Home Interview Niko ‘Electric Union’ (Atic Records)

Niko ‘Electric Union’ (Atic Records) [Interview]

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Following their debut Life on Earth and their follow-up Hate & Love, Electric Union sees Niko pursuing a more focused dance / electro-lounge soundscape where his delicate vocal melodies marry thick grooves, gritty synth basses, and layers of abstract keyboards.

Electric Union covers a lot of sonic ground. ‘The Palace Discotheque’ paints a portrait of the city with Italian flecks after dark. On “You Used to Have Her,” Niko mourns the loss of her love for rave breakbeats before putting all of Sade on the album’s title track. The only album cover is a lush reworking of “I Love TV,” a relatively dark track that Niko heard premiered at a late-night Don Letts radio session many moons ago and whose writers include Leftfield’s Neil Barnes. .
As it happens, Electric Union almost didn’t happen. In 2019, multiple skating derby accidents, falling off horses, and turning on his head in yoga left Niko practically paralyzed and it became apparent that neck and spine surgery was required. Niko was told to prepare for the fact that not only would he never walk again, but he would never sing again. Fortunately, the surgery was a complete success and, after a well-deserved rest and relaxation, he returned to work.
Electric Union was produced and mixed by Aim in his own facilities at Speed ??Limit Studios, where he also made the beers and contributed a little here and there writing songs.

We have had the pleasure of talking to her, and this has been the result of her.

Who have been your main inspirations (both musical and in “life”)? And how have they affected your sound?
 
When I was a kid, my musical inspirations were mainly female jazz vocalists like Sarah Vaughn, Betty Carter, Ella Fitzgerald and Nina Simone. When I moved from Seattle to New York I was not only inspired by all of the many musician friends I made but also the underground club scene. I loved going out and dancing all night and ultimately I wanted to be a part of that with my own music. That was when I started to move away from singing standards in jazz clubs and began to write original work. I wanted to make music that soundtracked the sort of night out I desired and my mild obsession with various synth sounds definitely shaped how this album turned out.
How would you define your sound?
 
Electronic, 80’s tinged chill-wave with underground dance/house/d&b influences. Or how about dark, electronic indie-pop with jazzy undertones.
How has your sound evolved so far?
 
I think as I’ve become more and more self-sufficient my sound has become much more my own. When I first started I would get given half ready made beats by producers and I would write and add my vocals and shape the song from there. Now that most songs are conceived from my own production and because I work so closely with Aim, who knows just how I like things to sound, my new music is a closer reflection of me than ever before.
What can you tell us about your last job? What inspired you? What do you want to convey?
 
The last job I did was create a music video for my single ‘The Palace Discotheque’. I was inspired by my time clubbing in New York as a teenager and wanted to convey a sense of excitement, from a time when the city was a bit more edgy. I wanted to create a piece that took you back in time and that also had the feel and fit the ethos of what ‘Electric Union’ is all about.

How are you living the current situation because of COVID? Has your work affected you a lot? Do you think there is hope? I feel like the underground scene will continue to persist.
 
To be honest the pandemic hasn’t affected me as much as I know it has many others. When we started ATIC Records, we were aiming for self-sufficiency and I’ve always ‘worked from home’ so that was nothing new to me. We have our own recording studio too sp as far as work goes the only thing that really changed was the lack of live gigs.  On a personal level I think the main adjustment for me was that I suddenly had to home-school two kids on top of running the label and making music. I was juggling a lot and did many ‘night-shifts’! As for the underground, it isn’t going anywhere, it thrives on adversity.
What projects are you working on right now?
 
Right now I’m pulling together the ‘Electric Union Remix EP’ which we’ll be releasing next year. I’m super excited to have some of my favourite producers re-interpret my favourite tracks off the album. So far we’ve got a weirdly beautiful electro dance remix from techno legend Freddy Fresh, a joyful, kind of italo-disco style mix from Starrion, a dirtied-up old skool hip-hop take from Curt Cazal (QNC) and a really dark and heavy peak-set banger from Aim.

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