Interview with Ivan Nikusev
Time for another interiew, this time we fly of to Macedonia to hook up with one of the most interesting persons around the progressive house scene. Striking with full force week in and week out, we are truly happy to join forces with Ivan Nikusev were he is giving us a glimps of who he is and what he is working on at the moment. This interview was made for our close frinds back at www.releasepromo.com a short while ago and of course we want to spread the word about them and Ivan himself. Enjoy a very opened interview by Mitch and the guys behind www.releasepromo.com and Ivan Nikusev, the label owner of our weekly feature in our promo sessions, OLD SQL Recordings.
How did your journey into electronic music begin, where did you first hear it and decide this was what you wanted to be involved in?
- My beginning in the electronic music started with the tracks of Prodigy and Scooter in the early 90s. After that I started to listen some German techno tracks, mostly because of Love Parade. But the main moment was when i listen for the first time “For an Angel” from Paul van Dyk. From that moment i know it that it’s the music i love. And since then, till this day i am still with the progressive sound, always filled with nice melodies.
You are one of the most well known and respected artists on the Mistiquemusic roster, how did you begin working with Michael, Levan and Stiven Rivic’s great imprint?
-Thx for the nice words, I appreciate them. Well, I know M&L since they released their first track, a remix on Arthur Deep, back in 2007. I open their profile on MySpace and after I listen their demos in the player, I fell in love in their sound. I got in contact with Levan and we started to communicate. They grow up very fast and conquer the deep progressive world with their music, so they become my idols as well. I was sending always my demos first to Levan, and he was rejecting me most of the time J but he was doing it to help me, to motivate me to be better and better every next time, he was kind of a teacher to me who I really respect together with Rasti Tkac J. With Stiven I met when he join the brothers and open the label. He is Croatian and as Balkan dudes we found very common stuff to chat as friends beside the music, so we get close as well. Since then we were very close, and we talk very often. I am very happy that they respect me as well and care about my ideas and some opinions that I have for the label, and also I am happy that I managed to help them about some stuff, as well as bringing new talents in the mystique family, and I will be always here for them in future!!!
What does the core of your current studio consist of and what are some of your favourite software programs to use?
- Absolutely nothing. i have one regular PC, one big old monitor (it’s not even flat), a keyboard and a mouse. That’s it. All i need is inside me, a wish to make something. It’s hard, but either i will “cry” for something i don’t have or i will make something with what i all ready have. About software we work most on FL and Reason. I am not very good at Reason, but i have my teachers here to help me, Wav-E and Aggressor, because they are both masters in it.
You’ve have many collaborations with fellow countryman Aggressor, how did this partnership come about and how did you guys meet initially?
- Aggressor or Goce Velkovski is my brother from another mother J he is a neighbour of Wav-E here in Macedonia, and learn about music production from him. We know each other for a couple of years, but never worked as partners. We started last year, and we found out that we can learn a lot from each other and also that we can make something that is great for both mine and his ears. He is a great talent and huge potential for the future. It’s a guy who i respect a lot and i admire his “wish” to make something like me. We became very close, communicating all most every day, and must say that i am very happy to have him as a friend, and then as a music partner as well.
Have you ever thought about starting your own label? Is this something you may do in the future?
- Yes i have (for progressive music) and i still think on that, just want to start it when the time will be right and now we are just there to be honest. I just (since a couple of weeks) been running my own label OLD SQL Recordings and we have had 3 releases out so far. Every Wednesday it’s time for people to check out Beatport for them. My thinking is that there are too many labels today and that many of them release all kind of crap. The quality is very low, and if i open a label it will be an “arrogant” label and the first and most important thing will be the quality! As a label owner i will be very strict (many people will not like me because of that, many artists will stop talking with me i guess), i will reject many tracks and i would allow only the quality tracks to be released. I would like to create a reputation of a label where everyone will know that there will be no bad releases (no matter the style). It will be hard but i think that is what is missing today.
Does your production style come out a lot in your DJing and do you tend to play a lot of your own productions?
- The style i like is progressive ‘melodic’ house with deep, tribal and trance elements. That is what i play in my sets and also what i try to produce. i am a fan of the “old school” sound of progressive from 1998-2004, so i try to add that influence in the production and the dj-ing as well. I play my tracks as well but i am not so impressed from it. I don’t find such a big satisfaction of playing my tracks, i am more happy when i will see how some other djs are playing my tracks. On that way i am seeing that i have reached the goal to catch the ears of other people, and made them happy as well. The transfer of positive energy is successful
Out of your own productions which are you most proud of and why?
- It’s very hard to say what my favourite works are. I really like all my tracks, they r all my “kids” and they all have their own beauty. What I love most in my tracks is that they r not the same, similar maybe but I always try to use different samples so every track will be unique. All I can say is some tracks are with a better quality than others, but not like being more proud on some. Like i said before, the quality is very important, and logically the tracks which r with better quality were played more by other DJs.
The Airwave Remix of your ‘Aurora’ collaboration with Wav-E was recently included on Paul Oakenfold’s ’Never Mind The Bollocks’ double CD compilation which is due out in late July. That’s a great accomplishment, were you influenced by Paul Oakenfold during your early years of listening to electronic music and if not Paul then who were your favourites?
- Yeah, this is a huge honour for me, to have my name on a compilation mixed by one of the best DJs in the world. I love Paul Oakenfold because of his unique style, u can never know what to expect to hear in his sets: breaks, house, progressive or trance. He has a style that i am trying to perform as well, a style from a period when there was no difference between progressive and trance. Yes he is a big motivation for my production as well. Regards to him, and i appreciate his support!
What do you draw inspiration from when working on a new track or remix? Are you influenced by the sounds of other producers when you are in the studio?
- The inspiration is everywhere, but most in the emotions and the feelings. They r the best indicators. Music without emotions is poor for my ears. Every track has its own story, and if u cannot hear it, than the message is bad. Yes, the production of other artist motivates me as well, maybe more in a technical view, but also in a way of creating melodies and rhythms, bringing some new visions.
Often times your sound gets compared to legends from the progressive boom like James Holden and Luke Chable, were you fans of these great producers and do you see any similarities on your productions?
- Uff, i don’t think my sound is that good like James or Luke. They r pioneers of one specific sub-genre in the progressive world, with high key melodies and synths. I love their works, and yes they r one of my favourite artists ever. The music what they made 10 years ago is something that i want to make today, to continue their road, so yes we try to be similar, but in the same time and different, to express our feelings too.
What have been your most memorable nights out? both as club goer and a DJ?
- Unfortunately i haven’t been a club dj so much, because the support is on a very low level L its like the underground is dying. But as a club goer i have been on so many parties and there is all most none of the world famous DJs that i haven’t been on their party. I have great memories from those parties and i also use them as inspiration in the production. I have seen what the audience likes and i try to make tracks like that, to make people dancing.
What do you do for fun outside of the music?
- The regular life as everyone .. work, friends, going out. Too bad I don’t sport that often like I was younger, but any free time I try to do that, playing basketball or football. Watching movies is something that I love to do, and also watching football (soccer) on TV with friends and beer.
This is one we generally ask everyone and I know it’s a tough question but please list your top 5 all time favourite tracks? Also what are your 5 favourite labels at the moment?
- Hard choice, but these are definitely one of my all time favourite tracks:
1. Paul van Dyk – For An Angel
2. Sasha – Expander
3. Cass & Slide – Perception
4. Ian Wilkie – Guten Morgen
5. James Holden – I Have Put Out The Lights
- I must say it will be labels from where i play most tracks now: Mistiquemusic, Hyline Music, Underground City Music, Morphosis, Indigo Records.
If you were trapped on an island for the rest of your life what is the one album you would take with you?
- Any album of ATB, i simply love that man, greatest producer ever!
What can we expect to see for the rest of 2011 from Ivan Nikusev?
- Well the same as till now, i will continue with my production and partnership for now with Aggressor, and also working on few projects with some other artists as well. My style is that, i will never change it, so my fans will not be surprised with something strange for them. I am a progressive house producer and i will always be that. All i can hope is that there will be more gigs for me in this year and the years ahead, so i can transfer my visions of good music, my energy and feelings to the people on the dance floors.
Finally, what advice would you have to all the aspiring producers and DJs out there?
- Don’t give up, never give up! No matter is it about music or the real life. Don’t find excuses not to make something if u can. There r 3 types of people in this world and everyone belong to one of these groups. First ones are seeing what is happening, second are getting interested about what is happening, and the third are making something to be happening. Join the third group! U don’t need expensive equipment, special software or midi pianos to make a good track. I started working on the amateur program ”eJay”, where i was editing samples that i was creating in FL, because the arrangement was much easier for me there. I never used final and done samples, i always created mine and edit them, and on the end i published tracks for a professional labels. All u need is to believe in yourself, and find ways how to solve the problems. Don’t live in the problems, live in the solutions! And on the end don’t use drugs or something else to “help” u in the production. Just follow your heart and express your feelings trough the sounds, no matter what style it is. Stay cool J p.s. Join The Progress !!!
December 3rd, 2011