Artist Spotlights, Festival Coverage

Summer Camp 2019 Series: Nobide [INTERVIEW]

Summer Camp 2019 Series: Nobide [INTERVIEW]

Interviewed and Written by Fatima Hasan

Earlier this week I had a chance to chat with Nick Vann, the founder of Nobide!

Nobide is a live-electronic band out of Denver, Colorado. Integrating traditional instruments with an electronic background, the Nobide sound has been described as “Organic Electronic.” Inspired by the diverse landscapes of Colorado, Nobide assuredly explores musical styles that make their sound distinct and unique. Deep enough to get you into your feels, but still rowdy enough to get people moving on the dance floor… without question, Nobide is far-reaching. Nick Vann’s edgy production, Matt McElwain’s driving rhythms and Tanner Fruit’s affinity for jazz and texture leads to a redefinition of the live instrumental and electronic domain.

Nobide will be performing at Summer Camp Music Festival for their first time, this Saturday 2:30 to 3:30 at the Starshine Stage. Read on to check out our interview!

Fatima:
So, Nick, your live set-up is really wild. Could you describe it to us?

Nick:
Yeah! So, it started out with just me and a computer in Ableton. As we brought the band in, initially they were just sort of sitting on top of the tracks when we were playing and, you know, with this whole electronic realm we can do so much. And so I figured, why not get them in the music in a way that’s fresh and exciting. So, what we do is run the band through a mixer onstage, and then run them through all these effects that I’m doing live while they’re playing. So I can mix them and add effects like I would in the studio, except it’s all being done live. It’s sort of an extra human connection — pretty crazy!

Fatima:
Sounds like there’s a significant amount of layering between the instruments! Then you’re kind of like the mastermind behind all of the subtle effects that you can hear, but sometimes can’t even determine where it’s coming from or how it’s happening.

Nick:
Right!

Fatima:
Awesome. And you guys are booked to play at highly established festivals like Summer Camp and Sonic Bloom this summer. What are you most excited about in terms of these performances and does anything about them make you a little nervous?

Nick:
They’re definitely some of the bigger shows we’ve done, especially Summer Camp. I don’t think the nerves will hit us until we’ve arrived, honestly. Back in 2014, I went to Sonic Bloom and pretty much told myself I wasn’t going back to another festival until I was playing it. So, this is the first festival we get to play, and considering it’s an event as big as Summer Camp… it’s nuts. Wow.

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Fatima:
Have you heard anything about Summer Camp that kind of alludes to what it could be for you? Will you have any time to hang out and check out the fest for yourself?

Nick:
Yeah, we’re definitely hanging for the festival. I’m going to stay through pretty much the entirety of it. We’ve heard some pretty legendary stories from friends and a couple artists, you know. We know it can be a pretty pivotal moment in an artist’s career. We’re really stoked just to come out and show people what we do. Then we’ll also get a chance to check out sets that we haven’t been able to see around Denver.

Fatima:
Sounds great! Let’s say attendees at Summer Camp have never heard of your music before. How would you describe it to them?

Nick:
We call it sort of organic electronic or live electronic. So, an electronic background or setting, and then live instruments swirling around in there and spicing it up. You’re never going to get the same set twice from us, which is awesome… very much like that.

Fatima:
Going back a little bit to your background, you created your own major in college titled SocioMusicology. How has this influenced your music as a whole? What do you find interesting about the intersection of music and culture?

Nick:
The major sort of helps me understand what’s going on contextually with this music, like where it sits within today’s culture in America. Then, where that sits in with the broader world’s culture, if you will. I’m not claiming I have any deep, deep understanding of all of it. You know, I just like to think about it. So, I’d say that’s definitely helped. Then I think the skills that I practiced in college have helped me with discipline, research, and all this additional stuff that goes beyond the actual material too.

Fatima:
Sweet, and how did your journey begin as a musician? Was there ever an “Aha!” moment that made you realize music is what you want to do?

Nick:
I saw Pretty Lights in Denver in 2011. You know, he’s from Colorado as well, and I was like, man, I want to do that! Pretty quickly after that show I got Virtual DJ, started making mashups of like Skrillex and Zedd type stuff. I remember one moment I was in this Digital Arts class in high school, and instead of working on Photoshop, I made this little mashup thing. I ran down to the library and showed my best friend. I was like, “Yo! Check this shit out.” He was so kind… it was shit, listening back to it, but he was like, “Oh my God! Dude, that’s sick!” Then I just progressed into Ableton and making my own tracks. I think those two moments, 1) seeing Pretty Lights and then 2) making that mash up and having that feeling of creating something. Those were the “Aha!” moments.

Been chasing that feeling ever since.

Fatima:
Now that you mentioned Pretty Lights, I remember the last time I saw him… it was at Summer Camp a few years ago. It was one of those beautiful moments, totally picture perfect. One of the most colorful sunsets I’ve ever seen and his set was absolutely spectacular. So great he was one of your initial motivators.

Nick:
Oh, yeah! He’s an OG, especially for this sort of live electronic realm.

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Fatima:
What did it take for the band to find its groove initially? How does this play into what you guys create together?

Nick:
I wouldn’t say we’ve quite found our groove just yet! I think we’re still exploring and figuring out what we can do as this entity. I have no music background, really. I mean, I didn’t study theory or jazz or classical, nothing. Tanner on the other hand, went to school for jazz in Montana. He possesses this immense jazz vocabulary and is so technically proficient, it’s insane. Matt, I don’t know that he went to school for music, or maybe he went for a little bit, but he’s been playing since he was, I want to say 14. He was really deep into metal, that’s sort of his other love, I think. The saxophone just inherently reminds us of jazz. So that’s pretty straightforward as far as how that’s influencing us. On the other hand, I’m not super into metal, or I guess I don’t know a lot of metal, so you know, I just play that by ear, learning more about it. I like to see where Matt’s strengths are… he hits the drums hard, and that’s great for electronic.

Fatima:
How did you guys all meet initially?

Nick:
So, Adam Deitch from Lettuce and Break Science shared a video on Facebook of Matt doing a drum cover. Deitch is like one of my heroes. Matt had essentially received Deitch’s blessing, and I was like, all right, this dude knows what’s up. He was doing an electronic or like a hip-hop cover… he sat so well in the mix. He didn’t overpower, didn’t overplay, you know. So I reached out to him. I was like, “Yo, I’m playing a show this week. Come out, check it out. I’m looking for a drummer.” He ended up coming out, we vibed, he dug it, and then the next day I drove down to Denver. There was this crazy, crazy snow storm that day. It was going to take like two hours from Boulder to get down to Denver, but I was like, I’m doing it! I’m not letting this drummer go. So, we linked up there. The rest was pretty flawless and natural.

Tanner and I had met in 2015 at the studio that we go to. It’s called Evergroove up in Evergreen. His band was recording a funk album out there, and so I just got to go up and hang, met him. He moved back to Montana until 2018, and over the summer of 2018, I was calling him pretty much every day, or every other day. I was like, “dude, you’ve got to move down here. This projects going, and I want you in it. Please move down.” It took about five months of that until I finally convinced him to move back down here!

Fatima:
Awesome. So you guys are all living in the Colorado area now?

Nick:
Yes! Currently we’re in Denver. Tanner and I are moving to Boulder in June. Thank God, I need to be next to those mountains! I’m not much of a city guy.

Fatima:
I feel ya on that one. Even though you guys are all relatively close together, do you still find it difficult to find time to rehearse and create new music with your busy schedules?

Nick:
We’re all pretty flexible! I saved up all through college so that I could just pay rent off of that and not have to get a job immediately. Thankfully, I’ve got ample time. The other guys do work, but they work in areas that are super, super flexible. We make it work. It’s hard sometimes to get us all on the same page, schedule wise. But I mean, in reality, I’m always working. That’s part of why I want to move to Boulder. Honestly, it’s because if I’m not with the guys and working on Sunday, I’m still doing music and then I’m turning into the person I never wanted to be… which is a workaholic and not doing anything else in my life.

Fatima:
So great that you are making the change to surround yourself with mountains and more nature then!

Nick:
Yes, absolutely!

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Fatima:
So, from my understanding, the band name of Nobide comes from “not biding time” and this kind of left you with the opportunity to frame what that term means. So, what does “Nobide” mean to you?

Nick:
Going back to just the name itself, I was reading this Eastern philosophy book, I think it was called the way of the Bodhisattva — like a long form poem. There’s one chapter in there that talked about not biding your time, so that when you meet death, you don’t go full of regret. I wrote down in my little journal thing, it’s like, all right, no biding time…Nobide. That’s kind of cool. Like you just said, it’s not a word. Getting to shape the term has fundamentally been about not wasting time as a human. Go take those chances, take those opportunities, rock with it. Try it, like just try. So, that’s kind of what it means to me — take all this stuff you’ve got and make it work. Give things a shot and lighten up, you know, be human.

Fatima:
Very encouraging! That’s for sure.

Nick:
Thank you.

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Fatima:
You guys have also released quite a few singles and EPs since your iconic album, Contrary To Popular Belief, which came out in 2017. Do you prefer a particular method of releasing music? You know, EPs and singles versus the album style? Can fans expect another album from you guys in the near future?

Nick:
Yeah! Contrary To Popular Belief was my senior thesis project in order to graduate. So that was the body of work that happened all through college. I love albums, and love giving yourself to an artist to let them take you on a little sonic adventure. I think we all love that. In today’s world though, there’s just so much coming out all the time. So, we’re pretty focused on the singles right now and that gives us an opportunity to throw the ball all over the place. That gives us the ability to say we’re going to try a trap song, we’re going to try a funky song, we’re gonna try this and see… see what feels good, see what hits, what people like. I definitely want to do an album, but we’ll probably rock with singles for a little bit and then do an EP, or several EPs. An album is definitely in the pipeline, just a matter of when.

Fatima:
Sweet! Do you have a favorite song that you like to play out? If so, what track is it and why do you enjoy playing it so much?

Nick:
I personally love playing Wildin’ Out. I think that one, it’s just so fun. It hits, it gets people moving and the booties shaking. It’s loud, it’s fun, it’s bass heavy… and I think that’s why it’s my favorite.

Fatima:
Do you have a favorite post or pre show drink or snack?

Nick:
We love our Tequila! But that’s mostly post show if we’re doing our jobs right. The guys also love Soda Water and I’ll take an IPA or a light beer anyday.

Fatima:
Cool. As we wrap up the interview, would you like to add anything else? Maybe something your fans may not know about you?

Nick:
I’m a pen geek! I love my fountain pens and really nice ink, nice paper.

Fatima:
Hey, you fancy!

Nick:
More like classic or traditional?! I’ll write letters, and then I’ll stamp them with wax seals. I’m super into calligraphy and all that!

 

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