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INTERVIEW: Nikko Names (Puma & The Dolphin)

Actualizado: 31 ene 2023

Puma & The Dolphin make a welcome return to Invisible Inc and once again deliver the goods.

We have had the pleasure of interviewing Nikko and this has been the result.

How would you describe your work to someone who doesn't know you?

I'm a music producer from Sofia, Bulgaria with over 15 years on the road with various projects.

What was your last job? Are you a full time musician?

I still work as a freelance graphic designer and father of two. The more my kids grow up, the more time I have for music. I try to spend about two hours a day on music, but most of the time it doesn't work out.

What plans does the future hold for you and Puma & The Dolphin?

Since my new EP will be released on February 2, I can now focus on finishing my ambient album. It's working in a different field of perception. I work with soundscapes, field recordings and loops. I'm changing the process of recording things and making it feel like how I imagine a still-life artist might paint a moment. You can freeze that particular moment for hours in a loop and turn it into meditative short narratives.

How did the “Phantom Impulses” project come about?

That's probably the story of most albums in the industry. I have dozens of songs, most of them unfinished and raw, that I constantly send to Gordon "Invisible inc". He liked some of them, others not so much or felt they needed refined. This prompted me to work harder. After a few weeks and several track iterations he said ok, let's do this. The original EP name and track titles were different, but after some very productive conversations, he showed me the design he did, I was inspired and after a few more conversations I came up with this idea. Also, phantoms, monsters, creatures are prominent themes in my household because my kids are big fans of the Scooby Doo series. They love watching it.

As for your studio, what is it currently made up of?

It is made of several drum machines and samplers like digitakt which is the master control on everything, then nord drum 3p, dfam, mother 32, boss rc 505, sp 404, several synths lately OP1 and Micro Korg xl. I drive them through effect pedals into my DAW.

What is the one instrument you would never get rid of, no matter what?

I've sold and bought a lot of stuff over the years, some stuff I only use for one album, but the one instrument I'll probably never get rid of is Digitakt. Because it's so stable, perfectly engineered for my needs, I've had it for over three years and it still hasn't conquered its limits. It is the perfect operator to drive.

What was the last instrument you sold?

Actually it was two: Korg minilogue xd and Arturia minibrute. Amazing instruments, I love them and miss them, but I don't have a lot of room, so my rule now is if I don't use something for six months or a year, sell it. I don't want to clutter myself up with tools I don't use, because hoarding equipment sometimes blocks inspiration.

You seem to enjoy being outdoors and taking field recordings. Is this something you see featuring more prominently in your music in future?

Yes, field recordings I'm especially enjoying at the moment. I don't know what meditation is, but that's how I imagine it: To go into yourself, to sharpen your senses, to hear everything three-dimensionally, to clarify things and at the same time to curl up in some grass. Absolutely hidden to the show that surrounds you. My ambient album will be finished soon....more news on that soon.

When you are being creative, does the process start with an idea, a concept? Or with a sound?

It's different, but mostly it starts with ideas that never stay the same as they were at the beginning. But that's the fun of it – surprising yourself.

The relationship with electronic music is also changing. There are more and more DJs and producers and fewer spectators.

Do you ever feel, when producing, that you are providing tools just for DJs more than pieces to be heard? Or not? How do you see the future of this industry? Where do you think we're going?

Everything is so accessible nowadays - gear, music platforms, technology. People want to experience everything to get attention circulating. I don't know if my music is just for DJs. It's more for the street dance headphone walkers. The future is unknown, I'm trying to enjoy the moment. I think everything will follow its natural path. People will always get together and have fun.

Do you think that the identity that a DJ/producer/artist presents online is increasingly essential when it comes to being selected by promoters for shows? Does this affect you? How do you assess this situation?

Yes, this is important. If you're not online, you pretty much don't exist (unfortunately). It's your signature. it's good for people like me who live remotely to connect with scenes around the world that they like but don't have the opportunity to be there often.

Do you think that in the music industry there is an open door for the most disadvantaged?

I don’t have much observation, but it's doubtful.

What was the last thing you shazamed?

It was a tune that Shazam couldn't identify! Rare stuff haha. I haven't actually done it in a while.

Last set that really impressed you?

Around Christmas at a party of my friends from “Technobeton”. Everything was a dance hit, very elegant and wild at the same time.

Last record you bought?

It was long ago. These days I prefer saving for synths and cables

The best thing about working in music?

The creative process. Relationships with like-minded people.

The most difficult challenge of working in music?

Staying true to yourself, making money and not falling into the hands of alcohol and drugs, to be good and always smiling.. haha

The biggest disappointment in your career? How did you get over that?

I don't regret anything :)

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