In Conversation With Nika D from Virus Syndicate

Pioneering and reinvigorating the ‘Rap & Bass’ game for over a decade, Nika D & JSD led Virus Syndicate’s high-octane music has inspired a generation of artists in the UK and beyond. Coming together in the mid-2000s in Manchester, the duo has delivered seminal music on some of the most respected imprints in bass music. 

The confluence of Virus Syndicate’s Grime, Dubstep, Hip-Hop, Drum & Bass, Trap & everything in between has also seen them build their loyal #SICKGANG fanbase which has now hit global scales. 

After years of releasing original Virus Syndicate material along with tons of heavyweight collaborations on imprints across the spectrum, the duo have now launched a label of their own. With the duo’s Nika D being the brainchild behind the label’s inception, Bad Medic Records will serve as an independent platform to support Virus Syndicate’s creative vision while providing space to the talents they believe in to grow, develop and bring them to the forefront of the industry. 

The label’s catalogue has received a colossal start with the first release from the Bad Medic Records camp being a collaboration where the duo is accompanied by Dope D.O.D, Harry Shotta, Franky Nuts, OneDa on ‘SPLAT!.’

We were keen to know how the idea of launching a label came about, so, we sat down with Nika D from Virus Syndicate who gave us an insight into Bad Medic Records, his journey as Virus Syndicate, the label’s new single, and how it intends to push boundaries and explore new sounds for the years to come. 

“The idea to launch our own label was something we had been discussing for about two years and originally, we had planned to call it SICKGANG Music – behind the Virus Syndicate, which I soon realized was a really bad idea.” Having spent a year contemplating how the label should be conceived, Nika D went back to the drawing board and decided to place MC culture and dance music as the driving force of the label’s launch. 

After defining the label’s mission statement, Nika D then detailed the work that went behind bringing its first single together. “At its core, Bad Medic is about celebrating MC culture and bringing different forms of bass music into the mix, so it was imperative our first release embodied our vision. It was hard work bringing such a diverse set of artists and styles together, managing our schedules, and ensuring ‘SPLAT!’ was right on the money with respect to its vocal delivery; it was difficult, but I am really happy with the response. I could not be happier to see the tune being the label’s first output.”

We are seeing a shift in Drum & Bass music where more and more artists are starting their own labels – which is enabling a greater degree of innovation and inspiration within the genre. Bad Medic Records is the first of its kind in the space Virus Syndicate operate in and Nika D emphasized the importance of having an outlet for artists in the Rap & Bass scene. 

“Through Bad Medic, we want to celebrate the culture that we have been a part of for so many years. I feel it’s never been celebrated or recognized the way it should be. This was another reason why I wanted to start a label – where it’s about the producer, but also about the MC.”

“We have had a great time taking the Virus Syndicate sound to the world; we’ve travelled all over the world, we’ve bought our own houses, and I feel that there are more people who should receive the opportunity to make a name for themselves. So, it’s about time we had a platform like Bad Medic and looked towards the future.”

We then extended our question and asked Nika D how he thinks Bad Medic Records would inspire a change in the Rap & Bass fraternity to blur boundaries and push forward as a community. “For me, it would be the ultimate win. We really hope that we can inspire the community to come together and grow together.”

Moving on, we moved our chat to Nika D’s personal journey as a solo alias and as Virus Syndicate, and how he looks back on it. “Turbulent *chuckles* It’s been a roller coaster for sure. Our first album was on Planet Mu Records, and since then, we’ve gone to so many corners of the world, collaborated with the biggest names, and released our music on the biggest labels. It’s been a great ride full of peaks and troughs but, I wouldn’t change a thing, it’s been phenomenal. When I started making music, I wanted to see my name on one flyer, once. Nearly two decades on, it’s my job now and I am grateful for it.”

Having pioneered the genre for more than fifteen years, Nika D has gone through sonic transformations of his own, and the Manchester-based MC rolled back the years speaking about how his sound evolved. “I would be lying if I said that we did not pay attention to growing trends in bass music. We always did and evolved our sound with it. The most important question was – do we like it? And fortunately, we have liked the trends that have come into bass music. It definitely allowed us to go deeper and explore our styles even further. 

Closing our candid chat, we asked Nika D to give us a glimpse into what’s coming next for Virus Syndicate and Bad Medic Records, – and from what’s been told to us, it looks like, both are about to have another great twelve months. “TBC but, I have a single coming up with MC Altaf and Karan Kanchan from the Gully Gang crew in India. It’s a one-of-a-kind release that we’ve put together and we are so, so excited to put it out. MC Altaf has smashed it out of the park and Karan Kanchan has done his magic with some really powerful production. I am half-Indian and having had one foot of mine in both worlds, I cannot wait to reveal more details about it. 

As Virus Syndicate, we have got an EP released on Disciple which I think will surprise a lot of people. It’s an unexpected EP in terms of collaborations on it and it’s different from our usual material. We have tours planned in the USA, Australia, New Zealand, and Asia, and we may even pop up in India. I would love to come back and have a wicked time again like I did last year when I was writing the tune with MC Altaf and Karan Kanchan.