Australian producer Nyxen gives indie-electronic music a refreshing twist, and now we know why [Interview]
Sometimes the best electronic music producers are those who stumbled into the genre — rather than those who sought it out. The quickly-ascending Nyxen is a perfect example of the former, thanks to her cool, instrumental-infused tunes that are quickly making her a name in the industry. She is the perfect example of how a diverse musical background can lead to a fresh take on electronic music, and prove how sometimes even the most seemingly unrelated forms of music can come to life when a producer is able to pull from a wide array of musical influences.
Tokyo-born and Sydney, Australia based, Chelsea Lester grew up playing any instrument she could get her hands on. She began with the keyboard and the violin. At 11, she finally convinced her mom to buy her a guitar, which she cites truly sparked her obsession with music. She remembers, “when I was in high school, I’d play around with pretty much every instrument the school music room had to offer, and I’d sneak into my sisters room and play her bass guitar when she wasn’t home. Homework for me was dumping my books in a pile and plugging my amp in!” Her singular focus on music, while seemingly risky, has never been a choice for her. When asked what her backup plan is should music not work out, Lester notes that she does not have one. Music is it for her, and it has always been her one true passion.
Lester was initially inspired by the Synthetic Band phase in the early 2000’s, citing acts like Miike Snow and MGMT as early influences. She started recording her own instrumentals, becoming enamored by the idea that she could record herself, and modify the recordings to sound exactly as she wanted them to. This led to her playing around with Ableton, which allowed her to expand her sonic repertoire into endless opportunities that the software provides. She reflects on this realization, noting, “when I started using Ableton, it kind’ve opened up this whole new world where you can have all these different layers of sound complimenting each other, rather than just one or two layers.” That’s when Lester went from just a musician to an “electronic music producer.”
What is most unique about Lester’s experience is that her foray into Ableton and music production coincided with her 18th birthday, and therefore entrance into the world of clubbing and productions coming to life. She talks about this, saying, “I had just turned 18 at the time, so I was experiencing clubbing and electronic music in a new setting, so I think it was a super natural direction to go in because of all the sounds I was hearing in these crazy new environments.”
While the electronic music world was certainly not where she came from, it is a natural future given Lester’s fascination with production and blending her passion for instrumentals with the idea of her sound design coming to life. Lester’s moniker Nyxen has slowly been ascending into electronic music notoriety, and she really got her start in 2015 after signing to Unknown Records. Since then, she has amassed over 10 million streams on Spotify alone across hit tracks “Running,” “In The City,” and now newest release “Chains,” among others.
One unifying theme across her current roster of releases is that she is the featured vocalist on all of her tracks. She notes that vocals have always been a secondary component to her music, so she has not felt the need to bring in outside vocalists just yet. As her music progresses and she releases a few more instrumental based tracks, she says she would be interested in bringing in more outside vocalists to add a new dynamic to her music.
There will undoubtedly be a place for Nyxen in the electrosphere, as her music continues to spark interest thanks to its much needed and refreshing sound. While her touring is mainly confined to Australia for the time being, she dreams of performing at Red Rocks Amphitheater in Denver, CO. Nyxen’s tunes are what anyone needs on a relaxing summer day, so take a listen to smooth “Chains” as the season comes to a close.
What is your musical background? You play a few instruments- can you tell us about that?
I grew up playing a few instruments (the violin and keyboard), but I was always fascinated by guitars. I begged my parents for one, and when I was around 11 or 12 my mum finally caved and bought me an acoustic, and my obsession evolved from there. When I was in high school, I’d play around with pretty much every instrument the school music room had on offer, and I’d sneak into my sisters room and play her bass guitar when she wasn’t home. Homework for me was dumping my books in a pile and plugging my amp in!
What inspired you to become an electronic music producer?
I really liked the idea of being able to record all the things I had previously been playing with my guitar. Instead of recording snippets of songs on my old Nokia, I could make something and have an mp3 file to listen back to, sounding exactly how I wanted it to. When I started using Ableton, it kind of opened up this whole new world where you can have all these different layers of sound complimenting each other rather than just one or two layers. I had just turned 18 at the time, so I was experiencing clubbing and electronic music in a new setting, so I think it was a super natural direction to go in because of all the sounds I was hearing in these crazy new environments.
If you weren’t producing music, what would you be doing in terms of a career?
I genuinely have no idea what I would be doing. Music has been the only thing I’ve ever loved doing, so I can’t imagine what I’d be doing if it wasn’t this.
Should we expect to hear your vocals in all of your releases moving forward? Or do you see yourself branching out and producing tracks with other people’s vocals at some point?
I’d definitely love to work with another vocalist on some music! I’ve worked with an amazing vocalist before on an unreleased song. I’ve always used my vocals within my songs- they’ve just not been the main narrative of the music. Most of the new music I’ve been working on has a main vocal line, so definitely expect more of that, but I’d like to put out a few more instrumentals, and would love to get another singer on board to add a different dimension/vibe.
Is there anywhere you are dying to play that you haven’t had the chance to yet?
There are so many places I want to play. I would LOVE to play at the Red Rocks Amphitheatre one day. That would be an absolute dream. It looks like the most stunning venue, and the idea that these rocks have just formed in that way over millions of years to form perfect acoustics is mind-blowing for me, so I’d completely lose it if I ever got to play there (or even just see a show there).
When you aren’t producing music, what are you doing in your free time?
I’m a little bit boring haha I just really like hanging out with my friends, eating ramen, and usually if I’m cruising around at home, I’ll pull out my acoustic and have a little strum. I also play on a basketball team, so you might find me in a park having a little shoot.
What’s your weirdest habit? Conversely, do you have any pet peeves?
I have a few pretty weird habits! I say “hectic,” “sick” and “boom” an excessive amount, and I talk with my arms a bit too much. I don’t really have any pet peeves. My friends would probably say differently haha, but I can’t think of anything.
What is something your fans probably don’t know about you that you would like them to?
I went through a pretty rough time a few years ago where I didn’t really have anywhere to live for a little while, and was super lucky that I’m surrounded by beautiful people who helped me out.
I ended up moving in with my friends’ family, who I consider my extended family now, and I was working as a truck driver to free up time to work on music. I’ve always used music as an outlet to express how I feel or how I want to feel, so it means pretty much everything to me that people want to join me on this journey.
If you could hand pick a mentor as you kickstart your career, who would it be?
I’d probably pick Jai Paul. His style of producing is the sickest thing, and he has this talent for getting sounds to breeze across the song abruptly in the best kind’ve way. It’s such a perfect mix of electronic elements and more organic sounds like guitars and vocals. I’d also really like to hear some of his new music because I’ve had three songs on repeat for about 6 years now.