Interview: Five Minutes with Nomis

By: Niki van den Heever

Multi-instrumentalist and producer Simon Hendrickx, AKA Nomis released his latest song ‘Feel Again’ on 4 May and it’s been described as the perfect campfire number. The artist started off early in his venture towards a musical career, at the age of 6, taking singing and guitar lessons, later moving on to try the drums, the trumpet, the mandolin and even the marimba. Nomis, however, settled on the guitar and piano as the main instruments of his creative expression and has since also focused on the production aspect of music making.

His first success was on The Vibe Guide Official’s YouTube channel with a remix of The Chainsmokers‘s hit ‘Roses’ accompanied by a self-made lyric video, which obtained 1 million views. A couple of months later he released his first original ‘Over You’ featuring the Lithuanian singer/songwriter Beatrich. Later in 2016, he got asked to remix Axwell and Shapov‘s ‘Belong’. Next to names as Aguelando and D.O.D and appearing on labels as Ultra and Axtone, the Nomis remix received almost 1 million streams on Spotify.

Nomis took some time to answer a few questions regarding his music, taste and what gets him inspired in his bedroom (studio).  

You started music very early on in life. Was there any other option for you to not do what you’re doing? What would you be if not an artist?

To be honest, music is still a hobby for me at the moment as I am also studying IT. I’d like to see myself combine them in the future as I think those two skills could work very well together! My parents have given me every chance to decide for myself what I want to do and have supported me in every choice I made. So, there was definitely an option for me to have chosen a different path in life but I am happy with where I am at the moment. If I did have to choose something else though, I would have wanted to study astronomy.

Your sound has been categorized as lowfi/chill. But if you had to describe your sound, how would you?

Hard question. I guess I would describe my sound as ‘acoustic meets electronic’? I always try to use some acoustic instruments as I love the way they sound in combination with electronic basses/synths. In every track included in the upcoming album, there are at least 2 or 3 acoustic instruments playing at some point. I’m also super addicted to using ambient FX like crickets chirping, a bonfire crackling, city sounds in the morning etc. Sometimes I feel like I use these sounds too much but I can’t resist.

You’ve remixed a few artists but if you could collab with anyone, who would that be?

Also, a very hard question, so many names come to mind. If I had to choose one, I guess I would choose Bon Iver. I think this would be an experience where I would be able to learn a lot. I have been listening to him ever since his first album was released and lately, my music production style has been going more and more in this direction. I feel like one of the things my music still lacks and his music has plenty of is uniqueness and the ability to really baffle listeners. This is also one of Flume’s biggest strengths and he would be a very close second place on my list. The third place would go to ford. I am in love with his music lately and he has been a big influence/inspiration for my debut album.

Is your playlist filled with chill vibes? What do you find yourself listening to when you’re not making your own music?

I listen to all kinds of music. I definitely have a lot of chill music in my playlists but I also love to listen to Future Bass, Indie, Pop and also some 70s-80s music. I just started using Spotify recently to create my own playlists but the past couple of years I have been addicted to Soundcloud. Mainly because any producer can upload any remix of any song which results in a ton of amazing and unknown remixes existing on this platform. I still use it on a daily basis to find new music.

If you could have anyone on a bill with you, whom would you create the greatest show with?

Mura Masa, Flume, Louis The Child, Whethan, Louis Futon. Because they are not only amazing artists and producers, their live shows are also very unique and blow your mind.

What techniques do you experiment with to get your original sound?

For this album, I tried to make my music sound as authentic and acoustic as possible, even though most parts are created with the plugins implemented in the software I use. For my piano’s, I use a tremolo plugin that makes it sound a bit out of tune which creates a realistic effect. I also try to place the different notes of the chords a little bit out of tempo which also contributes to that realistic effect and also makes it sound like the piano is actually being played live and not just being put into the music production software. Reverb and delay play a big part too. I do try to be cautious to not use too much of it, this can make a track sound very muddy. Lately, I have also experimented a lot with humming in my tracks, as you might notice too in ‘Feel Again’.

Take us through a day in the recording studio.

I don’t have a studio so I will describe how I typically start a song and walk you through my process. I usually just start by playing the piano or the guitar until I come up with a catchy melody/chord progression. After that, I try to come up with a sketch of what I want the song to be like in my head. What kind of vibe, which bpm, what elements I want to add. Then I open my music programming software and I start adding elements to that melody/chord progression such as a beat, pads, percussion, synths etc. A lot of the times, it doesn’t work out and I get stuck somewhere along the process (I have tons and tons of unfinished projects just sitting in my files). When it does work out and I finish the structure of a track, the next step is to listen to it over and over again on different devices so I can finetune it for release!

As mentioned before, music has been in your life from childhood but what was the defining moment for you when you realised that this is what you want to do with the rest of your life?

I think once I started feeling confident enough about my music to really share it with other people and when I actually got great feedback! Even if it’s still a hobby to me, I’m pretty sure I won’t stop making music soon!

What do you keep close by while you’re playing a set?

I almost never play sets and when I do, my two best friends are my USB stick with the music I like most at that moment and a cold beverage ;). In the future though, I would love to play sets using live instruments and launchpads.

Are there any emerging artists on your radar?

A couple of artists whom I like very much and you should keep an eye on are: ford, Jaron, knapsack, Ramzoid, Hanz, MEMBA and Monica Riskey!

Where do you draw the most inspiration from? Is there anything you turn to when you want to create?

I mostly turn to tracks that I really like. When I am listening to a song, it can sometimes give me the motivation to start working on a new track, trying to create a similar vibe. Most of my tracks are a mix of inspirations from different tracks and different artists that I like at that moment.

Take us through your collection of gear, tech or software that accompanies your creative expression.

As I am still a ‘bedroom’ producer my gear is quite limited. I work solely with a laptop, headphones and a microphone. I use the Blue Snowball Ice microphone, which in my opinion is one of the best microphones for beginning artists due to the amazing price/quality ratio. The guitar and vocals in ‘Feel Again’ were also recorded using this microphone. For software, I use Cubase Artist 6 (pretty outdated but I can’t get myself to update it because I am so used to this program) and some other plugins as Halion Sonic and Sylenth1.

How have you refined your craft since you entered the industry?

Mainly by trial and error, I guess. I have made a lot of tracks, about ten times as much as I release. Looking for new sounds that fit my style and this way both expanding and refining my sound library. I have also come a long way in terms of mixing and mastering my tracks. When I started out, I didn’t pay attention to this part of the songwriting process but I have learned along the way that this is one of the (if not the most) important parts in writing a song. In my opinion, a well written but badly mixed/mastered song will have less chance of success than an averagely written but well mixed/mastered track.

What does the idea of success look like to you?

People enjoying my music, me having access to the gear/software I like to use and being able to work with artists I look up to and enjoy listening to.

Tell us about your latest release ‘Feel Again’. What made you decide to go in this direction with recording your own vocals and riffs?

I have always had a hard time finding vocalists for my track. When I did find someone to sing on a track of mine, it didn’t always turn out the way I wanted and that left me unsatisfied with the end product (I can already tell you that the next release for the album is one where I collaborated with a vocalist and I’m very satisfied with how it turned out!). I don’t consider myself a very good singer but the way I processed my vocals made them sound pretty good and I was quite satisfied with them. I also decided to record a main guitar riff (which is loosely inspired by the riff in ‘Come Out and Play’ by Billie Eilish), and some accompanying chord riffs. The idea behind this track was to start from scratch and record everything myself and I am very happy with how it turned out

Famous last words?

I guess I’ll have to be cheesy here and just thank everyone for the support!

Listen to Nomis ‘Feel Again’ here.

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