With his Euro tour freshly completed and an upcoming tour across the USA on the horizon, Nick Klein put his techno hat aside to lay down an hour-long baroque mix of opiated ambient, slo-mo folk and heartrending choral music. We seized the occasion to have a chat and discuss spirituality in music.
Like his peers Cienfuegos, Person Of Interest and J. Albert, Nick Klein made the move from Florida to New York with the success we all know. Boss of Primitive Languages and an habitué of the boldest techno labels out there including L.I.E.S., Unknown Precept and BANK Records NYC, Klein has slowly but surely laid the foundations to a much singular body of work; oscillating from rough-hewn industrial rhythms through acidic electronics onto a more New Age-friendly palette.
With his Euro tour freshly completed and an upcoming tour across the USA on the horizon, Nick put his techno hat aside to lay down an hour-long baroque mix of opiated ambient, slo-mo folk and heartrending choral music. We seized the occasion to have a chat and discuss spirituality in music, “dog shit techno facsimiles” and his fatigue at spending time in airports and planes.
Interview by Baptiste Girou
"I was hoping to conjure an aural space of sanctuary and escapism."
Thanks for this very immersive mix. It radically differs from the “usual” Nick Klein stuff we’ve heard from you on Unknown Precept or L.I.E.S. Is this focus on ambiences and atmospheres something you’re looking to incorporate in your own compositions?
I think that in some ways it manifests subtly already. On different tapes or records it’s hinted at. It is important to note that the production of commodity or of editions is not congruous with artistic practice, so a schism between studio work and influence does always appear materially. This mix has early computer music, choral music, and goth selections. If that all could make its way into my work well then… that would be fine.
What feeling were you looking to convey? What was your mindset when you recorded it?
I was hoping to conjure an aural space of sanctuary and escapism.
Some tracks have a strong spiritual – not to say religious – feel to them. Is it something you’re interested in, the sacred aspect of music?
I grew up in the Catholic Church tradition via the influence of my mother and grandmother. I think certain things definitely seeped in, but they don’t absolutely register together. I think the general path my life has taken, in going to great lengths to search out volume, frequency, human ritual of interconnection through sound… these are where the loftier “spiritual” interests manifest.
Recently we were talking about how boring most of the techno scene’s sadly become as of late. What do you think can reverse the current trend?
I am not an ambassador or qualifier for a say in these kinds of things as a whole practice, but I will point out some brief observations. I think some places in the world have really adventurous people who promote events that are diverse and intelligent across the board.
Haunter Records in Milan, using Macao, are really exemplary of this tactic. People could generally stand to bend the rules a bit and balance the “experience” of an event outside the functionality of the ability of a DJ to endlessly beat match some dog shit techno facsimiles.
Also, artists could stop feeling they are by being groundbreaking by marketing sets as one off ideas. “Oh tonight I am doing this ambient/jungle/EBM/whatever” set, usually fitting the context of some party or current trend. A little fluidity and intellect on the part of the audiences, artists, and promoters would go a long way. “Be the change you want to see in the world.”
"People could generally stand to bend the rules a bit and balance the "experience" of an event outside the functionality of the ability of a DJ to endlessly beat match some dog shit techno facsimiles."
How did you come to music production and DJing in the first place?
After playing in weirder punk bands ended I decided it would be better for me to try making music alone. This started really being played with in 2010 in Miami. By the time I ended up in New York, I had no space to play loudly so I was able to regularly be working on music in my friends Barbara and James apartment while I house sat for them or we wanted to spend some time together. It snowballed after I got hurt at work and had time and money to buy some real gear for once. That’s how the Unknown Precept record came about.
I truthfully really suck at DJing. It is absolutely not my forte, and the way it is qualified in most circles I am not interested in participating. I have a number of mixes I am really proud of, most recently from Berlin Community Radio and one on Digital Tsunami.
I love the mix because the act of it is much more intimate and feels like I am passing along letters in a bottle or little clues into my own narrative. I have been regularly allowed to fake my way through the act of DJing at the Nothing Changes parties in the Lower East Side of New York for a few years now due to the grace and patience of Soren Roi and Nikki Sneakers.
Who has inspired you as a musician? Why so?
My Mother, because I think of how hard she worked to put me through music lessons as a kid and as an adult man it breaks my heart and humbles me. Aside from that I have people who come in and out of my life at different times that have been majorly impactful. I think of people like the visual artist Andrew Ross, or people in the vein of Russian Tsarlag and Noise Nomads and Humanbeast for setting a really firm standard of practice.
Lately Shawn and Katie O Sullivan are an important set of ears and very honest friends to have as a part of my life. I really am surrounded by an unbelievable amount of brilliant people on the regular that would be impossible to list, and due to my obsessive observation tendencies, they all impact my work in a positive way. I also love the haters.
Your most recent EP came out last year, what have you been up to since then?
I have been working on setting up tours, working lots of shitty jobs, and trying to find a relative amount of peace after a very crazy year I inflicted on myself.
Do you have new releases lined up yet?
I just finished working on a split tape with Enrique for Berlin label Total Black titled ‘In The Hot Rain‘. I am completing artwork for a tape release on legendary Los Angeles label Monorail Trespassing titled ‘The White Cliffs of Dover‘. Getting to work with Monorail Trespassing is a dream come true. Then, finally, a 12″ EP on Alter is being released sometime in November or December. I am trying to reign it in a bit more these days.
"I have been working on setting up tours, working lots of shitty jobs, and trying to find a relative amount of peace after a very crazy year I inflicted on myself.
You’re about to end a Europe tour that saw you perform at Gamma and Norberg festivals. What have been your highlights during this trip?
Playing in Milan and in Paris with Enrique were definitely the highlights. Haunter Records crew has consistently blown my mind with what they do at Macao. Similarly playing amongst the Positive Education crew or the Fusion Mes Couilles party was out of control. Norberg was the only festival that didn’t leave me questioning why I go out of my way to tour the way I do.
Do you ever think about moving to Europe?
I think that everyone in America who puts out records and tours and has access to parties or shows with bigger budgets in Europe thinks about moving to Europe. I guess we shall see. For now I would rather move back to Miami and open a bar where all these people can come to me instead. I am tired of being in planes.
What’s the last record store you visited and what did you bag there?
I spent way too much money at Power Park in Berlin on a bunch of New Age records. I can’t go to record stores anymore.
What are the coming weeks holding for you? What’s the first thing you’re going to do back in the USA?
I am going on tour all over the USA for 6 weeks the day after I get off the plane from Norberg. Playing basements to dining rooms to big clubs. The first thing I am going to do is play a show in Miami via the Miami Music Club with Enrique, Dim Past and Greg Beato.
Discover more about Nick Klein on Inverted Audio.