Rising Berlin producer NOCUI returns with the brand new single ‘Pasión’ out via ‘Shapeless Culture’ on the 25th of November.
Coinciding with an exciting shift towards independence with the launch of his ‘Shapeless Culture’ imprint, ‘Pasión’ is the first single to be taken from forthcoming EP, ‘Anomie’, following the release of debut EP ‘Entrain’ on the Atomnation imprint, earlier this year.
A classically trained pianist, Rome native NOCUI brings a stunningly performative approach to electronic music production. An early love for improvisation permeates his work, expressed in meticulously crafted tracks that combine elements of sound design and orchestration, with intricate rhythm patterns.
On ‘Pasión’ NOCUI showcases his penchant for storytelling across soundscapes and syncopated rhythms. Driving percussion, brooding synths and hypnotic handclaps tease promising Mediterranean nights, creating a tension that lures the listener away from the confines of the club and into a state of blissful transcendence.
His forthcoming ‘Anomie’ EP (due early 2023) continues the same theme – spanning Latin, African and Middle Eastern cultural influences, all merged into a mysterious and seductive club cut that’s impossible not to fall in love with. NOCUI sums it up perfectly: “I’m obsessed with the idea of story telling, and to me every track needs to tell a sonic story of its own.”
We caught up with NOCUI for a chat about what’s happening in his world. Check out the interview below!
Title: Anomie EP
Label: Shapeless Culture
Release Date: 2022-11-25
INTERVIEW with NOCUI
Hey NOCUI, welcome to Music is 4 Lovers! Where are you chatting to us from today?
Hello! Thanks for having me. I’m in my Berlin studio at the moment. Just finished a long and creative jam session.
Congrats on the new single, ‘Pasión’! What has the initial reception been like?
Thanks! People are really liking it. I am so happy about it. Getting early support from people in the industry is truly lifting my spirit, especially at this early stage of my independent journey.
I can hear several different influences running through the track – middle eastern and Latin – where did those influences come from?
You’re totally right. I didn’t intentionally, or consciously, decide to go in this direction. I believe that the music that surrounded me during the last year just leaked into my latest productions… I’ve been listening to a lot of traditional latin and middle eastern music.
Tell us a bit about your musical background and how the ‘NOCUI’ project came together.
I started playing the piano at 6ish and was classically trained until my early teen years. I then approached the world of jazz around 12, but quickly felt limited by acoustic instruments and started listening to a lot of electronic music. At 15 I completely switched to electronic music and never stopped since. I’m literally obsessed by electronic music, and sound design.
I had a lot of different aliases in the past. I’m an eclectic producer… One could almost say incoherent. During the years I changed so many “genres” but learned from all of them. NOCUI is simply the final result of this journey. This is the project that brought my pieces together in a sound that is very much my own.
“NOCUI” is old Italian, and it means lack of innocence and/or purity. This names perfectly explains my lack of musical “purity”. My music is a cat’s cradle of influences…
You’re based in Berlin’s Riverside Studios, can you tell us how that came about, and talk us through your working processes while there?
I moved to Berlin approximately one year ago after living in Boston. I heard a lot about Berlin’s amazing electronic music scene so I decided to give it a try. Check what all this fuss was about you know… After moving here, I immediately fell in love with the city and decided to open my professional studio here.
I heard about Riverside Studios already in the past and knew about its amazing community and resources. For this reason, I started sending emails asking for a studio space and to put me on the waiting list for consideration.
After a while, a tiny space opened up and after doing an interview and showing some of my projects they let me in their beautiful community. Still to this day, I’m super proud about being here and this environment enriches me constantly.
You grew up in Rome, lived in the US and are now based in Berlin. Can you pinpoint any one of those locations that has had the greatest impact on your musical journey and the NOCUI project as a whole?
I hear echoes of Boston in my sound. My time in the US helped me improve my musicianship, and all my friends at Berklee were a great inspiration to me.
Even though Berlin hasn’t been in my life for much, I believe it has radically impacted my sound so far and it’s educating my ears to the electronic environment.
It’s not often you come across a DJ/producer classically trained in piano and a background in neuroscience! Can you tell us a little bit about how these two disciplines feed into your ideas around music?
HA! You’re right… My knowledge of music theory and the Science of Perception (one of the fields of neuroscience) help me think about music and sound in general in a very creative way. For example, when I design a sound I’ll think about it from two perspectives:
It’s underlying musical overtones etc… in the context of the track
What does the sound stimulate perceptually. Does it create tension? Arousal? Is it similar to other know sounds in nature associated with particular feelings? How can I play with perception in order to strengthen an idea?
‘Pasión’ is the lead single from your forthcoming ‘Anomie’ EP, what can we expect to find on that? Is there a specific concept or narrative that you’re working towards?
With this EP I’m trying to make dance music that can be enjoyed and listened also outside of the club setting. For this reason, storytelling was a driving force behind all the tracks that will be included in it. Every track tells a story and should bring me and the listeners on a journey. I don’t want to do “bangers”, but tracks we can remember because of the story they told. With story I mean a “sonic story”, told by sound rather than words.
Your debut EP ‘Entrain’, was released via the Atomnation imprint, what made you decide to launch your own ‘Shapeless Culture’ label? Do you have any plans to put out music from other artists?
I’ve been thinking about opening my own imprint for a while now. Most of the times it takes 8/10 months to publish anything when you work with other labels, and this is has been always very frustrating to me. I just don’t feel the music anymore when it comes out. So the main reason for opening my imprint was to do things more efficiently, and also focus on experimental projects of mine.
I’m actively looking for artists to nurture and release at the moment. My imprint is not solely focused on dance music, but, as the name implies, is very fluid. I’m mostly looking for innovative sounds that have character and not products meant to satisfy a trend.
Can we expect more singles and new music in 2023?
Oh yes! I’m working on two dance EPs and the moment and three albums (an experimental one, an ambient one, and a Pop one)! We’ll probably leak into 2024 with some of these projects…