Yousef’s Circus Recordings delivered their latest Circus Selector V/A, the eighth installment in the series. Across this V/A, Yousef has brought together four up-and-coming names, including one that we at 6AM are already familiar with and recently got to interview: Alan Nieves.
New York City’s Alan Nieves is a rising star in the global house music scene with heavy support from the likes of Marco Carola, Jamie Jones, The Martinez Brothers, Joseph Capriati, Loco Dice, Erick Morillo, Lee Foss, Marc Kinchen, and Steve Lawler.
He has released on world-renowned labels such as elrow Music and with both a Beatport #1 track and a #1 release to his name – he has established himself as a name to watch. Alan Nieves has toured the USA and Europe playing for brands such as elrow, The BPM Festival, Electric Zoo Festival, Amsterdam Dance Event, Miami Music Week, Sonar Off Week Barcelona, and Lost Beach Club as well as shows across Ibiza, London, Manchester, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, and Miami.
Alan Nieves’ contribution to Circus Selector V/A is a minimal-esque, machine acid roller with an almighty thumping kick called “Crown,” which we have premiered exclusively on our SoundCloud channel for you.
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Nieves was busy making his way around the globe to share his unique brand of cutting edge upfront House music. So, what has be been up to in recent months?
Read on to find out…
Hi Alan, nice speaking to you today! How are you doing?
Hi guys! I am doing very well thank you for asking and glad to be here – good speaking with you also.
It’s been a tumultuous few months for our society and industry. I’d like to focus on the positives and ask you what some of the silver linings have been to you since this pandemic began?
That’s a great question. For me, I’d say that some of the positives definitely include more time at home with friends, family, and my dog Duncan. Additionally, I think it’s been a really nice time to reflect on my sound as an artist and push myself into newer places musically. When it’s business as usual, it can be tempting to continue to fall into a rhythm when it comes to music and making tracks but a period like this can be highly conducive to experimentation and breaking the usual rhythm to develop one’s skills further and try to get better or learn new things.
Additionally, I think one positive for all artists is also the increased availability when it comes to sending demos out as the label owners are usually quite busy, but now I’ve found it easier to get responses on new music as everyone has been home for the pandemic these last few months.
Have you managed to find any time for new activities in light of all this?
Absolutely, I’ve reconnected with my love of video games from when I was much younger ha – and also have had more time to pick up some boxing training and focus more on my general fitness and well-being.
What has been the main source of drive and purpose for you through this period?
For me, it’s been about trying to position myself to come out of this stronger. I told myself that if I cannot play any shows for a while that I have to find another way to continue to spread my message and that has to be through the music I make. That focus has driven me to really push myself in the studio and also send out more demos than perhaps I normally would to make sure that I give myself a chance to come out of this with some nice releases slated so I can hit the ground running when the touring opens back up.
You’ve kept the releases coming despite it all, including one on Circus. What does it mean for you to release on Yousef’s label?
For me to release on Yousef’s label is such a privilege because of first off how great he is as an artist and person and secondly how classic the label is as an imprint. Some of my absolute favourite artists and records have been released on Circus including the now legendary “Bigger Than Prince” remixes from Hot Since 82 and The Martinez Brothers and “Waiting” by Serge Devant & Sabb to list just a few. I could go on, but Circus has cemented its place as one of the best labels and it has also shaped me massively when I was learning production techniques as I sought to really incorporate many of the infectious elements of their tracks into my artistic style.
Tell us about the track, what has the reception been when others have played it or if you manage to play it out before tours stopped?
So the track is actually the first one I made after the tours stopped during the pandemic in late March so it was a special track for me because I tried to include a positive and uplifting message. I wrote and performed the vocals on it myself so there is definitely an inclusion on my part of sentiment owing to the situation we found ourselves in during the pandemic to the point where I can say this track probably would not have been created if not for the pandemic.
While I haven’t been able to play it out, the reception I’ve received from fans, friends, and colleagues has been really amazing and it’s just the best feeling to see how well the music has been received – especially when you are pushing yourself into a new plane in terms of style and sound.
Do you have any other releases coming up in the next few months?
I do have an EP coming up in the next few months on Nic Fanciulli’s iconic Saved Records and another EP on Lee Foss’ Repopulate Mars offshoot South Of Saturn. I’m buzzing for both and waiting to hear back from a few more of my favourite labels so stay tuned for hopefully more good news!
Some artists have told us that they feel less productive during the quarantine Is this something you’ve felt?
You know that’s a great question also – I think it’s rather easy to feel this way when one is idle physically for too long. Fitness and physical activity have played a huge part in me maintaining my sanity while indoors for so long. But I also think that people just need human interaction especially folks in our industry who are used to so much travel. When I find myself feeling less productive in spurts, I’ve reconciled that by realizing that everything happening is beyond my control and therefore I do the best I can to stay busy.
It’s natural to feel uncreative or uncomfortable when the world stops moving but at those times, I try to do what I can to stimulate creativity patiently so that period passes and I can get back to feeling productive. Being physically active as well is very important to engage one’s creative juices.
Our industry is finally being forced to confront the racism that plagues our society and is also a part of our scene. I personally have been educating myself a lot about the history of this country as well as our scene. What have you learned during this period in light of everything that has been brought to our attention?
I have learned that I need to listen and educate myself a lot more and learn meaningful actions I can take to be a part of the solution. As I live in NYC, I have had the privilege of attending several of the marches and rallies and the impact has been incredibly powerful. There are experiences that members of our community have every day that some of us may or may not see and it has become quite obvious that a change is needed in our society to remove inequality faced by many of its members.
I’ve spent time trying to focus on the stories and voices of those who are speaking up now to share and educate so that I can try to become more active in steps to be a part of the solution and amplify those unheard voices. For me this is an issue of human rights and it goes well beyond politics and everyone can and should contribute.
How do you feel we can be more respectful of our roots as an industry? How about yourself as an artist?
I think we all need to remember exactly what those roots are – that this industry is steeped in the culture of people of colour and African Americans in particular right here in the US. We cannot participate in an industry created by and for a subset of our society if we are not actively trying to do what is in our power to help those members achieve their rightful place as equals in that society.
2020 is still looking to be a strange year with a lot of uncertainties. What do you hope happens in the second half of the year in terms of things you can do both on a personal and career level?
I agree with you that 2020 is quite unique. I hope that in the second half of it we continue to see progress on all the fronts that have been brought to the forefront of this year. I hope to find a way to safely resume performing my music for people. Additionally, I have been fortunate enough to remain productive during this time and I hope to continue to make music and get in touch with labels that inspire me to release my music with them.
Finally, I think on a personal level, I’d love to continue to focus on my mental health and wellness in order to keep a positive balance in my life for the next decade. I feel excellent in that regard, but I still feel I want to improve my abilities as a musician and producer, and I look forward to continuing to develop my sound and skills to create even better music.