The 285th episode of our 12 Questions segment features producer K Nass.
1. How old are you, where are you living and how long have you been producing and Djing?
I’m 26 years old, living in Cairo, Egypt. I’ve been producing music for almost 2 years now, and I never DJed in my life. 🙂
2. Where do your musical roots lie, what are your first memories of electronic music and when did you know you wanted to pursue it seriously? Are there any particular productions or artists from the past that really made you think to yourself ‘this is what I want to do.”
Well, my musical roots started very early in my childhood as I was introduced to the world of classical piano at age 6 and have been playing since then. I learned music, the fundamentals of composition, scales, improvisation, recitation etc. from piano, and that is where my real passion lies.
Throughout my teen years I was introduced to dance music and at the time I was listening to records like Renaissance Master Series, Balance, Global Underground, Northern Exposure and many more. My favorite artists of the time where, Sasha, Digweed, Cattaneo, Nick Warren, James Holden, Danny howls, Darren Emerson, Carl Cox, Teifshwartz, Ferry Corsten, Nick Muir, Oakenfold, Tenaglia and the list goes on and on. I really fell in love with the depth and stories behind this kind of music, and the endless sonic possibilities were astounding to me, a worlds away from the monotones of piano.
During college in the US, I travelled to Spain for a year, and there I was introduced to the Spanish guitar and used to participate in regular jamming sessions with friends. In one of these, I was finally introduced to the world of recording and software music, and that was my eureka moment as they say. Right then and there I was sure that I wanted to take on electronic music production, infusing my piano background and my love to deep progressive house together.
3. How difficult was learning to produce for you in the beginning? Did you take any Audio Engineering programs or production courses to help you out or are you pretty much self-taught? And did anyone give any advice early on that really helped?
I spent hours on YouTube. It was my gateway to production. In Spain I used watch some of my friends play around with Logic, which also established a strong base for me. I guess it’s all a learning process and I’m still learning every day. What we do is really hard I think, you need to understand progressive house music and the feeling behind it. Understand what makes a story lined arrangement, sound synthesis, mixing techniques and the list goes on. So I guess my answer is, I’m still learning.
4. What parts of the production process do you find the most difficult and what comes easiest for you? When you do hit a creative block what helps you through it?
I find the technical/mixing part of production a bit difficult than playing around with my keyboard and creating melodies which comes naturally to me. If you talk to my mastering Engineer, and very good friend who has been helping me a lot Travis Macdonald, he would tell you how much I complain about how my tracks need more “highs” more “loudness” more “Bass” lol… I feel that I understand everything quiet well, but again processing/mixing/producing is such a massive world with so much information and science involved, that one must educate him or herself fervently in order to produce quality sound with rich harmonies and clarity.
5. What’s a normal day like for you? Do you have a job outside of electronic music? And what do you like to do when you’re not working on music?
Well, my day is pretty hectic. I work as an Economist in a fiscal policy unit at the Egyptian Ministry of Finance. Its lightyears away from my other world of music. 🙂 I studied undergraduate Finance and Economics in Boston, and I’m eager on getting my Masters degree soon too. It’s a double life I’m leading, but I like it! Of course both can negatively affect each other, but I try to find the correct balance between both and not let work affect my musical output and vice-versa. Outside music I just enjoy some sports like soccer and squash, reading hanging out, normal stuff . 🙂
6. Apart from electronic music what other genres do you listen to and who are your favourite artists outside of electronic? and do these genres or artists have a direct effect on your own productions?
I listen to Indie Rock kind of music, Like Portishead, Alt J, and many others. I’ve also been listening to Bob Dylan, Billy Joel, The Doors, The Who, Blue Oyster Cult, Simon and Garfunkel, Tom Petty and many more. I think that was the golden age of music. 🙂
7. What was the first and last physical (CD, Vinyl, Cassette etc) piece of music you bought?
Well, can’t really remember that, I’m a child of the 2000’s and by then, everything was downloadable. But my family has a huge collection of cd’s spanning from Mozart and Rachmaninoff to Sinatra and The Beatles all the way to synth pop bands like Heart and Abba and more.
8. Tell us something about yourself that might surprise people?
Well one interesting thing is that I do NOT DJ. I don’t know why, but it is just so. I really never got into it. I guess somewhere on the way I wanted to but just didn’t get the chance I guess. I constantly get asked to record guest mixes and respectfully decline, I know this may hurt my profile and recognition, but maybe I’ll pick it up in the future, or not, I don’t know. 🙂
9. Which producers in your opinion get consistently overlooked?
That’s a tricky question; I don’t want to name names. I can consider myself under that category. One thing is I do not believe in rankings and number in music, at all. Music is subjective. I know this is how things are at the moment, and will always be I think. It’s all about top 10s, sales, ranking, charts.. I do not know, music is a personal thing and it’s about conveying a message or story to someone. It’s not like writing a novel for example, it’s so much more expressive and that makes it so much more subjective and unbound to certain conformities. Don’t get me wrong, I love it when I get charted or make to the top 10 on Beatport, but again it’s all opinions.
I have made it a point to produce a chart every month containing the “best” progressive tracks in terms of sound quality and musical content in MY opinion, of what make a better track for me than others. I have made so many friends in the scene and know they are all fighting the same battle that I am, that is to push their sound and improve all the time, they all know who they are and I wish them all the best of luck. 🙂
10. Which producers consistently inspire you? And where else does your inspiration come from?
I have been liking many guys over time…Every and any producer cab make a track that would inspire me. I’m just really into strong tight progressive grooves that give that perpetual vibe of continuity with a deep ongoing basslines and different subtle synth elements just adding to the atmosphere, it’s hard to explain but It’s a very distinct sound, that I’m being inspired by constantly now. Many producers in the scene personally know what I think of their music and how I learn for them all the time..
11. There are countless producers out there trying to find their way and create their own unique sound, what advice do you have for them?
Listen to music. Find its message and connect with it and let it move you. Being a producer you have to listen to music differently than normal people, you need to listen with an analytical ear and a receptive soul. Just keep listening to music. Keep learning about music production, it never stops. Only then will you be able to aptly translate these inspiration and feelings inside of you into music that you will actually like. I myself do not like to listen to my own music because I’m always comparing my stuff to other tracks and become too critical of my music to the point that I do not enjoy listening to it. If you can move to your own music, you’ve made it 🙂
12. If the final DJ/live set of your career was next week what would your last track be?
Not applicable haha 🙂
‘Dandelion’ with Julian Rodriguez is out now on Sleepless Nights Recordings, you can purchase the release: here