Just like many other artists in the scene, Rich NxT is a perfectionist. His latest EP, ‘Brigade’ on FUSE took over six months to perfect; road testing the release on sound systems all over the world. The London artist has been inspired by different genres throughout his music education, taking his passion for playing the drums as a teenager to the next level.
NxT has taken experiences on the dance floor and turned them into timeless productions, making him what’s known as a ‘DJs DJ’. He’s humble and shy when it comes to being named as an influence by younger DJs, telling Trommel that he is still trying to work out the industry side of life for himself.
Of course, Rich won’t ever blow his own trumpet; so it was left to Trommel’s Andrew Leese to list his achievements for him…
I meet Rich NxT in his East London home. As soon as I’m inside the front door, I’m welcomed by a beautiful tabby cat named William. It’s strange how much he really does look like a William…
Rich and I have known each other for almost three years. As he makes me a brew and cuts me a piece of carrot cake, we talk about our Christmases and share stories about our families. He and his wife played host, Rich cooking salmon with all the trimmings for dinner, inviting his Mum and family to join their young son.
As we move into the living room, Rich recalls the last time he reluctantly ate meat. “Rossko, Seb [Zito] and I were playing in the amazing Tag Club NYE a few years ago,” he jokes. “The Italian’s are very passionate about their New Year tradition. We were in a busy restaurant before the gig with a big bowl of Cotechino (sausage and lentils) in front of us. I was surrounded by Italians, I didn’t dare ask if they could make me a salad”.
The last time I saw Rich play was on New Year’s Day. It’s a FUSE London tradition for Rich to play the first record of the year. Although I missed his opening set, I was front and centre for his b2b with East End Dubs. You would have never guessed these two had never played together before. With tINI and Enzo [Siragusa] flying in from other gigs, both Rich and Chase had the freedom to get the crowd going; tightly mixing in minimal rollers with plenty of dub. It was, without doubt; the highlight of the day.
During the interview, Rich confirmed to me that he plans on visiting East End Dubs studio cave sometime soon. It’s just one of many exciting collaborations afoot this year. He has already been in the studio with fellow FUSE labelmate/resident Enzo Siragusa and plans on getting back into the studio with the whole crew before the crazy summer months begin. “The creative process with Enz is done. All the ideas are there. We’re now in the mix down stage now. Next step is seeing how the tracks sound on a few different sound systems”.
As one of FUSE’s original residents, Rich NxT has played a major part in the brand’s evolution; helping take it from that Sunday morning afters to one of the most respected event brands and labels on the planet.
Alongside Enzo and Seb, Rich has helped shape the label’s sound featuring on 13 of the 34 pieces of wax produced since its launch in 2011. On February 2nd, Rich released his sixth solo release on FUSE London; before releasing a remix on Okain’s INFUSE release at the end of the month.
Brigade, the A-side on the new EP; is rhythmic and punchy. It’s built around powerful basslines and driving grooves, winning over dancers with crafty drum programming and catchy samples. Rich has been sitting on these tracks for the last year. Brigade was made last February and was hammered by Enzo all summer both in London and Ibiza at Amnesia. Each one of Rich’s releases are geared for maximum impact on the dance floor.
The tracks on the B-side are equally as good. Serious is the more uplifting of the two, with a beautiful vocal that will stay in your head well after the rave is over. Eight is totally different. Natural and artificial drum sounds flicker throughout alongside tingly hi-hats and acidic stabs. Each track on this EP has its place in a DJ’s record bag.
An hour into our chat, the conversation changes from music to more personal subjects. Over the last few years, Rich and I have both grieved for a family member. The conversation moved on to how these bereavements have affected our careers.
As a writer, I suffered from the blank page for at least 12-months. For Rich, a DJ and producer; his struggles came in the studio. “For about 9-months in 2016, I was struggling to make anything. I was constantly questioning myself, worrying that I had forgotten how to make music. There was an Ableton upgrade which needed a newer version of OSX. When I upgraded, it was so slow and it would crash all the time”. Instead of thinking clearly and wiping the computer clean, Rich recalls trying to muddle and fight through it.
When going through grief there is always an upward turn. When Rich’s mind became more functional, he began to address the issues in his studio, as well as adjusting his routine in other ways. He went part-time in his day job to allow more time to dedicate to music.
“My mentality changed and I began to assess the gear I was using in my studio and the way I worked on projects. It wasn’t that the gear I was using wasn’t good enough. I just had to remember to leave a project which was not blooming or change a piece of gear that wasn’t working for me. This was an important part of letting go”.
The change in mindset saw a breakthrough. Rich finally found the time and patience to wipe his computer clean and start fresh. He reinstalled everything. “The system stopped crashing and this lead to longer and more productive sessions. With the frustration gone, I explored different pieces of software from Arturia and Soundtoys as well as Native Instruments.”
As well as the refresh, Rich also let go of some of the analog gear that he was at odds with; in favour of some vintage grooveboxes. “I am very much a MIDI person and work best with sequencing and mini timecode to sync machines, rather than audio. It’s a better workflow for me. Now I’m in a much better place.”
This new lease of creativity saw the birth of two vinyl-only record labels. NxT Records was launched in 2016 as a platform for Rich’s music apart from his releases on FUSE. The freedom of being able to put out his own music on his own imprint saw Rich release a number of high-quality cuts. So far there is four releases on NxT Records and a number of tracks on other labels. The changes in the studio have given Rich more inspiration than ever.
After NxT Records launched, sub-label What NxT was launched a year later with one rule: the music belongs deep in his own record bag. The two releases so far have featured music from established names David Gtronic and Mariano Mateljan, as emerging names Bartolomeo, Josh Baker, Moonlit Vision, Tolga Top, and two tracks from British duo Acanalar. The third release features stand-out cuts from Ray Mono, Moonlit Vision and Jamahr. Rich dropped all of these in an epic set for the FUSE 9th Birthday at Village Underground last November. “I’m happy that people will be able to check out this record and hear echoes of that brilliant party.”
Thanks to his own imprints, Rich’s sets have evolved. The music you hear him play is either made by him, signed by him or comes from the crew around FUSE and their labels. 2018 will see the next three releases on the label but Rich is being careful not to plan to far ahead or to sign too much music. “I try and listen to all the music I’m sent but now I’m having to be selfish and not get too greedy. In this scene especially, it’s extremely important to support good music. One thing I’ve learned since launching the labels is you can’t sign everything. If you signed all the good unreleased music you’re sent, there would not be enough time to ever release it all”.
One thing I can say that stands out about Rich is his modesty. He is very level headed and despite all of his achievements in the industry, he’s extremely humble and comes across surprised when other artists in the scene name him as an influence. “I guess it’s very flattering to mentioned as an influence to other artists. Sometimes I find that conversation embarrassing though. I guess I am surprised to influence anybody. I’ve been DJing for years and I’ve just started my own record label. To be honest, I’m still working all this out for myself.”
It’s not only the music that draws people to artists like Rich, Enzo, Archie [Hamilton], Rossko and Seb. It’s the way they’ve created the opportunities for themselves and created a sound of their own that is so inspiring. Just like the drum n bass and jungle scene inspired Rich, Enzo and the crew in the 90s, the dub-heavy and bass driven sound of Rich and FUSE has inspired a younger generation of artists from the dance floor. The ever-evolving London sound has gone full circle and Rich alongside the crew have become pioneers of the last decade.
With FUSE turning 10 in 2018, who knows what’s next for a crew of DJs who have rewritten the rulebook one beat at a time.
Rich NxT’s ‘Brigade’ EP is out now on Fuse London. Buy the vinyl here.