Guitars, Glitch and Gaze: An Interview with Nico Beatastic
by Bret Miller
Nicolas Pierre Wardell, aka Nico Beatastic, is a one man band. Well, actually at least two bands. Xeresa covers more left-field electronic electronica with guitars and guest vocalists while Beatastic goes for a full band sound with Nico on vocals, guitar, synths, bass and drums, all wrapped up in a big, modern sound production. 40 Moons Project is his latest Beatastic release, with 20 tracks of invigorating, rhythmic and dark rock with some interesting instrumentation throughout. And if you think 20 tracks is overdoing it for one release, you’ll surely find much to enjoy in each song. The self-titled Xeresa release is just as eclectic, with glitchy beats, atmosphere, textures, gazey guitars and vocals from the likes of Claudi Verdecia, Dani Mari and Demi Haynes.
Hi Nico, you’ve got a couple projects going in Xeresa and Beatastic. Who is involved in each?
Beatastic is just me, I do everything, for Xeresa I do all the music and try to get some vocal guests on each song, so far I’ve worked with Krissy Vanderwoude from Whimsical, Dani Mari, Demi Haynes from Seashine, Thomas Himsworth from Guerraz, Tom Lugo from Panophonic and plenty of new guests on the upcoming album
Let’s talk about the 40 Moons Project by Beatastic. On “The Quiet” you display an interesting take on rhythm. and in most of your songs your rhythm section is prominent. How did you develop your bass and drum sound and who are some influential bass and drum players/ rhythm sections? What bass guitar(s) do you play and what are a few of the pedals/filters/tunings you like to play?
I have a cheap bass given to me by a friend who has now left the country. So it’s mine. I use some chorus, distortion, spreader, and compressor. The drums are heavily compressed too. I’ve always like bands with prominent rhythm sections, I would say the approach is similar to Joy Division and Killing Joke, but the main influence is probably the Smashing Pumpkins of Machina, the “stadium shoegaze” sound.
“Seasick” has a nice repeated guitar riff that mesmerizes. Are you a fan of Steve Reich and what about his works do you enjoy? I’ve enjoyed a few of his offerings and like his use of repetition and layering. He’s kind of a mathematical, magical composer.
I really like Steve Reich, I have a few of his recordings, I love the fact you have no idea what will happen from one second to the next. Obviously I’m not at his level of technique, but it’s definitely an influence in terms of layering melodic and rhythmic lines. Complicated simplicity.
“Tarinya” has some sublime strings and horns. Are you classically trained or is this all on synths?
It’s all synth, I’m not classically trained at all, the beauty of computers is you can be an orchestra if you want to, I have some basic theory knowledge which comes in handy.
Your production on Beatastic and Xeresa is so good! Have you considered producing others?
I would love to, it’s my dreamjob to be honest. My favourite review I ever got said the production was huge, I was very proud of that.
On to Xeresa, your more electronic side. You feature Tom Lugo and I have a few Stellarscope songs from various comps and Vinyl Williams has a song called “Stellarscope”. What did he contribute to “Cathedral Funk”? I love the atmosphere on that song!
Tom is a fantastic guitarist and a really nice guy, he contributed the shoegaze guitars and also added a bit of production, I loved what he did so much that the whole upcoming Xeresa abum has that sound. So thanks Tom for making me grow as a producer. The song was pretty much there before but he took it somewhere else. Tom is on the new record too, singing and playing guitar and the track is a killer.
“Plinky the Plonk” features Chris Webber from Warsaw Radio. What is it about this intelligent left-field jazzy style of playing guitar that you like?
I work with Chris sometimes, he’s a guitar teacher. He’s actually left the band to do some heavier power trio thing. He played the lead guitars on “Plinky The Plonk”, first time he did tapping on record.
Xeresa is often glitchy, are there some touchstones/songs/acts you are inspired by? I called your sound “Guitars and Glitch”.
Thanks, I’ll take that. The idea originally was only to do instrumental tracks, but I worked with Demi Haynes on a song and it was so good I knew it was the way to go. So I’ve started working with guest vocalists, like Chemical Brothers does. I think the idea was to do something along the lines of The Postal Service: electronic beats, nice melodies, mangled strings etc….
What are some of the instruments that you use on both Xeresa and Beatastic and do you change your playing on them to suit the style of each project?
Yes, the guitars for Beatastic are mostly normal tuning , for Xeresa it’s open Fmaj7 tuning, I stole that from American Football. The drum sounds are very different, Xeresa is glitchy, electronic, Beatastic is powerful compressed “real” drums like the first Placebo album. The bass sound is the same. Xeresa has more keyboards and I only sing on a few Xeresa tracks as opposed to all the Beatastic songs.
Can you tell us about your label Shoredive Records? What other artists are you working with?
I released a single by metal/crust punk/industrial outfit Werebeast, the next release is from Welsh electronic/noise/experimental artist Mwydu.
What is an early musical memory?
My mum told me I used to run around the house singing along to “Barbara Ann” by the Beach Boys. I remember really enjoying the sound of “Woman” by John Lennon on the radio
When you’re not making music what do you do?
Listen to music 😉
Have you performed live or DJ’d?
I played in a few bands in France and England, guitars, bass, vocals, Beatastic and Xeresa have never played live.
What is the future of your musical output? Will you continue to collaborate with other musicians and singers, produce others?
I don’t know about Beatastic, part of me thinks I’ve said everything. Xeresa will release a new album in June, lots of guests, I’me very proud of it, I think it’s a step forward. I’m open to anything.
Beatastic’s 40 Moons Project and Xeresa’s Self-titled album are out now.
Xeresa on facebook https://www.facebook.com/Xeresa-1916087371954468/
on bandcamp https://xeresa.bandcamp.com/
Beatastic on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/BEATASTIC/
on bandcamp https://beatastic.bandcamp.com/
Shore Dive Records https://shorediverecords.bandcamp.com/
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