The Chicago based duo has taken electronic dance music by storm. In this interview, we find out how.
(We Are) Nexus is an EDM duo that’s made some impressive moves in the past year. They broke onto the scene in 2013 with their debut EP “It Feels So Good.” They placed high on several of Billboard’s Dance charts: without much press. (We Are) Nexus aren’t blog champions, but their ring is the nightclubs.
The Good Men Project talked with Nick Gunn, one half of the duo. The conversation with Gunn was interesting, because he’s had quite a career, well before becoming a member of (We Are) Nexus. Nick talked about his impressive past, as well as the promising future of his new group.
1.GMP: Nick. Looking at your background, I had no idea that you were a giant in the World Music movement of the 1990’s. Some of your music was played in Natural Wonders stores. I used to WORK at a Natural Wonders store in the mid-90’s! LOL! How did you make the transition from world music to making EDM?
Nick:” (Laughter) No way! Those days were fun for sure! We would sell CD’s like water. I was classically trained as a kid so my first inclination was to pursue instrumental / world music. Back in the 90s you could actually have a career doing that kind of music. Strange enough, back then, dance was considered a left of center genre, pretty niche and not particularly popular. That’s all changed now, it has completely flip flopped. I slowly watched the old music business model of selling CD’s at stores disintegrate. About five to seven years ago, dance started emerging and incorporated a forward thinking model of file sharing and remixing on line and in the clubs. It made sense to not demonize the consumer for sharing and getting behind their favorite DJ’s spinning the music. This turned into DJ’s producing because it was becoming so lucrative to spin. A new music culture was being born, and I loved it. So, you know, it’s simple for me: I love music, all kinds of music and I love producing it. I want to be a part of a forward thinking music community. So there it is. ”
2. You haven’t really gotten any press from EDM blogs. And you just hired a publicity firm. How have you been able to get your group’s name out to the public so well? And place high on Billboard’s Dance Charts?
“Well, my background in the music business offers some perks. In addition to being a recording artist I owned a world music label that distributed, marketed and promoted around 75 artists and around 250 titles. Although I’m not interested in doing that again, I learned a lot about how the industry works and how to break artists. Because of this, my EDM act (We Are) Nexus was able to source great distribution and leverage our ability with distribution through great reporting, crowd sourcing and proper promotions in our first year. You can’t just throw a track up in today’s market place and hope people love it. No one is really listening! And even if they do they are apprehensive to follow something until the key influencers in their peer group are on board as well. You have to work the business knowing this basic fact and target the key influencers. The barrier to entry is more about psychology than music today. If the music is great, that will eventually speak for itself.”
3. Are there any similarities at all between world/nature based music and EDM?
” It’s about the music, not the genre. It’s about creating memorable, reoccurring melody that moves people and reminds them of that special time in their lives. They re-live that memory through the music over and over in a very special way. That common thread does not change, no matter what genre you are in. That’s the undeniable similarity. The rest is application of sounds, production and technique.”
4. How did you and Carmen meet?
“We met in Santa Barbara at a wine bar! I knew there was something special about her the moment I saw her. It was undeniable. I was going through some difficult times and she was reluctantly attending UCSB. I can tell you right now that neither one of us could have told you that we would be doing what we are doing now with (We Are) Nexus. ”
5. What sets you apart from other EDM groups/acts?
“We take risks, I think. We are also fiercely dedicated to the business of what we do. We realize that without common sense and a ton of hard work this is not going to happen as we envisioned. Also, our material is not your run of the mill EDM. We try to follow our natural course for each track without creating “me too” content. Carmen is also the exclusive singer for (We Are) Nexus. Most EDM DJ/producers bounce around from vocalist to vocalist. We don’t do that. ”
6. Tell us about your upcoming album. What will it sound like? What’s the lead single?
“Yes! We are excited about our new single “Shamelessly” which comes out on July 15th. Our original track is completely outside the box of what is considered EDM. We used a 3/4 meter at 140BPM on “Shamelessly” and for those who know, a 3/4 meter is a Waltz not a dance track! The track starts with a complete string orchestra with trance undertones building underneath for the first 16 measures. Carmen’s vocals are ethereal and sublime and float on the mix like a boat on water. We of course have some great remixes from veterans Dave Audė and Papercha$er, who both brought the track to a four on the floor dance track. We also held a remix competition with Your EDM which resulted in a stellar Dubstep remix from Kaleptic. We also have another great remix from Kirk Cosier, an unknown kid that has some real talent. ”
7. Are there any touring plans for the group?
“This has been our most commonly asked question! Yes, we now intend to start booking a one hour set show. Quite honestly, we didn’t have enough content for a show prior to “Shamelessly” and now we do. We are not DJ’s so to spin other people’s tracks didn’t sound like the right debut on stage for (We Are) Nexus. We have done a few industry performances that have gone off great so we are ready to get on the road! ”
8. If you had to describe (We Are) Nexus in a nutshell, what would that description be?
“Dedicated, fiercely dedicated and honest lovers of music. Music influenced by life for the people. We love our fans and we are grateful for the success we have had so quickly.”