N/UM is a New York-based house and techno influenced trio using analog synthesizers, drum machines, voice and guitar in live composition.
The three members of N/UM come from a variety of musical backgrounds. Jeremy Loucas is a five time Grammy winning mixing & mastering engineer with years spent as a DJ in the underground party scene in NY – Elias Meister, an electronically experimental guitarist with a decade of performance experience in free and improvised music – Emil Bovbjerg is a vocalist, synth instrumentalist and producer/DJ with a background in orchestration and contemporary arranging and composition.
Each performance or recording by them is improvised, with no pre-composed songs, no plan or structure agreed upon.
We had the chance to talk with N/UM as they just released a new EP, ‘Yes’.
Electronic Groove: Hi guys, thanks for your time. Congratulations on your recent release. Can you explain your audience how was the recording process for this EP?
N/UM: Thanks to you for having us. The record was recorded live at House of Yes in Brooklyn at a show we played there for a daytime party. It was sort of last minute, but the vibe was great and when we listened back to the recording we thought some of that feeling had really been captured on the recording. Then we decided to schedule it for release.
Electronic Groove: So you basically recorded live all the tracks in front of an audience, amazing! How much time did this take? What kind of gear did you use?
N/UM: That’s correct. The set lasted an hour approximately. From that, we just chose the part we liked the most and that would fit nicely on a record, chopping it into 4 tracks. Although they are all linked as one long track since we played it like that, we decided to put track marks where the ideas seem to depart into new territory and themes and give them different names. We felt like putting out just one chunk of 40 minutes of music would be a bit too overwhelming somehow. Recognizing how ideas flow organically in a steady stream but are still separate entities to some degree. We used our usual setup, which in essence is a Roland 808 drum machine, SH-‐101 bass synth, guitar and vocal. Along with this, we used a Swynx to clock the analog gates and Ableton to record the set and add a few field-‐recording samples. Our setup constantly evolves and we now use different hardware for clocking and we have added a 909 and an old Korg guitar synth as well as a Korg Mono/Poly when travels and stage allow the room for it.
Electronic Groove: Where did you meet each other? When did you decide to perform as a trio?
N/UM: We met in Boston back in 2004. There we became friends and started playing music together in a lot of different projects and especially doing a lot of studio experiments. We started playing seriously with analog synthesizers around 5 years ago, and the trio just became a natural consequence of wanting to bring those experiments out into live situations, and the nightlife and electronic music scene that we were all becoming more and more involved with in New York.
“Our setup constantly evolves”
Electronic Groove: ‘Yes’ was released on your own label, Ninetofire. What was the reason to create your personal imprint?
N/UM: Soon after we started playing the way we do it became apparent that, since we always record our live improvisations, there is an enormous amount of material that gets generated. Also, because of the nature of free improvisation, the sound and structure of the material that comes out of our playing is just quite a bit different in character compared to productions that are spliced together little by little and constructed and sculpted to sound a certain way. Listening back, we just found it hard to come up with labels that we felt would be a good “fit” for our music. They definitely do exist and we are talking to labels, but because there is a lot of music we feel like should be released we had the idea early on that we should have our own outlet, as well to be able to have as much absolute freedom in our output as we do in our playing.
Electronic Groove: What are the plans for Ninetofire in 2018?
N/UM: We are currently mastering 2 different records to release this year that we are really excited to share. Whether they will both be released on Ninetofire is still a bit open, but most likely at least two. The next release on the label is a 3 track instrumental house EP of solo productions by Emil under the alias VAVAV, scheduled for late March and it’s called ‘Human House’.
Electronic Groove: In terms of gigs, how’s your schedule looking like for the next couple of months? Any gig you are especially looking forward?
N/UM: Our Spring schedule is in the works right now and we are very much looking forward to playing for Mixmag Lab in New York in March.
“We are currently mastering 2 different records to release this year that we are really excited to share”
Electronic Groove: Are you working on new releases?
N/UM: As mentioned before we are working hard right now on finalizing a string of records. We have recently recorded a lot of material, and we are really excited to be able to share some very different releases both on Ninetofire, and other labels over the course of the year.
Electronic Groove: Living in New York must influence you on a regular basis. What are your thoughts about the city?
N/UM: New York has been home for over a decade for most of us so we feel at home here and we have, first and foremost, a great workplace in our studio. The city also has an incredible community of musicians and artists, both in electronic music, but also in every other kind of music and art. It is challenging to stay focused, relevant and afloat but well worth the effort.
Electronic Groove: Can you recommend three musicians/producers that caught your eye recently?
N/UM: Nick Beringer, Kamran Sadeghi and Christopher Ledger.
N/UM’s ‘YES’ is already available on Ninetofire. Grab your copy here.