New York’s Nick Hook is many things to many people: DJ, producer, engineer, sake enthusiast, infamous redhead… He even moonlights as Doctor Nick, giving very savvy business and relationship advice to the fine readers of XLR8R magazine.
Given his penchant for making things work out right – and the recent release of his free EP, Without You, for Scion AV (download it for free below) – we rang up the Hookemon and asked him to give us some sage tips on collaborating in the studio and also tell us a bit more about some of the people he’s worked with along the way (many of whom appear on the EP). After you’re suitably inspired, scroll down further to stream or download Without You for free!
You’ve collaborated with a lot of people. Can you give us some advice about how to make things go smoothly in the studio?
I think this answer can relate to many things but taking your time, leaving your ego behind and communication are, to me, the essential keys in making music. As with anything, you are good at some things and bad at some things; if you feel comfortable letting these vulnerabilities show, your strengths are going to come at the same time. Hopefully you made something with someone that neither of you were capable of on your own and it was a memorable experience in the process – hence the term record. It’s not just the music that’s going on record but that image that is burned in your mind of the process. It’s also important to know that sometimes it just might not work. That’s completely okay.
What was your most nightmarish collaboration and why?
I think a lot of them turn out to be the best ones. The people that are hard to work with are generally incredibly gifted and speedy at their craft, and you might be the opposite. You either sink or swim, and I’m still trying to become a better swimmer everyday.
What is your dream collaboration?
I’d love to work with Kraftwerk, Bootsy Collins, Organized oise and Outkast, Dre, Deftones, Kendrick Lamar. I’d love to track drums with Dave Grohl. The list could literally go on forever, but mostly I think we are creating our own legacy right now and the people I am creating with now are the ones that I always dreamed of working with.
Should you ever ask to collaborate with someone or should you just let it come about naturally?
If you are comfortable with them, absolutely. If not, be careful because it gets kinda scary. Usually a long night of partaking in things leads to the natural discussion of, “Hey, I f**k with you,” and usually said person says the same thing.
What do you have coming out next that we should look out for?
I made a little EP with Vin Sol and Matrixxman called I Can Feel It. It’s coming out on a dope label called Classicworks from Barcelona. A bunch of various stuff in the works that I’m really excited about that I don’t wanna jinx yet, and I’m starting to formulate my next project.
Tell us a little bit about some of the people that you’ve worked with…
The master. Our musical relationship started via my friend Daryl Palumbo (of Glassjaw and Head Automatica) and Yak Balls. I first started working with El as a live player in his band. I did some Ableton work and keys and stuff. It was incredibly amazing getting to literally go through a majority of El’s catalog preparing the show. He’s truly one of the greats when it comes to hip-hop production and how to make music make you feel things. Since then, I helped engineer some vocals for El on his last album and actually last night, I was recording him and Killer Mike for some stuff they are currently working on. I always envisioned us making beats together on a project of mine, but me and Rood cooked up this sick beat one day that ended up being “Sirens” and it ended up being something perfect for El to rap on. I love his verse so much on it.
Andrea is an alien. She’s the greatest at everything. It’s just a matter of time before she sells 23 million records and I don’t know how to get ahold of her anymore, but it’s cool for now. We’ve worked on a lot of stuff since we met at the Red Bull Music Academy. Our workflow is pretty insane and it’s ’cause we communicate so well. We’ve written a mob of music and it always flows like water ’cause we have so much fun. I sent her most of the music while she was in Mexico, then she came out to LA and we tracked vocals and listened to KDAY for a week. I showed her the secret that the god of percussion Lenny Castro adds to the track too.
I can’t say enough about Travis. Him and Hudson Mohawke are the dalai lamas of what we do. They make you want to quit music and also inspire you to work as hard as you can for the rest of your life at the same time. Didn’t even think we would work together but I think Trav hit me one day he was in town and it ended up great. We were both vegetarian for so long; since I broke, I always end up asking veggie cats if they are still veggie and he was like, “Nah, I eat burgers now.” We went and got a burger at Five Leaves in Brooklyn – medium rare, of course. After that, we cut up some amens and had a blast. The song originally had an amazing He-Man sample before the drop but we had to take it out. Still always secretly want someone to voice this track.
The Gaslamp Killer
Willie is the best. Myself, Computer Jay and GLK chilled in Jay’s basement and cooked up a track. Willie told us to erase the first idea, which was maybe the pinnacle of the session ’cause we ended up with the song we wrote. I spent so much time in L.A. in the past few years that I needed something from the West on my record. This song reminds me of all the good, bad and weird things of 2011 out there.
I wouldn’t be here without L-Vis. He was the first person to give me a shot to do a project that wasn’t a band of my own. We wrote a whole record together and actually made a beat yesterday. L-Vis has the most amazing imagination – it’s really inspiring. He’s one of my favorites. The best part of making this record with L-Vis was connecting in a life way forever. From the beginning to the end, we were both in rough spots in our lives and being there for each other to work them out is really why I love doing this so much.
STREAM OR DOWNLOAD THE NEW NICK HOOK BELOW: