The Nika Riots is a musical quintet from Oslo, Norway featuring members of such bands as Man the Machetes, Carnival Kids, and Torch. Pulling in influences from modern metal and post-hardcore, the group has kept busy since first appearing via 2018’s “Set Fire” EP, touring with bands like Sibiir and Black Debbath, and playing Øya Festivalen and Harpefoss Hardcore Festival. We talked with Christopher about his musical influences, the band’s newest album “Derelict” and much other stuff in a short but enchanting interview.
Hello! First of all, how did you start making music? Tell us a bit more about yourself!
My fascination with music started relatively early. While the other kids listened to children’s music I listened to Queen, the Beatles, and Nazareth. I started taking piano lessons when I was 6 but quit after a couple of years (regret that to this day). When I was around 8 years old, I started to listen to Guns n’ Roses. And that was the band that made me wanna play in a band. Or at that time I wanted to play IN GN’R!
My older brother played guitar, and the first thing I learned was the picking hand on ‘Don’t Cry’, while he took care of the chord hand. And quickly after I learned how to play, I started writing my own songs.
Was it the way you listened to music that enabled you to learn to play?
My mother had The Beatles’ complete songbook. I took my mom’s old acoustic guitar and sat in my room and used that book to learn how to play.
I didn’t memorize all the songs (as we all know, The Beatles has a lot of songs), but I played through the whole songbook in the end.
Given the state of mainstream culture that permeates how we consume media, how would you introduce your activity to a stranger?
I don’t think it’s much point, to be honest. People listen to what other people listen to or indirectly tell them what to listen to.
When listeners make their way through your band, what do you want them to feel?
I would want them to get intrigued enough to listen to it again.
Take me through your sound design process. Is this a quick process, or something you might obsess over and re-visit?
I rarely play around with sound design or experiment much with such. Maybe I should start doing that. (laugh)
How do you even know when a track is ready? Does it ever become difficult to either refine ideas down or to stop perfecting?
You just know, I guess. I’ve had a lot of riffs that I couldn’t let go of. So, I’d always try and incorporate them into the new songs I’m making.
But songs always evolve. I play a lot of stuff from this record differently now than what’s on the record. But small details only. Details I wish were on the record. I’ve also released songs that I knew were missing something, but I didn’t know what. And that is frustrating.
‘Crime Tapes & Weltschmerz’ is the latest song you’ve released. Can you introduce us to its creative process? What were your influences on this song?
With ‘Crime Tapes’ I knew I wanted to do something different. I usually make the guitar riffs just sitting on my couch with my guitar unplugged. And I came up with this intro in 5/4, and the song just evolved naturally from there. Just let it live its own life.
How would “Derelict” be served best? What important messages are we missing as listeners?
Well, that depends if you’re talking about the music part of the lyrical part. I believe it’s an album you have to listen to multiple times to really hear what is going on. There are a lot of small details in there that are worth noting.
With there being such a solid set of tracks on “Derelict”, is there one you’re most looking forward to playing live for people?
The more straightforward songs are usually more fun playing, but not necessarily the most fun to listen to, for me at least. But I will have to say ‘Crime Tapes’ and ‘Homage To the Mute’.
If you were, to sum up, the whole album in a single word, which would that word be?
There are many descriptions of the ideal state of mind for being creative. What is it like for you?
I need to be free (or as much as possible) of worries and noises around me. That’s one of the reasons I’m most creative at night. And I need some kind of vision of where I wanna go.
What supports this ideal state of mind and what are distractions? Are there strategies to enter into this state more easily?
For me, it comes and goes. I can’t just sit down and be creative from 8 to 4. If I’m watching a film or doing something and I get an idea, I stop what I’m doing and sit down with my guitar and record it first on my phone so I don’t forget it. Or maybe it’s a melody. And then I take it from there. I rarely finish a song template in one sitting.
Guilty pleasure time. What would you say are some of your current most guilty pleasures?
Bonnie Tyler, classical music, and homemade mayo.
What do you hope to do with your music in the future? I mean, do you have any crazy schemes or goals?
For me, it’s to get ideas out of my head. If they just stay in there, I’ll go crazy at one point.
Cover photo: (c) Pål Hoff Fredlund
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