Booty Shakers is extremely proud to present another exclusive artist interview! This time it’s with the established hip-hop/ ambient/electronic artist from Ossinning, New York, 81Neutronz!
Nick Low-Beer, the man behind 81Neutronz, has been heavily involved with music his entire life. From the early age of six he was playing violin and collecting tapes and radio sounds to make mixes that emulated his favorite DJ’s. He did this by making pause tapes, a method most foreign to today’s generation. Here’s a look at what that process looks like!
Thank goodness for technology right?!
By the age of 14, he was spending much of his time DJing with turntables gifted him by Alex Paterson of The Orb, a man responsible for spawning the genre of ambient house. This belief in Nick and his musicianship would become a common theme throughout his young career. In college, Nick was approached by Phillip “Bangout” Pitts, who took him to New York and schooled him on the science of drum stacking. Diligence and talent soon landed him a track on Eminem’s Recovery album (Cinderella Man) which won that years grammy for best rap album. His recent credits include four entries on “So You Think You Can Dance Canada”, numerous entries associated with The Orb, including HFB’s remix album and a Russian release, “Tundra and Sunflakes Vol 2”, #3 on Beatport’s Hot 100 HipHop releases for WUZU-Ohawu/Birdflew single on Rimbu Records and a debut on Beatport’s Top 50 Reggae Dub for The Orb & Lee “Scratch” Perry’s “Golden Clouds” (81Neutronz Remix). Let’s check out some of these tracks below!
Now here’s Booty Shaker’s Exclusive Interview with Nick Low-Beer aka, 81Neutronz!
1. When did you begin your musical career?
My Musical journey has been life long but i’d say my career started in 8th grade. I had my first payed gig playing a party for a student organization of high school upper classmen. It was a disaster. The PA system i’d brought from home did not work, and then wasn’t loud enough. Then all my records were skipping and I spent the whole night with a worried bright red face. One of the upper class girls was a cashier at a grocery store that I happened to shop at the following week, and she said i did fine. God bless her!
2. When did the 81Neutronz project begin? Where did the name come from?
The 81Neutronz name was birthed in 2006 but really wasn’t a project until 2009. It was just a name i was making beats under. I didn’t have the notion that I could perform live under that name or that my tracks would stand on their own without rappers or singers until I reconnected with LX Paterson and he picked out some tunes and said, “I want to release these if you can do XYZ with this one and such with that one.” The potential of having my artist name on a released record made it real for me. The name is half a name I picked and half a name that was given to me. I was DJing and tagging under the alias Deft1 in high school. I did an internet search in ’02, my senior year, which revealed that there were at least 2 other deft1’s, so rather than change my name to deft3, I changed my alias to 381. The reason being that on a phone, the number 3 has the letters DEF on it, and 8 has the letter T, and also UV but i just ignored that. So 381 was my lil numerical code for deft1. Then at my first internship I explained to everyone my DJ / Production name, and they didn’t really appreciate it. They made fun of me and said that it was nerdy, stiff, and robotic. So they started refering to me as Nick Neutronz. I grabbed the Neutronz and fused it with my 81 number. There was something about it that was abstract that I liked, and it reminded me of the 90’s electronic music I liked. Also, it is very searcheable, which I like.
3. You were young around during the developmental stages of electronic music and hip hop, who were the first artists you started listening to? Did you attend any memorable concerts as a youth?
My first introduction to danceable music was the early 90’s hip hop. Jermaine Dupri was making beats for Kris Kross, Q-Tip’s beats for Tribe, as well as the beats for Black Sheep, Naughty By Nature, and on the euro dance side, Snap, c+c music factory, 2unlimited, things like that. I started to dig deeper into rap and got into WuTang, the coup from the Bay Area, Ice Cube, lots of G funk and all of Daz and warren G’s beats… It was about that time my older sister became a junglist and started bringing home cassette tapes with Jungle and Techno on them. Juno Reactor, The Orb, Soul Slinger, The Prodigy Experience, all of these things came to me at a time when I was wide open and impressionable. I was about 10 years old. On my 11th birthday my sister took me to a Violent Femmes concert at Roseland. I would return there a few years later and attended a Brass Monkey Rave where DJ Venom did some amazing turntablism over some hard house, which floored me. In high school I traveled Europe with a couple of friends who were living in the states but were originally from Germany and Switzerland. I attended the street parade in Zurich and I had been collecting hard house and trance in a sort of cultural vacuum, and it was the first time I’d ever heard these records that I loved anywhere outside of my basement! Oh I was so excited. These were records like Mauro Picotto’s Komodo, Cosmic Gate’s tracks, Dj Scot project… That Street Parade is still inspiring and fueling tracks today.
4. What intrigued you about “Pause Tapes”?
Pause tapes were my first experimentations with electronics trying to make music. It was a nice lil trick stringing tracks together like a DJ just by using the pause button to freeze your recording, and then either waiting for the next song from the radio that you coveted, or digging through my sister’s tapes or my own to find the next track and then releasing the pause. A pause tape is just a mixtape with no gaps in the songs but having all your favorite joints on a tape was incentive enough. I began practicing my timing with the pause button, even trying to string songs together into melodies and stuff, but I had no concept that they needed to be in the same tempo or anything, so they were very strange these “frankensongs” I was making.
5. Alex Paterson of The Orb gave you your first turntables? That’s incredible! How did he and the new turntables affect your music?
LX Paterson was kinda seduced by my sister I guess and he was hanging out at our house and spending time with me and my folks. My dad is a big soccer player, and Lx is too, so they really hit it off. Lx saw the cassette collection I’d amassed and was impressed enough to suggest to my dad discreetly one birthday that it would be a golden idea to put some decks in front of me. Lx had a deal with Island Records at the time so my first vinyls were mostly his labelmates of the moment. As for the technical side of the decks, it took me a few weeks to figure out what I was supposed to do. I thought the mixer was broken because i didnt understand cueing! I didnt know why the signal in my headphones didn’t match the speakers. That first year felt like an interminable learning period in which the turntable trickery and excellence I heard on the radio and elsewhere was mocking me and killing my self esteem. The change to my music from the invention of decks has been so huge I can’t possibly overstate the importance. I can’t say I’d be making music if Lx had not seen the potential and put the tools in my hands.
6. When did your music career start taking off? Can you describe that feeling?
My career has gone through some strange successes and failures but I cannot say exactly that I’ve ever felt a take-off. My 2nd mentor after Lx, is a hip hop producer named Bangout. When I first started working for him, his record “Hands Up,” by Lloyd Banks was on the radio all the time and I felt I was close. After a few years working with Bang, I made a beat with a writer that would become Eminem’s Cinderella Man, which was on his album, The Recovery. My life was so crazy when that happened; bad relationship, working with crazy people, that I almost didn’t have time to enjoy it. Also, the scope of it was so huge that it was almost an out of body experience. The most amazing feeling I’ve ever had was when I opened up for The Orb at Webster Hall two years ago. It was so amazing. I felt so honored and so lucky! I cried a triumphant howl at the moon one night and felt that all of my hard work had payed off finally. I’m a cancer so we have a special relationship with the moon but usually its a quiet one.
7. You’ve collaborated with a pretty diverse group of people. How do you go about forming those relationships and which projects have been your favorite to work on?
Anytime The Orb has seen fit to involve me in a project I have found that to be deeply moving and rewarding. It feels like a parent lifting me up and making me a part of the tribe, like how Rafiki did for Simba in the Lion King. Working with Interscope Records on the Eminem thing was glamorous but impersonal. Sergio Trujillo was really fun to work with because he is a rockstar of broadway theatre and composing music to the hits and counts he assigned via his choreography was challenging and energizing. I can’t even say how I go about cultivating / preserving relationships. I am not good at meeting people! But I’m not a jerk for the most part and to know me well is to know a good listener, and I think my longstanding professional relationships are with low-key geniuses.
8. How has your music evolved over the years?
Over the years my ears have evolved and I’ve learned countless tricks to achieve certain magical effects and moods in music production. The larger that library of tricks, the more options you have. Also music has changed and influenced me, in some cases validating me and in some cases challenging me. My engineering has improved drastically.
9. How do you feel about the electronic and hip hop scene of today? Are there any artists you feel like are changing the game?
Hip Hop and Electronic music are of course cross breeding like never before and there are so many scenes and sub-scenes that it is a bit maddening. There is so much naming of genres and scenes that it is a bit off putting to me. I mainly listen to The Orb and Brian Eno’s old ambient records. Also Kenji Kawai, who made the soundtracks to Sky Crawlers and Ghost in the Shell. There are some labels that I admire, like Terrorhythm and Slow Roast for instance. I hang with lots of turntablists from New York and we get together and scratch a bunch. I guess we’re a bit antiquated. There are of course SO MANY brilliant producers out there. Synkro, Mr Carmack, Djemba Djemba, RL Grime; I’ve heard part of Hudson Mohawk’s Lantern Lp and so far its amazing. All of these artists represent beautiful fusions of hip hop and electronic music. As lyricists, there’s no question that Kendrick Lamar, J Cole and Killer Mike are all the champions right now. They’ve all made incredibly modern, captivating, thoughtful music that paints vivid pictures for their listeners. I feel lucky and inspired to hear music by all these artists and producers i’ve listed here!
10. What’s next for you and your music?
I’ve spent most of my last year working in a duo called Wuzu. Our sound is tribal themed bass music of varying tempos. The listener is encouraged to walk through the jungle or a field where many big cats chew on their antelope! As 81Neutronz, I’ve just inked a production deal for at least one track with Japanese female rap duo, Charisma. I’ve also made some experiments with ambient music and solo piano that I hope will influence and mature my production.
Now here are some of my favorite 81Neutronz track’s!
Huge thank you to Nick for doing this interview for us! Let him close it out with this awesome promo video below!
Check out more of 81Neutronz through the links below!