DROPPING BEATS NOT BOMBS NICK BEE’S “SONGS OF WAR “ INTERVIEW & REVIEW
When listening to this new release from Nick Bee, it’s important to understand the backdrop of Nick’s life and environment. Its important to know that Nick only lives 250 km away from the of the war torn region of Ukraine, and writing this album was one of the main outlets for how Nick choose to deal with the experience.The energy and raw emotion that comes through these beautifully haunting and cinematic compositions reaches far and wide. I elect to call them compositions rather than just songs or tracks. Why? Because they merit that term. Songs of War is a concept album, filled with layered soundscapes to be listened to from start to finish. I would also recommend the best set of headphones money can buy. Try listening through both headphones and monitors/speakers. Neither one of these experiences should be underestimated. As I listen to the entire release over and over, it becomes more evident that you are on a ride that, ok now that you are strapped in on. These compositions tell a modern day story about the forces of light and dark. There are massive industrial beats that serve as a mechanical element of composition, rarely used in such a way; they function as an instrument completely within themselves. Pads of colors move like a kaleidoscope that pan dynamically, like a set of spinning Leslie cabinets used for a Hammond B3 organ back in an old horror movie soundtrack.These sounds are carefully combined to allow the listener to move around within the musical score. As a long time producer and musician, I listen in a way that’s both critical and open minded. I can honestly say that once you reach 48 years of age, you have wealth of different listening experiences stored in a musical bank in your mind, from which to draw when reviewing a release from any artist. You also know when to take all that experience and just leave it at the door. What I mean to say is, when you come across a release like Songs of War, its better to listen to it with a clear head. Let nothing else influence you before you engage. I can say a lot about this release and its would just be a bunch of words and would pale in comparison to your own audio and visual experience. I never want to rob my readership of their own experience. So I try to always remember that you haven’t heard it yet, so no spoilers please! I like, in this case, to talk about the reaction and emotional exchange I had while enjoying this incredibly deep and intimate look into the mind, body and soul of Nick Bee, experiencing the time and place from which he is writing. I believe that an artist, when faced with a major life-altering direct hit like living through the sobering newsreels of children starving, and the images of loss in the families eyes when the camera focuses on what real grief and devastation looks like...when war strikes where you live and work. As artists, we are born with a extra chromosome or two attached to having the capacity to feel pain in a very real and deep way that others don’t. We have a feeling of what it's like to be a bit damaged from birth, and to have a desperate need to help others. When and how each of us discovers this truth is different. Matched with this is the desire to create something from within in the form of art, music, or poetry. We feel such an obsession and need to create to survive the world around us, that it’s like someone who needs a respirator to breathe. It’s a curse and a gift that makes us feel that we are different, that we can identify with such levels of human suffering, that others simply can not. At times, I have found myself wondering what it would be like to be like them. To be, for the most part, unaware of the true drive and need to produce something so personal and then give it to the public. You see, I just said it. To give it away after creating it is a form of altruism. When one of us fellow travelers hears a release like Nick Bee’s Songs of War, it makes they why and how questions make perfect sense, and I am left with a feeling of gratitude and a new sense of inner silence. The kind of silence and inner peace that comes from creating art within the eye of the storm. Through all of the blood shed and human loss, comes this beautiful interpretation of how...not to make sense of it, but how to create a place within the chaos and mayhem of purity and grace. This is a journey, more than a destination, in my mind. It’s the never ending book of sorts. With each release it gets larger, and hopefully even stronger. Songs of War is a audio and visual journey of a modern day urban poet. The sounds created are more of an expression of a rage, they are a collection of rhythms, breaks and unexpected colorful melodies that bring in the light at just the right moment. The timing of all these elements of the songs, matched with melodic soundscapes, brings the total signature sound that is born of this album. It’s personality has matured with its subject matter. Finally, I would like to add, there is the constant moving forward sensation I get when listening. Like the motion of wheels carrying you to the next break or hook in the songs arch. This is one of those releases I will come back to every year to see how different it sounds as it grows on me more and more. It won’t be the music that's changing, it will be me. That’s ok though, because this is one that will stand the test of time.
Q-Are you a politically active citizen? Are there any political causes that you are passionate about? If so, do you want to name them, and tell us a little bit about what you do to support them?
A-To be honest at the moment I try to not go deeply into politics , because I noticed that my brain starting to burn from all the untrue information ..you never know what is true , what is untrue from TV and other media stuff, better to see by yourself ..I'm not supporting anything and anyone, I’m just sorry that in all that situation people are dying ..that’s the worst thing . Q-How are you feeling now that this Drum and Bass masterpiece, “Sounds of War”, is complete and ready to drop? Q-I’m feeling really proud of it, because as it was mentioned in UKF interview, this is a new level for me, its the most personal thing at the same time . Q-A lot of heart and soul went into this release. I heard a lot of dark layers of pads that stream through the tracks, while the panning and the mechanical rotation of industrial soundscapes come through in such a deliberate manner that my experience while listening took on a visual and almost cinematic quality. Every song had a different texture of bass that falls into the beat naturally. The songs also have an incredible soulful and musical quality. In a great majority of current commercial Drum and Bass releases, the song building structure has become very predictable. One of the things that impressed me about this album is the maturity that allows each track its own room to let the song breathe, never allowing the listener to lose track of the melody line and soulfulness in each song or in the work as a whole. What was the main motivation driving your heart and soul on a conscious level while recording this album? Q-This album has influenced me as a producer in such a positive way. What you have done in your studio, late at night, halfway across the world, has the power to influence and touch the hearts of people forever. How has writing and producing this album changed you? A- As I mentioned , I was making this EP about 1 year, so during that time i was also making other tracks, but the most important thing I discovered for me is that to never be hurry with tracks and production, you need to listen to this much time before you will say its finished...so that was such a changing for me, I’m stopped making music fastly (in hurry) and trying to take time and even breaks before finishing it. Lets keep it quality. Q-Recording an album n the studio is a very intimate and personal process. I read that you took five months to lock yourself away to be able to focus and devote your attention, energy and process of producing and recording “Sounds of War”. As a professional producer and artist myself, I understand this process well. When Radiohead recorded “OK Computer” they decided to rent an old castle in the countryside of Scotland to get everyone together in one place to create without any outside influences to distract them from their primary purpose. For our readers who are not industry professionals, it is a common process for artists to isolate i this way when making a serious album. As you and I know, some of our best moments while creating are left unseen by the public. Considering this fact, could you tell us about one of those magic moments that you experienced while recording “Sounds of War”? A-To be honest a while ago i was making music in headphones almost all time and fixing some details on monitors, so this way you are much concentrated during music production..The idea was to create experimental track at the start, after I got the main groove, i began to think about idea of the track, mainly idea is in intro and breakdown (as for me ) because you find different atmos ..and sounds there. Then i saw a horrible video with the real war moments at the same time of making this track, so i decided to use this audio for “Sounds of War" track and to construct it my way using my soul and thoughts as well.. Q-What software did you use in recording this album? Logic, Ableton, etc? A-I work in Cubase only. Q-One of my standard questions when interviewing a Drum and Bass artist is always, how did you get that bass sound? It is so unique, beautiful and dark that it gives you a signature sound unlike any other artist. A- It’s always experiment, I know people want now to read the process...etc but I can’t say actual process, because every time I start to make a new bass, I do it from the start without any algorithm, I prefer to do not make anything like this, because you will have every time something different . I only can say that sometimes its pretty useful to have NI Kontakt as a sampler for basslines. Q-Do you use Massive as part of your sound library? Yes , i use Massive a lot, I really like how it works and its always fun to create a new bassline or change the preset sound, it’s really rare when I use a preset of Massive or other synth without any changes . Q-As I expressed earlier, this album’s ability to evoke a visual component is strong. Are there plans to have videos made for any of the tracks? A-There are no plans for the video yet, but some people are already proposed to make it, let’s see whats going to happen :) Q-What is your favorite track from “Sounds of War”, and why? A-There is no track which i like more then others from that EP, I think every tune got its energy.