Q+A: 5 Minutes with Ormiston

Singer and songwriter Ormiston a.k.a. Nicola Ormiston has shared his latest project, the Hammer Down(EP Remix) via Lisbon Lux Records. With a lush blend of French Touch, indie and chillwave, we see several unique spins of the musician’s original tracks. These songs are taken from his previous LP of the same title, and also feature an official remix from names like Fred Falke, Das Mörtal, as well as Lisbon Lux Records label head Julien Manaud a.k.a. French Fox. Whether you like French House beats or more indie-focused soundscapes, this latest EP features the best of both worlds and may have you discovering new genres that you love in the process. We chatted with the multi-talented act Ormiston who shares further insight on his music in this exclusive interview.

Stream / Download: Hammer Down (EP Remix)

Set the tone for us. Why the arts?

Luckily for me, I was in a household with musicians and arts, which definitely had an impact on me throughout my childhood. I was always drawn to music, films, and visual arts since a young boy! My mother played saxophone in many bands in the local scene. She introduced me to jazz at a young age. My father was more into punk from the late ‘70s, which I really enjoyed.

Which comes first when you’re producing – the sound or the idea?

I guess a mix of both is really important. A good sound might lead you to a great idea and it also works the other way around.

Does your material feature any collaborations?

We’ve just put out a remix EP. A few producers such as Fred Falke,  Das Mortal, and French Fox collaborated on the EP. I’ve had a few players join in on the record, but most of the songs were in an advanced state at that time. Mixer and record producer Sam Gemme got on board to finalize the mixes. He’s a real champ, uses only hardware gear. I was extremely impressed when he created most of his delays and flangers using tape! He really brought the songs to the right place, couldn’t be happier.

What’s on your current playlist?

Not too crazy about playlists, but I’ve been crazy about “Freak Slug” and “Video Age” recently. I really enjoy listening to a record in my car from start to finish by an artist I like.

Tell us about the chemistry you have with your fans on stage.

Love being on stage and feeling the room groove to the tunes; it’s really great to see the songs take a form of evolution on stage. I have a great band with me. I have to say, they all bring their own touch and musicality to the project, which gives the songs a new life. We played a show last fall and the people were just vibing near the stage. The heat was really intense and the room got pretty humid; it was steaming in there! There was a major power outage that happened during the peak of the last song of the set, and the screams that followed were so cool!

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

I try not to focus so much on being “new”. Like any other artists that enjoy listening to, I feel a lot of the time bands/songwriters bring their own touch and personality when creating “that sound”. But it should never feel complicated or like something other than you. 

Take us through a day in the recording studio.

I usually plug in my synths or guitars, noodle a bit until I find something interesting. If I end up finding something cool I’ll try and work intensely on that piece for 3-4 hours maximum. Bringing ideas to compliment that 1st spark. I’ll have a listen after taking a break, if it still inspires me I’ll rework on it the next day, but I usually dump a lot of those ideas before actually completing a track.

Was there a specific moment in your life where you thought, “this is what I want to do”?

I still pinch myself thinking I make and create music. It’s definitely not something I take for granted.

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

WATER, can’t get enough of it.

Any emerging artists on your radar?


What gets your creative juices flowing?

Listening to music at parties, shops, cafes, etc. I feel like you have 0 expectations, the music simply flows without having to think too much or trying to understand the song’s meaning.

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

I have a late 80’s Japanese Stratocaster (Guitar) with a “Hook Amp”, Prophet Rev2 (Synth), Moog Prodigy (Synth),  Gender Precision Bass. I use the API 512C’s as preamps. I record my vocals through a Neumann U87. I try to use fewer Synth plugins but I do like them when creating basses; they make them sound so clear and precise. I do create mixes inside the box, I use a lot of the UAD plugins. They are simply phenomenal and always inspiring. I’ve always worked “inside the box”. It’s just a thing of my generation, I’m used to it but would love to incorporate some hardware compressors and effects when mixing. Those always seem to sound more ‘musical’ than any plugins. They tend to bring beautiful harmonics and a more natural distortion than the digital clipping you get with plugins…

Any side projects you’re working on?

Not at the moment, but you never know!

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

Definitely, I feel it’s the best way to stay inspired. You always need to try new things, new approaches, because it’s too easy and often unproductive to do the same thing with the same tools.

Breakdown the news for us: what can we expect from you this year?

The “Hammer Down remix EP” just came out for the summer of ‘22! Right now, I’m focusing on writing new material. Stay tuned!

Famous last words?

“For me music is like the center of everything” – Keith Richards

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Image credit: parfumdefemme