Nick Sember shares his Rad plans for 2015
On March 11th, 2015, two days before the annual Lucky Festival at WaMu Theater in Seattle, I sat down in front of a laptop, notebook, iPad, and phone to speak with Nick Sember of Norin & Rad. Here is what the newly solo artist had to say about himself, his career, and Seattle’s very own events company, USC Events.
OTB: I read that Marvel comic’s Silver Surfer is who you based your name off of, would you like to tell the story behind that?
NS: Back when Bruce was still a part of the duo, we were sending tracks out to different labels, and Marcus Schulz played some on his radio show. They never got signed or anything, but he played them, and both Bruce and I were into comics. We chose the Norin & Rad name temporarily at first, but as soon as Marcus played the tracks, that’s when we decided it would definitely have to be the name, since it had the slightest bit of exposure, and we just went with it from there.
OTB: Some of your earlier influences and taste included hip-hop; who are some of your favorite artists?
NS: I really like more of the beat oriented hip-hop, including J Dilla, him and Flying Lotus are the biggest inspirations that most people would know of. I also love some weirder producers out there, like a guy named Clark, who does some really interesting stuff and Daniel Avery is a really cool producer. In high school I hadn’t listened to that much trance yet, so those were my favorites that I still love.
OTB: Norin & Rad have always had a very unique sound and feel, who inspired you musically when you first started producing electronic music?
NS: Above & Beyond definitely hooked me into trance music, what they do is always a step above what’s being put out, because it’s a lot more music-oriented; rather than being just dance music, which shows through their acoustic performances. The first record I bought when I was still doing vinyl was Above & Beyond and Andy Moor’s “Air for Life”. I had a ton of old Tiesto records too, and lots of 4 on the floor. I saw Above & Beyond at the Forum in Inglewood, CA last month and that was really great because I got to hang out and see familiar faces, basically do stuff that I don’t get to do that often.
“I released Nick Sember to say, yeah Bruce left, but here’s a token of good faith to show you guys that even though he left, the sounds will keep coming.”
OTB: Norin & Rad started in 2009, and now that Bruce has left, what are some of the challenges you’ve faced?
NS: It was a weird shift in the beginning, because it was out of nowhere, so my old manager and I talked to Bruce and worked out all the details and got ready for the switch over. At first it was full on non-stop trying to produce, while getting shows left and right, but then as soon as the new year hit, I started only taking 1 or 2 gigs a month, just to keep the name floating around because the main focus now is non-stop studio work this whole year. It was a huge change, I went from mainly touring and working on the road, to now where I’m a bit more comfortable, more work, more sleepless nights, and non-stop prep. Keeping the name though, the feedback was to continue using the name and keep playing shows for the fans. I released Nick Sember to say, yeah Bruce left, but here’s a token of good faith to show you guys that even though he left, the sounds will keep coming.
“The melody is my main source of inspiration and then I go from there. A lot of people can create the beat and the bassline, but to have the good vibe you need the good melody and the good atmosphere.”
OTB: What influences the direction you go when producing a new track? I’m sure it’s always different, but does it depend on how you are feeling that day, or do you usually have some end result in mind?
NS: Definitely different each time, I’ve actually been brushing up on and getting a lot more advanced with piano, and delving a lot deeper into music theory, which is not to say that you need the music theory background to be producing everything, but I’ve been experimenting with more music-oriented tracks. I really like to go and sit down at the piano, write out a melody, write good harmonies, and figure out what would work. Sometimes I just write something that sounds pretty then turn it into dance music, which can be more work than it’s worth, but other times it’s really rewarding. I love to get a lot of unique melodies together; the melody is my main source of inspiration and then I go from there. A lot of people can create the beat and the bassline, but to have the good vibe you need the good melody and the good atmosphere; that’s my favorite place to start and draw inspiration from.
OTB: Who would you love to do a future collaboration with?
NS: Maybe on the Anjuna side, Jason Ross, something with him. I’m obsessed with So Sue Me Records, which is from KRYDER, and Simon De Jano on his label, and Tom Staar; that whole groove-movement thing, if we are talking outside of the Anjuna realm.
OTB: Can you talk a little bit about your podcast plans?
NS: I had a podcast with Bruce, now I’m in middle of putting together a new format for the podcast, something that’s pretty cool, I’m not telling too much about it yet until I can confirm a couple things, but it will probably be out in the next couple weeks here. Look out for that; it’s been a long time coming, a lot of work back and forth, bouncing ideas off of a few people. I don’t want to do the average radio show, just playing new trance hits, I want to try to add some variety and draw in a different following on top of the one I have. It was struggle, but now it’s just my soul vision, which makes it easier.
OTB: Miami is coming up in just a few weeks (Winter music conference/Miami Music Week), are you making the trip out there?
NS: First time I’m not going in 3 or 4 years. Goes back to putting a lot of stuff on the shelf and turning down offers right now, solely because I think the music is going to be the most important part and really coming out with something a little bit more groundbreaking than the average trance track is one of my main goals. It’s smarter to stay here, but I’m definitely jealous of everyone going.
“The love that not only Seattle gives us, but the love that USC gives us, it’s definitely a step above everything else that I get to experience.”
OTB: Seattle has really embraced the Norin & Rad sound, what do you think of Seattle? Favorite parts?
NS: Honestly it seriously has to be my favorite city to play, I want to say it’s one of the favorite cities to play in, so I can be a little more political, but it’s so amazing there. They have embraced the sound so much; every time we played Foundation they’re packed out, I got to play Lucky last year too and it was such a good time. The love that not only Seattle gives us, but the love that USC gives us, it’s definitely a step above everything else that I get to experience and I think they set the bar pretty high. Maybe a word to a lot of promoters would be to check out what they’re doing and get on that page, because I think a lot of artists probably agree, they’re one of the most well-organized and fun companies to play for. Back to the city, I have so many friends there now, and it’s such a happy place, and there are great places to go drink beer. My favorite place to travel to in the states is Seattle, not only because you have Foundation, one of the best clubs in the states, but the people are amazing. USC, they do a great job to the point where they make it feel like home and I never want to leave.
OTB: What’s next for you Nick Sember/Norin & Rad?
NS: It’s rebuilding the project. It’ll take time but the best part is honestly the thing I’m most grateful for, which is the fact that the fans are patient enough to wait on what I’m going to do next. I’m keeping the name floating around with shows now and then and people are messaging me asking what’s new; they’re excited and waiting and I’m so excited to put stuff out here and there and see what the reaction is.
On Friday, March 13th, Nick Sember destroyed the WaMu Theater, playing hard-hitting tracks and even sampling Michael Jackson’s “Thriller”. Stay up to date on his continuation of Norin & Rad, tour dates, & more here.
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