We had the awesome opportunity of interviewing Nicky Roland on Upcoming Projects and More!
Nicky Roland drops brand new release ‘FunkBox’ out today on all music streaming platforms. You can release to this banger here: https://ufo-network.com/2022/08/26/nicky-roland-funkbox/ Connect with Nicky on social media so that you never miss another update and read on to see how our interview went down!
Hey Nicky, thanks for chatting with us today! Tell us about the first track that put you on the map in the electronic scene and the journey since. How did you get started?
I started making music in my early teens and got my first inroad into the business at 14, when Patrick from Big One Records got me and my crew into the studio with Pinky and Longsy D (best known for Hip-Hop Reggae and This is Ska). Unfortunately the crew dispersed and things faltered for a few years until I entered a demo into a competition being run by a local student record company.
Things got pretty interesting at that point…The student label didn’t publish the record, and instead took it to a major, who signed me and sat on it to suppress a potential competitor (not uncommon in the business). I was stuck with a ten-year, five album publishing agreement, so I started working anonymously with Travis Edwards of Satin Storm, contributing to tracks such as See The Light and Think I’m Going Out of My Head (huge underground club hit at the time). Unable to break the contract I eventually decided to wait it out and focused on event organization, marketing, and technology.
A few years ago, my dad was diagnosed with a terminal disease (he’s no longer with us alas) and I desperately needed the outlet I get from music, so I started producing again. I put together a DnB track and sent it over to my friend Rocky Jones (founder of DJ International Records) to see what he thought of it. He loved the track but asked if I could remix it as a house track, which was quite a challenge!
Anyhow, a couple of months later and several shiny new house tracks in hand, Rocky signed me to DJ International as one of the focus artists (I Lose Myself) for the label’s 30th anniversary album, The Jackmaster 7. I’ve been a HUGE fan of DJ International and the Chicago House scene since my teens, so this was big milestone for me.
Tell us about your latest project and what was the creative process like?
I had an old hip-hop track called Rock the FunkBox (don’t quote me on the name though, I can’t find it anywhere) stuck in my head for weeks. The FunkBox was one of the earliest drum machines/synths and was heavily used in funk and disco. I’ve always laughed at the double entenders of its name , so I thought I’d play on that in this track. As with most of my tracks I started with the bass and drums (trying to get a John Taylor-esque bass groove) and for the vocals I pulled inspiration from Midnight Star’s Freakazoid along with a Bootsy Colllin’s style vocal interplay.
Tell us something we wouldn’t normally find out about you?
I’ve been a guest writer in numerous creative and technology magazines and was even a guest agony uncle in both New Woman and Marie Claire.
What single night out has been most memorable for you as a DJ and producer?
That’s a really tough question. I spent over ten years working with Coalesce Sound and Vision putting on underground events that earnt us the title of “Undisputed Kings of the Underground” by mixmag, so there are many. Pretty much any one of those events ranks up there.
Give us the name of one track that never gets old for you no matter how many times you listen to it?
Another tough question, but one track I always come back to is George Morel’s, This is My Party. The layering and syncopation in this track are incredible, and the humour George injects into his music is infectious and timeless.
What would you say would be your dream collaboration and why?
Again, probably George Morel. His combination of deeply syncopated layers and funky instrumentation are some of the best in the history of house.
If you could play any festival, which would it be?
Love Parade in Berlin.
How do you get a track started? Tell us about your production process
Every track is different, but as mentioned earlier, I’m a sucker for bass, so that tends to be the starting point, although it sometimes starts with a melody or even a happy accident. I like to nail down the notation first, then the sound pallet, followed by samples and vocals. Generally, I have a rough idea of what I want to, but it’s really a discovery process. Once I land on a groove it takes on a life of its own and writes itself.
What are you currently working on? What can fans expect to see for the rest of 2022 and will you be attending ADE this year?
I won’t be at ADE unfortunately, but there are lots of exciting things on the horizon. DJ International is working with a new distributor and is aiming to publish a three (vinyl) disc collector’s edition of The Jackmaster 7, I have a remix of I Lose Myself lined up (the original was the second biggest track on The Jackmaster 7, beaten only by Loleatta Holloway) and I’m working on a remix of my last track (Feel It) with Sinclair and Rocky Jones that will also be released on DJ International.
The relationship between a DJ and the audience is crucial, and yet is seems to be a fragile one – how do you see the balance between giving the crowd what they want and treating them to something new?
It really depends on the audience. At more underground venues/events the audience tends to appreciate newer and more experimental things. You really have to judge their appetite for it. Mixing in something new with a familiar hook or sound can be a good way to ease into it, if they respond well you can keep going. DJing is as much about reading people, as it is what’s in your music collection. Generally speaking though, I think most people just want to hear great tunes. You can drop something people have never heard before with just about any crowd and watch them go mental if the groove and timing is right.
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