Originally from south Florida, Nick Klein is an experimental techno producer now based in New York City, where he co-runs left-field label Primitive Languages with Miguel Enrique Alvariño. Like many of his contemporaries in Brooklyn's burgeoning techno scene, he approaches his productions with a similar flair for the ominous, freakier sides of dance music, with releases on notable labels including Ascetic House, Unknown Precept, and Bank NYC.
On his forthcoming record for London's Alter, Klein stays true to form with four industrial-heavy tracks that walk the line between techno and noise. Made on the road between Florida, NYC, and London, The Lonesome Dealer is the ideal soundtrack for a 5 AM sway in a dark and hidden after-hours spot, its plodding, hypnotic beats effortlessly pulling you into a trance.
"Pain Management Resource," which we're premiering on THUMP today, is a slow burn that clocks in at eight-plus minutes, and stays in your ears long after. The composition begins with a steady pattern of hi-hats, and as it rattles on, layers of oscillating melodies, druggy acid lines, and polyrhythmic drum beats are added as the track grows in power and dread. It's the kind of tune you might want to hear while plotting something devious, or to immerse yourself wholeheartedly into on the dancefloor.
We recently caught up with Klein in his Brooklyn studio for a quick video chat about everything from Miami club culture to why it's important to him to release music under his real name.
THUMP: I've noticed that there's a number of Florida transplants living in NYC making heavier, more experimental sounds, people like Cienfuegos, J. Albert, Person of Interest, etc. A lot of people wouldn't necessarily associate experimental techno with the the state—what is it about Miami that inspires the music you're making today?
Nick Klein: I think that a duality exists in the electronic music or club culture in Miami that differs from New York. When you are in Miami, there's a ritual and a spectacle to the club-going experience. One transforms themselves to be a part of an experience that is a release from the everyday trappings of work and home life. Also, that ritual is a bit more novel and caters to people with normative lifestyles. Other than [clubs like] the Electric Pickle or Gramps, you don't have mutants lingering around. The music supports a lifestyle choice, whereas in places like Bossa Nova Civic Club in New York, the music is first and foremost the important activity.
I think also it's important to note that Schematic Records is out of Florida, and every country I go to and older head I speak to will give big respect to [co-founder] Romulo [Del Castillo]. Curatorially speaking, the Miami Music Club partners up with institutions and brings in amazing people, and mixes them in with the emerging makers in town. Also Greg Beato is stationed there, and he's undeniably one of the most exciting and consistent producers in the world right now in my eyes. I want to dip out of New York and start a small, well-curated space in Miami!
Do you ever miss the art world? How much of your practice as a sculptor and painter informs your work as an electronic musician?
A long time ago I studied sculpture and performance in Miami. Key interests in those particular fields melded when I started thinking about the way electronic music functions, relationally. With a lack of space by which to have a studio to make bigger, tactile works, I was sort of forced to re-evaluate my capabilities as a maker in New York. I had always played noise or punk in Florida and cues from that all melded with some theory I had read into.
I don't miss proper art world things, the way that I don't enjoy going to high-end clubs. I think once you study enough and read enough it becomes pretty clear, pretty quickly, that ideology and art commodity do not mix very rationally. Sometimes it feels like these unspoken rules exist in techno or electronic music culture, but that pales heavily when compared to the circle-jerking that goes on with the extremely privileged in contemporary fine art commodity culture. God bless the people who keep it real down there and serve as beacons of integrity.
Tell me about your new record for Alter. How was the process of making it compare to how you've made music in the past for labels like Unknown Precept and Ascetic House?
The record on Alter has been this really unbelievably bizarre and trying experience, until it became an official record for Alter. To start, it was conceived for another label I refuse to dignify by naming publicly, then canned after mastering when I would not negotiate them taking liberty editing the material to make it easier spinning for DJs. It was recorded between London, Miami, and New York City, while I moved around during the passing of a very close friend.
Luke Younger wrote me after I had posted a track off the presumed cancelled EP, offered to save it, and the next day it was off to the pressing plant. He's a complete "G," and it's not a surprise that when his name is mentioned across just about any scene he is heralded with praise. Working on previous releases for other labels had me centered in a room in Brooklyn sweating my ass off producing on hardware. This EP was my foray into allowing myself the freedom to produce on a computer. Some aspects of it really work, and some falter a bit in my process.
It's common in techno for artists to have multiple aliases for different projects, but you've always produced music under your real name, which feels deliberate. Do you think you'll ever put out releases under any name other than Nick Klein?
Whether the work I make is incredible or complete garbage, it's imperative for me to account for it directly in relation to the way I have structured all of my life around it. I have many friends who produce all kinds of things under different aliases and I understand how someone else can compartmentalize a concentration this way. In records, tapes, and performances, I have always allowed a level of aesthetic fluidity that aims to mirror a human experience.
It's possible for me to like dancehall in one sitting while listening to power electronics and country music in the next. Jeff Mills and Robert Hood have lots and lots of kinds of material on one record, let alone one alias. Philip Seymour Hoffman has been able to play many different kinds of roles. I make too many sacrifices in relation to having a normative life to not account for the work as an extension of why I bother waking up.
The Lonesome Dealer is out Sept. 3 via Alter, pre-order here.
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