Today we are talking with Nikita Om, person behind Dreamstalker music project. He presents Exotic-Trance music. His albums were released by Zenon, Merkaba and Altar records. He is also known in “russian” speaking internet as one of the person behind “Zwook.ru” project, and online music production school. Let’s start
Interview is made by Gagarin on 31/10/2016
Thanks for finding time to talk to us :)
Hi! I love your Psybient project and happy to answer some questions here!
What does Dreamstalker name mean?
There are two meanings behind this name. Dream Stalker and Dreams Talker. Both of them are close to music of this project. This idea of two meanings comes in artwork for the Album Memory, where DNA crosses the word Dreamstalker in a middle. (album cover)
When did you encounter something that is now considered as Psychedelic Downtempo music / or Psychill / Psybient if you prefer this terminology? What is a special moment for you ?
I was involved in electronic music in 2006 with techno/house clubs in my area. It was a small town in Siberia and there were not so many progressive things in music going on. So that music was fresh to me. After 2 years, in 2008 psychedelic music came to my life. Mostly through my friend Leo, who had really big collection of all Psychedelic electronica. We spend weekends in his place, tripping, listening to this wonderful music. I was amazed by every album. Eclectic sound of Psychedelic Downtempo was perfect for me. It was trancy, electronic, futuristic, deep, smooth, with lots of live instruments. And of course I was impressed by feelings and space that was created with music that time. It was a way more interesting than techno. That time I didn’t look too much in playlist, but of course I remember some names, like Shpongle, Ott, Younger Brother, Aes Dana, Solar Fields… I am in a big respect for all that “music transmitters” and very happy to know some of them personally and play on one stage. It was a great time for me. Life changing.
How did you start producing with computer ?
I’ve started to produce music on computer nearly in 2003 because my “synth” Yamaha PSR was not so powerful as a sequencer. And it was Cakewalk 9 as a software. I didn’t compose that time, just learning the stuff and trying to make arrangements for some famous tunes. Then I started to use computer to make demo records of my band. That how I’ve started with mixing and using plugins. Seriously I’ve started to produce my own music since 2010.
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What is the story of your first release ? As I remember it was released on Sundoz records, what is this label with an interesting name.
I had a lot of unfinished projects in 2010 and no complete tracks which I could play. It was a shame for me. So I’ve made a decision to make an Album. It took me 6-8 months and finally I’ve made Eclectronica (funny, that most of people don’t see the letter “с” in this word). I didn’t think of any labels or artists to follow that time, no reference. So when it came to the end, I’ve released it by myself for free, and then with Ektoplazm. I’ve had to put some label on it to release. That is how Sundoz was created. As a game of words. Originally Sandos was a name of a lab where Albert Hoffman invented LSD, and if you change letters little bit, you have Sun+doz, like a dose of sun… But it was not serious idea about the label, so I don’t do anything more there. After years I’ve realized that Eclectronica was a powerful record, and I still receive a lot of warm feedback from listeners on this work.
Your first 2 albums are chill, latest are in “zenon” trance, what is your direction for future and why ?
Chill was more organic for me in terms of production. Like it was more easy to make a true sound there. Couple of times I’ve tried to make a dance track, but failed for unknown reason. And only in 2013 on summer festival I had a critical experience with dance music. Hopefully it was Merkaba live set, 20 kWt of Funktion One, magic dancefloor full of beautiful people around! After that festival I came to my studio and immediately wrote 2 tracks from Album Sensorial Experience (2014, Zenon records). Those tracks are the best from the whole album, as I know from feedback during the live set.
What about my future music… To be honest I make much more music than I release. I also make minimal techno, lounge, house, spiritual guitar ambient and even rock music. But all that tracks are “work in progress”. Sometimes they come to release, like my Heart Rock remix on Merkaba – Heart Math.
As many producers, I love just music itself, not a specific genre. But anyway I concentrate more on Psy-Trance and Psy Downtempo which I play regularly. Now I have a lot of new tracks for new Album. It will be released on Zenon records for sure and dance tracks will be a core of it. After last gigs I’ve found that for me 140 bpm and several harmonic modes work better, so most of tracks are in this tempo. But I want this album to be the next step in my production, so I will try to put downtempo tracks there as well. And as far as I try to make every Album as a journey, it will be a new challenge!
And I am still a big lover of chillout music, so Dreamstalker’s chillout is also coming!
Do you think if a psytrance artist starts making a slow version, let’s say 110 bpm, will it have good responses, or maybe there is something more to be added to chill music to be interesting ?
I had this idea many times. And it makes sense. You know, recently I’ve received a remix pack on a track from Seamoon (Zeamoon). It was a really slow track, but when I put it in a software, I’ve start to make a sketch 2x faster than original. So it became 140 bpm Psy-Trance from 70 bpm Psy-Chill. Yes, these things push the borders of creativity, so it’s a great idea, and always nice addition for fans.
What do you think about fast psytrance 145 bpm and faster ? Have you tried to produce it ?
Most of tracks in my dance set are 140 bpm now. I have a track in 150 bpm also, but there is no case to play it in my set, because it’s completely other frequency and state of mind. Not many people know that tempo is more important that track’s harmony in terms of working with our brain. Tempo is also a frequency: for example 120 bpm is 120 beats per minute and when we divide 120 / 60 (seconds in minute) we have a frequency of 2 Hz! Then if we multiply 2Hz on 2 which gives us same note, but in the next octave, we have 2-4-8-16-32-64-128-256 Hz harmonics and so on… I want to say that a track tempo is also a frequency, and, as science say, much more powerful for a brain, and if the tempo is constant, our brain and body catch this frequency and we feel changing in our perception. That’s why music genres have strict tempo ranges. Can you imagine Deep House in 145bpm?
So for me better to make music in tempo that can fit in my live set. It’s better to have more new tunes to play on a gig, rather that just have them on my computer or in Internet. Of course I will try something faster, but later!
What about techno / minimal 125-128 ? Have you tried to produce it , does it inspire you ?
My music trip started with minimal techno played from vinyl. These grooves are so close to me. Like a home. I can produce decent tech track in a couple of days, because I have a very strong feeling of this vibe. It’s already inside me. With Psy music it’s more challenging for me to make a track. And I really want to do a techno minimal stuff and have some tracks, but not so much to play a set, so it will be later, because of time…
Do you see big difference between psytrance festivals in Russia and in other countries ?
In common they look pretty similar. But there is something to say here. Maybe I don’t have very big festival experience to judge, but I feel that in Russia people can come to festival once a year and spend most of the time sitting in a forest, rather than listening to music on a dancefloor. I didn’t see same thing anywhere else. Personally it’s fine, anyone can do it, but for the festival it’s not good, because beautiful dancefloors with strong line-up are sometimes empty. I remember Kliment’s set on chillout stage in the morning and only few people around. But anyway I love Russian festivals Trimurti and Chillout Planet. Hope this festival culture here will grow faster every year. We just need more people here coming to festivals. Last 2-3 years they simply had less money, so some people didn’t come. I remember festivals in 2012/2013 – there were so many people there… Last year less, but it is just a question of time. In terms of music, location and design, big Russian festivals like Trimurti and Chillout Planet have a good level of production. By the way, all Dreamstalker music will be presented on Chillout Planet Festival in July 2017.[soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/playlists/234934707″ params=”color=ff5500&auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false” width=”100%” height=”450″ iframe=”true” /]
Which downtempo / psychill / psybient artists from ex-USSR are interesting for you ?
Vena Portae, Mindex, Astropilot, Translippers, Advanced Dreams, Kayatma, Sutra, Ikarushka, Astronaut Ape, Electrosoul System… there are more for sure, every festival I hear a lot of talented artists, but don’t remember all names.
Which downtempo /psychill / psybient artists from other parts of the world are most interesting for you ?
Right now I am thinking about super deep set of a guy from Yggdrasil/Kurbeats projects. He played different kind of stuff this summer in Russiaб and it was a magic. Completely different approach on mixing instruments and beats. I’ve learned interesting things during his set. Also recently I was impressed by Seamoon with his “Expression of The Moment” — very eclectic and trippy. Happy to make a remix on a track from it right now. Interesting things going on in Merkaba music releases. Some of them sound really fresh.
How do you see the difference between psychill and psybient ?
It is not my question I think. Because I don’t put a big difference here.
Now let’s talk about your PRODUCTION :
What advice can you give to people who are starting music production ?
Good idea is to learn your instruments really well. Everything from a sequencer and effects to sound systems and synths. Mixing is also an instrument, especially in electronic music. Now it is much more easy than years ago. This will give you a confident skills to bring ideas to life.
Also you should see your music in a big perspective, like when you see the painting with everything around the canvas at one moment. It gives a bigger picture and can help with a concept of your project / album / track.
Many people ask how to find a unique style. I’ve learned that it’s a good idea first to try everything that’s coming out, that you really enjoy, let it be chillout or fullon, doesn’t matter, because after a while you will see something interesting coming, not an ordinary music style, but your own mixture of colours. Go deeper in this mix, and it can become a unique sound of your music. It will be interesting for you, and so will it be to music culture. I don’t want to listen one more “Ok Trance track”, but I want to listen to a new kind of it, new mixing, new instruments, new approach.
Also I have a strong feeling that Psy music can be much more experimental. So many tracks sounds completely same. It is more about straight dance music sure. I try to create a unique story and music blend in every track. It can be more difficult, but it is more interesting for me and, as I believe, more valuable for music culture. And I am very happy that it works: people are grateful, and I’ve heard a warm feedback from very experienced Artists on this side of my music. It gives real support.
A good advice for people who starts: look for video tutorials, take pieces of advice from experienced producers, don’t be shy to meet some of them on festivals and ask your question. Sometimes trying to make a question already gives you answers.
And try to use not so many instruments on a start. It’s a mistake of most newcomers. Using many plugins will be confusing. It’s better to learn eq’s and compressors, which are already in your sequencer, than download all plugins you’ve seen on youtube videos.
Take your time… Somebody needs 6 months to make a good track, another one — 6 years, and it’s fine. Life of every human is a unique story, so don’t compare yourself with others too much.
Tell us about Zwook.ru project and how do you see it’s future ?
We make russian music tutorials there, we give feedback for students, we make contests and release some good works, which you can find there for free.
Our team now works on a new website engine that will provide easy search and access to the content. In the future I see this website as a main resource for Russian speaking producers to find knowledge online.
Can you advise any alternatives for the english speakers ?
English speakers have much less opportunity to learn, because we work in russian. He-he. Though you can find almost everything about production on Youtube + there are really big websites as sonicacademy.com / puremix.net / ask.audio, and of course great guys like Mr.Bill and Tom Cosm, who brings light to the world of production.
You are working mostly in Ableton. What is so good about it? Is there any other DAW which is interesting from your opinion ?
I’ve started with Ableton in 2006 maybe, and since then it’s been my favourite. Simple, easy and very flexible. All modern DAWs are great. It’s a matter of choice, not the specific sound, because with plugins you will have same sound in any DAW.
Ableton is good for its unique live mode. It’s fantastic to play with it. I often start new tracks in this mode, and if i play with other musicians or doing a live set, Session View in Ableton is the best here.
Can you share with us name of 5 favourites synths for basslines ?
I use only 3 ways for basslines: Ableton Operator, Moog (any real one) and Sampler to manipulate samples which could be turned into a bass instrument or to add a top layer for an existing bassline. I use them with different effects like EQ, filters, compressors, saturators, volume shapers.
What are the most important effects not to be missed in electronic music production?
Volume, Pan and Eq are really important. So simple, but at the same time so important. Deep understanding of these things already opens the doors to many interesting effects in production.
Filters are very important as well. They are everywhere: in synths, in many effects, as standalone plugins and finally in EQ, that is just a bunch of filters. So understanding filtering will give you a lot of must have skills. It’s a good idea to look for tutorials about filtering, to understand what is HP/LP/BP… what is resonance, and actually to try a lot of different filters. The secret is that every filter sounds differently. Use it.
Compression is on the next place. Every producer should learn how it really works and how to set it fast. There is a certain algorithm that is used for ages. With the right compression you can make a solid mix of sounds, like when you put things in a box… Bad compression will ruin the sound and make it plain. Good compression will put everything together, glue the mix and make a groove stronger, like when everything plays together really well.
Space is important. At the beginning raw sounds of samples and synths stand on one line, if you imagine it from one speaker to another. When you put every sound in a virtual room, a track becomes deeper, wider and more real to the ears of listener. So finding a good reverb algorithms and working with them are very important.
If we talk about creative effects, delay is the most important. With delay you can do so many good things. Not just adding simple echo, but giving extra dimensions to a track. That’s interesting. And here I can recommend my favourite delay “Echoboy” and “Crystallizer” from Soundtoys. These plugins are the best delays I know, and they give really creative ways to work with them. And a top sound level. This is also important.
What are the plugins you use on your master ?
Most of the time it’s just a limiter, that prevents clipping and provides proper volume. But when it comes to finalize a track to play it I use iZotope Ozone 6/7. It gives all things you need on mastering stage.
What are your own 2-5 favourites tracks for chill ?
Together, Mercury, Once again.
What are your own 2-5 favourites tracks for main floor ?
Wonderful, Complete Freedom, Summer Storm, Spirals and some new tracks that are still not released.
What artists on electronic music inspire you the most ?
Maybe Trentemoller with his ‘The Last Resort’ album was a big inspiration for a long time. Of course a lot of tracks here and there influenced my inspiration. I don’t remember these names.
What artists in non-electronic music inspire you the most ?
I really enjoy world music and learn a lot from it. I can recommend Artists like: Avi Adir (his flute you hear on many tracks of Dreamstalker), Anoushka Shankar, Ravi Shankar, Ash Dargan, Byron Metcalf, David Kuckhermann, Dean Can Dance, Inlakesh, Kailash Kokopelli, Nadishana, Steve Shehan. Rock guys like Beck, Pink Floyd, Aerosmith, Cure, Muse. I don’t like all their music, just some tracks, but these tracks gave me huge experience.
LIVE vs DJ SET:
How “live” is your live ?
In 2015-2016 my set is made of 2 channels of studio tracks, altered versions and unreleases, 4 channels of loops, samples I try to update regularly. Some interesting FX chains on all channels to manipulate the sound. It already gives me a lot of work and opportunities for building a set. For example, when I feel that dancing people need more energy, I bring some percussion / drum loop on the top, and it always works.
Sometimes I experiment with live instruments during the set, but mostly for chillout program.
I have different kind of stuff to play. Chillout set in 100-110 bpm, Psygressive 120-130 bpm, and 133-142 bpm progressive psy. But I call all these things Exotic Trance.
Do you think it is correct to call LIVE a performance where artist play “mastered versions” of his production with no or just minor “addons” (let’s say with an exttra filter and maybe 1 synth) ?
I will tell you a funny story. Once in Goa (India) I had a conversation with a promoter guy. He was collecting info for flyers on a party and was asking me: “Do you play live?” I’ve started to tell him a technical info about my set… and then he sad: “Wait… do you use Ableton Live? Ok, then it’s a live set”. I think that’s a modern answer. I see a lot of producers, even respected ones, who play already made mix of tracks with no edits. Just filter in a mixer sometimes. I can’t say it is completely bad, but it just not challenging, not interesting for a guy on stage, and completely non-flexible kind of set.
I came from live music, then I’ve been djing for 3 years, hence flexibility, chances to make something unexpectable is the beauty of the live performance for me. So I really sorry for people who hit “play” only once during their performance.
If the music is good and people are dancing and smiling — it’s already enough, but for a producer it can be much deeper experience to have even just 1-2 channels with loops and effects, so as to add extra groove and space into a set in the moment. To have extra control in the moment is very important. Hey, 1-2 channels with loops is so simple, why not to try?
Best things that I’ve learned about making music came during live sets. Once I was playing @ Sulawesi Eclipse Festival in Indonesia, and suddenly one guy from a dancefloor looked at me, it was a feeling of some connection between us; and I’ve just turned the effect knobs on my loop channel, and that combination gave me unexpected results with amazing sound. So I’m always looking forward for this magic moments during a live set.
What is your favourite hardware synth ?
Virus TI Polar, which you can hear on albums from 2012-2014.
Mac vs PC ? :)
I’ve been using Mac since 2008. I really like the quality of their laptops, especially pro unibody models from 2012-2013.
Which sound-card do you use now to record and produce in studio and to play live ?
I have various interfaces: NI 2, Zoom H6, Infrasonic Deux. I am thinking about upgrading to RME or UAD which have better converters, more inputs/outputs and internal effects.
Many young producers ask a question, how big will be a difference between a basic sound-card (let’s say 100 usd Native Instruments Audio 2) and a mid/top level (let’s say RME). Please answer both in context of producing (without recording instruments) at home and playing the live set for people.
The main difference in soundcards are AD/DA converters, that make analog sound (like a microphone) become digital to work with it on a computer, and then back to analog to send it to speakers/headphones/mixer. Better converters give better sound. It is especially important when you record instruments from outside of computer. If you don’t, then only D/A converters are important for you, when you play live especially. So here it is enough to have even simple 70-100$ soundcard.
EXTRA MUSIC QUESTIONS:
You are a young father, congratulations. How does it influence on you as on the artist ?
We had a natural birth together with my wife in Bumi Sehat (Bali), and I can say it was a psychedelic trip for everyone around. I believe that natural birth is a must have experience for many people. It gives a deeper sense of life.
Having baby takes a lot of time, but it gives a lot of power and feelings. Now I look on music and music events differently, I often ask myself — if I want my child to be here with me? Sometimes a party comes to dirty energy, which I don’t want to feel around. I see many options to make events cleaner and warmer, to provide higher energy. I give these concepts to my friends-organizers and hope that they will use them in future.
Where is your home now and why you choose it ?
We have a house in Crimea since 2012. It was a long story with it and probably not very interesting for you. We’ve also spent some years in Bali and Goa. I love these magic places!
What are your daily / weekly rituals ?
I try to work on my body regularly because hours of music production can be harmful for it. Simple things like stretching and planks works.
Do you do yoga or meditations ?
Yes, since 2008 I’ve been doing meditation. It completely changed my life to much deeper experience.
What are the book(s) you advise everyone to read ?
I just realized I have not been reading books for years. I spent a lot of time on my music, tutorial project, family and travelling… so reading books is still ahead. I really want to take a break for a week or something and read a couple of books.
What are the book(s) connected the music that you advise everyone to read ?
Mixing with your mind, Zen Guitar, Mathemagical music production
What are your interests apart of music and making kids ?
Ha-ha, I am not a professional kid-maker, I have just one daughter. A big part of our life is travelling. In 2010 with my girl we’ve left our hometown in Siberia and started to travel. It is very important part of our life. To travel is a good advice. While travelling you come to better and deeper realization of who you are. Living for months in completely different culture does work in an interesting way.
And the last question, what is your goal as music artist ? How do you see it ? :)
To provide energy from the outside of our daily world. In altered realities, beyond time and space, there is a wisdom people are searching for. Our music connects people on different levels and give a lot of realizations and inspiration. After years listening and playing music I’ve found that it’s a vibrational codes, which can be used for many things. With the right music it is possible to cure people. Though the main goal of my music is a way to experience The One with everything in the Universe.
It was a long one, isn’t it ? Nikita, Thank you for your time, it was a pleasure to know more about you! If you wish to transmit a message to our readers please do it
We have a great ability to travel, make music and art, share love and create beautiful space. So let’s keep going with it! It was nice to answer interesting questions, hope it is worth reading.