[Interview] Nolai Talks Berlin Music Scene and the Importance of Being Mysterious

Image: Nolai

After talking to artist Nolai at the beginning of the pandemic in 2020, I caught up with him two years later to talk about the progression of his music, being a Jack-of-All-Trades when it comes to music, and why he keeps up a mysterious aesthetic.

What’s the music scene like in Berlin?

It’s the mecca for everything electronic and techno. It’s kind of influenced me over the last year. More bass-driven, with the flow and stuff. And more dancey and housey as well. 

What is it like to release music independently and do this on your own?

It’s hard, that’s the first thing I’ll say, it’s really hard. In comparison to a major label or large distribution, yeah you just gotta find a way to get some somewhat place. So for me, it takes a lot of work in my business on my phone to gain fans and streams.

What was it like to shoot the studio performance for “What You Want”? How did you come up with the vision for that?

I wanted it to look a little like a COLOURS show. We shot it in the studio right around the corner by the flat where I live. We just booked it and shot it right around there. It was easy. The concept for that was super easy

I liked it a lot. It was very appealing and goes with that mysterious aesthetic you have. Why are you leaning into it? I think it’s similar to The Weeknd.

To be honest, I’m a huge Weeknd fan, and it also comes with the mystery. I think about that a lot, actually. It’s like when I think of an artist I think of “Hollywood” you know, not easy to grab. They’re special and you know it’s like you don’t know much about them. And suddenly they come out with something and it’s like “whoa” what are they even up to they come up with some crazy stuff and there is always a border between you and them to say it like when you y like a normal person and artist. That’s why I like being mysterious I don’t want to share what I eat or what I drink because that is not what I do. Artistry is something special to me so I want to keep it that way. 

What are your current influences? 

Post Malone of course. A little bit of Dua Lipa, a little dancey. Ariana [Grande] too; when it comes to the production and the skill it’s insane. 

What would you say is harder, production, songwriting, or singing?

If you would have asked me two years ago I was said singing. Now it’s production. Two years ago I would have said the beats carried me now it’s more like okay I have so much vocal range and I can do so many things that earned and stuff like that. I just like to start out with a bass line and a beat and record on that and then there’s already so much space that I can’t fill it with instruments or it’s hard to find good instrumental like that. I would say production now.

What are your future goals?

I think dropping an EP by end of the year and then an album by April of next year. I can’t put a date on it but more music coming for sure. 

Check out Nolai music and videos below.