BURR 53: Nikhil Beats

This week, we’ve got an interview with the East London producer, Nikhil Beats.

He’s worked with some of the underground’s finest; Finn Foxell, Safiyyah and more recently, muva of Earth, for the Offie Mag premiered AFFIRMATION. We talk hardware, Indian culture, and making music with your cousin, with Nikhil Beats, just as we spoke about Luton, rice and a Skepta co-sign with BXKS last time out.

Find all of the BURR interviews here and listen to Offie Mag Radio to hear some of these artists get some well-deserved airtime.

(Image by Serena Brown)

Alright mate, can you introduce yourself for anyone that hasn’t heard you yet?

Hey my name’s Nikhil Beats, I’m from East London.

Rather than getting equipment to make my life easier I hit, shake, bang things in my room to get particular sounds and effects.

I grew up in a household where music was ALWAYS playing so it was only natural for me to try a couple instruments out. My dad played piano so that’s the first one I tried. Then I remember trying my grandad’s accordion (which was used a lot in Bollywood music back in the day) and his tabla. I was fortunate enough throughout school to be able pick up instruments and learn by ear.

My mum bought me my first electric guitar when I was 12 and since then I’ve been writing my own music. I only got seriously into production though when I was at uni a few years ago and got introduced to studios.

Who are some of your favourite producers at the minute?

Jevon, Jae5, INFLO, Knucks – wish i could jump on my own tracks like some of these man do!

What hard/software do you use when you’re producing?

I recently got a UAD Apollo Twin (!!!). I was using a 30 quid interface off Amazon before that so can definitely hear and feel the difference now! My DAW of choice is Logic X.

But to be honest, I haven’t got madly into hardware and software yet. I know I will in the future but at the moment I make a lot of noise in my room and I enjoy making music that way. Rather than getting equipment to make my life easier I hit, shake, bang things in my room to get particular sounds and effects.

You’re a multi-instrumentalist, what do you play?

I use the word “play” in a loose way… instruments I can actually play well: the drum kit, piano/keys, guitar, bass. Instruments I have played in the past but probably terrible at now: violin, sax, sitar, trumpet.

You worked on Finn Foxell’s ‘Talk is Cheap‘ EP and Safiyyah’s ‘Third Eye’ EP, how did these collaborations come about?

A friend introduced me to their mate, who happened to be the owner of an amazing indie label called Polarface Records, which is the label Safiyyah’s signed to. From there, we got chatting and I sound engineered a couple shows for them, then me and Saf had a few sessions and made a couple tracks that everyone loved for her debut EP.

Then a few months later, I was out and I bumped into a producer friend, Solaariss (go check him out!). He asked if I could cover a session for him with Saf and this rapper. I said “yea sure”. Turned up and Finn was there. We made Shout Me and since then, been working a lot with Finn – we got some serious tunes to watch out for!

AFFIRMATION with muva of Earth is probably one of my favourite tracks from this year. How did that one happen?

Thank you! It happened again through me sound engineering for a show that Muva was playing at. I was blown away by her voice, style, her lyrics. We spoke after the show and then AFFIRMATION was the first thing we made together. 

Your latest track, features your cousin, Henna, what’s it like collaborating with someone in your family?

I’d be lying if I said it was easy! But I’d definitely do it again.

In Indian culture, the kids of your parents’ siblings aren’t “cousins”. They’re also seen as you’re siblings. So working with my “cousin” or sister, naturally brought up little moments to bicker over but overall, I’m very grateful to be able to do something like this. Me and Henna are day1s. Out of all the grandchildren, we were inseparable as kids, so it was an incredible experience to share it with her.

Henna’s powerful poetry and story-telling sits beautiful on your production style, have you got more stuff plans?

To be honest, this track wasn’t ever really planned. It was quite spontaneous, but maybe we might have to plan some more work together in the future…

How has your Asian heritage helped to influence your style and artistry?

In Indian culture; music, dance, art, literature, food, life, everything, it’s all spiritual. Having spiritualism at the core of what you do means your actions are more attuned to the universe which helps you become more aware, socially and internally.

I have grown up around friends and family practising several faiths like Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, Sikhism, and the people of these faiths have all taught me different positive things. Ultimately, my life experiences as a South Asian man growing up in East London are depicted in my art and therefore have shaped who I am as an artist. I also know that spirituality isn’t only from Asian culture and growing up in London meant that musically, spiritually and stylistically, my influences are a blend of African, Caribbean, South Asian, British culture. 

What have you got coming up, any projects?!

Yes! The track with Henna is the first single off my upcoming EP, 3000 REALMS. I’m very excited for it, dropping in January 2021, featuring some amazing London artists. Some people I’ve worked with before like Finn Foxell, and new artists like Yiigaa.

Anything else you’d like to add, shout outs, thank yous, a quote from your favourite book, anything goes!

It’s a bit deep but one of my favourite quotes to remember how important and powerful every single individual person is. This is a quote from my mentor in life, Daisaku Ikeda, “A great revolution in just one single individual will help achieve a change in the destiny of a society and, further, will enable a change in the destiny of humankind”.

Imma go to the Offie real quick, can I get you anything? 

KA black grape plz, safe.

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