Hi, Doctor Nick! - Knowing What's Good and Playing the Social Game

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Obviously, XLR8R isn't the only place on the web devoted to electronic music. However, we are the only spot where readers can get a weekly dose of street knowledge from Nick Hook. Every Thursday, the good doctor doles out wisdom about music, DJing, production, fashion, traveling, romance, and more. If you need help from Doctor Nick, drop him a line at doctornick@xlr8r.com. Otherwise, read on and see what the man has to say this week.

Yo. It's the end of the third month.

Keep the emails coming, but yo, please, don't send attachments, especially like 10 of them in one email—unless you send like 10 bucks with it so I can keep my Gmail storage nice.

Hi Doctor Nick,
So I've been doing this stuff for maybe two or three years now. I've got a couple of decent releases, but nothing amazing. I'm mainly really happy about seeing progression in my own work. I've come to a point where I'm proud of my work, which is something that really matters to me.

Here's the issue: I'm just not into the marketing/social stuff. I'm known for my awkward/hard-to-remember name, I don't go out much, and I don't like networking. I like having a good time when I go out, not talking to dudes from the scene. So I'm at a point where I'm just focusing on my music, hoping that it'll speak for itself. Do you think that still works, or should I think of a new strategy? I just feel like so much of this game is hanging out with the right people and tweeting about it. I sent my promos to a gazillion people, and barely a tenth even bothered to check it out. The worst thing, if I can say so, is that those who actually listened (bigger names included) really enjoyed it. If I take your example—I know who you're affiliated with, I know scene people back you up, but I can't name two of your tracks, and I listen to a lot of stuff. You seem to be fairly content with your career—could you have done it with the mere power of your music? Genuinely curious.

Confused producer/awkward stoned dude


Cool on the progression. That's really all that matters, there's nothing better than watching yourself grow. I'm with you. 100%.

The reason you can't name two of my tracks is because I've only put out like five of them in the 10 years I've been a "professional" in music under my own name. I grew up in bands; most of the projects I've been involved in have been bands and I love that on accident I became a producer just because I love teamwork, helping others, and kinda just being the unsung hero, so to speak. That's not to say I can't step up and be the man if it's my turn, but that's really not what I'm interested in. My EP that I just put out was the first time I was ready to do that.

It's funny to me that you imply that who I know is why I'm here, cuz to me, it's the exact opposite. I think I've only done it with the power of my music. I was asked to move to New York to join my first band cuz I was doing beats before everyone did beats, so I was a commodity then. I kept learning, collecting synths, blah blah blah, and when I first got to New York, I was the same as really all of the people writing into this column. No one I respected fucked with me... at all. But I slowly earned respect by doing my own thing. I can say that I've been the same since I was like eight years old. I was always friends with everyone at school—the nerds, the freaks, the popular kids, the black kids—it's just who I am. It's an Italian thing I guess. Yours is being a stoner and not outgoing. I could go over my whole career and how it got to where it is, but it's really cuz I worked hard and never tried to fit in. I just did me and I'm proud of that. I like music to sound raw and have human feeling and as easy as it could have been to jump on some stupid bandwagon, I have never done that. It's why I'm so proud of the record I put out—it's very me, and as vulnerable as it can be.

I'm actually 100% content with my career cuz I feel like I've carved out a niche that works exactly for me and it's always evolving. I have like six careers in one and they all help each other. DJing, producing, mixing, my own artist career, studio, etc. They are all synergistic and modular, and it keeps me so inspired at all times. Even doing this column and reading all the questions has been very interesting, cuz it seems everyone is really interested in "making it," whatever the fuck that means.

I think your music can definitely speak for itself, but at the end of the day, relationships are everything. People wanna work with people they can connect and have fun with. Everyone is talented, so how the actual experience of working together will be is kinda what I see as important. Maybe it's fucked up, but it's just real. And as far as promos, I dunno. I remember when I didn't get any promos and I dreamt of how dope it would be and now I get them, and I don't even listen to them. I'm busy making music and trying to live life. It sucks—I wish I could spend three days a week listening to a bunch of new music, but it's hard. I don't mean to ignore anyone. Most importantly, I wouldn't change who you are. Maybe finding someone to speak on your behalf as a manager type could really help. Creating your own lane is really the name of the game, that's how you can make all the things you want fit with your persona. Everyone has to do it themselves. Steve Aoki throws pies on people—it works for him. Could you or I ever do that, even for mad money? Probably not.

Anyways, yeah. Good luck. I ride for you.

Hi Doctor Nick,
I'm from Phoenix, AZ and have been making music for about five years now. I've had the hardest time putting stuff out because I can't tell what's good. After sitting in my little studio for hours reconstructing a song five different ways, I can never tell which is the best. Even once I find which way is best, I still question if it's good enough to let anyone hear it with my name behind it. We have little to no electronic-music scene in my area and I'm afraid no one will like it because it's not brostep or M83. Any advice?

Yo. It's 2012. You can talk to someone in Africa faster than you can link up with a real person in Phoenix, so maybe if people in your town aren't on your level, you should start lurking some fools on the internet to listen and give you feedback. Take a break on your stuff and come back to it, and if you are smoking weed, you are fucked. Shit will sound 500 different ways and when you aren't high anymore, you are gonna be more confused than ever. Why not have confidence in your stuff? It's for you anyway, right? If you're still worried, make an alias so people don't know it's you. I dunno, I'd say like 90% of my music has always been rejected by people I sent it to first. It's why my band Cubic Zirconia had to start its own label. We just kept putting music out, improving our live show, and writing better tunes and eventually it worked out with Fool's Gold. It took awhile, but we always believed in ourselves. At least you aren't giving in to making brostep—be proud of that.

Hi, Doctor Nick! appears every Thursday on XLR8R. Do you have a question for Doctor Nick? Please submit your inquires to doctornick@xlr8r.com. Nick Hook can help you.