Nez’s GTA tunes are not a game
Nez’s GTA Tracks are not a game: There’s just something different about Chicago-born, Los Angeles-based Nez. The producer started exploding online a few years ago with tracks like “Wild Youngster,” and even then it was clear that something new was happening here. His lyrics are crisp and incisive, sure, but it’s the house-influenced melody that frames it all—the mix of genres and beats that ties it all together—that convinces listeners that Nez is special.
It’s been coming for a long time. Nez says he has always written and acted, even as a child.
“I’ve always been into music,” he says. “I’ve always had an interest in that. Whether it was as a drummer in my church when I was 8 years old, it’s always been there. I think it’s become something serious, it’s happened over the last few years. I was producing before playing and started producing professionally around 2011. Over the past couple of years I found my sound and something I was interested in. So yeah, I only really started my journey as an artist in the last two years.
Yes, before being a solo artist, Nez was part of the production duo Nez & Rio. This launched him, before he started producing outside of this partnership and then working on his own music. He says he was inspired by all the artists he worked with.
“I learned something from everyone I worked with along the way,” Nez says. “That’s the cool thing about producing – you get to be a fly on the wall. Sometimes you are lucky enough to grow with artists depending on when you meet them. Sometimes you meet them on the way up and you have the chance to see their evolution. Sometimes, if you meet them and they are already big, you have the chance to see how they do things.
Now that he’s flying, Nez describes his sound as a “gumbo mix”. He is rooted in house and techno, mixing hip-hop, R&B, pop and funk. The artist prefers to let others describe it. But the fact that he’s in Chicago and has family in the Chi-Town house scene, with Detroit techno not far away, clearly had an effect.
“House music has always existed,” he says. “And you can’t help it – Chicago is a hometown. On the radio, growing up, even to this day, you will hear house music. So those are things that we always played growing up. Second nature.”
Based on his high-energy production and genre blurring, it seems only fitting that his new EP will be released in partnership with the video game. Grand Theft Auto.
“What’s interesting is that I’ve always been into digital music, from Kraftwerk even to what’s happening now in techno and avant-garde,” Nez says. “But I always grew up playing Grand Theft Auto, too much. It was always dope, and I always paid attention and knew their soundtracks were dope. So when I got the opportunity to make music for it, it was perfect for me because I’m already a fan of the game, and I listen to the music on the game. It’s a piece of history awesome to be part of.
The artist says he didn’t write music specifically to tie into a narrative about the game – it wasn’t that literal. But he knew, from his experience in the game, what he wanted to hear blasting over those car stereos. That said, the folks at Circoloco (the label associated with Rockstar Games, the creators of GTA) gave Nez complete freedom.
“I love working with them because they literally gave me complete freedom,” he says. “It was literally like, ‘We want you to do what you do.’ So that was perfect for me. I loved working with the Circoloco team because they gave me everything. The first ideas I gave them, they were like, ‘Yeah, that’s it . Expand on that – it’s cool. So it worked perfectly.”
Nez was working on this project during the pandemic, and he says the lockdown had a big impact on him, changing his process.
“I had to go out of my way to create creative spaces for myself,” he says. “So I would rent Airbnbs and completely decorate them to make me feel like I was somewhere else. It really allowed me to get more creative, just because I was doing things that I wanted to exist. I haven’t even been able to go out for a long time, and I’m doing dance music! So it’s a bit weird. But it allowed me to deepen this whole concept of escape that I really embraced.
At least he had good weather. Nez has lived in Los Angeles for nine years now, motivated to move on thanks to his work with South Central rapper Schoolboy Q.
“I felt like if I could be closer to a lot of the artists that I worked with, and they were all based in LA, there would be a lot more room for growth,” he says. . “I love LA Something about this city makes me dream. I think the weather helps. Culture. And also just being around other creators. I’m always inspired to go to someone else’s studio. Even creators in other fields of art, fashion designers, filmmakers – it’s really dope to see people chasing their dreams and evolving.
With the GTA EP coming out soon, Nez hopes to release on the road (COVID permitting).
“I can’t wait to get out and experience this on stage,” he says in conclusion. “I hope everyone is safe.”
Nez’s GTA Tracks are not a game: Nez’s new EP is out.
Nez’s GTA tunes are not a game