SOUNDSCI TAKEOVER – Day 2 – No Sleep Nigel Interview

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The super soulful week of Soundsci continues by diggin deeper into the collective’s sound with the man behind the boards No Sleep Nigel. His name is legendary amongst the UK’s inner circle, having worked with the creme of the crop of our beloved scene. So, mixed in with tracks he’s added his magic touch to, here’s some words from NSN!…

You have worked with Herbaliser & Dynamic Syncopation for many years, how does working with Soundsci differ from each of those individual projects?
Every artist that I work with has different requirements and expectations in working with me, there’s no standard way to work with anybody. For me the important thing in working with anyone is to tune into these differences and get to know each person’s working methods. In some respects I had a fairly good idea what to expect in working on the SoundSci material because of my work on both Herbaliser and Dynamic Syncopation. The biggest difference has arisen from me working from home and via the internet, mostly alone with the material. Then I send files out and get a response from which adjustments (generally quite minor) are made. But in some respects, it is quite similar to working with both Herbaliser and DSP inasmuch as both groups appreciated that giving me space to work alone on material, and then occasionally coming in with fresh ears to make judgements on the progress (rather than agonising over each and every tweak I make, as I make it) is quite a profitable way to work.

You have a legendary status in UK hip-hop circles, so we assume you are into Hip Hop but what other music & sounds inspire & influence you?
When I first stumbled upon HipHop it was something quite different to what had preceded it in a number of ways and that’s a mark of much of the music that I will listen to. I like to hear originality or new sounds, particularly artists who are committed to breaking new ground. I’m also very interested in pioneers from earlier eras of music.

Vocals and drums are a major aspect of hip-hop music, with Soundsci having four emcee’s is it challenging to get a balance between all the vocal ranges and performances of each crew member?
Each one of SoundSci vocalists have distinctly different voices that all require being treated individually to try and make each track gel whilst retaining that individuality.

Is there anything in your approach to mixing Soundsci records that differs significantly from other hip-hop artists that you work for?
As mentioned before, my methods have to change for every artist I work with in some way. I’d say that the tracks for SoundSci come “ready to go” inasmuch as there’s not a lot of cleaning up or editing for me to do; my task is simply to balance and process the individual tracks into a cogent whole (called “mixing” by those in the know).

You are referred to in the group as ‘Gandalf’ how does this make you feel?
Working on the side for ultimate good.

Do you still live up to your name ‘NoSleep’ Nigel?
Not as often as I used to. I did have a recent deadline on the new SoundSci album that required working until dawn, but that was unusual for me to be doing that at home. Usually, without deadlines, to sleep on it, arise early and even knock out another mix before breakfast (I’ve become more of a morning person as time goes by). Those long 24-36 hour sessions that i got my name from were usually in commercial studios, where the clock was ticking and deadlines were required to be met, so we had to leave with something to show for it. Since the transition to people working from their own personal set-ups, whether that be a complete professional home studio or just a computer with a decent audio interface and a good microphone, the requirement to work those long shifts has dwindled. The only way you can work for that long and be objective is to have decided what was to be done early in the proceedings and stick to that plan, so that when everyone is in zombie-mode when it’s 6 in the morning, nobody’s questioning, for example, the tempo of the track (yes, it sounds much faster now that we’ve all slowed down, due to lack of sleep).
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Until tomorrow people!

Nigel is available for mixing & mastering nosleepnigel@gmail.com

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