Meet N/UM, a three-piece experimental, improvisational outfit from New York City who are pushing the boundaries of dance music, one live show at a time. The team is comprised of guitarist Elias Meister of world-renowned rap group Residente, Jeremy Loucas, a Grammy Award-winning mastering engineer and producer, and Emil Bovbjerg, a Danish multi-instrumentalist and producer – such a diverse trio results in a flawlessly dynamic single unit. With the release of their Yes EP, BTD had a chance to chat with N/UM about the release, as well as their influences and their mission.
Coming from such different musical backgrounds, the dynamic created between the three of you is incredible – how did you all meet?
N/UM: We met in Boston about 13 years ago, while at school, through different music projects. We started working together on various projects and first experimented with live improvisation and electronic music starting in 2013 since we were all already interested and involved with electronic music, synthesizers, drum machines, etc.
How did each of you first get into music?
Elias: I’ve always loved music as a child, first learned flute in school and then started playing guitar when I was about 12 years old, playing mostly jazz and classical music at the time.
Jeremy: I started playing electronic music with my computer when I was about 17 in Formentera.
Emil: Obsessed with music since childhood and just never was able to stop exploring it and going in always changing directions to learn more and try things out.
Unusual but welcomed – all of your recordings are done live and improvised. What is the reasoning behind this? Do you find it more or less challenging than traditional recoding?
N/UM: It’s definitely more challenging. It’s also nice that you don’t have to remember any chords of course but it’s challenging to stay creative all the time. You also have to keep practicing to keep the focus where you can come up with fresh material every time. We really enjoy this energy and the music being undetermined until realized.
You’re on a noble mission – to bring the unique nature of live improvisation to places where it is rarely heard: festivals, clubs, and the underground. How has this been received so far?
N/UM: We have gotten really good responses so far. People almost always feel the immediacy of how we play. Parts of audiences might not be aware that we improvise, and also might not particularly care too much about the conceptual or technical aspects of it, which is good because you can’t very well dance to a concept. It’s not really important to convey that aspect.
Tell us about the experience of recording your recently released YES EP.
N/UM: It was a beautiful day party at the newly opened House of Yes, which is a very positive and inclusive place. We enjoyed the place and the vibe a lot.
How does living in New York influence your work?
N/UM: In New York we’re exposed to a lot of great musicians in all different kinds of genres, which is really inspiring. There’s also lots of exposure to other kinds of art, lectures, etc and the energy of the city is always strong.
You all have a deep passion for house music – who are some of your favourite artists, electronic and beyond?
Jeremy: Kraftwerk, Aphex Twin, Plastic Man.
Elias: Stimming, Keith Jarrett, Can.
Emil: Larry Heard, Ricardo Villalobos, Dan Bell.