What a year it’s been for Newcastle’s Nectax…
Following his rather hefty Source Code EP on Overview in March came Providence, a massive collaboration with fellow Geordie Skantia on Ram Records, then Gold Soul on Hospital Records, now utter beasts like this on Guidance.
Covering more ground than the Highways Agency, the 23 year old has already reached that elusive spot where you’re honestly not sure style he’s going to come with next… But you know it’s definitely going to be worth checking. Keen ears will have known this already for quite some time; prior to this year’s open-armed vibe onslaught, he’s already collaborated with Bladerunner and released on labels such as Audio Addict, Serial Killaz and Sub-liminal.
One of the leading lights in the Newcastle scene we covered earlier this year, we called up Nectax to see how things have been from his perspective this year…
What have I interrupted on this nice afternoon?
I just finished doing some tuition.
Oh cool. Have you been doing that for long?
A little while now yeah. It’s picked up nicely. I was doing classes for some of the local lads then more people started asking about it and I thought I could try and do this full time. It’s a lot more fulfilling than my other job, so I bit the bullet and started doing it seriously.
When you’ve got to teach people, it make you think about what you do in a different way doesn’t it?
Totally. You have to get out of your own bad habits! My knowledge is good but it’s hard to assimilate new knowledge into your existing process, so sometimes it’s a bit like, ‘Do as I say, not as I do.’ But in the process of that I’ll be suggesting new things to people and I’ll be trying them out myself. It’s really satisfying though. Most my guys do monthly sessions and the levels they’re hitting are really inspiring now. It’s also nice to build up a rapport with people and sit back at the end of a session like, ‘Ah I love my job’
Hell yes. It’s cool you’re able to that at quite an early stage of your career…
Good point! I’ve been producing for about seven years and there was a time when I thought it was too early to do it, but if people believed they could learn from me, and I enjoy the work, then I’d be mad to say no.
100%! Plus you’re releasing on heavyweight labels and collaborating with guys like Bladerunner and Tyrone! That’s enough to convince any aspiring artist who wants to learn. So let’s focus on you and your sound now. I think I can pin point one tune where things changed… One More Sunset. You actually sent it to me and asked what I thought. For me that was a real turning point tune for you. Especially with the emotion and musicality…
I appreciate that. One More Sunset was the first 160 tune I’d ever made. It was an exploration of sampling for me, which I hadn’t done in that way before. It was also inspired by a lot of what I was listening to. I was listening to a lot of old school stuff, early Good Looking records and Bukem sets. So that’s really cool to hear and it was the first tune I’d ever had Bukem give feedback on. I was like, ‘Get in!’ I really like how I’m making music that is appealing to the older heads as well as the younger heads. I love the roots and foundations and how its developed. There’s so many great sounds and exciting subgenres to explore why make one style of D&B?
Totally! So let’s go back in time to your very first EP, Riot.
Oh I was a wee young lad back then. It’s funny. I used to have a bad habit of getting fixated on particular tunes and focusing on them to the point it’s not productive any more. I think I’d been working on Riot for six months. Just pure over-doing it and over-listening to it. I’d get fixated with trying to perfect tracks like that all the time. So that whole EP took me ages to finish. But, I’m really proud of it as my first EP. It’s a bit rough around the edges and some of the tunes are bit jump-up but it’s nice that there are two harder tunes and two liquid tunes on there. I’ve shown that variety from the very beginning.
Yeah totally. What are your musical roots?
I guess a variety of things. Firstly there’s night called Dilate which Skantia and I were both resident at for quite a few years. That had a big influence on us during the clubbier stuff at the start. But I’ve always been listening to liquid as well. One of the big things that really got me into D&B was the Liquicity channel when I was about 15. That was huge for me. The sounds they were pushing at the time were really inspiring – the old Fred V & Grafix and Netsky stuff. We’d all be playing xBox listening to those tunes. That era was really exciting and put me on this path. So that, and Dilate, are the two poles of where I come from and what I’m inspired by.
What else do you draw for or get inspired by beyond drum & bass?
Typically speaking I don’t listen to a lot of D&B unless I’m working. My dad’s had a big influence on me. He was never a drum & bass head but he’s a big lover of electronic music generally and brought me up on chill-out music and laid back stuff. Like Bonobo, DJ Shadow, Alt-J. So a wide variety which has filtered into my own personal tastes. Big up my dad on that one.
Big up poppa Nectax! Sticking with the early days – you had key support on labels like Audio Addict and Sub-liminal, too didn’t you?
I did. DJ Hybrid’s a very good guy. He had this great blend of clubby stuff and jungle. This was before the scene went all foghorn. There was a lot more 808s and reeses and his labels had a really nice sound. I went down to Leeds just randomly, skating, and went to the Old Red Bus Station. DJ Hybrid was there and – my friends will laugh at this – I always used to bring my headphones in my little manbag so I could try and play music to people I wanted to show it to. I managed to sweet talk my way backstage to talk to him. He’s really good friends with Ben Agro and I’d already had a tune out called Trouble Riddim, with Scudd, on Sub-liminal and he knew the tune so that was a good conversation starter. I think I played him Labyrinth and that eventually led to the EP.
Love the hustle!
Totally. And that made things harder during lockdown. Pushing yourself to approach people in the club and build up personal relationships is really important. People shouldn’t be frightened to go up and say hello. If they respect that person and it’s coming from the right place then not many people will ignore you.
Totally. So when did people start coming up to you? Was it when people were picking up on the Newcastle vibe?
Yeah I think so. What’s been really nice has been when people who I really respect and admire start sending me tunes. They’re a nice indicator that you’re on the right track, when people trust you with their music. Some of the guys who I’ve tutored are now going on to do sick things and sending me music too. A guy called Functional. He’s been sending me tunes for a few years and has some amazing things coming out. Meeting up with three of my tuition guys at Hospitality was really nice, too. It’s like meeting someone I’ve known for years. It’s a win win; it’s fulfilling work for me and getting any insight when you’re up and coming producer is priceless. You end up making friends with these people and there’s a sense of community. It’s nice.
I love how informal this scene is. Colleagues, peers and collaborators become friends very quickly. So now about you… In the last few months you’ve had Providence with Skantia on Ram, Gold Soul on Hospital and now this massive EP on Guidance. We’re experiencing high levels of Nectax right about now!
Ah thanks man. I was really happy with the music I put out last year as well but I think because it was lockdown and clubs weren’t open things didn’t pick up like they might have done. But this year has been very exciting. I tried to plan it so it was consecutive head-turning releases. I want to keep up that type of momentum. But it was great to do that tune with Skant. We’ve been meaning to do one for years and for it to be on Ram and on his album was really special. Then to follow it up with the Hospital and Guidance releases was really nice. I’d been keeping the Hospital thing on the DL for about six months, which was really hard at points. It’s been really interesting working with a label of that size and that influence. They’re a whole other level of operations and they’ve put out a lot of music that’s inspired me.
Now of course the Villain EP on Guidance…
Yeah I’d say that’s the real reflection of where I’m at musically. It’s been great working with Greg, he’s really passionate about promoting good music and it’s nice to work with someone who cares as much about the promotion as the artist does. I intend to do more with him in the future for that reason alone. With Villian it’s a bit dark and a bit different. I wanted to create a vibe like, ‘Oh what’s that?’ It’s a different sound palette and inspired by Doc Scott’s Shadow Boxing. That type of tune. Something that adds atmosphere. I sent that to Greg about a year ago.
How did you link up with Guidance?
Well there’s a bit of link up here with Tyrone and also Walk;r who’s originally from here too so I tapped up Greg when he released Walk;r’s single.
It’s great that you and Tyrone are collaborating on the EP. Two Newcastle generations linking right there…
Totally. I’m glad you mentioned that. It’s great to work with someone who’s got this local heritage and has so much knowledge. There is something nice about two generations working on a track together – it captures what I love about D&B. It’s old (only slightly older in his case) and new. That tune’s been getting some nice support.
Same with Bladerunner too! A meeting of the minds. With stuff like production, or anything really, you never stop learning do you?
Totally and big up Bladerunner. He was one of the big artists to consistently support my stuff and build up a bit of a friendship. He’s a very humble guy. So to work with him was a very special moment. And you’re right – no artist ever stops learning, which I guess is what we were talking about with the tutorial stuff, every collaboration with someone leads to all parties learning something new. It’s all about inspiration really.
Inspire us now… What’s coming out next?
There’s a lot I can’t quite talk about right this minute and I’m working on a new batch of things, but I want to keep on working with Guidance. I want to keep on working with inspiring labels and I’m still focusing on the variety – some clubby, some old school jungle, some 160 stuff. I’m having a lot of very interesting and exciting conversations right now but it’s all a bit too soon to say. Me and some friends are also starting a new 160BPM night called Stereo 45 in November, too. So watch out for that!
Watch out for Nectax. Villain EP is out now on Guidance Music