Nite Spriteis the concept of dynamic duo Sylvester and Brad (if those are their real names), creating a barrage of electronic beats and Frankenstein synths rising from the Stavanger underground. 'Nite Sprite' in name and music describes the anti-hero's cinematic journey taking place in a retro-futuristic 80's drama. Numusic sat down with the two of them to talk about their concept and music of the strange world they’ve created. (This is the full interview featured in our festival paper)
'Nite Sprite' Interview with Brad & Sylvester
NU: How did you get started in music?
Sylvester: We've always been into music, and I was brought up playing and listening mostly to jazz and prog-rock. I've been playing the piano since I was 4 years old. My parents were both heavily involved in music, especially my father.
He showed me a lot of stuff, but since I had a lot of ego as a child I never learned how to read music and my father always supported that for some reason. He used to say, "Sheet music will give you 1 thing: technique" Which is good I guess, but learning and playing other peoples music just brought me closer to improvising, which I still to this day feel is the most 'pure' form of music. I try to do a couple of hours on the piano every day still.
Brad: I started playing the drums when I was around 7 when a friend of my dad, Paal Nilssen-Love, showed me a 4-step beat with a 13-note hi-hat ride on top. It got me hooked. In the past couple of years I've been slacking a lot on the drums. I should really find a space for that - cause it's still a big part of me.
NU: 'Nite Sprite' has a pretty elaborate concept. Can you talk about that?
Sylvester: I think having some sort of concept opens the door for being more creative in a way. The main concept of 'Nite Sprite' is that we simply figured out to write Nite Sprite as 'Nite Sprite'.
Suddenly it all made sense to us: The fact that 'Nite Sprite' is not a band nor a group but the title of a story, changed the way we looked at it. That's basically what 'Nite Sprite' is about. A huge, long-ass story. Like a movie.
Brad: Or grab our EP on vinyl, the first few stories are all in there!
NU: Where does the imagery for 'Nite Sprite' come from?
Brad & Sylvester: It sort of just happened. We've always been fascinated by the 70's and 80's. Being born in the 80's, it felt natural to have this sort of nostalgia towards it.
The name it self was something we picked up after a friend suggested it. It's actually one of our favorite song by Chick Corea. Such a lush groove - and Steve Gadd is a total boss on drums. If we break down the word, it means "Night Magic" - which we think fits to the concept.
A lot of people has helped in discovering certain areas from which we draw inspiration from (it's an ongoing process, isn't it?), for example, our buddy Fredrik S. Hana showed us some really nasty 80's VHS B-movies at some point, and it was like a whole new world being brought to our minds. Fredrik is an excellent filmmaker by the way!
When we hooked up with the legendary Mitch Murder back in 2011, we were blown away by his retro affection. Mitch Murder is one of the main guys in the 80's genre and is seen as the prophet of "nu" 80's music. We're always talking to Mitch and other musicians that are hooked on what we are hooked on, and we draw a lot of 'wisdom' by doing that, which helps create our path towards an imagery of what we want to put out. The best thing about having a passion is having friends with the same one. Your music becomes richer in a way. Most of the time at least!
NU: What's your starting point for writing?
Sylvester: It could be anything! A movie, a song, an emotion, while having dinner or just jamming out some jazz. Sometimes it's just a certain mood that triggers ideas, or a certain sound. Lately it's been a lot of focus on timbre and emotion. I think people forget that sometimes.
NU: How has it changed over the last few years? For example what are you doing now compared to a year ago in terms of compositional technique?
Sylvester: We basically try to 'renew' our workflow once every 3 weeks. Maybe we didn't do that as much in our early stage when producing electronic music, but then it was about constant experimentation. That's another thing I probably could talk forever about: composition. It's widely forgotten in a way. I get frighten when I hear a boring composition - it means that something is dying or fading out into nothing. It's the same with timbre and emotion, people seem to care less and less about it!
NU: What software/ equipment to do you use?
Brad: Our main DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) in the studio has been Cubase for around 7 years now. But we use Ableton for various tasks as well. When we're performing it's mainly Ableton. The first DAW we ever used was a tracker similar to Adlib's 'RAD', and I think it was called 'Scream' or something made in the early 90's. We made these horrible beats with a sampled guitar and drums on top of it while listening to Daft Punks 'Homework' in the background. Good times! When I was around 13 I got into a software called DOP (Digital Orchestrator Pro) - cause my dad used it. It's sort of like Cubase, and it was amazing to have all these MIDI-Instruments (it was a piece of hardware back then) with different sounds to play around with.
Sylvester: We use a mixture of software instruments, hardware and toys when we are working in the studio. Brad handles all the technical & editing, while myself like to jam it out on my Juno 106. We have a lot of weird stuff laying around, like homemade synths, reel-to-reel tapes besides the "standard" gear and we try to use it as much as possible and not limit ourselves to a certain sound. We sample as little as we can, making stuff from scratch with either hardware or software.
For us it is always the most sonically satisfying approach, but also the least efficient one. We like to play everything and I don't think the physical interaction is the same when using a keyboard and mouse. We also do a bunch of field recordings, which we implement in our projects. A lot of producers/musicians stick to the same instruments (VST's) or sample packs for years, maybe that's a reason why most of today's music sounds so generic (?)
NU: What's your take on electronic music now?
Sylvester: I think 90% of what you hear on today's radio or in any commercial setting is often covers by stuff done before. This amazes me. That some people are clueless and certain acts or bands get away with it. Maybe it's my fear of the world coming to an end where everyone are zombies and are constantly getting fed mediocre garbage from an oil penis, where they eat the same genetically modified E-numbers that tells your brain to buy more billboards until your blood vessel clog and you live the rest of you life on 14 different pills of "health care". I think we need to prevent stuff from happening rather then cure it. Cancer is not a disease, we all have it - you just need to put the right stuff into your body so it doesn't get triggered. It's the same with music, a lot of people just turn on the radio and they trigger the mainstream of ignorance.
That being said, there are a lot of good music being made today nonetheless, but you have to dig a little to find it. I rarely listen to any 'new' music, basically because I find it boring or uninteresting. As I said earlier, emotion and timbre is forgotten in the majority of electronic music and in pop music in general these days. Maybe we need to connect more on diverse dimension and this is where humans are having trouble. They are having trouble discovering and learning, and we forget about art. Suddenly the only words tattooed in our foreheads are 'mainstream' and 'consumption'. When we forget about art, we forget about passion, then we forget about love. It's all connected these things - religion, politics and people that forgot what they wanted to do, and everyone ends up being that grumpy 9 to 5 sucker with lost dreams and no one knows why.
NU: Are there any scenes that you're particularly interested at the moment?
Sylvester: Scene? As in 'genre'? Is there a scene at all?
Brad: What's cool these days? Is YouTube a scene? I like that :)
NU: If you could remix anyone who would you love to collaborate with?
Sylvester: I'm leaning more and more against film music these days, and it's just a matter of time before the 'Nite Sprite' concept gets put on hold. If I were to work with anyone, I would probably want to create some weird sci-fi action drama with any of the "big" guys like Vangelis, Carpenter or Zimmer. But I think Jan Hammer would be cool, or maybe Chris Boardman. There is too many! Claude Gaudette would be a true honor - R.I.P.!
Brad: Kate Bush would be amazing.
NU: You’ll be premiering a remix of Gus Gus at Numusic. Can you talk about that? What song, and how are you approaching it?
Brad & Sylvester: Yeah, we're doing a remix for Gus Gus, but you have to wait until it's done. We wouldn't want to spoil anything yet!
NU: Any tips for people wanting to get into producing?
Sylvester: Spend more time mixing and spend more time in general. Learn by doing, and do a lot!
Brad: Hmm. Maybe work on creating your own sound or build your own sample library. Don't get caught up in expensive equipment - it's not the gear that makes the music, its the musician.
NU: Anything you would like to add?
Sylvester: Thanks to everyone supporting us. Especially fans, those small comments around on the Internet mean a lot and they keep us going!
Brad: Experience more gigs, don't just attend them and hang around outside. Eat organic, love others around you and buy more vinyl!
You can experience Nite Sprite Thursday, 27th of September at Numusic.Buy Tickets Here
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Early bird tickets on sale now, save millions by purchasing before Aug 1st.