Oi, oi, the Jubilee bank holiday is finally here. Despite the fact it’s probably going to piss it down with rain, we’ve got four days of raving with your bezzies lined-up before you have to claw yourself into the office Monday morning.
In London alone, the next week is chock-a-block with club nights and inner city festivals for all your hedonistic pleasures. Stuck on where to spend your cash? We’re heading to
From Thursday to Saturday, acclaimed talents Little Dragon, Job Jobse and Goldie come toe to toe with some of the finest talents to emerge from the UK isles in recent years, including Ok Williams, Anu and Parris. One of the festival’s most exciting additions is taking to the decks Thursday afternoon, as
Born in Leeds, before moving to Manchester in her late teens, the DJ, producer and vocalist engrossed herself in the DnB and jungle scenes of the northern powerhouse city. Growing up on a diet of reggae and hip hop, as well as a vast array of producers including M.I.A., Burial and Randall, Nia has been able to concoct a distinct sound which pulls on her myriad of influences.
With tracks such like “Forbidden Feelingz”, “Headz Gone West” and new single “Mash Up The Dance” with Watch The Ride infiltrating UK dancefloors over the past 12 months, Nia has gone on nab the Producer of the Year gong at the 2021 NME Awards, as well as scoring her first Mixmag cover and collaborating producers she grew up idolising.
As she heads out on her Summer Of Jungle tour, all kicking off at GALA, we grab Nia for a quick chin-wag.
You’ve had a whirlwind of a year, how would you describe the last 12 months?
“It’s been pretty crazy I can’t lie. Literally so much has happened, especially the past six months, but it’s been amazing ’cause lots of stuff I dreamed about it has come in real life – it’s been really cool. I’m really proud where I was a year ago to where I am now.”
Have any particular moments stuck out in particular?
“I think NME [Awards] was pretty mad. And also, this is a bit geeky of me to say, but M.I.A. followed me on Instagram the other day, I was like, ‘Is this real life? Am I awake?’”
You’ve said this is going to be the summer of jungle. Why do you think the genre is having such a moment?
“I think it’s just a time thing. I think people have come back around. It’s been 30 years since the birth of jungle. I think it just make sense for it to come back around. A lot of the older producers have started to make things again; they are inspired by what’s happening with the younger generation. It just seems like people are looking back to move forward, if that make sense? There’s a lot of amazing producers and DJs, it feels like a real community.”
Where do you pull your different sounds from?
“My family loves music. My nanna is a massive music head, we always listen to CDs together, and she loves jungle – she probably arose my interest in jungle. My ex-stepdad was a producer. There’s just lots of music in my house all the time, I was exposed to different types of music, looking back it definitely influenced the direction I’m going in. This is the dream for me. I feel like it’s my purpose of life, not to get deep but it’s a passion and I always wanted to do it.”
Tell me a bit about your new track with “Mash Up The Dance” with Watch The Ride.
I love Watch The Ride, they’ve got some really sick tunes. I love DJ Die, Dismantle and Randall, they’re some of my favourite DJs. To work with those guys was really cool moment for me. When we got in the studio, I just wanted to come with a bit of a bad energy on that one. It was really cool to work with them because they also saw me as a producer rather than just a vocalist. I’m really proud of that track. It’s been doing damage, I’ve been teasing it in the club for four months and it’s been going crazy. We took an old school approach. Usually when people release songs, they go on Spotify or Apple Music, but we made dub plates for Goldie, Shy FX, David Rodigan, all these DJs.”
Do you have a formula that works for every track or does it differ each time?
“I think it differs, but if I’m producing, I love starting off with the drums, that’s my favourite part of a track, that’s the foundation. I will just make lots of drums and then sometimes I might use a sample and then do the bassline. Sometimes I do a bassline and then a sample, it just depends on what direction I’m going. I tend to write separately to the production side, ’cause the writing is more like a therapeutic release thing, the production is more fun.”
What’s so special about Manchester and its music scene?
“I love Manchester just ’cause the people are really nice, it’s just a good vibe and a good energy there. It’s got a cool music scene and rave scene. When I was living in Manchester I used to go out raving and clubbing all the time, that’s where I found production and met lots of people, and then just came into my own really,. It has got a special place in my heart for sure.”
How did you found this adjustment to London?
“I like London, I live in Bow which is a cool area, and it has a very East London vibe. It’s difficult in London sometimes ’cause you don’t want to be caught up in all the bullshit, if I’m being honest. I just try stay true to myself and grounded. Sometimes it becomes a bit like ‘Who are you? What do you do?’ I’m not really into all that.”
What can we expect from your set at GALA this Thursday?
“Lots of energy and skanking. I’ve never been to GALA before but I’ve seen the videos last year and it looks amazing. I’m really excited about it. I’ve been messaging lots of my favourite underground producers for exclusive tunes and stuff so a lot of what I’m playing is not out yet, I’m gassed I can’t lie.”
Photography by Vicky Grout. Purchase the final remaining GALA tickets