Interview with Nic Hamilton & Night Tracks 024: Guest Mix

I've been lucky to get an interview with the designer Nic Hamilton, who's going to talk about his work in music alongside his design work. Both his art and his mixes are really impressive stuff, and I'm a big fan. Really stands out for me. He's also put together a guest mix for us that you've got to check out. Read on...

NT: Hey, can you give us an introduction to yourself?
N: My name is Nic. I am originally from Tasmania but presently live in London (and soon to be Melbourne) I used to be an architect - that got really boring - self trained myself to be a 3D artist then moved into art direction and now bored of doing commercial work so going back to post grad art school to pursue my own work full time and see what happens. I have always been into music especially hiphop, breakbeat, house, pop, rnb etc.

NT: We'll talk about your design work first. A lot of your work seems to be quite dark, is that intentional? To what extent are you influenced by your environments?
N: I rarely set out to do dark pieces but seem to keep doing 'dark' work. It could be a side effect from doing so much sickly sweet commercial work during the day and having to make things sunny / bright and 'lighthearted 'to keep the amazing plethora of dull conservative clients happy. Also I tend to use black a lot and shy away from colour despite efforts to use it. I love dense complex cities like Tokyo, London, New York and Istanbul as much as I do the Tasmania wilderness where I grew up. I am inspired by vast and complex natural and constructed spaces and the idea of something being very big and very small at the same time. These macro / micro conditions occur everywhere in the natural, built and digital world, and in music too, so maybe this is what connects all my work.

NT: From the world of art and outside, where do you take influence from?
N: Lebbeus Woods, Boris Tellegen, Jose Parla, Robin Rhode, Lee Bul, Doug Aitken and  are some people whose work I admire. Animation, sculpture, drawing, installation and computer aided manufacture interest me as a combined medium. Also that guy with lasers and smoke - Anthony McCall. Girls that resemble cats and deers can also be inspiring especially if paired with blunt fringes.

NT: When and how did you first get involved with designing for musical purposes, such as your stuff for the Bass Music label, Reso, etc.?
N: I used to make rave flyers for my friends and just kept on making stuff in my spare time. I got involved with Bass Music through Sam Baobinga and Ed I.D. when they approached me to make a logo for them and since then have kept up working with them. Ed is happy for me to do basically anything with the artwork and videos and I really enjoy having something else outside of work to keep me interested however pressed for time I might be - I need that pressure to produce.

NT: What plans have got for the near future? Any more work planned?
N: In the next year I plan to make art full time and do less computer based stuff to pursue more hands on projects, hopefully culminating a small exhibition or event. I have been toying with starting an anonymously curated audio visual label where I would invite and commission a piece of music/sound and a piece of artwork from 2 artists based on a theme and make / give away limited edition physical and digital pieces. Anonymity would be initially important as it would try to draw people away from the ridiculous hype driven music and art scenes in a small way - that’s not to discount the weird inverse hype power of the anonymous producer!

NT: I'm a big fan of your 'Slow' mix series, they seem to really stand out in an era where so many mixes have almost exactly the same track list. Was this something you considered when putting them together?
N: I originally made them for myself to listen to songs I was liking at the time after a period of making more 'banging mixes'. I got sick of pure house, pure disco, pure hip hop etc mixes so did a mix which I hoped encompassed old and new songs from disparate but related genres. I'm not a fan of mono genre / style mixes - I do listen to them but dispose them quickly afterwards. They are boring and anyone can do it - If I hear that bloody Swims or whatever the new Boddika tune is b2b in a mix again I will break the....errr anyway Bullion, Lone and Ben UFO are all people whose mixes I look forward to and always have something I haven’t heard before. Also the Autonomic influences bits in their podcasts was always interesting.

NT: What do you use to create them?
N: The mixes I have online are all done in Ableton and are very simple affairs - generally just volume blends and stop start cut paste mixing from a shortlist of 50 or so songs each time I start a mix. They are more mixtapes than 'DJ' mixes - however I'm really looking forward to being reunited with my 1200s in Melbourne and setting up serato and doing some more on the fly mixes.

NT: Have you ever played out or produced your own stuff? If not, do you have any plans to?
N: I have played out a couple of times over the years but wasn't really that interested in it (or good at it come to think of it). I’d rather drink and sit on the side with my friends and yell at people. I have loads of near finished music but I don't think it will see the light of day for a few years yet if ever. It is generally fairly short, sample heavy, atonal /unmusical, sluggish, house/hiphop/breakbeat hybrid stuff with loose structures.

NT: The selections for your mixes can be pretty eclectic, so I assume you've got your ear to the ground in places many people wouldn't think to look. Anybody that's particularly impressed you lately?
As far as sources for music - it’s mostly my friends and the Internet. I'm not an expert in any one genre but do spend a lot of time finding music. I do look forward to Monday mornings at Boomkat for the weeks releases and also rely on some blogs to draw attention to rarer older stuff that ill then get from discogs or use as a starting point for more research. There are too many producers whose work I admire but I would say Andy Stott, Actress, Lukid impress me this week alongside favourites like James Fox, Hackman, Behling/I.D./Setspeed.

I.D. - Feudal from nic hamilton on Vimeo

NT: Can you talk us through your mix for Night Tracks?
Well it’s a fairly straight forward mix with what I hope is a melancholic twinge through some hiphop, disco, house, garage (and one dubstep song I like) I had a very 'Night Tracks'  ambient tough techno / house / breakbeat / garage mix mostly done but the weather was so good I wasn't in the mood for it so decided to switch over and do a more upbeat mix in the vein of the SLOW series (I hope that’s OK). I really wanted to use Hackman - She Smoking Miaow so pretty much made a mix around that! It’s got such a good weird hook (that unfortunately won’t be on the album version) and led me to a night of watching 90's hiphop on youtube.

NT: Finally, can you name your three favourite "Night Tracks"?
Off the top off my head....

Burial - Raver (loose homemade garage beat - distant melancholic girl vox)
Instra:mental - Let’s Talk (perfectly executed slow tempo melancholic / euphoric roll out)
Actress - Maze (strange but amazing piece of electronic music that I don't think I will get sick of - every element is perfectly seated)

NT: In McDonalds?
Burial is always the answer (even though the food is disgusting)

NT: Thanks very much for your time! Check out Nic's guest mix and tracklist below. You can download the mix here (192kbps due to Mixcloud filesize restrictions) or in 320kbps here.

Unknown - Make it last
Too $hort - The Ghetto (Jive)
Warren G - She smoking me out (Def Jam)
Hackman - She smoking miaow (unreleased)
Mosca - Bunching (free release)
Behling and Simpson - UFO (forthcoming Futureboogie)
Tiger and Woods - Curb my heart (Running Back)
Toro Y Moi - Still sound (Tobi Tobias remix) (Carpark Records)
Behling and Simpson - Left Behind (forthcoming Futureboogie)
Midnight Star -Scientific Love (Epic)
Noir Haze - Around (Solomun remix)
Soul Minority - Come back for more (Valence Loco remix)
James Fox - Close your eyes (unreleased)
Julio Bashmore - Footsteppin (Tenthousandyen)
Box Clever - Talk to me (Prolific)
DJ Narrows - Dreams (Resurrection)
Sully - Its your love (Keysound)
Emika - Double Edge (Pinch remix) (Ninja Tunes)