In Conversation With: Nitin
- Adam Tiran
- On March 29, 2018
2018 is looking set to be a milestone year for Nitin. The Toronto based artist is the helmsman behind No19 Music alongside partner Jonny White of Art Department and this year they celebrate a decade in the game with no less than twenty, yes TWENTY, scheduled releases, including an EP from Frankie Knuckles collaborator and remix king Satoshi Tomiie.
On top of that, he’s just returned from a moving tour of East Africa where he combined gigs across Kenya and Uganda with a chance to explore his family’s heritage in the region, a history that, as for many Indian families, came to an enforced end back in the ’70s under the rule of Idi Amin.
So it’s at a particularly productive and emotive time that we caught Nitin earlier this month for a chat about his considerable plans for the year ahead.
Hi Nitin, thanks for taking the time to speak with us. Where are you joining us from today?
Hi there, I’m finally home after 3 weeks of travelling. My last stop was a festival in Florida called Okeechobee Music and Arts Festival. Amazing festival with a diverse line up with artist like Snoop Dogg, Arcade Fire, Flaming Lips to Metro Area, Mr. C, DJ Bone and myself to name a few. I highly recommend this next year. Production and sound was all top notch.
No.19 Music is 10 this year. What have been the highlights of the last decade for you?
There have been a lot of highs through this journey. Playing and curating the No.19 label showcases at clubs such as fabric, Panorama Bar, Warung as well as various global festivals including the BPM festival, Off Sonar, Movement & The Secret Solstice Festival just among others. Some of the best times are when we’re doing a No.19 label showcase – it’s a chance for the crew to get together in one place and a great excuse to have some fun together before, during and after the gig.
It’s also been great to work with artists I’ve admired over the years – from releases to remixes. Having artists like Yoruba Soul aka Osunlade, Steve Rachmad and The Mole remix my music has been a personal highlight. Not to mention the countless other artists’ whose records I’ve been playing for years.
Overall, just seeing the record label and its two sub-labels: Social Experiment and Sunday Money grow from year to year has been incredible. When I think back to how the label has evolved over the years and the music we have released, it impresses me that we have been able to maintain our mandate from day one which was to uphold a particular timeless underground sound. We would rather go without releasing for a few months than release something we didn’t feel strongly about. We work with the artists directly until we have a product we are all happy with and can get behind which aligns with the sound of our label yet doesn’t compromise the artists’ artistic integrity.
“We have been able to maintain our mandate from day one which was to uphold a particular timeless underground sound”
How do you balance running a label and life as a touring DJ?
It can be a tough balance at times. Trying to line up releases while my partner, Jonny White (aka Art Department) and I are on the road separately in different time zones definitely has its challenges. Lucky for us, we keep very odd hours so we do our best to make it work. Aside from that, I try to find pockets of time when I’m on the road to work on the label, set up calls and do what needs to be done. Airport lounges are often used for this. When I’m home from touring, I try to split the time between the label and the studio – it really just depends on how busy things are versus how inspired I am. It’s not always easy balancing studio, label, touring and family life – but I find that organizing my time around the travel is the best option for me so far.
You’ve recently been playing dates in Uganda and Kenya, reconnecting with your own East African heritage. How have you found the scene out there?
In one word – incredible. I went to Kampala, Mbale, Jinja in Uganda and Nairobi, Kenya. My family is originally from Uganda and left in the 70’s due to then dictator, Idi Amin, who ordered the expulsion of all non-Africans (namely Indians aka Asians) out of the country. My Mom’s side of the family moved to Canada where I was born and have never gone back. I grew up hearing about life in Uganda and anytime we meet someone from East Africa, there was always a connection. Needless to say when the opportunity came for me to play there I was all for it.
It was my first time to Africa and was an amazing experience to see part of my roots, where my family was from and of course to check out the music scene there. The scene in Kampala is growing quickly and the vibe was great. Lots of energy and enthusiasm from the partygoers.
The second stop on my Africa trip was to Nairobi, Kenya and it was amazing. The scene there is established and the DJ culture is alive and well. There are lots of events happening and the vibe and people were incredible. I spent time with some local artists and promoters and made some life long friends. I was also was fortunate enough to spend some time with some local Kenyan percussionists – we had an awesome studio session. I can’t wait to go back!
You were a long time member of the BPM team in Mexico before it came to such an unfortunate end. Have you been involved with their recent venture in Portugal?
The BPM festival is always a part of me – we’re like family. I’m not as involved as I was for the past 10 years in Mexico; however, I am very supportive of the BPM team and its new venture. I played last year at our No. 19 showcase in Portugal at the festival and it was great! I’m really proud of the team and look forward to many years to come.
Your Sunday Grey EP from last year seemed a notable move towards a deeper, more emotive sound palette. Is that something you’re planning to explore further?
Yes, I’m definitely making lots of music and to be fair, I would say my music for the most part has always been on the deeper end of the spectrum. The stuff I’m working on now showcases more of dance floor feel. A little more energy for the danceloor.
No.19 intends to hit its 100th release this year with what must be a serious schedule of releases (No19080 isn’t released until March!), can you tell us a little of what you have planned?
There are a lot of surprises in store for this, but for now I can tell you our next release is the new Art Department, followed by an amazing EP by Satoshi Tomiie. Then we’ll be releasing a 3 track EP from Ryan Crosson, followed by a very stand out release from Senzala, new guys coming up from London who have put together a bomb 3 track EP.
What’s next up for you in 2018?
More music, more studio, more travel and good times. Definitely excited about everything that’s coming up!