Words and interview: David D. Robbins Jr.
Musician: NIVA (aka Christian Niva)
Sweden’s Christian Niva (aka NIVA and formerly The Quietboy) is working on a full-length LP. But until then, he’s released three tracks this year via his bandcamp site: “The boy from the sun”, “Dizzyeyes” and “Ghost in my head”. As The Quietboy, he created dance grooves like “Fortyfive” — a song with sexy pulsating synth, wicked percussion and the pretty looped lovelorn phrase, “I will follow you.” His song, “The Orange Kind”, off his 2007 “Mesh” EP, experiments with in-the-red dance beats and playful synth. But now it seems Niva has journeyed quite a way in finding himself and his evolving sound. His music has matured as NIVA, into an intricate, hazy, lo-fi chillwave-pop in the category of Washed Out and Toro y Moi. A standout on his upcoming LP is “The boy from the sun”. A child’s echoed voice opens the song, before Niva dives straight into lyrics about a woman and the shining sun. Looped “ahhhhs” add to his layered background. Just past the midway mark, NIVA goes into a high falsetto, setting the song up for a re-introduction of the foundation beat. It’s gorgeous. (Click on the link above to visit his webpage and hear more songs.)
Christian Niva was kind enough to answer some questions from Their Bated Breath. This is the second question-and-answers session on this blog — a feature that hopefully allows you to get to know a little something about some of the best musicians around, and gives them a chance to talk directly to you about life, music and whatever is on their minds:
Q: What instruments do you use to create your music?
A: Mostly, I write songs on guitar and then make beats and record with Reason and Logic. I sometimes use other elements like a Tascam tape deck to lay vocals on or use as an effect. On my track “The boy from the sun” I used that element.
Q: What’s the difference between “The Quietboy” and “NIVA”?
A: I released two mini EP’s as The Quietboy in 2008 and after that my life kind of went downhill, and it was a lot of negative stuff, like bad drug habits. I didn’t write any music at all for about a year, and then I finally was getting better and started writing again. I had a lot of anxiety and dark stuff in me, so all songs became very emotional and personal. At that point I felt I needed to be as honest as possible and to go by my real name, Niva.
Q: What modern artists do you have a lot of respect for?
A: Oh, many! I’m also a DJ — and by doing gigs I listen and download all the time. Of course I feel for the new type of lo-fi stuff coming out, like Toro Y Moi and Washed Out. But I’m also very into the new dubstep and minimal D&B scene with artist like Joy Orbison, Dark Sky, James Blake and Mount Kimbie.
Q: What’s one of your favorite albums, that you find yourself always listening to?
A: I must mention a Swedish band called Radio Dept and their first album “Lesser Matters”. I must also give props to the new Wild Nothing album that I think is great. It’s hard to make a good album true all the way, but he did it. Amazing.
Q: What’s the music scene like in Sweden? Any local bands or venues you really enjoy?
A: Well, it’s okay. It’s not like Sweden is full of great new acts. Everyone’s just following the next man, so the indie scene in my opinion, hasn’t developed much. But I must mention three local heroes that I think are in the front-line of music development: SKV18 is a Minimal-D&B act from Stockholm, that I really love. MODUAL is a popstep act with soulful vocals, and I think they are gonna get big. And last, but not least, the Chicago house-retro act KINGS OF THE UNIVERSE always impress me with the happiness in their music.
Q: What’s up next for NIVA?
A: I’m about to release the new EP as NIVA on blogs for free, and also make a music video for “Ghost in my head”. Hopefully I’ll get more gigs. After that I’m into doing a single on a label or something. Let’s see what the future brings.