Nihil Young with wolf

Nihil Young’s Frequenza: A Decade of Defying Odds

R.A. Bakr

FRISKY sits down, dives deep and talks with Nihil Young about his career, life hurdles with depression, influences, and his new show Frequenza.

With endless industry support from the likes of Tiesto, Sasha, Umek, Solomun, Hot Since 82 and Danny Tenaglia among others – multifaceted Italian-based electronic artist and Frequenza label boss Nilhil Young continues to defy the odds.

Better known by his monikers, Nihil Young and Less Hate, Mattia Marotta is considered by many as a prominent trendsetter in the international electronic underground music scene. He humbly boasts a strong successful discography of original tracks and remixes with labels such as Ultra, Toolroom, KMS, Gem Records and Sharam’s Yoshitoshi Recordings – just to name a few.

Furthermore, he’s sold well over 100,000 copies of original works (on Beatport alone) not factoring in countless tracks as both a ghost and co-producer, to racking up millions of plays on Spotify. Therefore, it’s no surprise FRISKY is adding Nihil Young and his new show ‘Frequenza’ to the growing FRISKY family.

Despite Mattia’s lifelong career accomplishments, he’s experienced personal hurdles and difficulties with depression. As he opened up and shared with me, “I tend to be very discreet about anything that’s private, not for any particular reason. I was a little slow and super awkward until just a few years ago. I’m still kind of crazy but, I wasn’t really able to talk to people or be social much.” He further adds, “I would just spend time with a few close friends, and I would rather be home alone practicing DJ-ing and later on doing music.”

After completing classical studies, Nihil acted upon academic interests and started to study anthropology and psychology. Regrettably, he lost interest. It wasn’t until he started on a downward spiral that he realized depression was taking serious hold of his life. He painfully describes: “I lost myself a couple of times, had severe depression and suffered psychological abuse within the industry and even enduring physical abuse in a relationship. I was just too kind and soft, I often paid for it the hard way.” As he explained, “I started doing heavy and regrettable stuff that nearly killed me a couple of times. But here I am – super happy, married to my soul mate and determined to do my best with music and better myself as a person every day.”

Nihil fought his demons vowing depression will never win. Music remains something he cannot live without. By having a broad appreciation for the craft, Nihil’s influences range from classical, early electro to old school hip hop, funk, disco, 90s dance, and even Eurodance. When I asked him why he started to make music, he simply replied; “Music was the most important thing to me – since always”.

2019 marks an important exciting milestone as Nihil celebrates 10 years of running his successful Frequenza brand and begins his new venture with FRISKY.

There’s no doubt we are all in for an electrifying treat with each show Nihil brings us. “I will be showcasing current and future releases from Frequenza and myself… and would love to give space to some of my favorite current and past tunes”, he said. And excitingly adds, “You’ll get to hear an exclusive sneak peek of my newest release from my studio pals POLS that includes a lovely Ramon Tapia remix that lands in stores June 24th”.

We continued our talks about his new show ‘Frequenza’ giving us insight into his world – production and sound encompassing everything from House to Techno, Progressive, Minimal, Tech House, Nu Disco, Deep House and even downbeat electronica. Basically, a little something for everyone to love and bounce to.

Tune in and catch ‘Frequenza’ every 1st Friday of each month right here on DEEP, premiering on June 7th @ 3 PM EST [convert timezone] and available on-demand anytime after with FRISKY Premium.

Hello, my friend and welcome to the FRISKY family! I must say this is an absolute pleasure. I’d like to thank you for taking time from your busy schedule to do this interview. Your music is a delight to listen to and no doubt Frisky listeners will be amazed. For those not yet familiar with your moniker ‘Nihil Young’ and label Frequenza, give us some insight into your backstory.

It’s absolutely my pleasure to be on on board with you, and thanks for having me! So, my name is Mattia Marotta, DJ / producer and turntablist, and I’m the owner of Italy-based indie electronic music label Frequenza, which I run since 2009. I’m probably best known – as Nihil Young and Less Hate, although I did some releases as 7th Star too – for my work on labels like Definitive (with collaborative singles with John Acquaviva and remixes by Olivier Giacomotto, Simon Doty, Stefano Noferini), Toolroom, KMS, and surely for my work with the label Frequenza, where over the years I had the honor to host excellent talent like Maetrik, Ramon Tapia, Gary Beck, Pig & Dan, Lutzenkirchen, Simina Grigoriu to name just a few.

Let’s begin by talking about your Frequenza show. Kindly share with me how the project got started with FRISKY? What will we hear from your Frequenza Records show? Anything special FRISKY listeners should look out for and take away from your music?

On occasions I would also love to broadcast my live sets, which I’m currently working on in preparation for the release of my next full-length album. Most people know me for not being genre obsessed as I love to do what I feel without worrying so much about what’s currently trending. Right now, I feel most at ease with progressive melodic music and I’m working on a unique blend of techno and progressive.

I also love to include natural sounds into my production, field recording, and I work a lot with natural frequencies. I will probably record some of my next songs in 432hz. I also love doing actual songs so I’m working on some new ones with some really talented singers. This will allow me to add more of my own message into my music and hopefully FRISKY’s listeners will be pleased by the results.

On that note, describe your thoughts about being part of the FRISKY family.

I know some of the team for just a couple of weeks and I feel at home already. It’s a pleasant surprise as I’m a long-time fan of the network.

This is exciting, 2019 marks an important milestone for you and Frequenza with 10 years of running your successful label and brand. In 2009, when Frequenza was born, you had your first vinyl release, ‘Bye Bye My Brain’. How would you assess your growth as an artist over the years? Overall, when you’re producing a record, how do you manage to keep capturing ideas that become the magic?

It sure is crazy how time flies. I remember doing weird, thoughtless music back in the day and hitting the charts so easily, both with vinyl and digital releases. Nowadays, I just can’t stand any of that and I always feel the urge to do something better and keep pushing harder. The process didn’t sit well with my mental health over the years as I have had some troubling experiences, both private and related to the industry.

However, I feel fine and stable right now and I have grown a lot! What hasn’t really changed at all, is my curiosity in the studio and in the way that I tend to explore and produce all kind of music. About music production and how to turn music into magic, I would just say I don’t really push that hard when I’m not feeling inspired. Inspiration and enthusiasm when you’re receiving a melody or a vocal Idea from above and the way that you avoid overworking and ruin the original message, it is what makes it magic.

It’s not easy as it sounds, if it sounded easy at all, but I really think that your ego as a person, musician, producer – be it being over-self- critical or not critical at all – can really stand in the way of creating something simple but special, most of the times.

Making music no doubt remains your passion. What would you say has been that one surprise/moment so far that’s made you stop and say “wow” about choosing music as your career? And what has been an unexpected and/or welcome challenge to it all?

I wasn’t really born into it, but I kinda was. What really inspired me when I was very little was mixing tapes and enjoying my family moments with mixtapes my mom and dad used to make, and they had some great tastes. I feel lucky about that, I know a bit of everything from early funk, disco to rock, jazz, traditional and classical music. What really made me want it to become a career was my love for hip hop and turntables when I was a teenager and discovering house and electronic music shortly thereafter.

Nihil Young in Studio

Thru out the ages, people have incorporated music into their lives. Nowadays, it’s fair to say that we turn to music for support plus (as a way) to escape from everyday realities. How do you want your music to be both received and appreciated?

I would definitely like it if my music could help people and relieve them from stress, anxiety and psychological trauma. I never was a fan of going big or fame in general, being recognized or appreciated, but if what I do was to help anyone or even help shape any of their special moments it would make me most happy.

You recently said via social media: “Have a purpose, find a purpose. If you don’t find it, create it. Let it be a positive one.” In as such, adding to our previous question, music in a sense always allows us to see endless possibilities and empowers our inner strengths. Describe to me, what purpose/role in society as a music artist do you consider yourself having?

With that post I was referring to psychological well-being. A good advice is to always try and get creative. Try to create something and try a little bit of everything with moderation. Don’t expect anything from it. But if you really find something that you like and find a way to make it a purpose, that can actually save your life. If you have no purpose at all it’s fairly easy to get lost, especially in this time and age. I saw it happen to way too many people. And on the other hand, I saw people’s life changing dramatically for the better as soon as they started to get serious with their purpose.

What do you look for when choosing an artist to produce and sign to Frequenza? If you were to give one piece of advice to an up-and-coming DJ, producer/artist what would it be? In addition, knowing what you know today of the industry, what would you tell your younger self?

I like to give space to artists who are themselves, and my only advice is be yourself. Don’t get trapped into trend cages or whatever you hear around. I hear all sort of producers and artists who say now it’s time to make tech house, or house or whatever, because now it’s the time as it’s the bestselling genre. I think that if you fall for that you will never be able to be unique, stand out and recognized as an artist. What I would tell my younger self? “Don’t do that shit, what’s wrong with you?”

How do you see the current state of electronic music versus that of upholding true “underground roots”? In what ways do you and Frequenza appeal to a broader global audience? And in reaching diverse listeners of all ages?

I think this underground thing is a bit naive. It’s lovely and I get it, I can be like that too, sometimes. But it’s very puerile. I think what people mean when they talk underground this and commercial that, is just about how hard it can be to find an artist that stands out for being special and innovative, unique and different. As I said earlier, I’m not a big fan of being famous or appealing to a broader audience, as I want things to happen naturally, just as I do with my work in the studio.

Forcing things means forcing creativity and must necessarily coincide with sounding like what’s selling right now. And that’s exactly how Pop music works – not that I have anything against it. I know that Frequenza is recognized for always being there despite of trending genres, charts and commercial moves, for putting out music and giving room to up and coming artists and believing on some of the very big ones today, back in the day when few people did.

I read that you were fascinated by turntables and the art of scratching. The great masters such as Jam Master Jay, Terminator X, and Grandmaster Flash were inspirations. Who are some of your favorite artists or rather, what musicians (new and iconic) have continued to inspire you and your art? Who would you absolutely love to work and collaborate with in the future?

Michael Jackson and Quincy Jones are a never-ending source of inspiration. Herbie Hancock, the entire Salsoul catalogue. I would rather not pick one, but entire movements and cultures like funk, soul and disco. Even “sub-genres” like Italo-disco and electro are a never-ending source of inspiration and great ideas. It’s crazy how they could go everywhere with just a couple of synthesizers and how they laid down the work for everything that’s still going on today and on a large scale it still wants to sound as it sounded then. Thinking of Daft Punk for example.

Speaking about collaboration, you work often with a good mutual friend, Talal Hakim, who just recently launched his FRISKY show too. Your remix of his track ‘Night Beach’ has rave reviews and showcases a ‘nu disco’ high energy sound. What was the inspiration for doing this track?

Talal is a really close friend and we’re working a lot together these days. He asked me to remix that tune and it was late summer, last year, I was feeling frisky and they wanted to go with something slow so instead of doing some fancy electronic downbeat I decided to play a bit with my synth and do a funky, disco-y take. This remix was basically played live. I just triggered the arpeggio on the bassline here and there to make it more “bouncy” after hearing it again.

Both as an artist and producer, your catalogue keeps growing and growing. Aside from some of your recent releases such as your remix of Dan McKie’s ‘The Plunger’, original track/EP ‘Ascension’ and ‘DMT’ with Durtysoxxx, to name a few – are there any new projects/album releases that you’re currently working on you could give us a “sneaky peak” of and would like to share with us?

I’m working on my next album, percolating a lot as usual, and some more collaborative tunes with other friends and producers, as I love to collaborate. I can tell you about the next ones on Frequenza as I just planned two of the releases happening for the 10th anniversary of the label. I did a kind of psychedelic techno tune with my friend Shay De Castro called Dichotomy that’s getting remix by Gary Beck, Forest People and Devid Dega and will be released during summer. Super excited about that as the Beck remix is perfect and I’m happy with the Original mix too. Still waiting on the other ones but Forest People and David are two of the most talented underrated producers I know. The other release will see my tunes Ascension and She remixed by other artists I love right now. More about that later 🙂 There’s also one of my favorite tunes I did in the past few months called Luna, that’s getting released by Toolroom Records soon. I can’t wait to play all these on my FRISKY shows.

Now for fun question time:

If you had 3 wishes, what would they be and why?

Global peace, global veganism and a better approach to self, spirituality and nature. I guess that makes 5 [laughs].

If you were a superhero what would your name be and what powers would your character have?

I would be some kind of psychedelic Jesus who would help people overcome trauma and division.

Besides making amazing music, what do you like to do for fun?

That’s too kind of you to say. I like designing the label artwork, I love to design websites, I love animals, I collect minerals.

The entertainment / music industry can be harsh. Have you accomplished all the goals you set for yourself, or do you feel there’s still more “mountains to climb”?

To tell you the truth I’m starting to set goals for myself right now. So, there’s definitely some Mount Olympus to climb there. Maybe Everest.

Well my friend, on behalf of FRISKY News, I’d like to Thank You again for taking time with me and FRISKY in sharing your thoughts. It’s been fun and a true pleasure! Therefore, before we conclude our interview, do you have any final thoughts?

Thank you for having me once again! I think that’s It. Final thoughts? Just be cool to one another and stop fighting about things you can’t change and won’t ever change by fighting on social media.

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Tune into the premiere on June 7th @ 3 PM EST [convert timezone]
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