To highlight his latest EP release, Turbo label manager Francis Ledisko interviewed Nocow about his production process and life in lockdown.
1) When were the tracks on this EP recorded, were they all made during the pandemic?
The tracks were written at different times. “Alone” – a couple of years ago,
the rest during the pandemic, “Pozdno Vstal” is the freshest one. I must say “Alone” is relevant to me at anytime, I mean it’s kinda my personal vibe over the years, so it gives the right mood for the EP at this point.
2) I feel like you are really good at encapsulating a certain feeling in a song. We’ve all felt strong waves of emotions since the start of the pandemic, how did you go about translating these feelings into your music? Does it just come naturally or do you have any tricks to do so?
As a musician, I feel these strong waves of emotions all the time. Whether it’s personal reflection on some important things, or just the emotional vibrations of everyday life. The bottom line is that feelings need to be expressed and creativity is the best and proven way.
Most of the time the music leads me, it rarely comes out so that I write something according to a plan. Quite the opposite. But sometimes, of course, I use my skills that have been developed over the years. Like I make a heavy beat, put the languid vocals on top – and the track is done! Haha
And you can feel a bit of sweet melancholy or dance to it, or both… I love this combination. I work in accordance with the rule “a hit in 15 minutes” – conventionally, if during this time I have sketched something interesting, I refine the idea to the end. Or I make something else. The main thing for me in production is feelings, not thoughts. Thoughts are also good, but it is much better to feel more what you are doing, rather than constantly thinking about what’s going on here. I mean “go with the flow” is the key for me. But there are exceptions to this rule for sure.
3) How did you produce this EP / what gear did you use?
I make music at home using a computer, as I call it a “PC Orchestra”. I switched completely to software a long time ago, because it allows me to work very quickly. I’m lazy and if nothing interesting happens in 15 minutes, I lose interest and start from scratch. But if I catch the vibe, I can work for hours on it.
4) When did you start using your own vocals in your music, is it something you’ve always done? Do you feel like it makes it easier for you to finish a song or make it feel a certain way when you know that you can just sing over it?
I’ve started as an MC when I was a kid. My path as a producer began many years after.
Several years ago I decided to try recording my voice because I got tired of cutting acapellas. Firstly, I just used spoken words. And only after a while I tried to sing, and I really liked it. This makes it possible to express things a little differently than when producing without vox.
Somehow, different laws apply when you sing. Often I record vocals, and then I try to understand what the words are about. As I said, the music leads me, I just follow.
In terms of the variety of approaches in production, the voice provides a huge resource and the opportunity to bring new things into your sound and style. And, of course, helps you know yourself better. I know many musicians who would like to give it a try but are afraid use their voice.
Sometimes it’s hard to decide, but it’s totally worth it.
5) How are things for you now, do you have some gigs on the horizon? Are you excited to get back to normal ?
All is kinda the same for me. I got a few gigs, though this year there’s some a new experience ahead for me, because we’re working on a live show with a very talented choreographer Vladymir Varnava for Present Perfect Festival. Hope that works out great.
Honestly, I’m not looking for getting “back to normal”, in my case it’d be much prefer doing something new…
6) What did you learn throughout the pandemic? Did you discover anything new that you enjoyed and want to keep doing?
At first there were many fears. But for a year and a half, as it turned out already, life goes on. I have learned (and I’m still learning of course) to carry less of the burden of fears and anxiety. Time flies, we need to appreciate what we have now. Then it may turn out that it was a great time. I know I didn’t invent the wheel with this thought, but that’s the thing for me right now.