Across the past year there have been a number of producers and disc jockeys to break the mould, those who have challenged the preconceptions of style and genre whilst pushing a positive all inclusive ideology.
Nyra is a producer and dj who has been earmarked for success - his music has been widely championed by djs from far and wide. His club focussed approach to production teases the imagination and showcases the best in four to the floor house music. He has released much of his music across the past few years on his own imprint, Canoe. It's positive, forward thinking music for the dancefloor with a passion rooted in disco and Chicago house.
One of his fans in recent times is the innovative, quite brilliant disc jockey Eris Drew. Her skill in the booth is unrivalled and she knows how to weave records together in a majestic format which entices and delights. She knows the sound very well indeed and has as such been drawn to Nyra's output. We invited her to talk to him about his roots and backstory, a quickfire conversation about all things house and beyond...
1. Since 2008 you have been releasing records as NYRA, what is the meaning of the name “NYRA”? Why did you pick it as a name?
I was going through the motions and was set the hard and painful task of picking a name. Back then there were 100's of ideas and suggestions to choose from but in the end I shuffled my name about and it spelt Nyra. So it’s actually an anagram of Ryan.
2. Tell me about how you grew up and your path to becoming a studio musician.
I grew up in Sheffield in the North of England and I was always into music from a very early age. My great Grandad played nearly every instrument and I remember idolising his talent and this really sparked my interest in everything to do with music. My parents were also very influential in paving my path, there would always be music playing in the house. Lots of 80's electronic music, soul, disco, funk so that definitely set the tone for the things to come. The music scene in Sheffield was fundamental in opening my eyes.
There was a great House/Disco Scene at the Bed and Republic nightclub, and then you had Techno/Electro with Warp Records, Gatecrasher handled the trance and Niche catering for all our Garage needs. Pretty much every genre was on offer at different clubs across the city throughout the years.
I would float round most of the parties in my early teens checking out the wide array of talent being brought to the city. I bought some turntables and a mixer when I was 16 with some money my uncle left me, I set them up on a wobbly table in my bedroom and taught myself to mix. I think that’s when the doors opened into my record collecting obsession and when I really got hooked. As time went by I got more and more into the studio element of things and started the producing process to help push things along.
3. You’ve been sampling disco records for over 10 years. What keeps you coming back for more?
Finding the perfect sample can be a tedious task. Hours upon hours of digging and searching, but when you stumble upon what you’re looking for it’s very satisfying and you instantly know if you've struck gold. It’s not just disco records I like to sample; different genres of records contain different elements and gems. Half the joy is finding what you require. I don't like to sample all the time but when I do I try to tweak what I’m sampling to put a little spin on it.
Making original material from scratch is also very important for me; I find you can express yourself more with a blank canvas.
4. I am from Chicago so dancing to a disco dub at a rave was totally normal. In the mid-90’s DJ Sneak and Paul Johnson records were on constant rotation. What’s your connection to this wave of music?
My link to this wave of music is almost the same as yours! When I was going out clubbing in my teens this style of music would be getting played a lot in the clubs and parties in Sheffield, Bed, and Republic in particular. DJ Sneak and Paul Johnson would grace the decks there on numerous occasions. They are also two of my all time favourite DJs/Producers. I would buy their records from the local record shops when I first started out and kept following them and that style of music, for many years.
5. One of my favourite tracks you have written doesn’t contain any disco samples at all. Can you solve a YouTube mystery for us? Is the name of this song “Tape Trek” or “Galaktik”?
Thanks so much! It made me smile when I saw you played it on your recent Boiler Room. The track is called Galaktik from Canoe 003. It’s the classic case of someone uploading a track to YouTube and naming it incorrectly.
6. Can you tell us why it’s called Galaktik, and what inspired the track? It is literally one of the most incredible rave tracks of the last ten years! I have brought together countless dance floors with this song. It’s pure psychedelic love magic. How did you make it?
Thanks again, what lovely words! The name came from when I was making the track; it reminded me of being somewhere in outer space, so I guess that’s how the name Galaktik came about. I name most of my tracks on how I'm feeling in the moment. I was listening to a lot of old rave records from my next-door neighbours record collection at the time. It was made by emulating a classic break beat sample for the main percussive element (with a few added snares and hats from stock Ableton sounds blended in to beef it up a little). A 909 kick was used and there was an Ethnic vocal sample that was pitched down and stretched. I think if I remember rightly the atmospheric part was from the Juno, but slightly modified. The lead is a flute stab sample that was replayed and run through a pattern generator. And finally, the hoover synth was used for the base parts.
7. In 2017 you started releasing records on Canoe. Can you tell us about the label and your connection to it?
I had a 5 year break from music to pursue a career in professional cycling. When my cycling career ended I decided to move to London, make a fresh start and get back into doing music. A lot of things had changed in those 5 years. Social media was an even bigger deal and played an even bigger part in the way music was perceived. When I moved to London to pick up from where I left off with music, I wanted to have complete control over the whole process from start to finish. So I decided start my own label, this way I could release music however and whenever I wanted with no restrictions. The label isn't really for releasing one style of music; it’s a platform to release whatever I'm feeling within the electronic music spectrum.
8. Do you like to dance?
I love to have a boogie for sure! Whether it’s on the dance floor or behind the decks. I play and make music to make people dance; this is the whole point for me.
9. What is the strangest experience you’ve had whilst making music or at rave?
I remember playing at a club in Krasnodar in southern Russia. The club was massive, like 2000 capacity. Just before my set I was hanging around the back of the DJ booth and spotted a line of large blue plastic barrels. I asked what they were for and the promoter replied, “foam”, I was like okay.
I went off to have dinner and on my return the whole place was filled with so many soapsuds you couldn't see anyone at all. The foam must have been 10 feet high! I proceeded to play but all I could see was a sea of bubbles. Basically I played to a dance floor of washing up Fairy liquid.
When making music there are special moments when I get goosebumps and an overwhelming feeling that rushes over me. It’s quite a strange feeling, but you know you are on to something good. I live for those moments.
10. Tell us about a record you have listened to more than 50 times.
There's too many records that I've listened to more than 50 times, my musical taste is quite vast and covers lots of different styles/genres, so its really hard just to pick one. But here goes, I'm going to choose a song by Ennio Morricone, I'm a big fan of his. I first discovered him whilst watching western films as a child with my dad, the track is called Titoli "A Fistful Of Dollars" from the film Soundtrack. It's so simple but so effective, If you get a minute I would strongly suggest having a look in to what this man has done in his career, its quite amazing, a true legend.