This week we spoke with Russian electronica maestro, Dimitry Kuzmin aka Nuage. Hailing from St. Petersburg, Russia, Nuage is no newcomer to the producing world. Kuzmin began producing under the musical alias of Nuage six years ago with his early releases deeply rooted in drum and bass. His first solo release ‘Missing You’ was included in the Medschool ‘New Blood Compilation’.
His more recent productions have shifted in sound to encompass a wider range of influences and styles, in his own words “to express a broader spectrum of emotions”. This year saw him release a new album entitled 'WILD' on Project Mooncircle.
Prior to that he also had a second LP ‘Print Of You’ released on American Translation Records, Nuage saw further records released on labels such as French imprint Roche Musique, Food Music and Blu Mar Ten. Nuage continues to create emotionally charged, elevating music, channeling his love of various contrasting genres into his compositions, the end result of which is always a mutiformity of sonic brilliance.
So WILD has just come out – will you be taking a bit of a break from production now or are you planning anything else?
The album recording is a pretty difficult process, but I have a lot of energy and am full of ideas so I’ve almost finished two exciting remixes and am currently working on new stuff that I will release (hopefully) this year.
What about live shows/DJ sets?
I’ve been performing a little bit live with my new album here in Moscow and it was really fun. There were around 150-200 people and everything reminded me more a live concert more than just a DJ show. There was incredible feedback from the audience and I couldn’t stop playing until one of my headphones broke! I would like to tour in Europe and America, but unfortunately I’m not on a booking agency now so it’s all moving a bit slow and random with regards to international gigs.
I really enjoyed WILD, it’s very different from some of your earlier productions. It seems like over time your music is getting a little slower and more melodic – would you agree?
I can’t notice a big differences here in the album as compared to my two previous releases. Neida on Project Mooncircle and City Echoes on 20/20 Vision have a lot in common with WILD regarding the sounds, melodies and arrangements. But you’re right about the tempo changes - now I do not often raise the BPM even to 122. Even though I used to produce a lot of drum and bass in the past, my tastes have changed a lot since then.
Is there a reason for that?
I don’t know, growing maybe? I’m not really sure, there are no particular reasons, just broken and fast music turned more into influences. There was a time when I felt really bad with these kind of questions. Like why did you abandon drum n bass? And I really wanted to change an alias and start all over again from scratch. But in the end I decided that this is an interesting way for the project to go. Ultimately it’s a story and I decided to focus on the sounds and melodies more than genres. I think I managed to show a mix of my past influences and sounds in WILD.
Do you think your sound will keep changing/evolving?
Yes, it keeps changing, but I definitely pay a lot of attention to keep the original remarkable sound. I usually follow the same techniques since I started the Nuage project and interpret old music with new quality. I work a lot of on mixing and arrangements in order to write a story from track to track. For example, the title track WILD can be considered as drum and bass because it’s still 170BPM and there are a lot of jungle samples. However, that particular track actually reminds me more of garage or house in its arrangement and composition so I periodically go back to drum and bass to see how the skills have changed. Drum and bass is like one vector of creativity for me. I pick something interesting with every new track that I produce and it’s like I reach the next level of quality. Every time I have the feeling all my old music is a completely boring and thus my old albums are hard for me to listen.
My favorite track from WILD was Secret Jungle. I really enjoy the vocal chops on that – do you have a favorite track from WILD and why is it your favorite?
Those vocals were under question in this track, I was probably influenced by my girlfriend who asked me to keep them. I found those vocals about 10 years ago but I unsuccessfully tried to record something good with them. Later on I stuck these chops in Secret Jungle.
In terms of my favourite tune from WILD is ‘Every people’ because it describes the album well. It has a real world quality to it and is uplifting and deep at the same time. I’d recommended you to watch the video for ‘Every people’, which was produced by Eori Wakakuwa, and maybe you will understand the meaning of the track and full album more.
Vocal chopping seems to be a key feature in a lot of your music. Has this particular element of your music been influenced by any artist in particular or is it something you’ve decided to do for other reasons?
Yes, it might actually be an addiction. I can’t make music without vocals so when I start a track I'm definitely looking for some voice to chop and add effects to. Vocals work as the main instrument for me when producing tracks. Now I am more careful about the vocal space in my tracks and use less phrases and shorter samples. It's actually a lot of research and I can dig up about five or more acapellas and then cut out only a couple of vocal pieces which I use in a track. This means so I have a huge library of vocals at my disposal.
Where do you get your samples?
Producing music is like making a collage. You collect the sounds which then take a pattern. I can’t say that I have favorite folders or use special ways for finding samples. I take pieces from here or there, for example, I have sampled some sort of melody or percussion from reggae, folk, country and ambient tracks. It doesn’t matter where it comes from so it’s global research. If something doesn’t fit into my new track then it goes into the sound bank and I wait for the right moment to use that in another tune. As soon as I start making a new track, I open that library. For one of my new tracks I used the cuts of a recording of a street singer taken on my iPhone last summer.
On the topic of production, what does your setup look like?
I use a Korg MicroKorg, a Novation Launchpad. I also use some of Reason’s basic synthesizers, for example, Thor and Malstrom. I also Re-drum for drums, Recycle for REX slicing. It’s very simple.
Do you have any habits/routines for when you produce? I know people who can only work in certain places for example.
I do everything at home though sometimes I do the final mixing in the studio. In most cases I do everything in the bedroom, sometimes I go out into the kitchen, sit down at the synthesizer and turn the knobs all day.
What’s your process – do you start with an idea in mind or do you just begin a song and see where it goes?
The basic idea is always in my head before I start producing. The idea is not like something certain, it seems more nebulous, something metaphorical, it's an emotion. I'm not afraid to say that I have never had the problems with inspiration; I can sit down and create a new idea always even if I’m not in the mood.
How did you first get into producing electronic music?
We listened to drum and bass a lot and started experimenting with a sequencer around 15 years ago. Of all the guys the guys I started with making music, I was the only one who stuck to music production. It’s been about seven years since I started the Nuage project
Who are your biggest musical influences?
Probably jungle music, it was something that I really didn’t hear ever, but when I heard it I thought it was the sound of the future.
So you’re from St Petersburg correct? Tell me about the electronic music scene there, I’ve heard it’s growing and getting better all the time.
St. Petersburg is a good place for a musician, but it’s better to write music than actually DJ. There really are new and unique names inspired by the city and they are more and more recognized worldwide. But in some ways it's hard for me to talk about the local scene. There are some musicians or promo groups who just keep to their own ways and develop their own sound which makes it quite hard to get bookings in the city or even country wide. If you don’t fall into the window of their particular sound or have connections then it can be tough to get bookings.
In my opinion, there are many difficulties in the development of electronic music at the local level in Russia. There are far more risks for event/booking/label business in Russia compared to Europe or America. There is far less support for electronic music as a part of the culture. At the same time, we can see the real interest for Russian electronic music in the rest of the world. For example, I see huge attention to Russian underground techno and I believe this only beginning.
What are your five favourite songs from the last year or two?
I just only say about the artists whom I have really been following in the last two years who include Beacon, Seb Wildblood, Gacha Bakradze, Chrome Sparks, Baile and Kenton Slash Demon.
Who are your favourite up and coming artists at the moment?
I really enjoyed Hoavi’s set at Boiler Room in St. Petersburg; this guy will get a lot of attention with his music soon in my opinion.
What kind of music do you listen to in your spare time?
Random electronica, ambient, techno and folk. But honestly I try to listen to music less when I'm writing music, otherwise you can be too inspired by someone else’s track and accidentally copy it.