The New York electronic live trio N/UM have come to be regarded modern pioneers of electronic live music with their fully improvised live sets, featuring classic analog electronic instruments combined with vocals, modular synths and guitar for a truly genre-bending experience.
Each performance or recording by N/UM is unique and improvised, with no pre-composed songs, no plan or structure agreed upon. The group unites three longtime friends who have always shared a deep passion for electronic music. They are five-time Grammy Award winning mastering engineer and producer Jeremy Loucas, guitarist Elias Meister of world-renowned rap group Residente, (Calle 13) and Danish multi instrumentalist and producer Emil Bovbjerg.
The three, having recorded and performed together in different formations over the past decade, have emerged as a solid musical unit as N/UM, capable of capturing major dance floors around the world while bringing the unique immediacy and spontaneity of improvisation to places where it is rarely heard: festivals, nightclubs and underground warehouse-parties. After countless gigs and live performances around the globe, their new album is out now. We talked to the fascinating trio about their new masterpiece.
First of all, congratulations on your well-reviewed and internationally acclaimed new album. We can’t stop stomping our feet to Theoretic. How does it feel to be in this spotlight?
We are all super stoked about this release, it has been a while since our last record Ravens came out, and we are so proud and excited to follow up with a full length album. We love the music and also the trippy and incredible visuals that Isotone created. So we are very happy to be sharing it with all of you.
What is the main idea behind the album?
The music got recorded soon after the pandemic lockdowns, the three of us couldn’t gather for almost a year to play together, so when it finally happened we found that not playing for so long had actually inspired us quite a bit. There was a lot of emotion and creativity released that had built up over the prior months.
Tell us a little bit about how you as a trio got started with N/UM please.
We come from different backgrounds in music and had played in a rock band together for multiple years. The three of us were always interested in electronic music, being DJs and also experimenting with adding live instruments to a DJ set. At the time we had just bought a TR-808 and a SH-101, we started jamming and fell into a rabbit hole.
Once we got deeper into the sonic possibilities of electronic music and the creative freedom of improvisation coupled with the gratitude you feel from a partying crowd, we put our focus on N/UM.
If your music could transport listeners to any world you could imagine, what would this world be like?
Ideally the perfect scenario for our music would be invoking a certain feeling of uplifting euphoria and contentment, there is a certain magic happening when all the energies collide and are collectively focused.
You are living in the Big Apple. Where is New York’s underground scene? What’s it like?
New York is a quite fascinating city, constantly changing and surprising. When we started playing only a few underground parties existed, the Brooklyn scene has quickly evolved since, clubs come and go pretty quickly, the pandemic also has changed a lot of things in NY and we now see a younger generation being part of it, which is exciting. A lot of the underground party scene has been happening in and around Bushwick, but there have been events popping up all over the map.
So, what’s in the pipeline? What is next in terms of gigs, festivals, releases, that our readers should go crazy about?
We have a remix by San Proper coming out at the beginning of January that we are really excited about. We have a lot more music to be released over the next year on our own label NineToFire as well as others. Our catalog of unreleased music is always big and growing since everytime we play we record and are potentially cutting a new record. There will be exciting releases of other artists on our label as well.
A bunch of exciting festivals and shows are in the works at the moment, but not quite ready for announcements. We are looking forward to playing in Europe and all over the US more regularly this year so hopefully we can all meet on the dance floor!
Lastly, let’s talk about our future generations. What do you look forward to young, up-and-coming producers, and what advice would you give them?
Play play play!!! Play your drum machines, play your synths, perform all you can and make mistakes. Have fun with your instruments, surprise yourself, experiment and try new things out. Don’t get too comfortable. Don’t try to please someone else or cater to a certain idea (or even worse algorithm). It is really true that when you do what you like and what sounds right to you, eventually people will listen. And it will be the best music you can create.