30 Mar 2022

5YRS: In conversation wtih Nicky Elisabeth

On the 21st of March, the team went to Nicky Elisabeth’s house in Amsterdam to shoot a candid conversation with her to promote the new track she released on the 5YRS of DGTL Records compilation album. 

 

Nicky was a great host and invited us into her life for a few hours, where she explored a list of different topics with us. I sectioned this interview into three sections: The Past, Her Creative Identity, and Her Productions.

 

The first section touches upon her past. Here, we talked about her time at Marktkantine, and what role this played in her career as a DJ. We go further into her relationship with nightlife and club culture, and some pivotal moments in her history with it, as a DJ, an audience goer and an organizer. 

 

The second section discussed her creative identity. Nicky openly talks about her fears and anxieties in the context of her work and career, how she’s attempted to overcome this, and how a new perspective shifted everything for her.

 

The final section talks about her productions, where we dive into her views on creative output and how that is affected by her approach towards life and production, especially the track she’s made for DGTL, and her relationship with the festival and record label.

 

The interview was an hour long, and I kept the editing to a minimum to leave for a very natural read.

 

You can listen to the EP she’s featured in here, and you can pre-order the vinyl here.

 

Section 1: The Past

 

 

Akila Ksatryo:

Hey Nicky, It's nice to meet you, first and foremost. Thank you for being part of this interview and congrats on your release with DGTLrecords.

 

Nicky Elisabeth:

Thank you. That's really sweet.

 

A.K:

I think you and I share kind of the same relationship with the Dutch club scene, and how much of an influence it has on both our sound and the experiences we’ve had with electronic music, especially more so than in our home towns. What were some pivotal clubs or events in this city that helped shape your musical identity and how did they do so?

 

Nicky Elisabeth:

Well, mainly it was Marktkantine. It was the first club I really got into touch with this sound that I'm also playing right now. And especially like there was one night during ADE 2015, it was Mano Le Tough and, Baikal and The Driftr, and then together with Sohaso, the label of Nunu Dos Santos, they were hosting the night and this was like the craziest night I've ever experienced in, I think still in my entire musical career, like Job Jobse was crowd surfing in the second row, which is a pretty good estimate of how crazy that that evening was, but it wasn't a really big group of people there. But the people who were there were completely going for it. And so in touch with this music, and I feel like it was also like a time where this new genre, melodic techno, was just starting to arise and it really shaped my musical direction.

 

A.K:

What would you describe your musical direction as now? 

 

Nicky Elisabeth:

I feel like I just play the music I love, and the genre doesn't matter. Who made it doesn't matter. It's all about something unique in the music that touches me. And I think it has something to do with the melodic side of it or really anything actually, but it's really hard to define. I see myself more as a musical selector than a DJ of a certain genre. Yeah. 

 

A.K:

All right. Perfect. I think I want to start this conversation about knowing who you are and where you came from as well. Seeing that you grew up in Belgium, you definitely moved here a few years ago. Is there a reason why you moved to Amsterdam?

 

Nicky Elisabeth:

Well, my dad lived here with his new girlfriend and I always really loved the city. I actually wanted to get away a bit from my family because there were some personal things going on. And I felt like I was stuck in the middle of everything, so I needed to get away to be able to develop myself as a person instead of trying to handle everyone else's thing. 

 

So I left and moved to Amsterdam. In my youth, I had visited the place a couple of times already and I'm originally Dutch, but had changed nationality when I was in my teens. And I always felt more toward the Dutch culture than Belgian culture. And it's not that I don't like Belgian people or anything. But it's more the straightforwardness of the Dutch that makes life easier for me, people just say it as it is.. And that gives me a really good idea of what's actually going on and it makes things a lot easier. 

 

A.K:

Was the relationship you had with music something that came after you moved to Amsterdam? Or was that something that you always had?

 

Nicky Elisabeth:

I think it was always there. Ever since I was a kid, I would have CDs and play them in my bedroom. Music has always been a part of my life. But in high school, I started singing a bit and I actually wanted to do something with music afterward, but never really got around to it. And then when I came to Amsterdam, I just absolutely fell in love with the nightlife here. It actually gave me a place where I felt like I belonged because I've always been the odd one out all throughout my entire childhood. Like I was a Dutch kid raised in Belgium. I had a Dutch accent, which was really not cool for Belgium people. I can tell you that [laughs].

 

I just always felt like I didn't really fit in. I was a bit different. I was always playing with the boys and playing soccer on the football field and just spending a lot of time with my horse. And I was really like a bit of an outsider. And I think that also really helped shape me because it's tough being the outsider, but now being the outsider is maybe something that other people can be like, “Oh, you know, she's really going her own way.”, and that's something I'd like to do as well. 

 

 

“And I was really like a bit of an outsider. And I think that also really helped shape me because it's tough being the outsider”

 

A.K:

Yeah, I feel like the older you get, the happier you are with being an outsider because that really exudes some sense of individuality. But when you’re younger, seeing yourself as an outcast tends to be a bit difficult because, at that age, all you really want is to just fit in. In this regard, was music a sense of escapism for you?

 

Nicky Elisabeth:

I think nightlife was, yeah. Not always in a good way, but I managed to turn it around now into a good way. I feel now that the more I progress in producing and in making music as a whole, the more I'm able to express how I feel in my music. So that's definitely something that's happening right now, but it hasn't always been like that.

 

A.K:

How was your experience as a resident in Marktkantine actually? What role do you think your residency there had in your career as a DJ?

 

Nicky Elisabeth:

It was huge. I think without that residency, I wouldn't be where I am now. I think it's so incredibly important for people who are trying to make they're living out of music to find a group or something that's already established to support you because there are so many people trying to get there. I think Marktkantine was for me, the stamp that said, “yeah, we vouch for her” and then Kompact (label) came around. And when they put the Kompact mark on me, then suddenly all the clubs came running. They were like, “Oh, we wanna book Nicky”. It's such a weird thing. Everything's completely the same except for being vouched for.

 

A.K:

Yeah. Like a sense of like, oh, now she's cool.

 

Nicky Elisabeth:

Yeah. Yeah.

 

A.K:

Are there specific moments in your time behind the decks at Marktkantine that really stand out to you?

 

Nicky Elisabeth:

Well, last time, I think when I played during the protest, the whole room was filled after half an hour and people were screaming at every track you played. The whole place would blow up at each track. And I've never seen people go that crazy, only for Job Jobse or KI/KI for example. And in the Marktkatine this happens sometimes, but not like this. 

 

A.K:

On that note, I read in an interview about you a while regarding the great experience you had at Watergate (Berlin), seeing that you just came back from playing there last weekend, how was it the second time round?

 

Nicky Elisabeth:

Yeah, it's good. I like the people there. When you put on the first record, people start vibing - it's super nice. The people working there are gems. It’s a lovely place to be.

 

A.K:

Watergate also seems like one of those clubs which has something special to it, be that the ambiance, crowd, or crew. You also get this super nice sunrise view around 6:00 AM around the glass windows, which I’ve yet to experience anywhere else. Have there been other places that you've played that had the same kind of atmosphere or scenery?

 

Nicky Elisabeth:

Good question. Let me think. There's nothing like that that immediately pops to mind. There have been great festivals, but clubs… See for me because Marktkatine is such a special place. There are not a lot of places that can match its equivalent. And also the sound system is also so great. I love playing Watergate, but the way Marktkatine set up their booth situation, it's the best. You have these massive monitors sitting next to you and it feels like you're actually in the room and almost no place can match that. 

 

A.K:

And what do you think makes for a really good club night? Seeing how you used to host your own club nights called Navalon at Oosterbar.

 

Nicky Elisabeth:

I think honestly, the things you need is like a really good sound system for the DJ, because if you can't feel the music yourself, you're not gonna play a good set. It's just how these things work. So for me, that's like number one priority. I think then the second is just the audience. You know, if I'm standing in front of an audience that I feel is maybe not there for the music. Then I find it really difficult to relate myself to them. And that's like this thing. I can feel a vibe without having to look into the room or something, it's just something you kind of feel in your bones. And so it's the sound system, the people, and then also having the right music. Yeah.

 

 

Section 2: Her creative identity

 

 

 

A.K:

What's the reason why you've chosen to continue pursuing DJing? Is there a certain sense of excitement that you try to pursue every time? Is it this crowd reaction? Or..

 

Nicky Elisabeth:

I don't feel like I have a choice. It's the thing I love doing every single day. So why ever stop?

 

A.K:

And what pushes you to keep going and working on your craft and getting better at what you're doing?

 

Nicky Elisabeth:

Yeah. I think I've always had this super intense drive to just keep improving myself. So I think that's the main thing that drives me. Like I just wanna get better and I wanna learn more things and I wanna see everything there is to see of this and of this life.

 

A.K:

You've also been DJing for a while as well. Do you think you still learn new things behind the decks or have you kind of plateaued in some sense?

 

Nicky Elisabeth:

Well, yeah, I still learn. I think you get more elegant at transitioning or you start hearing things in tracks that I didn’t notice before. I'm not really focused on the technical part anymore. Like I can beat match. That's a done deal. But that gives you so much more opportunities to start looking for ways to find interesting transitions or you can start feeling a lot more gently whether the track has played for a long enough time. There's room for improvement in every craft. So yeah.

 

A.K:

What’s something that you wish you had learned earlier as a DJ?

 

Nicky Elisabeth:

I think the only thing I would say to my younger self is don't be too harsh on yourself because there are a lot of people working in arts who are really self-critical. They're always like, this is not good enough or that's not good enough. Well, you should just enjoy what you're doing. And while you enjoy every single moment, you also get better. So you kind of end up in a win-win situation. And of course, you always have to find where you can improve. But I think a lot of artists are so self-critical, they should just tell themselves to be a bit nicer to themselves.

 

A.K:

Because you also mentioned in an interview once that you were afraid that you didn't have enough talent to become successful?

 

Nicky Elisabeth:

Oh yeah, absolutely. Yeah.

 

A.K:

And you said in the end, it's not really about how much talent that makes a difference. It's whether you have the willpower and strength to push through and endure the difficult moments?

 

Nicky Elisabeth:

I still agree with that.

 

A.K:

Can you tell me about how that conclusion came about and what difficulties you had faced when you were younger?

 

Nicky Elisabeth:

Well, I felt blocked for such a long time. Also making music was extremely difficult for me. Every time I would get into the studio, I would just not feel it. Like I never knew what to create, or I didn't hear anything in my head. And now I realize that's just anxiety. It's just anxiety that kind of grabs you and petrifies you in order to sort of protect you because if you can't do it, you also can't fail. It's fail saving in advance, where you stop yourself from being able to kind of run into a wall and do the wrong thing. 

 

So I think for me, that all changed when I was actually starting to get technically at a point where I can produce things. The technical aspect came and then the self-confidence came, and out of the self-confidence was like real creation and things I could really identify myself with. So that was the biggest change for me.

 

“And now I realize that's just anxiety. It's just anxiety that kind of grabs you and petrifies you in order to sort of protect you because if you can't do it, you also can't fail.”

 

A.K:

Yeah. I  had a conversation with a friend of mine who played at BRET for the first time last weekend. She got increasingly more and more nervous before she had to start playing. It took her a while to really get into the zone, and she ended up doing a great job. But she asked me afterwards about how she should overcome this problem? And I honestly don't have the answer, but since you faced a similar problem, maybe you have some advice?

 

Nicky Elisabeth:

Honestly, like everything, how we experience it for the most part is in our heads. The actual situation is usually not that daunting or that challenging, but it's all about how we perceive it. So when I'm really nervous for something, I picture myself acing it, just completely smashing the entire room or creating the best track ever, or just kind of getting into the mind space where, you know, you can feel it in your body that you're gonna just nail it.

 

And think that that mentality kind of transitions to your body and to everything you do afterward. So if you actually believe you can do something, then, in the end, you'll also be able to do it. Maybe it's not in the first try or the second one or the one thousandth try, but eventually, you'll get there.

 

A.K:

It's a bit of manifestation, to some extent?

 

Nicky Elisabeth:

Yeah, absolutely. I think like in anything in life, it’s that if you believe that you can really do something and just aim for it, then there's a very big chance you'll actually get there.

 

A.K:

That’s a nice answer. I was wondering, were you one of those kids growing up who always had a hard time focusing on what they were doing?

 

Nicky Elisabeth:

Yeah, 100%. I'm pretty sure I have ADD, but it was also because I was so doubtful of what I wanted to do in life because there were a lot of things I loved doing. I like anything artistic. I enjoy decorating my house. I enjoy fashion. I enjoy drawing. So that was a bit of me finding my way. But then there was this period in my life where I was so drawn to nightlife and I was always around the club, always spending time there. And then I also got an internship at Marktkantine and I just wanted to be part of that group of people because I really felt like I got along with them. It's also a certain click you have with the people around you where you feel like, “Oh, it's these people I can level with.”. They take me for who I am. And I think that was a major part in why I ended up staying in that scene. And then I discovered that I really loved music. 

 

I remember the moment where I was like, “Yeah, but what if I end up not liking it after a couple of years”, and a friend of mine said, “Yeah, well, so what? you know, at least you've tried.”, I'm like, “Yeah, okay.”. It's like this imposter syndrome kind of thing where you're like, “Should I do this? But what if people find out I might not actually like it or something?”. That was eight years ago. 

 

 

“A friend of mine said, “Yeah, well, so what? You know - at least you've tried.”, I'm like, “Yeah, okay.”.”

 

A.K:

That’s a great answer. I’d like to touch on something we talked about before this interview started, you mentioned how your relationship with music changed during the pandemic. Can you tell me more about that?

 

Nicky Elisabeth:

Well, I think before the pandemic, it was the year where everything was getting started. I had quite a lot of international shows. So I really felt like finally, all the years I've been working for were starting to pay off, and then the pandemic hit and I was sitting at home behind my laptop making music. And I was like, what the hell? You know, I should be out playing like the best gigs of my life. And I don't know, that was also the moment where I realized like… well, it wasn't really a realization. It was more of an introspection. Like what is my function in society? You know, if everything stops, if people suddenly don't book me anymore, if I don't have any gigs to play, who am I? And that was when I started seeing a massive shift.

 

It took me some time, but then I just started focusing on what I really loved doing, and that was singing. And I started playing the piano and started to really enjoy music on a level where I haven't been enjoying it in the past, because when you turn your hobby into your job, there is this point where sometimes, it's work. You know? So the pandemic really allowed me to reconnect and rekindle the passion I had from music. And I feel like now all, all the happiness I get from is really from something inside and not something that is externally motivated. So that's, I think it's like a gift that I will carry for the rest of my life. 

 

 

“Like what is my function in society? You know, if everything stops, if people suddenly don't book me anymore, if I don't have any gigs to play, who am I? And that was when I started seeing a massive shift.”

 

A.K:

Yeah. It’s interesting. Cause it feels like when it comes from inside of you rather than from an external factor, it also becomes a lot more natural in both your approach and your result.

 

Nicky Elisabeth:

Yeah. I think also because before, I was a DJ and then I started producing. So my goal was always to create music to play, but now I'm creating music because I love to make music and I love to make other genres as well. And I'm trying to always find a deeper expression of myself and how I would sound in music, instead of very specifically trying to create something that would work in a club.

 

A.K:

You know, I've been thinking about that for a while too. The whole entire - What benefit do I, as an artist or as a creative, have to society? which she also faced during pandemic as well, you know? Because for a time, I felt that diving into the creative field felt really selfish of me. That, from a very utilitarian aspect, it seemed like it was just to fulfill my own desires?

 

Nicky Elisabeth:

You know, I get that too to a certain point. But I feel that the only thing we really owe to this world is to do what we really love. I think you can inspire a lot of people by choosing your own path instead of choosing the path you think you have to choose, or you think that other people think you have to choose. 

 

A.K:

Have you felt a lot more fulfilled since your realization?

 

Nicky Elisabeth:

Yeah. Definitely. Life is just great every day. 

 

A.K:

It also came around the same time when DGTL Records and Kompact also came into your life too right?

 

Nicky Elisabeth:

Right. 

 

A.K:

Is there a sense of reassurance with yourself now having released on such established labels and records?

 

Nicky Elisabeth:

You would think that would mean something, right? It doesn't, because I still have moments where I'm like, “I'm such a terrible producer”, because if I compare myself to others and I listen, I'm like, “f*ck”, you know? Like my stuff doesn't sound like this at all. 

 

It's such a typical artist thing, if you're anyone who does any creative work, they will always find themselves when they reach this point where they're thinking, “wow, I can really do something now. I'm actually good.”, and then the next week you listen to something you created and you're [eye-rolling].

 

So I think this is like continuous fluctuation. But there was a point where I accepted that people just want to come see my show for me being me, which was this amazing revelation that I didn't have to be anyone else other than who I am right now in order for other people to be happy. And that's like the best feeling ever, because then you're kind of accepting yourself. 

 

 

“But there was a point where I accepted that people just want to come see my show for me being me.”

 

A.K:

That's a really good answer. I've never heard anybody say that before. I think that's something that kind of goes over people's heads quite often. Cause when you're in this lifestyle, you never really have enough time to step back and realize that everybody is here to see me perform. What did it feel like when you realized this?

 

Nicky Elisabeth:

Yeah. It's really soothing. It's also a really Western thing to always try to step up your game to be better than you were the day before. But that's also something that deeply creates a really deep unhappiness, and from me, I always had the feeling that I was not good enough. I was not reaching the heights that other people were expecting from me. And there was a point where I would play sets and I would not be happy with myself. Even though everyone would say that I was amazing. And I was like, hmm, this is not right. You know? You're saying this and I'm feeling this. So maybe my whole image of who I am is just incorrect. And when I let go of that and I just accepted that, “okay, well maybe I'm a decent DJ and people actually enjoy coming to listen to my sets. And the only thing I have to do for it is just playing the music that I love.” That’s a pretty good deal right there. So I think that's also like this whole thing where you start accepting yourself and if you accept yourself, then you can also kind of express that more to others. So in the end, it's a very big win for everyone

 

A.K:

Is being hard on yourself more of a debilitating aspect of your character or is it more of a beneficial aspect? 

 

Nicky Elisabeth:

Well, your greatest strengths are also your greatest weaknesses. And that's with every single one of your strengths. So as long as you don't fall to one or the other too much, then everything will be fine. 

 

A.K:

How do you take yourself out of these bad spirals of self-doubt?

 

Nicky Elisabeth:

I think the most important thing is having people that I can confide in, that I can speak to, and who hold up the mirror for me. People that you really trust and love dearly, and who tell you.. I don’t know... A friend of mine told me recently, “Nicky, sometimes you fail to see how much you inspire others.”, and I was like, “what the hell are you saying?”, you know? Like chill out. And he's like, “yeah, you're always trying to ask how people are doing and try to go through the bullsh*t, to see how they're really feeling and trying to really connect and listen to them, and trying to get them advice. And not because you want to dig out their secrets, but because you want to help others.” And it's actually true, you know? 

 

That's also why I love being a DJ because I just want to make other people smile. People also call me mother goose. Cause I always try to make everyone feel well and make sure that everyone's in this super nice state of mind. And that was an aspect I never realized I had, but the people around me made me realize that. So I think having close people around you is key to also seeing yourself in real daylight.

 

 

Section 3: Her productions

 

 

 

A.K:

I'm gonna ask you a question. My sister asked me in Berlin a few years back. I can't remember what the game is called, but it was where we held everybody's hand in a circle. We don’t necessarily have to do that right now [laughs], but we go around asking one question, which is - what are three things you love most about yourself? Can you answer that for me?

 

Nicky Elisabeth:

Hmm, good one. That's like, yeah… That's pretty hard. You know what? The thing also is in our society, there is this thing where you can't talk about these things because then you're considered cocky, which is crazy because if you don't love yourself, like how can you ever love others? So I'm going to try and answer it. 

 

I feel that I'm a really positive person. I try to throw myself out there and hope that other people catch the sun rays. So I think that's something I like about myself. 

 

I feel that I'm quite optimistic towards, but that's maybe a bit the same, but I’m really optimistic towards how I see the future.

 

And lastly, that I always try to push boundaries. I think the worst someone could ever say to me is like, “oh, you're so standard”. That would be my biggest nightmare. Just because I really want to see the world in a more colorful, more extravagant, more unique kind of way. And by being myself, I'm trying to push those boundaries and maybe let other people push theirs as well.

 

 

“And by being myself, I'm trying to push those boundaries and maybe let other people push theirs as well.”

 

A.K:

Is that [pushing boundaries] something that goes into your productions as well? Because there’s definitely a different tone in the productions you’ve released so far, from the more moodier and ambient tracks produced for Kompakt, to the more heartfelt and light track you made for DGTL. Is that why there's such a variety in what you’ve produced so far?

 

Nicky Elisabeth:

Yeah. I think there are some producers who find a sound that works and just sticks with it. And I see my music as a personal diary. So it's more a reflection of who I am at a specific point in time. Instead of trying to create a sound and having every single track sound like that. That's not who I am. I want the music I create to really represent me in that space in time. So when I listen back to it. I'm like, “Oh yeah. That was me at that point.”. 

 

 

“I see my music as a personal diary.”

 

A.K:

Sort of like I'm a memoir?

 

Nicky Elisabeth:

Yeah. Sort of. And it becomes something really unique, you know? Because it's like writing in your diary and you write thoughts and you write feelings and you look at it or you read it and you say, “Oh yeah. That was me four years ago.”, and maybe a painter can have that with his paintings as well. But I have that with music.

 

A.K:

And how would your diary entry go about Into Your Arms?

 

Nicky Elisabeth:

Oh, um… I was so in love. Yeah. Still.

 

 So yeah, that I was… That I am so in love.

 

A.K:

Was there a specific mood that you tried to exude when you were making Into Your Arms?

 

Nicky Elisabeth:

Yeah, a certain euphoria. And I think how I felt at that specific point in time, I also wanted to let everyone else enjoy that to some extent. 

 

I really did create the track for DGTL festival. It was with the stage I would play in mind (AMP Stage), with that festival feeling as well, and the first spring moments of the year right after this really big pandemic, where everyone can be together again and experience love once again. All those positive feelings.

 

A.K:

How does it translate in the sound design?

 

Nicky Elisabeth:

That's a good question. Well, the breakbeat I chose was really a stylistic choice also connected to DGTL because I feel like DGTL is kind of pushing the edges and I've been listening to quite some breaks for a while now. And I thought it would just really match the sound DGTL is portraying, especially this year.

 

And then the melodies, I feel like the first part is really like this club thing, right? So where the arp comes in, and it's this really aesthetic kind of feeling where everyone's just bursting with energy and like being able to let go. 

 

And then the end is more dreamy. I also kind of did that with Celeste (Kompakt Release). So first you have like the banger moment and then afterwards it's more like a rekindling of a really soft feeling of happiness.

 

I also use sparkles. I don’t how else I would describe it, but all my tracks have sparkles. I love sparkles. They're like, well, the most beautiful things ever, right? They're even in my house [laughs]. So I think that's also something… this light and dreamy feeling that I like and that's also a thing that I really specifically chose in the sounds.

 

A.K:

Are certain patterns of your behavior that you follow when you're producing? Is there something that you've always seen when you're producing?

 

Nicky Elisabeth:

Not really actually. I feel like every single track I make is different, which is something you don't want as a producer. It's not the most efficient method. Honestly, I haven't finished that many tracks. I make a lot of beginnings, but as I think every person that you'll interview will tell you finishing is the hardest part. 

 

There are these formats where you have a track and then you start with the kick and it's like this many bars, and then you have a break and then, and you can just throw in different sounds. It's like a recipe where you just change the vegetables. But I never really work in that way because I feel that for me, every single track asks for something different. So it's more the journey of me and the creation of the song instead of, “Hey, this is a format that works. Let's throw in some new vegetables.”.

 

A.K:

Something that I've been noticing more and more is that you always use vocals as well. And especially with this track, it's a very present part of it. Is this something that you're going to bring along in the future of your sound, or is this something that you’re still experimenting with?

 

 

Nicky Elisabeth:

I am 100% going to keep singing. I think honestly from the whole making music part, singing is the thing I love most. I sing all day long, the whole time to myself in the shower, while I'm making music, while I'm trying to do my administration, all the time. So for me, it's such an easy way to express myself and to reproduce melodies. So, yeah, this is the start of a new chapter.

 

A.K:

Was there something that you wanted to try that you didn't get a chance to when producing Into Your Arms?

 

Nicky Elisabeth:

Well, there's not really anything I would have done differently. Of course, everyone has it where they look back at their tracks, and they’re like, “Oh, wait, I could’ve done this differently”, but then again, you know what I said before about music being a reflection of who you were at that point in time? So, at that point in time, that was the best I could have done. So I might as well be happy with it.

 

 

“So, at that point in time, that was the best I could have done. So I might as well be happy with it.”

 

A.K:

How did you know when to finish? Like you said before as well, it's the hardest thing a producer can learn because you can always go back and work on it. Do you think producing for a compilation album had an impact on that? Was that taken into account when you had to finish it?

 

Nicky Elisabeth:

Yeah, I'm never going to finish anything if I don't have deadlines. It's just this thing where it's never really finished. I learnt to just aim for 80%. But if you get to 80%, then you have to be really happy with it. Because when you finish something and then send it to the label. The label will come back with feedback, and you end up changing other things, then you're going to do the mix again. So it's always like when you think it's finished, it's at 70% and then you get it to 80%, and then hopefully 90%, and then that's it. You have to let it go. And then it starts living a life on its own. That's also a crazy thing that every song I put out, I don't feel like it's my track anymore. It's now the world’s track.

 

A.K:

I think that a risk that comes with allowing your tracks to live on their own is the possibility for it to be interpreted in a way which you did not intend for it to be. Some creatives tend to overcome this by explaining their creations, where do you fall in this spectrum?

 

Nicky Elisabeth: 

Well, for me. I don't need my music to show the world who I am. I actually had this discussion with someone. If you have to scream about who you are, then you're not really that person. And it also kind of relates back to what I said before, where I'm like, I kind of accept that I can just be me and that's already good enough. So I think the music I create, the fact that it already exists, that's enough expression for me. So I don't feel the urge to scream about what it means because to me, that doesn't add any value to what it is. And I think that's the beautiful thing about art, that it can make people feel so many different ways and it's all up to their own interpretation.

 

 

“So I think the music I create, the fact that it already exists, that's enough expression for me.”

 

A.K:

You also talked about your production process and how sometimes it can be like a spur of the moment. Like you said before, it was a really nice way, but sometimes not the most productive way as well.

 

Nicky Elisabeth: 

Yeah.

 

A.K:

Do you find yourself struggling with this spur-in-the-moment routine sometimes?

 

Nicky Elisabeth: 

You know, there are these two kinds of producers. On the one side you have machines who produce a new track every single day, and on the other side you have snails. I'm in the snail category, but I do think that because you're in that category, you also have the opportunity to create something very unique every single time and every track I end up finishing actually also gets released. So maybe it's not super efficient and I maybe think about my tracks for way too long. But on the other hand, I do create things that are diverse and have a unique feel to it. So I don't think well, I think I'll keep on surprising.

 

A.K: 

So how did you actually decide that Into Your Arms fits perfectly in the DGTL Record? Because I feel like when you create a track for a compilation, you're also thinking about how the track fits with the other people in the compilation as well? 

 

Nicky Elisabeth: 

Well, I didn't know who else was going to be on the compilation before. I just made a track for DGTL festival. To make it fit in the compilation is the job of the compiler. So I just had to finish something which was already like a tough job for me.

 

A.K: 

How did you get introduced to the DGTL family actually?

 

Nicky Elisabeth: 

Yeah, I've known the A&R director for a really long time along with the booker, and everyone else from the digital crew since I was supposed to play at their festival. This is the third time I was supposed to play a DGTL festival. And since the third time's the charm, I think I'm finally going to play the festival now for the first time. Exciting. And I think it's just like this. The Amsterdam scene is just one big family. A competitive family, but a family.

 

A.K: 

Yeah. I think that transitions really well to my last few questions. Is it exciting to get to play for DGTL Festival? Like some people really hope one day that they can play a DGTL as well. And I read that this was also on your bucket list. Why is DGTLspecial for you?

 

Nicky Elisabeth: 

Well, because for me in the Netherlands right now, DGTL is one of the biggest festivals that is both cutting edge and where I'm headed towards sound-wise.It is where I want to be as a DJ because they have a certain vision as well. They want to improve the scene and make sure that they leave the world a better place than how they first came into it. And I feel that a lot of people take, but they don't give. And I also want to give. So I feel how DGTL just really matches for me as a person. And on the musical side, they're also on the cutting edge. They try new things. They book the artists that I love most right now. So for me, it's really great to be part of that community.

 

A.K: 

I think it's just the final question of the day. What legacy would you want to be behind with the music?

 

Nicky Elisabeth: 

I want to inspire others to start pursuing their dreams. Yeah. Maybe that's also what I said to you before. You know, like, start doing what you actually love instead of doing what you think you should do or what you think other people think you should do. Yeah.

 

A.K:

Perfect, well thank you so much Nicky for being a part of this interview. I hope you enjoyed yourself, and had the opportunity to discover something about yourself in this interview that you had not none before prior to it.

 

Nicky Elisabeth: 

That's really nice of you to say. Yeah, thanks. They were really great questions. 

 

 

A final thank you from the interviewer

 

 

 

 

First and foremost, a big thank you to you for reading this full interview, it was definitely a long read, so if you made it to the end, a big warm shout out to you.

 

Thank you to Nicky for inviting us into her space, and speaking so openly about herself. And also for the trust she had in us for telling her story.

 

A thank you to both Tim and Tessa for trusting me with this project and helping facilitate this into fruition.

 

And finally a big thank you to the Raya team, to Brandon who came to shoot with us on the day and to David from driving all the way from Groningen to make this shoot logistically easier for us.

 

You can listen to the EP she’s featured in here.

You can pre-order the entire 5YRS of DGTL Records vinyl here.

 

 

 

 

Share this article
Group 2 Created with Sketch.