record or play live?
“My creative process stars by thinking about a concept and idea and then build a project around it. Although research and documentation are essential in this process, I also try to let myself flow with the music and get inspired by everything that is around me. Some tracks are recorded directly in live and others tracks need to be arranged in the studio.”
Do you see the melody and rhythm as distinct and opposed in your work or are they more closely related than that?
“Everything is fully related, it’s important to the emulsion of the track.”
Listening to your music one can sense a nod to science fiction, the sounds you use all have a futuristic, dystopian quality. Do you have any interest at all in science fiction?
“Yes I do, not only in science fiction but also in Science, Astrology, etc. My background is food chemical engineering so in a way I translate this knowledge into my music. The title and the songs of my first album Isotopos are inspired by elements of the universe and include names such us Materia, Inorganic, Uranio, etc.
Also, the titles of your music are also quite conceptual: ‘Inorganic Agent’, ‘Black Death 1348′, ‘AGE.’ They appear to tap into a corporeal anxiety. Is this a topic that appeals to you or worries you?
“I’ve always been fascinated by this topic and by the differences between the Macro-cosmos (Universe) and the Micro-cosmos (microorganisms). I’m a science girl, a food chemical engineer, and this has influenced me in my every day life and in the way I approach music.”
You use the term ‘digital entropy’, can you elaborate on that concept?
“[Laughs] I use this term to define my music and my artistic world. In thermodynamics, entropy is defined as a random distribution of a system, a measure of how disorganised a system can be. Therefore, Digital entropy is a chaotic digital space where I find harmony and balance.”