Q+A: 5 Minutes with NiftySax
Image credit: David Vendryes
Today, our attention is drawn to Germany, where rising ambient jazz creator NiftySax resides, creating his mellow yet highly conceptual beats. The artist was originally born in Italy but spent some time in Sydney before settling in Berlin. His latest collection Spheres was just released on mainstream streaming channels, befuddling distributors who needed to separate it out into two albums as the length of 55 tracks was relatively unheard of before. However, it’s in the NFT community that the artist really shines with his music on blockchain generating more than 29 ETH in volume traded while this particular collection was sold out in just 10 hours.
It’s clear that the world of NFT’s is currently bleeding over to the general thought process (you can read our feature on the music industry’s shift here) and we’re left tentatively feeling our way forward. However, it’s when you meet musicians such as NiftySax that you’re introduced to a bit more of a holistic view on the subject. The new venture gives a chance to even the playing field during difficult times – especially when live music tethers on a delicate thread. Milo Lombardi, a classically trained jazz artist, performed throughout Europe before Covid hit. Learn how the musician transformed into the now NiftySax in the interview below.
Was there a specific moment in your life where you thought, “this is what I want to do”?
Not necessarily a specific moment that I can remember. But as a kid, whenever I saw musicians play, whether it was a small bar or a theatre, I thought to myself “That’s so cool! I wanna be one of them”. Plus, I’ve always felt such a magical attraction to being “backstage”.
Then, when I started to play my first shows, I knew I wouldn’t want any other job!
What’s on your current playlist?
“Kind of Blue” by Miles Davis has entered my playlist about 20 years ago and never left. I listen to “Flamenco Sketches” on a regular basis. I need it.
Lately, I’m also listening to a lot of Japanese 80s City Pop and Fusion.
Any emerging artists on your radar?
Giorgia May. Her singing and songwriting sound so effortless and genuine, I love it!
What gets your creative juices flowing?
I get my best ideas in the shower, during walks, after meditation or while having intense discussions with people I respect. I’m also a big fan of the herb. 🙂
What techniques do you experiment with to get your original sound?
I love really long reverbs. A “shower of sound” that embraces me and the listener.
The sound reflections allow me to have a dialogue with myself.
As far as sax tone, I like it very soft and fuzzy and I enjoy experimenting with all the unusual noises that a saxophone can produce.
Tell us how you got started in the world of NFTs
In short, the pandemic was tough. My whole business model was focused on live music. When that stopped, I had to completely re-invent myself.
I suddenly had a lot of time on my hands and I used it to learn a bunch of new things and hone my skills in areas of my profession I felt were lacking, like guitar/piano playing, clarinet, music production etc.
I also learned about the blockchain and I saw artists sell their works online as NFTs. I quickly realized that there were almost no musicians at all creating Music on the blockchain, so I decided to research as much as I could find about NFTs and the technology around them. It turned out that I was actually one of the first musicians in the world to create music NFTs, which is mind-blowing!
My collection was the first “human-made” music collection on Ethereum to implement a rarity structure like mine.
The world of art is rapidly changing – what do you think is the next step in the evolution?
I see a very near future where everyone will be able to create their own NFT store and sell their creations directly to their fans/consumers.
Thanks to the blockchain, independent artists can dream again about creative and financial freedom.
Web 3.0, which allows for certified ownership of digital assets, opens the door for dynamics that were very difficult if not impossible to implement in web 2.0: like airdrops (gifts exclusive to fans), memberships, content-gating, direct access to the artist, etc. This is a new era of the internet!
Just a quick example of some cool things that can only happen in web 3.0:
By applying a rarity structure to my release, I was able to create scarcity and therefore, value for my listeners/collectors. My community already made over $60.000 by re-selling my music pieces, which is amazing!
Your latest album is over 55 tracks long. Tell us about some of the challenges of creating so many unique pieces
That number came in the conception of the album and was calculated in order to achieve my desired rarity structure:
10 pieces in an edition of 10 (10 tracks with 10 copies each = 100 tracks, each with their own ID)
9 in an edition of 9 (9 tracks with 9 copies each = 81 tracks, each with their own ID)
8 in an edition of 8
7 in an edition of 7
6 in an edition of 6
5 in an edition of 5
4 in an edition of 4
3 in an edition of 3
2 in an edition of 2
Only one as 1 of 1
55 unique pieces, creating a total supply of 385 NFTs.
Recording all that music was tough but totally worth it! It was quite a journey.
All the 55 tracks follow the same ethereal theme of the Music of the Spheres and the large, never-ending reverb glues all the pieces together with the aim of taking the listener on a journey through higher dimensions.
The biggest challenge was actually creating the visuals for the track. If you visit the collection on my website you’ll see that each piece comes with an audio-reactive video, which was carefully crafted. That took me the longest time, simply because it’s not my area of expertise and I had a lot to learn.
But again, it was totally worth it!
What is your personal favourite song on the album? Which one shouldn’t fans sleep on and why?
My personal favourite is probably Altair, which is short and sweet. And don’t sleep on Alpha Centauri, the last track of the double album and the rarest of them all in the NFT collection
What do you keep close by while you’re playing a set?
As little as possible. The ideal show is where I walk on stage with just my saxophone. Maybe I’ll have a spare reed in my pocket and a bottle of water, but that’s it
Take us through your collection of gear, tech or software that accompanies your creative expression.
I need a piano close to me. That’s where I like to chill musically. I just sit down and let my fingers and my mind go.
Then there’s my lady, my Selmer Reference 36 tenor sax, which I bought in Paris when I was 18 years old. I called up the main branch from Italy and said I wanted to go and try a few saxophones and, surprisingly, they said yes! So I went there by myself, they treated me super nicely and let me try 10-20 saxophones until I found her. It was love at first notes!
How have you refined your craft since you entered the industry?
Jazz cats never stop learning. Refining my craft will be a life-long journey.
My “voice” is still the same, but the deeper I go down the rabbit hole, the closer it is to my true self. The more I learn, the better I can express what my heart has to say.
Famous last words?
“This isn’t going anywhere..”
By Sarah Britton