GET TO KNOW: EUPHONIQUE
Since creating a unique sound that’s found her in clubs and venues across the UK and beyond, and leaving her legacy in Manchester behind, Euphonique has begun a new chapter here in Bristol. We caught up with the drum and bass and jungle producer to discuss her newest signing to Born on Road, the forthcoming relaunch of Subwoofah, and all things that’s got the artist to where she’s at now
Music has been a prolific figure in Nikki’s life from the early ages. Growing up Saddleworth, Greater Manchester, the techno sound was the prominent drive for the scene and parties she was involved in. Then as her musical endeavours varied and other music influences settled themselves, the push for jungle drum and bass was put to the forefront: “We all used to go to the raves and they had a proper vinyl DJ set up with all the lights. They were well into the techno, so we all used to go and dance to techno in the hills, that’s where I started. Then I remember asking the guys to teach me how to DJ at a house party afterwards, and they were like, nah, so I was like, I’m gonna teach myself. CDJs were just coming out, my cousin used to be a DJ so he’d given me some technics, so I was like right, I'm gonna buy some CDJs as well, this was when I was like 16. Tried to teach myself how to DJ and eventually figured it all out with the help of Mark XTC, he was my tutor at college. I got involved with Gash Collective, it was run by punks and people that put on free parties in Manchester, and that’s when I started playing out, and that’s basically where Euphonique started.
“I did my first proper club gig when I was 18 for Hit & Run in Manchester. Where I grew up on techno there was techno to begin with, then I used to be really into me reggae when I was younger and I heard ragga jungle for the first time, it was a Marcus Visionary tune, Mashed Dem Down. That was one of the first tunes I’d proper heard and I was like, this is sick! It combines electronic music and reggae and it makes something beautiful. Got into my ragga jungle and went from there.”
The lockdowns restrictions imposed during COVID19 may result in rather special music being created. Feeling how a track is going to go down live is hard when that option isn’t available anymore, however the raw emotion and setting must be having an interesting impact in one way or another: “The lockdown’s been really tough, just getting inspiration, it’s been really fucking hard. I’ve made loads of really emotional stuff with violins and epic lyrics, but more so recently been making a bit more ravey stuff, with some kinda four-four breakdowns in there that are a bit techno-esque, hardcore-esque. Mixing it up a little bit, it makes it a bit more interesting when you’ve lost inspiration which I think a lot of us did for a while, cos it comes from gigs and festivals and that doesn’t it. There’s loads of stuff that’s been made for home-listening but there’ll be some bangers in the back burner ready for release when the raves come back, I think we’re just waiting.”
Born on Road, a driving force for quality drum and bass and record label based in Bristol, has now signed Euphonique for three EPs, and with the rise of Patreon and dub packs since the loss of gigs, the backlog of tracks waiting to play out is an exciting feeling: “I’ve known Aries for a while, I used to play in Birmingham a lot and that’s where Aries is from, so I linked up with Aries quite a few times, we did a few sets together, and he knew I was producing and he’d heard some of the stuff I’d had out on Deep in the Jungle. I was just constantly sending him stuff, like ‘I want a Born on Road EP’ (laughs). There were some tunes that stood out and it happened. I’ve been signed for three EPs, one of which I’m working on at the moment, cos this year has been a bit of slow starter.
“I’ve done a few dub packs, I’ve not done the Patreon stuff -I know J-Man and all that have been smashing the Patreon - but I did some dub packs that went really well. It is weird, it’s almost painful making all these tunes that should go off in a rave and you sell them in a dub pack cos you’re not getting the money from your gigs. It’s gonna be interesting to see whether all the tunes that have come out this year on dub packs and Patreon and out just generally via distributors, whether they’ll actually get played this coming year. I’ve just got a ridiculous amount of ammo now.”
From the steppy jungle rollers of Miss Fatty to the straight unruly aggression of Execute, Euphonique’s style and sound is a constant merger: “I think it changes a lot, depends what mood I’m in and what’s going in life. There’s some stuff coming out on Dread that’ll you hear and it’s very emotive, I wrote some lyrics with a few vocalists so they’re quite deep tunes. We lost a few people over lockdown, it’s been challenging for everyone hasn’t it, and we lost the scene that we love, it was kinda like grief for people, and grief for a lifestyle. You can hear that in some of the tunes. I want to get them out sooner than later so we don’t have a load of depressing tunes that come out when the raves start (laughs), but I’ve been trying more ravey stuff recently, full on kinda hoovers and horns, that’s what’s going on at the minute, I think I’m getting excited about the rave.”
Subwoofah is a event Nikki launched back in her time at university in Manchester, and has seen top DJs and producers come though over the years. 2021 may be time for a relaunch, she told me: “Subwoofah then launched into a label in 2013, we’ve had loads of really sick releases like K Jah, Aries, S-Man, Epicentre, Hybrid’s done some stuff on there as well. Kinda went quiet a little bit when I was focusing on my own production, it’s so hard to balance an event, a label, you as a producer, and have a bit of a personal life as well, I’ve been doing some teaching too. Dazee is a bit the same, she does teaching too so we’re always talking about how we’re trying to juggle it all.
“It’s been a challenge, but I’ve just signed a couple of new tunes from some new artists so I'm hoping to relaunch the label soon but I’m trying to not over phase myself, I’m really good at over phasing myself with too much and not getting any of it done. We’ve booked a night in September, I’ve not told anyone about this yet, at Dare2Club, the new Blue Mountain. So every year, apart from this year just gone, we’ve always put on a birthday event and I’m gonna do it this year and it’s gonna launch Subwoofah in Bristol.”
With the idea of clubs and venues returning to normality again being an actual possibility, the excitement for live music keeps on bubbling. Whilst Manchester was foundations of Euphonique’s journey up to now, it was time to take her sound else where: “I was gigging here (Bristol) more than I was in Manchester, and it was costing a bomb every time I’d come from Manchester to Bristol. I love Manchester, it’s a really cool city, there’s some great people there, I’d been there for like 10 years and I think it was just time to move on, and Bristol is just sick. It’s just a wicked city. Every time I’d came I was buzzing, walking around hearing the tunes blasting out, there’s drum and bass everywhere, and I was just like, this is a bit of me.”
Euphonique’s last release was on the globally renowned and esteemed label, Hospital Records, as a feature on the 25 Years of Hospital release: “It’s on vinyl, it was sick. I did a remix of Syncopix -Happy, Happy, Joy, Joy, it’s a bit of a Hospital classic. The original has big orchestral sounds and stuff like that in the background, so I went a bit epic with it and made a little reecey jungly vibe. But that was really cool being on that EP with Dillinja, Ray Keith, Flava D and all that crew. It’s such an amazing album.
“I do like a good remix. You know when you hear something, you hear a vocal or you hear a melody that really resonates with you, or something that just reminds you of a certain time, it’s really nice to make a remix that you can kinda pay homage to the artist and get everyone vibing in the club. Originals are important though, having that balance, because then it’s more about you and your identity, self expression and people relate to that, and that’s what music is about isn’t it, people relating to the same thing. It’s what being in a club and dancing to drum and bass is about cos we all love it and it’s really nice.”
You can catch Euphonique on SWU.FM with DJ Dazee and by the links below:
May 1st 2021