TIP125 – NHB

NHB aka Valerio Rossi & Federico De Marini, are both sound engineers, label owners, DJ/Producers based in London. They can be considered one the of best recent revelations in the minimal and techno scene, where they found a place thanks to a long experience that lies in the late rave underground movement of the 90’s. NHB’s philosophy has always been linked with the use of real synthesisers and drum’s machines, creating a unique style with their strong love for the real analog sound, blending an underground background with a more soft and commercial taste, making their sound unmistakable and really hard to place inside common styles.

The two producers have shown their skills for moving around different genres, always maintaining an amazing quality of productions which include huge releases on Toolroom, Play Records, Amazing Records and now Over with label partners MiniCoolBoyz gaining support from some of the biggest techno DJ’s worldwide like Len Faki, Alan Fitzpatrick, Joseph Capriati, Nicole Moudaber and many more. In Rome they have been resident in one of the best Italian underground clubs Brancaleone, playing next to massive artists such as Tiefschwarz, M.A.N.D.Y, Amon Tobin, Tania Vulcano and Swayzak.

Their label AUDIOELITE is well known among the most important dance music’s chart, and is very fast becoming a new point of reference for club music around the world. NHB is definitely one of the upcoming stars in the world of clubbing also running their Reasons to Dance podcast which can be found at www.nhb-music.com.

Hello Valerio and Federico, thank you for taking the time out to talk to us. You’re both very busy in the studio and clearly love what you do. How did you both get into music production as individuals, and how did you both start to collaborate with each other?

Hi guys, and really thanks for this opportunity to share some words with you. Yes you are completely right, we are really busy at the moment with our studio work, and we could not be happier about it. We just reached the first position on Beatport techno chart with our partners MiniCoolBoyz and this is another huge motivation for us to keep working in delivering quality music to our scene.

About how everything started this is an old story (unfortunately we are getting old haha). We knew each other since we were 14 and we started to go clubbing and raving since the late 90’s. We bought a 909 and the first Korg drum machine in 2001 and since then we could not stop making beats every day of our entire life! We have been playing live for many years without the need to release anything; we were more than happy with that. When our artist profile got more mature we then moved in the scene more professionally. Since 2009 NHB is releasing regularly on Beatport and Vinyl.

Like most duos an alias is commonly used. What is the meaning behind the name NHB?

This is an old story as well, as I mentioned we were usually going to raves and we liked to joke about the “hard” techno movement, we decided to call us “NotHardBeatz”…you can be sure that our beats were more than hard at that time !!

It’s your love of using real synthesizers and drum’s machines which creates your unique style of minimal and techno. To any young aspiring producers out there can you explain some of the advantages, even disadvantages you find using analog equipment over digital?

Yes our love for analog equipments is strictly rooted in what we are and how we approached to this art since the very beginning. I want to be clear that we are not the ones who blame the digital revolution, and we are simply amazed by what we can do today with a computer. It opened up so much possibility that were only unimaginable for us years ago. But on the other side there’s the big risk to lose the real feeling of music, and that’s why we keep always an analog and real approach to part of our production and live workflow. We really love so much to touch our instruments, the relation you can have with an analog machine when you play it is really not possible to transfer to even the best digital device. People usually take this problem on the wrong side, is not just matter of how stuff sound (and even on this we are still sure that some analog devices can’t simply be reproduced), but is about the experience, and a real experience will never be fully substitute from a digital one. The possible cons of an analog setup are easily overcome thanks to the implementation of a good digital workstation. So I would say that there’s good in both worlds, and having a hybrid setup is maybe the right way to go on it.

Can you describe to us your current studio setup, and any future additions you’re dying to get your hands on?

As we told before we have a hybrid setup, the centre is a digital system with a laptop and the last UAD system, which not only sound amazing but also helps us to reduce the CPU load, but then we have plenty of external drum machines and synthesiser directly connected through our RME fire face. A Moog, micro korg and a Virus TI are the core of our basses and melodies, then a 909, a Korg MX and 2 Maschines are the heart of the beats. We then have a lot of old Korg drum machines that we use mostly as part of live shows with some external effects unit. Then two midi controllers helps us to handle all this, and off course I don’t need to mention the thousands of vst right ??? As a future addition we already pre-ordered the new ARIA from Roland and we are super excited to test it as soon as possible!

You are both located in the UK at the moment. When did you decide to make the move from Italy and what caught your eye about London?

We have been around London since we were very young because many friends moved here since long time ago and also the electronic music scene has always been amazing in this city so we were coming for parties since 2001. We moved here definitely in 2010 cause of me having something to do with the SAE institute in London, and off course Federico moved as well cause we could not be divided. We really love the city now, but as Italians we also miss our sun and food and we are planning to come back one day, maybe very far from now.

In 2010 you both started your own label Audio Elite Records which has favoured many top DJ’s around the world. Can you tell us about how it started and how it’s progressed over the last 4 years?

Yes Audio Elite will celebrate the fourth year next October and it really brought us so many satisfactions since it started. Having a label is a very tough job but it’s also an amazing way of expression for an artist in the electronic music scene. And that’s why we found that was really a missing piece for us in late 2010 and we decided to launch this experience. The style of the label has followed our ideas since the beginning and now approached to a more deep and serious techno as for our productions. We are really happy to see our artists being supported from some of the biggest DJs in techno and we really hope AE will keep growing in the next years.

 …. And recently at the beginning of 2014 Over was launched with MiniCoolBoyz. How did the label partnership between you guys develop?

Yes OVER it’s our last and maybe more ambitious project that we started with our new partners and big friends (that’s maybe the most important thing for a florid collaboration!) MiniCoolBoyz. We are simply amazed with the huge support the label is getting since the first release, and as we mentioned before OVER is sitting now at the first place on the Beatport techno chart. The idea to start a label together with Mike and Raffy was born in the last year after we started to release together regularly on some big labels. We then became very big friends and we felt the need to create a common platform to share our sounds and create a new solid point of reference for the techno worldwide. We really think that OVER have all the cards to play in this business and become one of the strong realities of the scene.

You’ve been fortunate to perform at the huge Kazantip festival in Ukraine. What memorable moment stands out for you, and what is so unique about the festival over any others?

We knew about Kazantip and its crazy environment before going there but you can’t really understand the situation until you place your foot at the entrance. We have been in many big parties and festivals but Kazantip is simply unbelievable. Apart from the big venue (we then discovered to be an ex soviet secrete military base) and the Red Sea in front of you the whole situation has a peaceful but eccentric atmosphere that manage to kidnap you in a few minutes. It’s like being in a huge circus of electronic music. There are sounds for every style and the systems are commonly very good.

What was really almost impossible to believe is that we kept walking for 20 minutes without stopping and we could not reach the end of the festival! Really a must for everybody involved seriously in the scene.

Who would you say are some of your biggest musical influences and why?

We really don’t think to have a particular influence but many, because we have been always listening to lots of different styles, from the more classical to the very experimental ones, and not only electronic music. Off course all the old school techno and acid house find place among our influences, but then a lot of experimental electronic music, also breakbeat, drum&bass, jungle and hip hop. When producing we try not to think to what we are doing, and our setup really help us to express what we feel in the particular moment.

What is the most unusual origin you have drawn inspiration from for producing a track in the studio?

As we just told we usual don’t think to where we will get before starting to produce, so we didn’t take inspiration from something in particular for any of our songs. But of course there are many samples we have used that if you listen to before processed you would probably think we are crazy haha.

What are your current top 10 tracks?

NHB, MiniCoolBoyz – Placebo (OVER)

Alan Fitzpatrick – The Tetra (Drumcode)

Ben Sims – Riots in London (Drumcode)

Jon Hopkins – Open Eye Signal (Domino)

Dusty Kid – Omega X (Isolade)

Nicole Moudaber – Movin’On (Drumcode)

Floorplan – Eclipse (M-PLant)

Minilogue – Nothing is Lost (Cocoon Recordings)

NHB, Pascal Nuzzo – Shoreline (Shape 01)

Sam Paganini – Blade (MiniCoolBoyz Remix)

(Some of these tracks are quite old but still rocking and sometimes we still use them in our sets, only music matters)

Have either of you ever had any musical training, play any instruments, or were you both self-taught in the studio?

We are both sound engineers, we also played guitars when we were younger but don’t consider ourselves proper guitar players. But off course we have a solid music and studio background and we really think is important to help yourself to express your ideas properly. Today we see to many guys approaching this job thinking that study is not needed, but we really think this is wrong and they will actually pay it on the long term.

Do you have any advice for young producers looking to break into the industry?

Being professional, study if they can and then spend hours and hours every day in the studio. The only way to make a long term career in this environment is to build a serious profile, delivering quality music and behaving as serious people. Big labels and people in the end care of what they listen to and how an artist communicates his image. Being serious in the end will pay.

The scene is full of fake producers and DJs, and I listen to many people complain about it, but in my opinion it can only help the good artists to shine even more. We know there are maybe shorter and less serious roads to take, but our experience taught us that those are only vague appearances and what really makes the difference is the good music and we are really happy of it.

You have kindly agreed to provide an exclusive guest mix for us. Can you talk us through some of the tracks selected and why they were included?

Yes and we are really happy to share with you our music guys, thanks a lot again for the opportunity. The set will include mostly our music as we always do with our sets, we came from a live performer background and we are used to filling our set with NHB’s sound first of all. Then you will find a lot of songs from our label Audio Elite and from some artists that we usually support in our shows, like Alan Fitzpatrick and Ben Sims.  We really love the old school sound but revisited in a modern way and the set will mainly express this concept.

We’re all guilty of owning at least one terrible CD or album. Who has the most embarrassing CD collection out of you both and why?

Hahaha, we prefer not to answer here !!! (Federico says he only has good music but I can tell it’s not true haha)

It’s been an absolute pleasure chatting with you guys. Finally can you tell us about any future plans for 2014 and I wish you all the best for the future?

The pleasure has been for us, and we really thank you again, we love the job you’re doing with “This is progressive” and it’s good to be on board! All the next months of 2014 will see us fully committed with our new album and the MiniCoolBoyz’s one. We hope to be ready for the release on next May/June. Also we will release the third EP on OVER in mid-April.

Then off course performing around Europe and the world, Germany will be our next stop. We are currently busy with the MCB to produce a new 8 hands live set that we hope will be ready very soon …. Stay tuned guys, Techno never dies :)

1. Doublewave – Observers (Original Mix)[Audio Elite]

2. Alan Fitzpatrick – We Are Forever Young (Original Mix)[Drumcode]

3. Fac3Off – Techland (Original Mix)[Audio Elite]

4. Mikael Jonasson – Abyss (Mr.Bizz Remix)[Respekt Recordings]

5. MiniCoolBoyz, NHB – Silver Haze (Original Club Mix)[Toolroom Records]

6. Gary Beck – Ars Poetica (Ben Sims Remix)[Bek Audio]

7. Harvey McKay – Lost (Original mix)[Drumcode]

8. Floorplan aka Robert Hood – Higher! (Original Mix)[M-Plant]

9. Phunk Investigation – Electrica Salsa feat. Gerg (NHB Remix)[Decide]

10. Mattew Jay – Gemini Faces (NHB & MiniCoolBoyz Bad Faces Remix)[Amazing]

11. The Effaith – Sapiosexual (Original Mix)[Audio Elite]

12. NHB, Giorgio Rusconi – Panacea (Original Mix)[Over]

13. Chocolate Avenue – Name Of The Game (Original Mix)[Audio Elite]

14. NHB, MiniCoolBoyz – Placebo (Original Mix)[Over]

About the Author

UK based former DJ and promoter, co-owner, director, writer & creative at Decoded Magazine. Studied at the University of Wolverhampton graduating in Graphic Communication & Typography (BA Hons). In house video editor and avid MMA follower with a keen ear for dark, twisted, hypnotic, tribal progressive house and techno.