Name: Noble aka Nektunez
Occupation: Singer, songwriter, producer
Current Release: Watch Nektunez's video for the remix of "Ameno Amapiano" here.
Recommendations: Bon Iver - 33 “God”; Francis And The Light - Like a dream
If you enjoyed this interview with Nektunez and would like to stay up to date on his music and activities, visit him on Instagram, twitter, and Soundcloud. He also has a personal website.
When did you start writing/producing music - and what or who were your early passions and influences? What was it about music and/or sound that drew you to it?
I was brought up in a musical environment. Most of the people around me could play instruments so it was just a matter of time before I started playing.
When I was a kid, my neighbor used to play loud music every weekend. His collection was amazing and it was all in my tiny brain to want to become a musician. In 2008, during my high school days, I heard popular records produced by DJ Khaled and Don Jazzy and I said to myself: "I wanna be like these guys when I grow up".
I started learning beat making on my own, played a few songs in front of my close friends and I remember the positive reactions they all had.
For most artists, originality is preceded by a phase of learning and, often, emulating others. What was this like for you: How would you describe your own development as an artist and the transition towards your own voice?
Sometimes we have to learn and be on par with others to understand how things are done. Emulating others gives me deeper insight on particular songs. I then try to make the best out of this by challenging myself to do something different.
For me, originality comes in when I listen more to my feelings and emotions. I’m only able to accept my own manifestation of art. I strongly believe in creating what rings true to myself.
How do you feel your sense of identity influences your creativity?
Having a well-developed sense of self is hugely beneficial in helping me create. The kind of music I love to listen to at a particular point in time, my personal values, knowing what comes from my own self versus what comes from others allows me to live authentically and be creative.
I love to daydream and imagine the possibilities and wonders of the world. I immerse myself in these imaginations, yet remain grounded enough to turn them into reality.
What were your main creative challenges in the beginning and how have they changed over time?
The main creative challenge was the lack of access to the creative tools I needed. Moving to Atlanta Georgia gave me access to more creative tools: equipment, sound banks and softwares that make the production process more enjoyable.
Another challenge I experienced was finding talented creatives to collaborate with. But as time went on, I got a wide range of creatives who understand my sound and are ready to work with me. This makes things easier for me as a creative.
As creative goals and technical abilities change, so does the need for different tools of expression, be it instruments, software tools or recording equipment. Can you describe this path for you, starting from your first studio/first instrument? What motivated some of the choices you made in terms of instruments/tools/equipment over the years?
I started production with a very low performing PC. Loading a software could take forever. As time went on, I made the effort to upgrade my computer to a better performing one.
I also loved the idea of using live instruments for my productions so I bought the guitar, piano etc just to have that live feel in my sound. I also bought industry standard soundcards, headphones and studio monitors for better sound output.
Have there been technologies or instruments which have profoundly changed or even questioned the way you make music?
The personal computer / laptop is probably one of the more obvious influences to music. The PC allows just about anyone with a computer to step into the arena of music and create without a studio or even instruments.
Also, there once was a time when you needed an entire band to play a song live. The introduction of loop pedals allow solo musicians like me to perform an entire song, of varying beats and instruments, entirely by myself at just the push of a button.
Collaborations can take on many forms. What role do they play in your approach and what are your preferred ways of engaging with other creatives through, for example, file sharing, jamming or just talking about ideas?
Collaborations bring a lot to the table. I like to collaborate with producers who use the same software I use. This makes the production process easier.
On the other hand I like to collaborate with artists / vocalists who understand my sound and direction. This is where energy comes into play. We need to be on the same page to be able to come up with a masterpiece.
Take us through a day in your life, from a possible morning routine through to your work, please. Do you have a fixed schedule? How do music and other aspects of your life feed back into each other - do you separate them or instead try to make them blend seamlessly?
I don’t have a standard daily routine.
My day starts depending on when I went to sleep the night before. I miss breakfast a lot of the time. I work on music almost all day and then carve out an hour or two for other responsibilities. I tend to spend some time with my family when I get the chance.
Having an easily accessible studio, I am able produce anytime I get a creative itch. I watch a lot of production performance videos, production tutorials and music videos as well. On a very boring day, I play fifa game (Soccer) online.
Can you talk about a breakthrough work, event or performance in your career? Why does it feel special to you? When, why and how did you start working on it, what were some of the motivations and ideas behind it?
My breakthrough work happens to be "Ameno Amapiano".
I produced this record on the same day of release. I meant to drop a four track EP without "Ameno Amapiano". But plans changed when I had a flash back on the original song "Ameno". I quickly downloaded the acapella, sampled and tweaked it to my own preference. I gave it a more afro twist with electronic elements in there. I fell in love with the record and decided to make it the lead single on my Amapiano & Soul EP.
I had so much confidence in "Ameno Amapiano". I told my friends the song is going to change my life. The whole idea behind this record was to put out my creativity and let the world know what I possess. A lot of people could not relate to my type of music because it was not the regular sound. But that didn’t break me. I kept on pushing and doing me.
Now all the hard work has paid off and the whole world is listening to my song.
There are many descriptions of the ideal state of mind for being creative. What is it like for you? What supports this ideal state of mind and what are distractions? Are there strategies to enter into this state more easily?
I love to create when I’m alone. I really like peace of mind and not too much interferences during my creative process. I try as much as I can to avoid distractions when producing. I love it more when I’m alone.
Music and sounds can heal, but they can also hurt. Do you personally have experiences with either or both of these? Where do you personally see the biggest need and potential for music as a tool for healing?
I use music as a therapeutic approach to heal. Music that has naturally mood lifting characteristics or properties helps people improve their mental health and overall well-being. It helps people with depression and anxiety, and it may help improve the quality of life of people with physical health problems.
Because of the power of music, I love to make music that moves and connects with the soul. If my music is not soulful or has the potential to heal the broken, I’m not putting it out.
There is a fine line between cultural exchange and appropriation. What are your thoughts on the limits of copying, using cultural signs and symbols and the cultural/social/gender specificity of art?
One needs to allow himself to be influenced and inspired by anything around the world . But at the same time it’s tricky, and we must know the right origins of every culture and how to use it.
It is also important to give credit when you borrow from a culture.
Our sense of hearing shares intriguing connections to other senses. From your experience, what are some of the most inspiring overlaps between different senses - and what do they tell us about the way our senses work?
I believe it is impossible to make good music without a feel or touch.
I don’t know how these five senses overlap in music but I believe they play a huge role in music making. From hearing and singing the right notes, to feeling/hearing the right tones or instruments when making music
Art can be a purpose in its own right, but it can also directly feed back into everyday life, take on a social and political role and lead to more engagement. Can you describe your approach to art and being an artist?
Music has shaped societies around the world. It has the power to alter one’s mood, change perceptions, and inspire change. While everyone has a personal relationship with music, its effects on the society is very significant.
During my music making process, I make sure my sound communicates a lot of emotions which can help in dismantling walls and boundaries, reconciliation, and education. I consider the fact that the music I put out there must be relaxing, help one to express oneself and come to terms with our emotions, and also improve our well-being. This often dictates how we, as individuals, take steps to impact society.
What can music express about life and death which words alone may not?
Music brings us emotions, and imaginations. The feeling music give is relative to every individual. This experience is individualistic and can’t be compared. Music keeps our emotional memories alive, even if it cannot be expressed in words.
None of us here living on earth has experienced death. We got one life to live.