In today’s internet age musicians can now have the ability to reach audiences from their bedroom, with the help of platforms such as YouTube and Patreon. One person who’s been having success with this is Nik Nocturnal who has just released his new album “Undying Shadow“. Nik has just hit 20,000 subscribers on his page being popular with his following due to his regular content that includes covers of songs from popular bands and original works of his own. We got to catch up with Nik and ask him a few questions, here’s what he had to say…
Hi Nik thanks for taking the time to chat with us how you doing today?
Hello, I’m doing great. I finally had a chance to relax during the last couple days of the year and now I’m more ready than ever to get back to creating music/content!
You’ve just released your new album “Undying Shadow” how’s the response been to the new release?
Yeah, I just released it a couple of weeks ago and I must say the response and feedback I’ve been getting from it is mind blowing. I personally have never been prouder of a project that I’ve created but I was never really sure how my fans and the public would perceive the album when it actually got released, so to see so many messages and comments of people saying they love the album and just purchased it is far beyond my expectations.
On the album you have a whole host of talented artists from other bands that feature on the album, can you tell us who’s on the album and how you came about collaborating with them?
Yes, the album is filled with 6 incredibly talents guest musicians such as: Dmitry Demyanenko & Andrew Ivaschenko of Shokran, Andy Cizek, Baptiste Vigier of Betraying The Martyrs, Florestan Durand of Novelists and Ben English of Invent, Animate. When I started writing Undying Shadow at the start of 2017 I knew I wanted to have exactly 3 guest solos and 3 guest vocalist tracks, I had no Idea exactly who I wanted at the time so I waited until I finished writing about 50% of the songs for the album until I started asking around because I wanted the guests to really fit the essence of the tracks, to make it feel like a real blend of artistry between Nik Nocturnal and the Guest’s signature sound. One of the first people I asked was Andy Cizek, that was a no brainier haha, He’s an amazing vocalist. We’re very good friends and think very a like when it comes to writing. When it came to the other guests the majority of them actually knew me because I’ve covered their bands songs on my YouTube channel. Over time I’ve talked to them and became good friends with them so when I asked them to play a part in the album they we’re glad to do so. Not only are all these guests talented but they are honestly such genuine and nice people which made the process that much more enjoyable. I’m a huge fan of all these guests and their bands so it’s still shocking to me that I was able to work with them.
You are well known on YouTube for putting out covers and learning songs extremely fast. How did you train yourself to be able to decipher songs so quickly?
It was kind of an unexpected talent I discovered. All I knew were my basic scales and their modes, I’ve been covering songs for years but I used to always use tabs, however, when I started getting into more modern music there was not tabs readily available so I just tried my best to trust my ear and never give up no matter how frustrating or long it took me, dedication was key. I wasn’t aware at the time what was considered fast when it came to learning a new song but I knew that the first covers of a new song on YouTube always seem to get the most views so when After The Burial’s – Lost In The Static came out, I wanted to test this theory. I never actually listened to ATB before I heard that song but I knew they were popular among the modern metal community which is why I covered it. When I woke up I noticed the video was already at 5x more views than any of my other covers and I saw many people commenting that they were surprised at how fast I did a cover for it. At that moment I discovered that I have some weird specialty when it comes to learning songs by ear fast so I kept going with it since, trying to push my accuracy and speed and much as possible.
What is your favourite track off the album and most challenging to play?
Oh, that’s a tough question to answer, I have different favourites for different reasons but if I must choose one I would say Nefarious II is my favourite track off the album because that was the track I made with the sole purpose of making something absolutely crazy and heavy. I wanted it to sound like a classical piece, but the deathcore version, it allowed me to experiment with a lot of unusual classical theory as well as with a lot of deathcore/death-metal style riffs that I didn’t usually use in my originals. The speed and technicality that a lot of those riffs are played with are the reason it’s also one of the hardest tracks to play on guitar off the album, for me at least.
What has been your favourite song to cover and also which was the most difficult to learn?
My favourite song to cover would probably be Architects – Gone With The Wind, or Doomsday. Those songs just have so much emotion in them and they aren’t TOO hard to play on guitar so it’s very easy to immerse yourself in them and not just focus on avoiding messing up.
Are there future plans to play any shows to support the album?
I don’t have plans to tour for this album anytime soon. I’m lucky enough to have so many supporters and followers on my YouTube channel so I figure that I could either go on tour for 3-4 weeks, pay all the expenses, and sell an OK amount of tickets, or I could just be in the comfort of my home for that time and make content which would probably get more people to listen to my music anyways. I would love to tour for my music one day, but I don’t think anytime soon would be the right time.
Being an independent artist, what advice would you give to aspiring musicians wanting to follow in your footsteps?
The biggest piece of advice I could give is never, ever, EVER, give up on what you love to do in life. You can make a living off doing anything now days with the internet, there are so many ways to monetize it’s insane, you just need to build it like it’s your own business. You have to really want it, if the desire is there then just put forward the dedication and anything is possible.
Can you tell us about what guitars and equipment you are currently using?
I’ve been using the same two guitars for years now, I have my 9-year-old 6 string which is a Schecter Hellraiser C1 – FR, and my 4-year-old 7 string which is a Schecter Blackjack ATX 7. My signal chain is my guitar > Axe FX II > Cubase 7 Elements, (recently Cubase 9.5 Elements) and my monitors are KRK Rokit 5. Axe FX II honestly does most of the work when it comes to my gear chain.
When did you first pick up a guitar and start to learn the instrument?
When I was around 9 years old I lived with my cousin and he got this game called Guitar Hero. When I tried that game, it was almost like I was instantly addicted to it, I played every day trying to get higher scores than I did the day before until one day I said, “I’m done, I want to play the real thing”. From there on I was lucky enough to get a cheap, but nice, Ibanez guitar and a few lessons. I ended up taking lessons for a year just to learn basic chords/scales/modes and then over the years covered many songs to learn new techniques and theory on my own.
What or who inspires your writing style and the music you create?
There are so many incredible bands and musicians that have inspired my writing style over the years, I’d say the biggest one when I was younger was Synyster Gates. He’s an insane guitarist when it comes to every aspect of the guitar but the emotion and musicality he puts into writing always amazed me. When I got into more modern metal my biggest musical influences started to become guitarists such as Misha Mansoor, Jason Richardson, and of course Dmitry Demyanenko. These guitarists really showed me that you can create something incredible without needing a full band, of course most of them have bands now, but just the ability to inflict so much emotion from their music by just being a guitarist is what inspired me to keep pushing and never stop.
There were some great releases last year – what was your favourite of 2017?
For 2017 I would have to say Betraying The Martyrs – The Resilient, Currents – The Place I Feel Safest, and Veil Of Maya – False Idol we’re all my top albums this year, I honestly can’t pick only one of them.
What can we see in store from yourself in 2018, any big plans?
Since 2017 was all about me working on Undying Shadow and making it the best it could be, 2018 is all about me pushing my YouTube channel as far as it can go. Over the years I’ve grown a love for creating content that’s not just original music and I want to further explore that avenue. I feel like my YouTube channel has so much potential but I’ve been neglecting it the past couple years, so this year I’m going all out!
If you could collaborate with any artist in the world who would it be?
Oh, that’s another very hard question to answer. There are so many artists who I love listening to and would love to work with but if I have to choose one I would pick Misha Mansoor. He is the person who opened my eyes to polyrhythms and the whole jazz/djent style of playing which is a huge influence for my own writing. The first riff in Periphery 1, All New Materials is still one of my absolute favourite riffs to this day.