Essentials: “once upon” – Nikki Nair

It’s difficult to think of an artist in electronic music who has had a busier year than the Knoxville, TN native Nikki Nair. His latest single “once upon” is his third release on his label that he launched this year, on top of releases on other banner labels such as Dirtybird, Pretty Weird, Lobster Theremin, and Slippery Sounds. In addition, he’s had a major year on the touring front, serving as the opener for much of Justin Jay’s recent US tour as well as playing a Boiler Room event in Hyderabad, India. It feels like Nikki has been everywhere, and although sometimes that level of omnipresence may lead to fears of oversaturation, his versatile approach to both his releases and his DJ sets quell those concerns.

Although Nikki is primarily known for making electro and jungle/drum & bass, “once upon” is a foray into the trap and dubstep genres, styles he had previously explored on his More Is Different EP from last year as well as brief switch-ups in the middle of his songs “I Can’t Stop” and “step 2.” He takes that genre experimentation one step further here on More Is Different, with the songs owed to influences from artists from the late 2000s such as Hudson Mohawke and Untold. However, “once upon” fits more in line with material from rising stars in bass music such as G Jones and Ivy Lab – yet at the same time it feels distinctly like nobody else but Nikki Nair could make this track. He manages to incorporate some acid and breakbeat elements commonly found in his work that help make it stand out, and the repeating “once upon a time” vocal throughout is guaranteed to remain in your head for a while.

All in all, “once upon” is a standout in both its genre as well as the ever-increasing vast catalog of Nikki Nair—hopefully, he continues to expand in this direction, although knowing Nikki there are infinite possibilities as to where his sound will go next.

Follow Nikki Nair on Spotify.

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