[INTERVIEW] NIIKO X SWAE Talk About Their New Single, "Fast Forward" & More After Miami Music Week 2023
Ushering in a new era of house music, NIIKO X SWAE is bringing their electrifying sound to some of the biggest EDM hotspots in the world. Since becoming close friends at a young age, the duo has accomplished many feats together. With over half a million monthly Spotify listeners, NIIKO X SWAE has dropped thrilling remixes for Bebe Rexha, Cheat Codes, Bryce Vine, and more. Additionally, they have earned a residency at Las Vegas's Hakkasa and appearances on SXM's BPM, Evolution Radio and Dance Radio. Lately, NIIKO X SWAE has been dropping house bangers, like their new single “Fast Forward” and flips of popular tracks. iEDM had the chance to talk with the innovative pair about these originals and their upcoming tour.
Check out iEDM's exclusive interview with NIIKO X SWAE below.
iEDM: At what point did you both realize that you wanted to pursue your careers in music as a duo? What qualities do you share that enable NIIKO X SWAE to be more effective as a team than apart?
NIIKO X SWAE: We both were in college, studying and gearing up to pursue a full-time career in business. We had been DJing college parties on the side and decided to join forces. Deep down, we always wanted to do something in music. However, it wasn't until senior year, when we started traveling and playing three shows a week, that we realized we had something super special. We decided to take the risk and pursue our passion while we were young and still could.
iEDM: What production techniques did you use to create an uplifting vibe during the chorus in your new single “Fast Forward”?
NIIKO X SWAE: We think the uplifting vibe comes from two things. One is different guitars working together and off of each other. Second, the drop synths and sounds are quite literally filtering up as it builds closer to the drop. We think this gives the production that uplifting and suspenseful anticipation.
iEDM: From your perspective, what message do the lyrics convey in “Fast Forward”? In the music video, how does watching the phases of your journey together make you feel?
NIIKO X SWAE: Lyrically, “Fast Forward” embodies those times in our life that are painful. The bad times when all you wish for is that light at the end of the tunnel, skipping the bad and fast-forwarding to the good.
This song has really made us reflect on our own journey in life. From where we once were to where we are now, we are beyond grateful. It's all about the process rather than the end result.
iEDM: At some points in “Fast Forward”, there is only a chord progression and powerful vocals. Why did you decide to include these simpler parts in the song, and how do they balance out with the parts that have more complex and layered instrumentals?
NIIKO X SWAE: The vocal is by far the most powerful element in the song and giving the instrumentation a break in this section really allowed the vocal to speak for itself.
iEDM: Based on your Instagram and other social media channels, you both have a unique sense of fashion. What are each of your top fashion trends right now and how does your taste in fashion reflect your personalities?
NIIKO X SWAE: We try to stay true to our own personalities when it comes to fashion. The fact that we both dress a little differently helps give us a bit of identity. It's hard to say if there's a certain fashion trend that we are particularly into right now but we definitely like to draw inspiration from the 90s.
NIIKO: As a surfer and skater, I draw a lot from Southern California streetwear culture. I love denim, corduroy, slightly oversized clothing, relaxed pants, and graphic t-shirts from my favorite bands.
SWAE: My biggest trend in fashion is comfort. I'm a huge sweatpants/sweat short guy around the house but when it comes to getting dressed up I love a nice graphic tee and some black denim pants. Throw in a pair of Nike dunks or air force ones and you’re ready to take on the night.
iEDM: The theme behind many of your releases is vibrant, full of color, and typically includes cartoons. Why do you think these are solid choices to represent your project and the signature style of music that you have forged?
NIIKO X SWAE: We have both been friends since pre-school so a lot of our branding draws influence from our childhood. We love to use primary colors and reference imagery from our adolescent years. Furthermore, we think a lot of people can align with the playfulness and nostalgia. At the end of the day, we really just want to showcase that we are two best friends making music together.
iEDM: Since breaking out onto the scene as NIIKO X SWAE, you have dropped a ton of edits, like your newer flips of Rihanna’s “Umbrella” and ODESZA’s “Last Goodbye”. What draws you to a track as something that you want to make your own rendition of? In your opinion, what is the difference between a flip and a remix?
NIIKO X SWAE: In the past, we have remixed somewhat of a broad spectrum of songs. Before, it was either a huge TikTok song or a trending song at the time. Recently, we have been aiming to remix songs from our childhood, hence the Rihanna “Umbrella” flip. We have been going on some deep dives and have found so many flippable songs from our middle school dance era, so expect a ton of early 2000s remixes this year! We are trying to instill that sense of nostalgia in our live sets and tie it back into the NXS brand - being two friends that grew up in the 2000s together.
When it comes to the difference between a flip and a remix, it really just comes down to what we feel like labeling the track that day! We still don't know the difference, ha!
iEDM: A thrilling mashup with your new track “Fast Forward” and Avicii’s “Wake Me Up” was recently previewed on your IG. What is your process for discovering which hits go well with your songs? Why do you think these two anthems complement each other?
NIIKO X SWAE: The process of finding an accapella that works well with an instrumental really just varies. Sometimes we will be humming something in our head and it will come to us. SWAE is crazy with this and puts the most random songs together. They are always so outside the box, but end up working well. For this song in particular, we googled popular songs in the key of D Major and saw the Avicii song was in the same key as “Fast Forward”. The internet is a powerful tool! In a song that's more melodic, it's really important that the chord progression of the instrumental works well with the vocal melody.
iEDM: How did you select which elements to embrace from the original “Umbrella” and how to add your identity as artists into the flip?
NIIKO X SWAE: In order to pay homage to the original song, we used the vocal a ton in the drop. In order to tie in our identity, we chose to use a simple but upbeat and bouncy bassline. The bass we actually used came from one of our original songs called “Push and Pull.”
iEDM: You guys have a bunch of hilarious content on your TikTok for new releases and additional aspects of your project. How do you get the comedic juices flowing and bounce off each other when generating ideas for entertaining videos surrounding your tracks?
NIIKO X SWAE: At the end of the day, we are just our goofy and quirky selves on social media. We really put it all on the line when it comes to the content we share. We try to keep it light-hearted and fun. Not only that, but we spend a ton of time on social media so that always helps get the creative juices flowing. We have a shared note with content ideas we slowly chip away at when we have time, in between studio sessions and shows. For each release, we come up with sort of one central idea and theme and then all the content and social media assets waterfall off of that.
iEDM: What advice would you give to upcoming DJs who struggle with blending songs together in a way that is harmonious and keeps the crowd engaged? What are a few of your go-to transitions specific to daytime sets and pool parties?
NIIKO X SWAE: We think making mashups with either trending songs people know or throwbacks is always a guaranteed way to keep people engaged in your set. It's always fun for people to sing a lot to something familiar and transition it into something big and unexpected. We feel that doing this is our bread and butter. Whether it's a college party, Vegas club show, or Miami Music Week pool party, we think these mashups across the board will get people engaged. We would love to share a few specific transitions but we would rather show you them in person!
iEDM: Which artist would you love to collab with for the first time in 2023? What goals for your NIIKO X SWAE do you hope to accomplish by the end of the year?
NIIKO X SWAE: We would love to collaborate with some of our friends in the music industry such as Disco Lines, Shipwreck, Two Friends, and the No Thanks boys. Some insane collabs we are very proud of may or may not already be in the works already. By the end of the year, our goal is to release as much good music as possible and grow relationships with all our fans.
Photos Courtesy of NIIKO X SWAE
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