IDJNOW talks with DJs Melissa Nikita + VTONE.
Photography courtesy of Kristelee photography
For some music artists, performing live is what it’s all about. But with the recent advancements in recording and production technology, an ever-increasing number of performing artists can be found honing their craft inside the studio — discovering new forms of self-expression which make their way to final cuts, and onto stage in front of live audiences.
Two DJ artists who began their individual careers performing live, not only discovered the magic of the studio, but also the magic of collaboration for each other and for others DJ artists in the community. Our friends Melissa Nikita + VTONE invited us to join them during a session…
Q: How long ago did you begin your individual respective careers in music?
A: We both have been involved with music since our Elementary school years – 1980’s.
Melissa Nikita: I was a vocalist & writer. By the time I was about 9, I was privately studying with Aldo Bruschi; a professor of piano and vocals for the Juilliard School. I got a record deal when I was about 20 & recorded a Freestyle track called “want you to know” in which the late Jim Heinz of the Sound Factory did a remix for me back in the early 2000’s… by that time I was also a NYC DJ working at my first two residencies “AREA 51, in Monticello NY” as well as “Centro Fly, NYC”. My musical journey within different genre’s throughout the course of my life has expressed the feelings and experiences that I have lived through. From a trance DJ in the 1990’s to where I was just a few years ago…to where I want to be now has been quite the “story telling journey”.
VTONE: I grew up as a drummer. I was about 7 and I remember banging on different size pot’s and pans to satisfy my need to play until my father finally bought me my first drum set. I wanting nothing more than to get home from school so I can play. DJ’ing wise, by the time I was 12, I would be sitting in class drawing pictures of DJ booths and equipment. I got my first set up when I was a young teen and the rest is history”
Q: Name your top three most inspiring artists who influenced you most when you first began in the music and what was it about their music that caught your attention?
VTONE: For me I would have to say Junior Vasquez, Jonathan Peters & Danny Tenaglia.
Junior because of who he was as a legend in the scene. Jonathan because he pushed the limits of what you can do in a live show and Danny because of his positive message “Be Yourself”, and added plus was he was from Brooklyn and Italian, It was inspiring to me coming from the same upbringing. All of these men have shaped me as a person and as an artist musician. Especially as a kid from Brooklyn at a young age & getting into the scene early.
MELISSA NIKITA: I would have to say my top 3 most inspiring are Chris Liebing, Marco Bailey & Jonathan Peters.
Marco Bailey was my first inspiration in the early 1990’s. The track was “Candid Camera”. I was already in love with Trance music but this track was a lot different from the trance I was loving at the time…. made me curious to seek a more harder sound.
Liebing is another biggest inspiration. I discovered his music & him DJ’ing way before a lot of other people even knew who he was. He used to come to NYC and play Sullivan Room’s Tronic Treatment party on Monday nights (the early 2000’s). I would be there open to close no matter what. He always had the dopest productions; his CLR Stigmata EP from 99 (the A1 & B2 mixes) was what pulled me over to Techno.
JP…. what can I say other than because of him a lot of us decided to pursue this business on the DJ side. What he did in that booth in the late 1990’s until mid-2000’s was incomparable on any level to any other DJ. He created music from music and shifted sound like no other. What happened in that building on W46th you were blessed as a DJ to experience. We were some of the “lucky ones” to have been a part of that.
Q: How long have you’ve been collaborating together?
A: “For the past 4 years, we have been building our discography in trying to gain more exposure.
When we first started heavily producing, we were releasing a lot of techno tracks, but we do have an appreciation for other genres including tech house & house. We have an eclectic musical pallet together. Music should move you no matter what the genre. …As long as it “feels” good…”
Q: Tell us what you both are using in the studio as well as the DJ Booth:
A: In the studio we use
Ableton 9 Suite, Omnirax desk force 24, Korg padKontrol, Ableton Push, Novation remote sl 25 key, Native instruments Maschine MK1, M audio Oxygen 61, Korg ps1 pedal switch, Reloop Keypad, Rme fireface 800, Mackie Big Knob, M patch v2. We have Behringer B2031A speakers , Behringer B2092A sub, Adam AX7 speakers, Adam sub 10, iso acoustics , Auralex. Link connect – Whirlwind mini6
In the DJ booth,
VTONE is using Native instruments Traktor, kontrol F1, and the X1 mk2 along with the DENON X1600 mixer. I [Melissa Nikita] either use the DENON MCX8000 or the MCX6000MK2 pending what my needs are. I also love my SC3900’s along with the DENON X1600 mixer as well. I am looking forward to the release of the DENON MC7000 controller as well which should be out this coming October 2016!
Speaker-wise in the booth we have the Yamaha HS 80m along with a Yamaha sub. We also have the Marathon MD-800, Marathon SR -510ub along with Marathon MA-st26 Stands, an Alto professional TS sub 12, On Stage Stands and Stageline Stands.
Q: Your style is influenced by Techno, but yet one of your earliest and more popular tracks is outside of the Techno genre. Tell us about it.
A: We love techno but we love Tech house & house just as much.
This track was a tech house track we did and its one of our most memorable releases outside the techno sound. It was our first release on Marco Bailey’s record label MB Elektronics. The track is called FARLO – It was for their annual Amsterdam Dance Event (ADE) compilation record. Marco was rockin the track for sometime. We actually shared the video as a Facebook memory recently. You can visit our TECHTONiK Fan Page to check it out.
Q: It’s difficult to select a favorite, but if you can, please tell us just one of your many favorite tracks you did together.
A: One of our favorite tracks to date on the production side by us is our remix of “I’LL BE AROUND” which released on Nervous Records.
Truly every moment of making it was a smiling experience. We love positive vibes and we appreciated all the love and affection we received on this record from DJ’s & fans. We can’t wait for 2017, we have a lot of fun projects like this in the pipeline!
Q: Besides performing at DJ EXPO & NAMM with DENON DJ and numerous clubs throughout the country, what can we expect to hear from you in the near future?
A: Currently we have been in the studio working on our newest project – a deep tech house vocal remix for Lisa Pure
which is being released on her brand new record label “Pure Movement Music“. Lisa has been peppered across Billboard charts and is a staple within this business for a number of years; working with so many amazing producers. We are honored to work on this with her and we’re anticipating a great result. We also have another upcoming project which is scheduled to release on Subwoofer Records this fall/winter 2016 featuring a very special take by the beatport chart toppers themselves – Young Bad Twins. We are proud to have them on this project as they have a solid sound. Also included on this remix package are other Subwoofer artists DJ Ogi & Joey Cozzo bringing in their own remix twists. We are really happy to be involved with this crew for this one. This combo of artists is a great recipe for success on Subwoofer Records.
We thank you guys for coming through our studio. All and all in this journey together as producers, we just want to consistently deliver musical art at its best. It’s important for us to be able to express ourselves the way that moves us the most. Music is to be enjoyed & we hope we bring that to our audience no matter what. #TECHTONiKtakeover
For more information on DJs Melissa Nikita and VTONE, check out the links below.