The soundscape of Portland is ever-evolving, fixated squarely on the shoulders of dedicated and innovative local artists. One of the driving forces pushing this DIY beast into uncharted territory is 27 year old producer & DJ Nick Sisouphanh, also known as GANGSIGNS. A native Oregonian, Nick has made his online presence known through a high output via his personal corner of Soundcloud. He continues to be a consistent element in the Portland DIY club scene, DJ-ing at the late Trap Funeral and branching off in January 2014 to start VERIFIED, a monthly bass / club party hosted at Portland’s Holocene which has brought nationwide artists like Falcons, Brenmar, Arnold, Hoodboi, Nadus, Lil Texas, and many others.
Additional words and interview by Ryan Warr.
What does STYLSS mean to you?
STOP TAKING YOUR LIFE SO SERIOUSLY. Those words just stuck to me. It makes me realize why I do music in the first place. Plain & simple, I love music. Every time I get frustrated with the music scene, I think “Why am I getting butt hurt about music? Why am I taking it so serious?” – It really helped me when I was down. You know that saying from job interviews? “What are one of your weaknesses?” and the person being interviewed says “I care too much”. STYLSS helped me care less about stupid shit in life.
How’d you get into music?
At an early age.. like age 7? I showed interest in the saxophone. No lie, I saw Bill Clinton play the saxophone on TV and I thought it was so tight. I also watched Simpsons a lot and that episode in the first season where Lisa meets Bleeding Gums Murphy made me wanna play saxophone real bad. One day, my dad comes home with a Alto Saxophone and it changed my life.
Describe your sound and what you’re going for.
I’ve been trying to let myself naturally write whatever I feel like at the moment. That being said, I’m trying to stay away from just having one “sound”. Lately, I’ve been studying what I call “regional club music” – listening to club producers from all over the world. Getting influenced, trying to blend different regions together, and putting my own twist on it.
What’s your favorite song you’ve ever made?
My favorite track to date would probably be my song “High”. It was a big transitional track for me. In life and my sound. Last year, I dealt with some depression….my group of friends dissolved, I hated my day job, and I was afraid to get out of my comfort zone as an artist. “High” was a product of finally feeling happy with myself. I got a new job, found out who my real friends were, and I was finally okay with myself.
What kind of equipment/program do you use to produce? Play out live?
Surprisingly, I don’t use much to produce. I’ve always been more of a software guy, so I mainly chop up samples in Ableton Live and manually enter my midi into the piano roll with my trackpad/mouse. From time to time, I use my M-Audio O2 midi keyboard to write but I always end up going back. I guess I just really hate using the quantize feature. I really simplified my live sets. I use to play out with my laptop using Ableton Live. But now I purely use CDJ’s. Traveling with a laptop and your own equipment sucks. There’s nothing better than walking into a club with just your USB stick & some headphones.
Where do you see your sound going in the future?
Too many producers are looking for the next sound or wave. Don’t ride the wave. Start your own. I’ve been trying to blend genres together and I’ve been putting my own twist on things. I feel like original content is essential for standing out as an artist.
How often do you release new music? When is your next official release?
I try to release something at least once or twice a month. I’m working on an album right now so it might be a little slow as far as originals. I’m also making tons of bootlegs / edits in my spare time so I’ll try to give those out to everyone patiently waiting for the album. I’m hoping my album will be done by Fall 2015.
What/who are you favorite artists/songs/albums?
Too many to name but my favorite artists at the moment are: Fluke Nukes, Hi Tom, Wave Racer, Yung Wall Street, DJ Problem, Shy Girls, DJ Karaoke, Dubbel Dutch.
If you had the opportunity to collab with one artist, who would it be, and why?
I wanna collab with Kanye. I mean, come on, it’s Kanye. I really think that dude is a genius. I don’t care if people think he’s a crazy and/or a dickhead. I believe some of the most successful people in the world have to be crazy to get to where they’re at.
Who are some of your musical influences? What are your influences outside of music?
Musically, Cashmere Cat is one of my main influences. Everything Cashmere does has blown me away. His production, sound, and live sets. Seeing someone like him working with artists such as Kanye is very inspiring. Lately, I’ve really been into DJ Mustard too. No lie. I love every track he has produced as of late. His bass lines are catchy and his tempo is very easy to dance too. LOVE playing his stuff out. Outside of music? I would probably say my Dad. My Dad risked his life escaping from Laos to live in the US. He dreamed of a better life and he worked for it. He met my mom on the way and now they’re living “the American Dream”. He taught me to be a hard worker.
What was the last live show you attended? and/or Favorite Artist/DJs you’ve seen live?
I go out pretty often and I’m also always losing track on who I’m seeing while I’m out. Recently though? I gotta say Rustie. I just loved that he played all originals. ALL BANGERS. Also, he looked like he really enjoyed playing all his originals out live. One day, I hope I can do the same and have it pop off like he did.
If you could only listen to one artist for the remainder of your life who would it be & why?
Drake. I swear every track he does is relevant to my life. Every. Single. Album. For real though, I’m into everything he does and he works with some really dope producers. Also, Drake and I share birthday so we’re basically related.
Do you have any advice to share with upcoming/aspiring music producers?
Don’t focus on making it big in your city. There’s a bigger picture out there. Stay Humble.
What else do you do aside from music? Hobbies? Day job?
A lot of my time is spent on music related activities but outside of music, I’ve got a few things going on. I work full time at a medial marijuana dispensary. I love it. Marijuana is another passion of mine & I’m pretty thankful to have my foot in the door in that industry. I also have a marketing business with some of my best friends called “The Vera Firm”. Aside from that, I love riding my bike with my homies. Going on long bike rides really help me clear my head.
If you had $1000 cash given to you right now, what would you do with it?
To be honest I’d probably pay some bills, buy some fire weed and concentrate, and buy some VSTs. I told myself that I need more legit software in my life. I don’t have time to be a pirate these days. It’s way too much of a pain.
I’ve noticed you’re an avid cyclist, if you could build any bike setup, what would it be?
Even though It’s a beater, I’m pretty happy with my Leader 725 right now but I’d like to upgrade my frame to a Bianchi Super Pista in the future. I also really wanna build a light commuter bike. Keep things super simple. My current bike is kind of my “pimp my ride” project.
Word on the street is you’re a fan of sneakers. What do you prefer to cruise around in on the daily?
I’m way more into runners than basketball shoes. Runners are just way more comfy and not as bulky as basketball shoes. Don’t get me wrong, I love myself a pair of clean Jordan’s but I would rather wear runners over them any day. My grail at the moment is probably my Black/White Nike Flyknit Racers. It’s definitely my favorite shoe silhouette.
Do you have any life advice or wisdom to share?
Work hard and keep your eyes on the prize. Have fun. Stay Positive.
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The STYLSS Spotlight is curated to showcase & spotlight STYLSS affiliated artists & our friends from around the world.