NikNak interview

By David Pratt - 5 July 2018

Chin Up Festival 2016 NikNak performance

Two years ago on the sunny Saturday afternoon of Chin Up 2016, self-proclaimed ‘pint-sized turntablist’ Nicole ‘Nik Nak’ Raymond blew the crowd away with her hip-hop inspired set.

Since 2016, the Leeds-based DJ and sound artist has gone on to great things, supporting the likes of MJ Cole, Jordon Rakai and Akala. She’s back by popular demand in 2018 with her first headline festival set, bringing a new sound into the early hours of the morning to close the festival.

What do you remember about the last time you played Chin Up?

It was a very intimate festival and at that point it was one of the very first ones I'd ever done, so I remember being really excited. People were vibing to it, they were up and dancing and I remember having a really good time. It was very freeing, I could just play whatever I want and I was very grateful, as that’s a big part of my ethos.

Going from a Saturday afternoon to the headliner set closing the festival, what's the approach and what can people expect?

For starters the fact that I'm headlining is a really nice shock. I’ve never headlined before so that's really encouraging.

The kind of stuff I play is very varied, my set’s always quite eclectic; I can go from hip hop to jungle or drum and bass depending on what the vibe is. I never really prepare a set, there might be some songs that come to mind before but I'm never meticulous about it because I like to be in the moment. I scratch; try and do weird stuff during a set if it calls for it to make it unique.”

Having said that, I know it will be different; more upbeat as it’s a late one so there will be more of a party going on. I know that I've become a better DJ since the last time I played. My skill has improved and it’s developed so that's going to come across.

I’m going to be pushing myself creatively, live, and in new ways for Chin Up. A special place deserves something special and unique – a reflection of what this festival makes me feel.”

Outside of your first opportunity to headline a festival, what's bringing you back to Chin Up?

It is probably one of the only places where I can just be Nicole. I've been the artist Nik Nak, gigging and being really busy under that part of life, almost too much. I feel like I've been living up to expectations that people have of Nik Nak and not necessarily me.

Coming back to Chin Up will be a holiday from that. I'm going to be chilling with everybody and just being in a beautiful place with beautiful people. Later on I will get myself ready and set up but I can just relax and be myself for once. I rarely get the chance to do that.

What is it about the place? Because when you arrive at Chin Up, it is like a wave of something comes over you...

Yes, I totally agree. A lot of the festivals up and down the country, bigger or smaller, lose that magic. It's quite difficult to hold on to that special something that makes people want to go back and want to spread the word - Chin Up has held on to this specialness that is incredibly rare these days

“You disappear from all the bullshit in the world, which is very much needed. It's a festival but it feels just like an outdoor party. It's the kind of place that I want really close friends of mine to come to because they'll forget about everything. Plus you can bring dogs!

“It's a community and a collective rather than just a bunch of people that want to put on a festival and make money. It really is like a family there.”

Listen to NikNak's Chin Up 2018 set

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