Interview with EDM Duo Niiko x SWAE
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Balancing School and Music with Rising EDM duo Niiko x SWAE

LA based electronic duo Niiko x SWAE talk about their start and steady rise in the EDM scene while being full time college students.

Balancing School and Music with Rising EDM duo Niiko x SWAE
With 1.8M total Spotify streams and over 100,000 monthly listeners, up and coming EDM duo Niiko x SWAE (or Nikolaus Becker and Mark Manchester, respectively) have managed to rack impressive numbers while recently graduating Southern Methodist University. Despite the struggling and impeccable time management it takes to balance a career in EDM production and full time students, their work has not gone unnoticed they performed at notable music venues including Breakaway Music Festival, 1OAK NYC, Hakkasan Las Vegas, Liv Miami, and Sound Los Angeles in 2018. In the same year their tracks 'Flavor' peaked at #7 while 'Run This Town' peaked at #16 on the Billboard Dance Club Chart. Currently, their most recent single "Let Them Go" sits at the number one spot on their Spotify page.

Now recent grads, they can focus on music full time and, most significantly in their future plans, open for Steve Aoki at Hakkasan Nightclub on March 9th. Exciting future plans aside, Niiko x SWAE were gracious enough to answer some questions I had about their start, their music, and their advice for other EDM up and comers.

So what made the both of you want to make music together? Have you guys always known each other?

We indirectly grew up together through sports and mutual friends, even playing on the same teams and attending the same preschool. As we grew older though we didn't really reconnect and join forces until we coincidentally attended the same university, SMU years later. We both had a strong love for electronic music and were competing against each other for performance spots at the parties and events at school until we decided to put our strengths together and team up.

Since teaming up just under 3 years ago, we've been able to combine our passion for music and different skills in production and performance to create our project, Niiko x SWAE.

What was it that attracted you to EDM specifically? And even more specifically house and future bass?

We grew up listening to '80s music which started our love for electronic music, specifically the unique synths and other elements that are still incorporated today. When we were in high school, the big room and progressive house movements were blowing up and we took direct influence from the Swedish House Mafias, Afrojacks, and Showteks of the world.

Whether it was going to shows or streaming festivals, there was something about the electricity of the house shows that really captivated us like no other. For the future bass side, as our production ability grew and our project took off, we wanted to reach a broader audience through music. Future bass is much more relatable to the occasional electronic fan whereas house is more for the everyday fan. By producing both future bass and house records, we've been able to combine two unique audiences and sounds.

How did you balance your career as an EDM artist with school?

It was not easy balancing our career and school at the same time. Weekdays were for school except for the late nights of weekdays which were all for production. Weekends were for traveling and playing shows or meeting with members of our team across the country. Our teachers were mostly cool with what we were doing, but it was our friends and family who motivated us to keep pushing forward. As independent artists, we have to wear multiple hats so it definitely was tough while in school, but luckily now we have built an amazing team around us so we can focus solely on the music and our fans. Though we loved school we are beyond grateful to finally be finished with it and be musicians full time.

Last month you guys dropped your latest single "Let Them Go," which has already racked up over 100k Spotify Streams (congrats!). I can only imagine how rewarding that feels. What was your production process like on this track?

'Let Them Go' was a fun experience all around! We originally produced the track almost 2 years ago and would occasionally revisit the project to spice up the instrumental. We were waiting for the right singer and/or writer to come along, and we luckily found Rama Duke! When we linked up with Rama Duke she took it to the next level vocally.

This track is groovy and soulful but still can get you on your feet jumping and dancing, which is why we love it. We think our '80s influence is prominent in this song because it is a bit older sounding and has many sounds that were emerging at the time.

Do you have any advice for young people who want to get into producing electronic music?

Immerse yourself in the culture of EDM and learn as much as you can. Go to shows. Watch tutorials or sets on YouTube, and figure out how to do something new. Being different or new is the hardest part of emerging, but with research, practice, and a plan it is obtainable.

It's all about trial and error as well as listening to constructive criticism. One thing we are working on right now is making our brand more cohesive at all levels, which is extremely important right now. So be on the lookout for new merchandise, social media, and more

Any future projects listeners can look forward to?

Yes! We have tons of new singles and remixes across all genres coming your way. If you come to our shows you've probably heard some of our unreleased music because we constantly test new sounds live. From underground house bangers to pop and future bass heaters, there's so many unique tracks in our arsenal. We've been grinding in the studio and have a lot of amazing collabs and features coming sooner than you think. Stay tuned. We have scheduled releases almost every month coming up.

For updates on Niiko x SWAE check out their website or follow them on Instagram, Facebook, and Spotify. You can also listen to their latest remix of Train's 'Valentine' on their Soundcloud to add some EDM to your Valentine's Day.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

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