Q+A: Five minutes with LYOD

For Niklas Heidkamp, aka LYOD, the ingredient that’s been missing most in contemporary dance music is emotion. For me it’s important that feelings come across and it moves people,” he said, making  it his mission to create music that satisfies both feeling and energy. It’s been a winning formula for him, one that in a short span of time has already garnered success to the tune of some 50 million streams across platforms, a Google campaign, and remixes for high profile acts such as Sam Feldt. Locking himself away from the world in a cabin by the sea, Heidkamp began working on the bones of what would become his debut album, Forgot How You Dance. Across ten tracks, including the early standouts Ride Alone Again and Fighting For, Heidkamp attempts to express a feeling he himself cannot fully define – to miss something, without being able to name it clearly. We caught up with him ahead of Forgot How You Dance’s release to find out more about the inspirations, emotions, and thinking that went into crafting this stunning debut. 




Congratulations on the upcoming release of your debut album, ‘Forgot How You Dance.’ Can you tell us about the inspiration behind the album’s title and what it represents to you at this point in your journey?

Thank you! I am really happy it’s finally out and people can hear the whole record. With the album I wanted to express my inner longing. A longing I can hardly put to words, but it’s a feeling of missing something. The title “Forgot How You Dance” came up in my head one day and I loved the emotions it carried straight away. I had so many pictures in my head and a feeling of how it should sound. The 10 songs of the album are a mix of melancholic joy, bittersweetness, longing and vulnerability coupled with a late summer feel that I love. It’s always hard for me to express these feelings in words but maybe that’s what it sums up best. After releasing a lot of singles the last two years, I really liked the idea of writing an album that tells a story and represents me as an artist even more. Last year I was already working on a few ideas for 2023 and they sounded different then the songs I had released so far. So, I quickly realised that there was more inside me than just a song. I wanted to create a soundtrack that people can listen to whenever they feel a certain kind or miss something. It also allowed me to develop a new sound and go into a new direction, which I am really happy with.


You’ve mentioned that the album’s tracks deal with a feeling of longing and nostalgia. How did you translate these complex emotions into your music, and what was your creative process like in capturing these sentiments?

I really feel inspired by the feeling of missing something and having a longing. That’s what gets me in the zone, and I hope people can feel and connect to that in some way when they listen to my music. But it can also be a picture of a sunset or a colour that inspires me. When it comes to translating these emotions into my music it’s a lot about picking the right chords to build the right emotional framework around the lyrics and choosing samples that emphasise this feeling. When I was younger, I loved listening to songs that gave me this kind of emotion, but I couldn’t really describe it and know how to express that in my music. But over the last couple of years, it has developed more and more subliminally, and it has become a feeling inside me that tells me if it sounds right or not. It’s hard to explain, but that’s kind of how it works. Whenever I start an idea, I love to be alone in the studio. This way I can just think about the music and not be disturbed in my thoughts. Most of the records started with the vocals. I like to take a demo or even a finished song of a completely different genre and build a new song idea around it. In this way I try to create something different, something that was not thought of or that is completely new. That’s when the magic happens for me. I always start with finding the right chords and melody to underline the emotions of the lyrics and the feeling I have in mind. When the song starts to sit in the right emotional framework, I start to build the arrangement. This whole process should never take too long. That way, I make sure to catch the magic of the first idea and get in a state of mind where I don’t think too much and just let my thoughts run free and capture the moment. Often it’s the very first versions that spark the most magic. Whenever I come back to the studio I try to relive that moment and recapture the feeling.


The album features a diverse range of collaborations and influences. Could you share with us how you approached working with artists like Bad Actor and creating a new version of Moby’s iconic track ‘Why Does My Heart Feel So Bad?’

Nearly all songs from the album have been made with my good friends and it was so much fun working together and bringing different ideas to the table. This album really is a team effort, and I am super grateful for that. Bad Actor is a good friend of mine too. We have known each other for a very long time and have been writing songs together since 2017. I really like to work with people I know for some time because they know how I think about melodies and it’s just great to write songs with friends.“Fighting For” is our first official collaboration and it has a very special upbringing. Bad Actor wrote this song together with a friend in 2015. He showed me the song the first time we met in 2017. I loved it and couldn’t forget it since that day. Last year I found this song back on his hard drive and I fell in love with it again. I sped it up, added a beat and rearranged the song. It all came down so quickly and it finally felt right to put it out. The only part that we re-recorded was the hook. Every other recording is still from the first session in 2015, which makes it very special for us and gives the record a lot of character. 



“Why Does My Heart Feel So Bad?” by Moby had a really big impact on my childhood and I share lots of memories with this legendary song. I always wanted to do my own interpretation, but it never felt right. When I started working on the album and the sound of it came together I made a version and we decided to tease it on socials and people loved it. With this song I wanted to bring some nostalgic feeling of the late 90’s back and put my own touch on it, while keeping the main essence of the original. I worked on it for almost a year, re-recording the vocals and recreating all the samples of the original and making countless versions until it finally felt right. Trying my best to honor the work of Moby. 


The album’s focus track, ‘I Got A Dream’, is co-produced by Alexis Troy. How did this collaboration come about, and how did your creative styles merge to create such a mesmerising track?

Me and Alexis Troy have known each other for a very long time. We met in 2014 and he was kind of a mentor for me in the early days when I started producing. Back then you couldn’t really find a lot of production tutorials on YouTube. So, I always wrote down questions while I was producing and went to Alexis’ studio every now and then and asked him for help. He also gave me feedback on my first songs and taught me a lot about songwriting, producing and arranging a song. In January this year, I played him an early version of the album and he really liked the songs and ideas I was working on. He gave me some very useful tips and inspiration for some records and we started building a song around the idea I had for “I Got A Dream”. It all came together very quickly and I am super happy with the result. Even though we come from completely different directions we share a lot of similarities when it comes to picking the right drum samples, rhythmic approach and sound manipulation and it was so much fun working together. 



Your music is often described as having a unique blend of dance and emotional resonance. How do you find the balance between creating music that’s both sonically engaging and emotionally impactful?

I like to evoke emotions and move people at the same time. That’s what it’s really about for me. To achieve that it really needs a combination of the right chords and melody, strong lyrics and a groove that makes people want to dance. If you combine all these elements in a song and find the right way to arrange it, you can really touch people in a certain way. People often underestimate the importance of arranging the song but that’s what really matters. It’s super important to give a song contrast in itself with emotional breakdowns and more uplifting hook parts. That way you can create a great balance between those two aspects. 


You’ve mentioned that warmth and emotion are important aspects of your music. In what ways do you incorporate these elements into your production, and what techniques do you use to ensure that your tracks convey feelings effectively?

I love songs that sound warm and create a certain kind of longing in the people’s head. I am a huge fan of songs with great melodies and soul. To express warmth in my tracks I like to use warm sounding drums, a lot of organic sounds like pianos and synthesisers that sound less cold. I am obsessed with soul vocals and voices that sound special and have a lot of character. I also get a lot of inspiration from colours and I love to express those in the artwork of my songs. Whenever I work on a song it’s more a feeling in my chest that tells me if it sounds right or not, rather than a certain technique. What really helped me during the last couple of years was writing as many songs as possible, to become better and better in expressing my feelings. And even if sometimes the first idea doesn’t feel right, I’ll put it away for some days and let my subconscious work with it. After a few days I come back and try out a different approach until the chords, melody and rhythm start to sit in the right framework. Sometimes it works and sometimes not. That’s just the way life is.


From producing your first tracks at the age of ten to accumulating over 50 million streams and working on notable projects like the German Google Pixel Campaign, your journey has been remarkable. What would you say has been the key driving force behind your rapid success in the music industry?

I think the key driving force for me is the love and passion for music. I was fascinated by music from a very young age and I just love to listen to it. I can think all day about a song and really get lost into it. I wanted to be like my idols, that played in front of thousands of people and release their own songs. That was always a dream for me and still is. And I am trying to get closer to this every day. And you know I really like to express my feelings in a song and share my thoughts through music. Even when I finished working in the studio, I like to watch tutorials for production and try to improve myself to become as good as my idols one day. 


How do you envision your sound evolving in the future, and are there any particular themes or directions you’d like to explore in your upcoming musical projects after ‘Forgot How You Dance’?

I really like the direction my sound has taken through the album and I am already working on the next original songs. I also love to remix my own songs and give them a new spin and a different interpretation. So maybe you can expect a Remix EP of the album in the near future. Musically I would love to work with more soul singers and bring genres together that you might not think of. I always try to keep an open mind and let new influences flow into my music. So I can very well imagine working a lot more with artists from all corners of the world in the future, such as Africa, Asia or South America.


Forgot How You Dance is out now via OUT FIT. Download and stream it here.

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