Nicolas Bougaïeff studied classical violin as a youngster, and then electroacoustic composition as an adult — two building blocks for the melodic and conceptual aspects of his music today. And if that wasn’t enough, he completed a PhD in 2013 on the topic of minimal techno, analyzing the music and live performance methods of business partner Richie Hawtin’s 2010-2011 Plastikman Live tour. While his music is now firmly entrenched in dancefloor grooves and slamming mixdowns, he often starts his day playing Bach piano music or minimalist improvisations, keeping a strong link to his first musical love and demonstrating a rare level of dedication to the music production craft.
Thanks to his father's pioneering work with computers and language education, Bougaïeff was only six when he got his hands on a home computer in 1986. With just some self-taught BASIC and assembly language skills, he was soon experimenting with sound synthesis. By the time he discovered electronic music in the mid 1990s, he was performing live at local parties by syncing two PC towers. And now, besides producing and playing live hardware sets, he designs cutting-edge music software for Liine, the company he co-founded with partners that include John Acquaviva and Richie Hawtin.
Bougaïeff is undeniably an accomplished musician. He has over a dozen original releases on labels ranging from Trapez and Traum Schallplatten all the way to Josh Gabriel’s Different Pieces. And that’s not counting an electroacoustic LP released through electronic arts collective The Centrifuge. Then there was the previous career as a video game music composer. Chances are you’ve heard his work if you’ve ever flown and played games on the in-flight entertainment system.
What’s worked for Nicolas is a balance between discipline and spontaneity. “Back in 2012, I recorded a new improvisation every single day, first thing in the morning, for six months without fail”, says Bougaïeff about his workflow. The result? A slew of tracks. A debut release on Trapez. And the upcoming “24 Miniatures” album.
Collaboration is key. Bougaïeff and melodic heavyweight Max Cooper together produced two tracks on “Movements EP”. Minimal techno legend Marc Houle delivered a remix for Bougaïeff’s “Pulsar Nite EP”.
Bougaïeff knows how to combine dance music production with modern classical influences. For his track “Decompress”, he extracted the principles from Steve Reich’s “Four Organs” and applied them to techno. Nicolas had to roll his own custom software to make chords slowly morph into arpeggios. CreateDigitalMusic.com sums it up, “Geometry and process come together for a new take on techno”.
- Tony Flexagon, Berlin 06.2014