LAMP Weekly Mix #190 feat. Nick Garcia
This week were are very excited to have Nick Garcia as our guest on our mix series. Garcia is a DJ, producer, and label manager based out of Washington D.C. Garcia currently manages Sharam’s Yoshitoshi Recordings where he oversees marketing, A&R, and financial operations on top of wearing the hat of an in-house mastering engineer.
MG: Hey Nick, thanks for taking the time and welcome to our weekly mix series! First off, congrats on the release of ‘Aalto EP’! The music you’ve put together for it is beautiful. What were you thinking about while you were in the studio?
NG: Thanks man. The EP is, like a lot of the music I make, inspired by the tools that I used to make it. In this case, Madrona Labs’ Aalto, which is a unique software synth. Really crazy sounding little thing with this modular workflow that I love. Most of the sounds on the EP were made with it. I guess the inspiration overall was trying to find systems within chaos, which comes through the best on the title track I think.
MG: Can you tell us a little about the set that you have put together for us?
NG: Well the first thing to mention is that it was recorded live. I don’t have anything against putting together a mix in Ableton, but I feel like when you record a mix live you capture a certain energy that’s hard to achieve by meticulously arranging tracks in a DAW. The selection reflects a couple of things, but mainly my interest in music that has aspects of techno, electro, and IDM but isn’t too stiff or rigid. I like to play records that sound like techno but groove like house, if that makes sense.
Some highlights of the mix are this Fold record, “Bend Sinister,” that I love, and the one two punch of Kink’s “Roots of Techno” into The Tuss (aka Aphex Twin)’s m at the end. I threw in a classic Yoshitoshi record as well, Chab’s remix of “Auto Porno” by Finger Fest Inc., and of course all three tracks on my new EP are peppered in for good measure.
MG: As an artist it is important to surround yourself with other likeminded individuals. Who are a couple of your mentors and what is the best piece of advice you have been given by another artist?
NG: I’ve had a lot of peers and mentors who have influenced me, too many to list them all, but I’ll try… Sharam obviously, and before him Alex and David at the Mmmmaven Project, who kind of gave me my first nudge into the music industry. Adam Johan and the rest of my label mates at Night Vision, Twistyknobs, Michael Bierylo at Berklee, Patrick Kesack, the Lifted Contingency and Zone Def guys, I mean the list goes on. All of those people have imparted something important on me. The best piece of advice I ever received was probably Sharam telling me that not everything has to be perfect, and sometimes you need to get out of the spectrum analyzers and just trust your ear. Sometimes it’s ok to be a bit messy.
MG: How did you first get interested in starting a career in music? Can you tell us about how you transitioned from sound engineer to label manager?
NG: I’ve been playing music as long as I can remember, I got pretty serious about it in my early teens with the guitar. Electronic music came soon after and I got pretty deep into computer music and sound design. I actually started working for Sharam as his in-house engineer, but naturally I inherited some of the label duties as well. When my predecessor left to pursue music full-time I took over and I’ve loved every minute of it.
MG: As the manager of Yoshitoshi you are obviously surrounded by incredibly talented producers. How would you say managing a label has affected your own work as an artist?
NG: Well, having the ability to work with a Grammy-winning producer on a daily basis has had a huge impact on the way I produce. Sharam is formally untrained (whereas I studied jazz harmony and audio production at Berklee), but he has an amazing ear for what works and what doesn’t. Definitely better than mine. I came in to work for him and he broke a few of those strict educational conventions I had absorbed pretty quickly. The other big thing is being exposed to all these different aspects of the industry as a non-creator gives me tons of insight about how to navigate that world as a creator.
MG: As a sound engineer I’m sure you have quite the set up at home. What kind of hardware/software are you working with?
NG: Haha my home setup is not that elaborate really, but I love it. I have a Moog Mother 32 that my amazing girlfriend got me for my birthday, an Arturia Microbrute, some Event 2030 monitors and a couple of 1200’s. I also have a beautiful 1981 Ibanez AS-50 guitar that I use on tracks sometimes. Sharam’s studio, where I do a lot of work, is pretty tricked out. We’ve got the Juno 106, the Jupiter 8, two Viruses, the TR-8, and an Apollo Quad with tons of UAD plugins. I use Logic and Ableton, depending on what I’m doing, and there’s an Ableton Push at both studios. The Push is definitely my interface of choice (especially given my guitar background) and I’ve become very fluent with it.
MG: What does your music mean to you?
NG: This sounds like a simple question but I appreciate it because I actually think it’s kind of complex. My music is mainly a combination of pure self-expression and the manifestation of my obsession with sound and gear. If I don’t create my own music at least semi-often I start to get kind of agitated, so it’s definitely an important release for me as well. I’m really not concerned at all with how people will react to it, it’s all about what’s going on in my head.
MG: Sometimes we all have trouble getting started on our own projects. It is easy to get distracted. What do you do in order to get yourself into your creative zone?
NG: I wish I had some fancy answer to this question, but honestly I don’t really have any control over it. Most of the time something just hits me, and I’ll open Live and just make a little scratch version of it. Then I’ll pick it up later when I’m in studio mode. Other times I’ll be messing around with some synth and something will jump out at me, and then that will jump start a creative moment and in an hour or two maybe I’ll have the basic structure for a whole track. But rarely do I sit down to create and it just flows. Usually it’s building on things that happened during one of those peak moments. I try to capitalize on them the best way that I can.
MG: Who are a couple of your biggest influences and what drew you to their music?
NG: Well, for starters I’m a huge Aphex Twin fanboy. I love that his music is extremely technical in a lot of ways, but it has a great deal of soul and emotion in it. Most “serious” electronic music is too far up its own ass. I grew up listening to a lot of Cuban and Puerto Rican music because my dad is from PR, and I love stuff like Compay Segundo and a lot of that classic son and salsa music. I studied jazz for a long time as well and am really influenced by bebop and post-bop in a lot of ways, Charlie Parker and Pat Martino and people like that. I’m mainly inspired by and listen to music that’s heady and fun to analyze, but that can also be appreciated in a purely emotional way.
MG: What are a couple of your guilty pleasure tracks that you would drop in an open format? Anything you wish you could play every night?
NG: Man, I would love to play an all-salsa set somewhere. Maybe throw in some upbeat latin jazz or rumba records. That would be amazing! Guilty pleasure is for sure Show Me Love, the Stonebridge mix. That track has been beaten to death by everyone but it still gives me the chills.
Hansel! – K.O Bad (Edit) [Banoffee Pies]
Nick Garcia – In The Woods Behind Our House [Lifted Contingency]
Ron Blanco – Loose Grip [Hotflush]
Fabrizio Maurizi – Duck Dive [Minus]
Nick Garcia – Aalto [Lifted Contingency]
Radio Slave – Children Of The E (Kink SP1200 Remix) [Running Back]
Nick Garcia – DivSeq [Lifted Contingency]
Fold – Bend Sinister [On Loop]
Finger Fest Inc – Auto Porno (Chab Remix) [Yoshitoshi]
Arctor – Don’t Matter None [Tremors]
Jay Shepheard – Bullfrogging [Pets]
Kink – The Roots of Techno [Sharivari]
The Tuss – m [Rephlex]