NMDA is a newly emerging multi-instrumentalist, multi genre producer from the United States. NMDA started his career out as a guitarist and saxophonist playing in bands ranging from punk rock to jam band. Over the years he was introduced to the electronic music scene and taught himself the art of electronic music production. Heavily influenced by the electronic and jam band scenes, his music ranges from ambient, meditation like music to electrofunk. NMDA prides himself in creating his own style and focuses on integrating his emotions into his creative expression. Currently his music is featured on many mental health and study beat playlists. NMDA is working on producing and releasing more chillhop and electrofunk style music.
Thank you for taking this interview! How has the New Year been for you so far as an artist?
So far this New Year has been better than I ever could have imagined. Lots of positive feedback on my releases, networking with artists and friends, and doing a ton of writing - all positive affirmations that I’m heading in the right direction.
Can you tell us how you've transformed from the beginning to now as an artist?
Well, the true beginning was a long time ago, I’ve been playing music for over 20 years. Originally a punk rocker as a teenager transitioning into the jam band scene as a guitarist through college and finally ending up where I am now producing music electronically. This last few years have been a particularly interesting transformational period as an artist. In addition to working with “new” instruments (drums, bass, piano, saxophone, synth) delving into sound design, and learning mixing and mastering has really opened up my view of sound as a whole. The majority of my music career has focused on playing guitar rhythm and lead, I am now paying much more attention to the overall sound as a whole. The biggest thing that’s altered my production is hearing and seeing the frequency spectrum and how to elegantly leave room and fill space with different textures to create these massive creative expressions. I think the biggest transformation has been where I used to focus on my guitar, I’m now focusing on every aspect and its really opened up my mind to look at music from a more macro perspective.
How did you come up with your latest project?
The latest project I released is called ‘Sunsets.’ Couple years ago I moved to California for a temporary job and was renting a room in Haight Ashbury which I would later find out was directly across the street from Charles Manson’s Mansion and down the road from the Grateful Dead house. The beautiful thing about this place was that every day I got back from my 9-5 I would get into my room which doubled as a music studio and could see the sunset. Sometimes I’d hike up to Tank Hill and catch an amazing view before returning back down to the small studio space. I wrote this project over the course of the first week I was out there in the fall of 2020 and just fell in love with it. It was one of the more peaceful times in my life and I think musically it represents that era of my life well.
Where are you from originally?
Originally, I am from a very small town on the shoreline of Connecticut called Old Saybrook.
Where do you live now?
I’ve moved over 13 times in the past 3 years, but I seem to continue ending up in that very small town on the shoreline of CT.
Do you think where you live impacts how your music is made?
100% - My best friend asked me the same question a couple years ago and it was at that time I started to notice how significantly the environment impacts my production. I lived down in Hollywood, FL between Miami and Fort Lauderdale for a period over the last couple years and I noticed the music was more energetic, very EDM and electrofunk focused. Moving out to California I was making more calming ‘synthy’ almost meditative like music. I lived in a lake house out in the woods in Connecticut on 2 occasions over the last couple years and the music got deeper as well as the amount of time I spent playing and creating. I noticed there was a lot less distractions and I was treating music more like a career. Practicing guitar and sax in the mornings, taking a mastering course during the day, and writing and mixing in the evenings. And it really showed in the music, opposed to the other places I lived, these songs came out much more naturally. I felt more immersed in the production and I overall enjoyed the songs more.
What was the inspiration to make music your career?
I have always been drawn to music since I was a child and I don’t think I can nail that inspiration down to one experience, but there are a couple that stand out to me. I played saxophone from middle school through high school for the orchestral band, jazz band, marching band, but at the age of 14 I picked up the guitar and that really changed my view of music forever. I was at my best friend’s house and he was already a phenomenal guitarist. His father had a room full of music equipment, mostly guitars. One day an older friend of ours in high school came by to jam with my buddy. We went up to the jam room and the two sat down, didn’t say anything to each other and just started playing. About 5 minutes went by watching these two perform this incredible piece and then the song ended. I asked, “Wow, when did you guys write that?” And they replied, “We just made that up!” I was in awe. They were communicating in a language I didn’t understand and I remember thinking to myself, “I have to learn how to do that.”
Fast forward about 10 years and multiple music projects later, I was down in Miami at a Gramatik and Exmag show in a little club. I was so impressed by their ability to put on an entire live show integrating electronic production with a live performance. I spoke with the members of Exmag after the show about the whole experience and after I remember saying to myself again, “I have to learn how to do that.”
How do you want to shape your career?
I am constantly reshaping this image in my head every day. At the moment, as a new artist all I really want to do is create music and play live shows again and I’d pretty much shape my career in any way that would allow me to play live again. The only thing I will not do is alter my sound. I love all different genres of music and even the ones I don’t love, I can usually find some aspect that I can appreciate. What I listen and write depends on my mood for sure, and recently my mood has been Chillhop LoFi which will be the genres at the center of my next couple releases, but I have a bunch of electrofunk and EDM tunes that I’m working on and would like to go that direction also. I think ultimately, I want to shape and deliver my music in a way that presents all my many moods and I’ve kind of pledged to myself not to be bound by one genre.
Do you work on a tight timeline always or do you go with the flow when it comes to your music?
Time and myself never seem to get along… I have timelines in my head and I’d like to be in a place where I could release a single at least once every 6-8 weeks, but at the moment I’m just going with the flow and when the music sounds and feels complete I’ll push it into the next phase and prepare for release. One thing I’ve learned through this whole process, you can’t force creativity.
Is it hard to let go of the music when it is done?
Definitely. Sometimes you work so hard on things you can’t unhear them. I put in so many hours back at the lake house on one of my tunes I just kept hearing it over and over in my head for days. When you’re mixing it’s easy to get zoned in on perfecting each little sound to the point where when you go back and listen to the project as a whole you hear it in parts instead of a whole song. That’s when I know I need a sound break. But even after it’s all done, you want to just keep perfecting it and it’s like you’re never totally satisfied with what you did but it gets to a point where you’ve done enough and you need to know when it’s okay to move on.
Do you feel an emotional attachment to your music?
Absolutely! And this was an interesting aspect going into electronic production opposed to the familiar band thing. Would I still get that feeling? I generally listen to and trial my songs in the car on drives to work and when I listen to some of my unreleased work I get all these feelings. Some of them put me into a deep calm, sometimes I hear nails on a chalk board with parts sticking out, and some of them literally give me goosebumps. My soul is in some of these sounds and its reinvigorated when I hear it for sure.
How would you describe your music in one word to someone who hasn't listened to it yet?
That’s a really tough question. In terms of genre, I’d have to say its downtempo, but overall its electronic chill out music.
Where do they go to listen NOW?
My music is available on all streaming platforms, I pay most attention to Spotify as that’s what I use to stream. If you want to hear more of what’s to come find me on SoundCloud where I focus on uploading ideas and songs that haven’t been officially released yet.
What has been the best fan reaction to your music?
The most flattering reactions to my music have been from people telling me they use my songs to wake up to and for relaxation. There is a mental health epidemic in this society that never seems to be at the forefront of any publicized conversations, and I think a lot of it has its roots based in anxiety and stress. My music is featured on a bunch of mental health playlists and one of my projects in particular, “Last Match,” which was originally intended as a personal sound meditation, has received a lot of positive feedback. To hear that the music I’ve written is able to put people in a trance, calm them down, and change their mood is the greatest compliment I’ve received.
Is there anything exciting coming up for you?
Yes, I’m so excited to release this next project. Its roots are definitely grounded in that LoFi/Chillhop feel, but what makes it special for me is that for the first time I produced with people other than myself and in particular it’s been written with the friends I grew up playing music with. So, I’m super excited for them to hear how the final product sounds and even more excited to see where these songs go.
Are you performing the song anywhere LIVE?
Unfortunately, no live shows this year, but I hope to be performing next summer if all goes as planned.
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