After reviewing Nicolay & Kay’s new album, TIME:LINE, SW gets some time with this Hip Hop and R&B record producer from the Netherlands.
Saule Wright: When did you fall in love with hip hop? What record sparked your interest in it?
NICOLAY: It was around the time that Yo! MTV Raps was on, so instead of pinpointing to one particular record I’d have to say that it was the early nineties as a whole that made me fall in love with hip-hop.
SW: The Golden Age got a LOT of us into hip hop and is a special place, I can feel that. That said, you seem to have a “feel” for music that is born there, but also pulls from other sounds of the same era. Do you feel like your sound, which seems to be pretty signature from other producers, is a good or bad thing? What I mean is, do you think that folks will grow to only expect a certain sound from you and end up putting you in a box?
N: I think in itself it’s fantastic that people recognize my ‘sound’. Honestly, I’m not that worried about people putting me in a box, it happens. I’m slowly starting to reveal more and show the range that I really have, and people will hopefully grow along with that.
SW: I can dig that. Speaking of growth, what was your concept behind Timeline, and what strategies did you use to carry it out?
N: When Kay heard some of the tracks that I had sent him, every track reminded him of a certain decade. He’d hear 60s, 70s, 80s stuff… and so we he came up with the idea to maybe ‘sort’ the tracks chronologically and build a timeline doing so. On top of the musical timeline, the lyrics are set in a timeline too, from birth to death to rebirth. In order for it to be a ‘smooth’ timeline, I added transitions between every track so that they would flow along with the story.
SW: The transitions are insane; I really dig how they flow. What is important to your own flow in the studio? When you sit down and make music, what is your process? Do you always do (x) first and something else last?
N: There’s not really a fixed process for me. I begin with an idea, which can be anything from a sample to a chord progression to a bassline. After that I put down the sketch and send it to the artist I am working with. When I get the vocals back, I put everything together over here and mix it. It can depend, sometimes a song can come together relatively quick but there’s a lot of tracks that took days and days, sometimes even weeks, to get right.
SW: The work and determination shows through man. What is the FIRST piece of production equipment you purchased, and what is the most important to your arsenal now?
N: I used to mess with 4- and 6-track recorders back in the day, but really the first piece of production equipment was my computer. I started out with nothing but a computer and some instruments. I can’t really point out a single piece that’s most important, but I can say that without a PC, I’m nowhere.
SW: Technology has changed the game indeed. With the anticipation of this album, how did you keep it from leaking, other than it being on your own label…or was that the savior, that you were the workers and the management?
N: I’d like to think that part of it is due to our management of the process, yeah… but there’s a good amount of luck involved, too. It didn’t leak a day before the German release date (February 1st), so for us… a starting independent label owned by a producer/artist is a small victory.
TF: What’s next for you?
N: Promoting TIME:LINE, hopefully doing some shows and then getting ready for the release of the new Foreign Exchange album, Leave It All Behind.
SW: I am crazy anticipating that album, sure to be another classic. Any surprises you can give us insight on for that album?
N: Nah, not yet. We are still in the middle of putting it together. All I can say is that I’m absolutely thrilled about what we have so far…
SW: That’s what’s up then. I appreciate you taking the time out and you blessing us with another album. Do you have any advice for other artists out there that are trying to make it happen either in production or rap?
N: My pleasure. To anyone that has aspirations in music, I would say… One, be and stay yourself no matter what trends or what the hot shit is at any given time, and two, don’t think you can depend on or expect anything from anybody. Everything that you dream of achieving, you are going to have to get it yourself. Talent obviously is a big part of it, but if you don’t have the determination and dedication to do this then it’s going to be real hard.