As Nick Hayes paves his way in the realm of progressive house and trance, he swung by to talk about the local community, future goals, and more!
Atlanta-based DJ and producer Nick Hayes has what it takes to make a lasting impression in the realm of progressive house and trance. His music is rich in emotion, soaked with body driving power, and his attention to detail keeps his listeners on the edge of their seats. Tracks like “Sounder” will pull anyone into a sweet state of bliss, while “Frontrunner” inspires feet to run straight to the dance floor.
With his growing discography in tow, it’s no wonder that in such a short time Nick Hayes has landed on the radar of the industry elite such as Super8 & Tab, Grum, and Adrian Alexander who have seen something special bubbling deep inside his mind. Ultimately, his Scorchin’ Progressive debut “Signal” and his remix of Grum’s “Blackhole” found their place on A State Of Trance and Group Therapy radio broadcasts. And even FSOE Parallels has been feeling the Nick Hayes fever, becoming the home for his track with Jeff Ozmitz, “Faces.”
When it comes to the pandemic and the crumbling of live events, Nick Hayes has laughed in the face of adversity. On the livestream front, he’s been crushing it, taking over guest spots for Deep State and Elliptical Sun while keeping fans up to date with live Q&A sessions. Before the shutdown, Nick left his heart with his fans on the dancefloor, cultivating feel-good vibes at beloved venues as well as at events like Subtle Warehouse/Block Party.
One thing is for certain, Nick Hayes is someone you should keep your eyes on and ears tuned to. But don’t just take it from us, if you really want to get a taste of what this exciting artist is all about check out the mix below and read on for our conversation!
Stream EDMID Guest Mix 260 || Nick Hayes on SoundCloud:
First and foremost, thank you so much for taking time to talk to us. You’ve been smashing it on the production front lately, but before we get into that can you fill us in on your backstory as an artist? Who were some of your earliest influences? What pushed you to become a DJ and producer?
Nick Hayes: Thank you! I’ve been listening to dance music since 2010 when a friend introduced me to Avicii. By the time I had gone to college, I was very interested in the dance music scene. While I had previously only attended two concerts in my life that were put on through the university events board, I entered and won a DJ contest to open up a few Life in Color shows. It was a little ambitious though as I had never DJ’ed live. The shows went well, but I decided to shift my focus to trying to make my own stuff after that.
In 2017, my friends and I attended a free show at a club called The Grasshopper in Michigan where Grum was playing that night. It was a great set, and that was what really sent me down the progressive rabbit hole. Other acts that began to influence my style were Pryda and Jeremy Olander.
Over the next few years, I began to put a more serious effort into developing my productions. Ironically, it would be at that same club in Michigan where I’d meet Grum again in 2019 and he would tell me that he was starting a label and wanted to have some music from me on it. Very cool how things came full circle.
What’s the trance and progressive scene like in your hometown of Atlanta and in what ways you would like to see it improve once the pandemic is over?
I wouldn’t say that Atlanta is the first place people think of when you talk about trance or progressive, but there is for sure a group of passionate individuals that come to shows here for those genres. Before Covid, it seemed we were lucky to get a show once a month or so.
‘The Music Room’ was a great place to go for more underground progressive before it closed its doors for good during the pandemic. Bringing in artists like Jeremy Olander, this venue was truly about the music. I enjoyed not only playing there on a few occasions but also the shows they put on.
Liquified and Unity Events also put on some great progressive and trance shows. I realize that clubs need to make a profit and my scene isn’t notoriously the one to do that, but I’d like to see the return of smaller venues that could bring in more niche progressive acts when things get back to normal.
Since living here, I have come to see that there is a tight bond shared between Atlanta’s DJs and producers. In your personal experience, how valuable is this type of support when navigating your way through this industry?
While I’ve only lived in Atlanta for a little more than three years, I feel like I’ve been here longer with some of the connections I’ve made. We may have a smaller trance scene here, but, I think if anything, that has brought people closer together. If I go to a trance or progressive show, I know I will see a dedicated group of people who are there for each other and for the music.
While live streams aren’t the same as real events, I’ve enjoyed being able to attend more “shows” of the DJs and producers in town. Twitch makes that quite easy to keep in contact with everyone.
Without a network, the music industry would be very hard to navigate. I’m grateful to have built some strong connections here in Atlanta to help me do that. The local DJs and producers here in Atlanta have been very supportive of my tracks, and I couldn’t be more fortunate.
You have quite a number of releases on Elliptical Sun Melodies, the sub-label of Elliptical Sun Recordings. I am curious to know how you first linked up with the label and how that relationship has helped mold your career?
Getting on Elliptical Sun Melodies for me happened quite fluidly, to be honest. I was talking to a Facebook friend about what to do with the two tracks I had finished. He happened to be an A&R at Elliptical Sun Melodies at the time and offered to forward my track “Coaster” to the rest of their A&R team. “Coaster” came out in February of 2019 and did pretty well.
Around that time, Adrian Alexander was working on the ESM 03 compilation and asked if there was anything I had to send to him in the final week or so before the compilation was due to Beatport and the distributor. I had been sitting on “Metrolink” for a while, but Adrian got it on the comp just in time and went on to open his ABGT guest mix with it. “Metrolink” got some huge support from industry heavyweights and I think that was the first track that really put me on the map.
I’m a firm believer in the motto “surround yourself with people who have the same goals.” There are a lot of talented producers at Elliptical Sun who undoubtedly motivated me to become a better producer myself. Since I’ve released on both sides of the label, I’ve gotten to know many of these guys quite well, and I’m very lucky to be able to call them close friends. I’d say I talk to many of them on a near-daily basis it seems and collaborated with some of them as well on multiple occasions.
Recently, you released “Signal” on Super8 & Tab’s Scorchin’ Progressive, a single that landed you on their Scorchin’ Sessions Vol. 1 compilation. You mentioned that you struggled with remaking the track after losing the original version. What advice can you give to someone struggling with a similar situation, and in what ways is the released version of “Signal” different from the original?
#1 BACK UP YOUR PROJECT FILES.
#2 Just know that there will likely always be setbacks to anything you try to accomplish in life. Nothing you can’t push through though. The final version of “Signal” you hear today came out about 2.5 years after I first started working on the original track. While it took me a few frustrating weeks to realize I was never going to get the exact song I had originally, I knew I was keeping the melody for sure.
One of the hardest things about producing is the fact you don’t really get to hear the song for the first time like every other listener. When I produce, I try to remember the first time I heard the melody and how it made me feel. It can be very easy to get frustrated over the EQ of a snare etc. and start to question every aspect of the track, but if you can remember back to how the song made you feel in the beginning, I find that helps get it finished.
#3 Back up your project files. There are plenty of ways to do this via Dropbox, Google Drive, Time Machine, or hard drives.
You also remixed a Grum track by the name of “Blackhole”, landing you on the Reactor Remix EP and garnering 2 plays from Above & Beyond on Group Therapy Radio. As a rising star, what emotions do you feel when you hear your track being played on such a massive platform?
It’s always nice to get supported by larger artists, especially when they’re the guys you look up to. Remixing Grum was no exception to that. One of my goals last year was to work with him on a song, so it was really cool when this opportunity came about.
All this being said, I think it is important to make sure you don’t measure the “success” of a track based only on the support of bigger artists or where the song charts on Beatport, etc. You should be happy with what you release before any of that.
When looking back at your releases history to date, what production stands out to you the most and why? Is there a story to tell or an experience that inspired the creation?
While “Metrolink” opened a lot of doors for me, I think the production that stands out to me most right now is “Signal.” I’m quite happy with how this one turned out after such a long production and A&R process. “Signal” went through a few different A&Rs at various labels before landing at Scorchin’ Progressive, but I don’t think the overall tone of the track and vision changed from what I always imagined it being.
I’m grateful for the A&Rs who helped me shape this one along the way, but I’m also glad I stuck with my gut on something I wanted to make. On top of that, the track has gotten good feedback from bigger artists and featured on shows like ASOT and ABGT.
These days, artists are crossing genre lines more often than not. Have you ever thought about dabbling in other genres? If so, what style would you choose and why?
I think there is a lot that can be learned in trying other genres, but I am quite happy with the progressive style I’m making at the moment. When not working on my own tracks though, I do enjoy helping my friends who produce different genres with their melodies, etc. I find it quite fun to hop into a track where I feel there are no restrictions.
Progressive House is a very broad genre, and there are a lot of styles to discover under that umbrella. Lately, I have been experimenting with more of the deeper-sounding stuff, but that doesn’t mean I won’t go back to the older style I’m known for. “Faces,” my most recent collaboration with Jeff Ozmits, recently came out on FSOE Parallels. I suppose it’s a bit of a different sound than what people might be used to hearing from us, but it’s still within the progressive realm.
What are some of your major goals going forward? Any labels you have your eye on or special projects in the works?
Like many other DJs and producers, I’m waiting for things to settle with COVID so I can get back to playing shows safely both for me and for those in the crowd. I felt that things were just starting to pick up for me show-wise in Atlanta right when COVID hit. I’m looking forward to exploring those opportunities again soon. I’ve had it as a goal to tour and collaborate on tracks with some of the artists that I look up to as well.
Label-wise, I look forward to working more with Deep State and Scorchin’ Progressive. Both labels have been very supportive in the vision I have for my project, and I don’t think it would be wrong to say you could expect to see more from me there down the road. Maybe even in the not too distant future. I also recently did a livestream for Grum that featured some new music that I have coming out soon.
Before we go I like to end on a fun one. Outside of dance music, what is a fun fact that your fans don’t know about you but would be surprised to hear about? Any quirky habits or hobbies?
Music isn’t yet a full-time thing for me, but, during the day (and oftentimes nights), I work in the visual effects department on major motion picture films. If you look close enough at the beginning of the movie Venom, I make little a cameo as a “Dead Astronaut.” Not many people get to say they’ve seen their face on an IMAX screen.