On May 12, NYIKO is releasing the You Know I Love It EP on 7″ and cassette. Per the band’s frontman, Nyiko Beguin, it “blends synth-pop, new wave, and r&b, generally with high energy.” Beguin played synth on Tyler Daniel Bean’s recent full length, On Days Soon To Pass, and Bean reworked one of the songs on the EP, “Drag Me Down,” alongside other reworkings by Suplington and Sasquatch that fill out the collection.
In advance of You Know I Love It’s release next month, we have an exclusive premiere of Tyler Daniel Bean’s cover of “Drag Me Down,” which you can hear below. We also spoke with Beguin about the recording and creation of the EP.
Modern Vinyl: The EP is fantastic, by the way. What led you to choose the folks who did the remixes and covers?
Nyiko Beguin: Thanks! I’m really happy to hear you liked it. Overall, it was an organic process. Sasquatch and I have been collaborating for a few years. We put out an EP last year — NYIKOxSasquatch, Stay Here — and he helped with some of the early ideation for You Know I Loved It. He’s done some incredible remix work for me and other artists in the past, so it was a natural choice to have him on this release.
Suplington and Sasquatch are actually labelmates on Youngbloods Records, based out of NYC/LA. I loved Suplington’s 2014 release, Tokyo Reflections, and thought that he could provide an experimental take on “Drag Me Down.” I reached out to his label and they put me touch. With me living in LA, and Suplington in the UK, we did everything over email. We’ve actually never met face to face, which is kind of strange, but I guess that’s how these things can go these days.
MV: The EP is dance-y, but so sad, which kind of makes the Tyler Daniel Bean connection make a lot of sense (at least the latter half of that statement). How’d you come to know Tyler and work with him?
NB: I’ve known Tyler since 2010 when I was living in Burlington, Vermont. We met at a house show we were both playing at. I remember Tyler was propped up on the kitchen countertop, playing acoustic and singing some especially heart-wrenching lyrics.
We actually didn’t become close friends until a few years later, when I hired his girlfriend for a photo shoot. After that, we started working on music together. He played guitar in my band for a year or so and I played synth on his latest record, On Days Soon to Pass. Since moving to LA, it’s been difficult to collaborate, so asking him to record a version of “Drag Me Down” felt like a logical way to accomplish that. When he sent over the demo, I was blown away. I actually shed a few tears. I think it was a combination of the beautiful arrangement he put together, along with missing him. He’s been there for me through some tough stuff.
MV: What was the process of recording the EP — did you know you’d want reinterpretations from the start?
NB: Writing and performing music has always been a form of therapy for me. This project was undoubtedly the most directly aligned with that notion. I wrote and recorded the demos in my bedroom in Vermont in late fall 2014. I was lucky enough to have the angelic Alexandria Hall (tooth ache., Beth Head) record vocals on “You Know I Loved It.” Once I heard her voice on it, I knew we had to figure out a way to press it on vinyl.
After rehearsing with the band — Dan Smith on drums, Ian Senesac on bass, and me on synth — we brought them into the studio in summer 2015. The two songs were engineered by Chris Shar (formerly Man Man, Santigold, Pours) and Bronwen Dearing at Studio Barr Von Burdge in Burlington, VT. It was then mixed by Kyler Hurley in LA and mastered by Steve Kitch in the UK. Working with that crew was a real treat. They are truly skilled and delightful people.
In terms of having the reinterpretations for the record — that’s a tough one. When I’m working on new material, all of my energy and focus is on making my best or at least my most sincere version of that idea or feeling. I’d say it’s almost never “how can I make sure this song works well for a remix?” That’s not to diminish the value of a great remix or cover, it’s just not something I’m concerned about during the writing process. I love remixes, covers, reworks. It’s a terrific way to collaborate and to hear your work through another filter. Honestly I find sometimes a remix or cover can be more effective than the original. Who knows, that might even be the case for this EP…
MV: How’d you come to this style of music?
NB: For a while now, I’ve felt like somewhat of a musical chameleon. In high school I bounced around writing and performing pop-punk, grindcore, indie folk, and hip-hop. Then in college, I played for a 4-piece folk rock band and put out my first electro-pop release as NYIKO.
I’ve always had a passion for music exploration and that has a direct impact on my approach to songwriting. As a result, I have an eclectic output, but the goal of every release is to have some sense of cohesion.
Back when I was DJing college radio, it behooved me to stay on top of the latest bands. I also found myself spending countless hours in the station’s archives and hanging out with other DJs, discovering artists old and new.
“You Know I Loved It/Drag Me Down” is a continuation of that exploration. Thematically, the two songs are similar, but stylistically distinct. When I wrote “You Know I Loved It” and “Drag Me Down,” I was listening to a lot of Madonna’s self-titled, Phil Collin’s No Jacket Required, and Twin Shadow’s Confess. There’s no doubt that those records had an influence on this release.
You Know I Loved It is available for pre-order on vinyl and cassette via Bandcamp.