Sliding into your DMs, whispering a sweet, soft ‘wanna collab mate?’ comes this brand new On The Record interview with Russia’s Nelver and UK’s Pyxis who recently dropped the beautiful, restrained Gravity a few weeks back.
Neither of them had ever collaborated with each other before, they don’t even speak the same language, but thanks to Google Translate, Instagram DMs and a shared love for all D&B things deep, cosmic and floaty, they endured to create something genuinely special, subtle and soulful… And it may lead to more in the future.
Inspired, we wanted to know more about how the collaboration came about, how they worked together and what they both have coming up next.
I believe Gravity came about entirely over DMs. Is this correct? And how did it happen?
Pyxis: Yep! Entirely over Instagram! I love his style and it came after his huge support he gave my track 1978 with Umax. He had a few stems ready to go and I got to work on it, going back and forth with the ideas only through Instagram the whole time. Just goes to show that social media can be a really great thing sometimes.
Nelver: Yes, I wrote a message to Marisa on Instagram and offered to record a collaboration. There are always a lot of ideas for new tracks in my archive, so I knew for sure that I would find a suitable track sketch to send it to Pyxis to start working. By the way, in the 18 years I’ve been recording music, this is the first time I’ve decided to work with a female producer. For me it was a new experience. As a result, Marisa kindly agreed to work with me.
Were you both aware of each other’s music before?
Pyxis: Yeah, I would migrate to Nelver’s sound for that floaty but deep liquid vibe, it’s really dreamy and I love that. It’s very me, very pyxis.
Nelver: You know, I have been working on my project, the Proud Eagle Radio Show for more than 10 years. It was nominated in the Best Podcast category as part of the Drum&BassArenaAwards 2020 and passed into the second round of voting. I play a lot of music every week from different producers from all over the world and quite often tracks from Pyxis got into my selections. It’s always interesting to listen to the music that female producers make.
Was the creation of Gravity a smooth creative experience?
Nelver: It was quite easy for me to work with Pyxis, because we both understood first of all the purpose of our cooperation. The goal always inspires and directs to the right path. In the process of work, based on my experience, I prompted and directed Marisa in the right direction at some points. I liked that Pyxis understood my words, advice and instructions very much, despite the fact that there is a language barrier between us.
Pyxis: He was a good teacher for me. He was patient but also knew exactly what he needed me to do and sometimes I got annoyed with myself for not getting it right away and he was just like “don’t be upset” and we kept going with it until we got there. I wanted to take 50% of the reins and not be sat in the background and he let me do exactly that whilst holding my hand throughout the process. He’s more experienced than me in producing so I was very grateful for what I learned.
From the original stems we kept his bassline and didn’t change it at all, so it became the ‘baseline’ for the track (yes comedy is my other hobby haha). I came back with a number of typically Pyxis ideas, some of which he felt was perfect and others he wasn’t feeling at all, so we just kept going backwards and forwards, he would say “try this” and send me another stem or idea through IG, we sent little videos to each other saying ‘how about this’ and then we’d go back with “yeah that works and I added this” or an absolutely not kind of response, and we kept doing that until it was finished.
Nelver: We managed to adapt to this very quickly and continue our fruitful work. Pyxis is a talented producer, which the drum & bass community will hear about more than once, you can be sure.
Do you have plans to collaborate again?
Nelver: Why not? I think that I will definitely record more new tracks with Marisa in the future.
Pyxis: We haven’t spoken about it, but I would definitely do it again. The end result was way beyond what I imagined and I think we are quite similar both in styles and how we like to work.
You both collaborate a lot in your careers. Please tell me, what is the secret to a good collaboration?
Nelver: You know, over the 18 years during which I managed to record collabs with a large number of producers, I realized one simple thing – the success of cooperation lies in complete mutual understanding, the ability to both take sides and defend one’s position in the work. In other words, it is necessary to bring everything into a balanced form so that there is no misunderstanding among themselves. It is also important to set goals for yourself. As I said earlier, if you have a goal, then you can overcome any obstacles and difficulties. All you have to do is work responsibly. And the most important thing is to love what you do and share this love with other people.
Pyxis: For me it’s a mutual respect thing, being totally honest and not just being nice for the sake of it. You can’t go round pleasing people if you don’t like what they’re doing, or latch onto someone to further yourself, you have to be on par with each other. Also matching styles is a huge help, as much as you can learn from each other, you need to be at least in the same book, if not the same page.
What are the most important things you should never do while working on a collaboration?
Nelver: It seems to me that you cannot “pull the blanket over yourself” when you work with someone in a team. Everyone must fulfill his or her function and not considering that only he or she is more important than all the others. It is like a mechanism in which each cog plays an important role, and if it is ignored and removed, the entire mechanism will cease to function.
Pyxis: Don’t take over, listen to each other, let down gently and respectfully and don’t belittle someone else’s ideas (there’s way of saying things) and just be honest, you can be honest without being a dick about things.
Tell us a funny collaboration story…
Pyxis: Ahhh well Nelver doesn’t speak English, his Google translations sometimes got me like ‘eh?!’ He was calling the breakdown the ‘pit’ and I had absolutely no idea what he meant, he had to screenshot my Soundcloud and draw an arrow to the breakdown haha. And another word he used ‘boule’ and I still don’t remember what that means now. To be fair, I wasn’t sure where this colab would go to begin with, whilst I got used to the tones of Google translate and took me a while to realise it wasn’t Nelver talking – it was bloody Google and occasionally I thought ‘ouch, that was direct!’ but as time went by, we got totally used to each other and became great friends
Nelver: Probably the funniest thing for me was that Marisa very quickly made changes to the track that I suggested to her. Given my great previous experience, it’s hard for me to remember that any of the other guys with whom I have previously worked together responded so quickly and correctly to my suggestions for improving the track. I really didn’t expect such a return and involvement in the work process from Pyxis. It’s great and very unusual for me.
Who would be your dream artists to collaborate with? And why?
Nelver: To be honest, I would love to record a collab with Seba and also with Technimatic. I like the way these guys think in music. What is most interesting, I once met both Seba and Andy (Komatic). This happened in 2018 in the Netherlands at Liquicity Festival 2018.That day I flew to Amsterdam for the first time and played at such a big festival. Naturally, I said hello to them, but I couldn’t offer the guys to try to work on creating a collaboration. It’s a pity, probably I will never be able to forgive myself for not being able to talk to them about it then. In Russia, many people call me Russian Seba and I think that my possible collaboration with this guy would give everyone goosebumps, I have no doubt.
Pyxis: For me, my king has always been and still is Redeyes… But I have a super love for Satl and Bert H too, but also my #fatfam gang on Goldfat, I would still love to colab with Athena and Digital Native, but there are some colabs in the works with some of the other fam, so you never know what the future brings.
Pyxis, I think there’s a Russian connection here isn’t there? Do have some Russian ancestors?
Pyxis: I do! My mum’s grandparents were Russian on her dad’s side and my dad’s grandparents on his mum’s side, with the rest coming from Ukraine and Poland and the Netherlands. They all came over in the late 1800s to Wales and England. I told Nelver they came from Slonim but he hasn’t heard of it… When I Googled it, it’s in Belarus, so I guess I have roots there too somewhere.
Nelver – how is life in Russia at the moment? I hope you’re okay.
Nelver: Times are tough in my country. But I love what I do and will continue to make music in the future. This is my life’s work. It helps me to distract from everything that is going on around me. I understand perfectly well that many people need the product of my intellectual activity, and I simply owe my creativity to support everyone who is having a hard time. Music has no nationality, skin color or creed. We (those who make music) do the same thing. Remember this wherever you are!
Amen! What else can the world know about you both right now? What do either of you have coming up?
Nelver: In 2022 I have over 20 new tracks (solo tracks and collabs). How things will develop in the world will depend on how soon all my new music will be released. Other than that, I continue to work steadily with my weekly Proud Eagle Radio Show as well as my seasonal Only Weekdays Podcast project and also my Celsius Podcast project, so I don’t let myself get bored… Or the listeners!
Pyxis: I’ve got some exciting releases coming up this summer. I’m releasing with BCee’s sister label Future Retro in June, I’ve done a couple of remixes, an EP on Goldfat, another colab with Iris which will be on her new EP on Guidance and a colab with Melinki on Four Corners. I do have other bits going on but as per usual ‘can’t talk about it yet’ but it’s all very exciting.