In this series, Selections, we invite DJs, producers and label heads to dig into their digital crates and share the contents of their collections. This week, NikNak spotlights ambient sound designs, jazz-infused hip-hop and high-def club experiments
NikNak is an award-winning turntablist, producer and presenter based in Leeds, who is just at home mixing funk and hip-hop as she is dubstep and d&b, and as comfortable putting together experimental ambient works as she is interviewing icons for her The Narrative podcast. She was named as one of DJ Mag’s Artists to Watch in 2022.
Her new album, 'Sankofa', is out now, and tells the story of a young Black woman's self-realisation and discovery of superpowers. The concept is a result of her research into Afrofuturism, Black spirituality, comic book characters and faith. These themes were then combined with the artist's Oram Award-winning turntablism and production skills, incorporating deep melodic synth work, orchestral elements and field recordings into an experimental mix.
Speaking about the album's title, NikNak: “Often symbolised by a bird looking back over its shoulder, Sankofa is a spiritual principle derived from the Akan people of Ghana; that one should remember the past to make positive progress in the future". The release was first created during her time on 2021's Sound Generator R&D programme in 2021.
“Sankofa serves as a way for all Black womanhood within the diaspora and beyond to further accept and grow within themselves without apology, to not forget the power, mysticism and beauty that resides within and from their ancestors, whilst uniquely taking up as much space as possible," she continued. "Sankofa sends a message that Blackness and femininity are so much more than stereotypes often alluded to.”
NikNak’s Selections encompass a similarly rich palette, from ambient sound designs and jazz-infused hip-hop into high-def club experiments. Dig in below.
“Her interpretation of ambient music is glorious, refreshing and unique. Any track off this record serves as a peacefully beautiful moment to take time out and prepare for whatever might be coming next – in life, in the set/playlist, whatever. I don’t have a favourite track to be honest, the whole thing is gorgeous.”
“Moor Mother is a goddess and someone who regularly and skilfully dodges being stereotyped. 'Rap Jasm' is a beautifully chill track leaves you floating, and the processing of the drums just adds further weight the vocals sustain throughout. Melding jazz and electronic music together in her way, unapologetically.”
“I stumbled across this record recently in a record shop and have been hooked ever since. This is a great example of traditional/analog music meeting soundscapes and electronic processing to create new and beautiful worlds. Take some time out to check this one out. International Anthem do it again with this release. Big fan.”
“I met the wonderful being that is Grove recently at Glastonbury, and to know that they’re a fellow fire sign really says it all! A legend and badass individual, I’d say that this track, if you’re new to Grove, serves as a perfect introduction to their addictive potency. VIBES.”
“Hidden amongst the beautiful production are Sudan’s lyrics that hit you immediately with equal force as the kick drums. She continues to find new ways to implement the violin into her ever-evolving sound. Glorious. Can’t wait to hear her next album. There’s even elements that remind me of the soundtrack from Akira or Ghost in the Shell. DOPE.”
“Hearing sounds from Kenya be manipulated into this mystical EP is something wonderful to behold. That coupled with Nyokabi’s rich voice serves as an audible introduction to the country itself, with her guiding you through its beautiful soundscape lands.”
“The ways in which SlowPitchSound will use environments around him on the turntables to create new worlds, beats and stories is something I wholeheartedly admire. Listening to this newest project put a massive smile on my face.”
“This pairing is incredible. Both hard hitting and serene, this is inspiring stuff. More please. Thanks.”