When I finally caught up with Jake and Nikko at Mysteryland USA I was surprised to find the duo who make up RICOSHËI not out of breath. I mean, these two guys have seriously been nonstop the last year. Between launching their own label, releasing tracks supported by everyone and their mother, and now touring with the legendary Eric Prydz, both Nikko and Jake have done nothing short of moving mountains so far in 2015. The pair had just dropped an incredibly sexy set in the afternoon hours of Saturday at the festival when I sat down with them, and the night before they were in DC opening for Eric at the iconic Echostage. So initially I had to get their views on the experience of touring with one of the godfathers of dance music.
Nikko: “Touring with Eric has been an amazing experience for several different reasons. First off, he’s a much respected guy within EDM and within more underground music as well.”
Jake: “It’s certainly an honor to have performed with such a beloved artist/brand at 16 sold-out shows in the US & Canada. Eric is a high-caliber act. He’s mega-versed in the spectrum of ‘EDM'.”
Nikko: “He has other monikers like Cirez D and Pryda. I mean, I have been listening to his music for a very long time and I think it is very cool that a person can remain as respected as him in so many different sub-genres in a way that not many people can accomplish. So when we got offered the possibility [of touring with Eric] we said ‘absolutely’. You know, if it was someone else in EDM we might have said that it wasn’t such a good fit, but Eric… He’s been super cool with us, super nice. His team, his tour manager, everybody has been really great. The shows have been sold out because he is Eric Prydz. So it has been really cool to play the most important clubs in America and be able to play without having to compromise anything we stand for. The whole tour itself and driving through so many states in such a short time made us understand that whole highway man thing that guys like Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard, Waylon Jennings or even Johnny Cash have been saying for years […] You feel the glory, you feel the pain, you feel great, you feel sick. It has its ups and downs. Overall, it’s been a journey like no other and a thing of beauty. Really.”
It was clear that touring with Prydz was the highlight of their career so far, even if it did take a mental, physical and emotion toll on the guys. But looking down the barrel of a truly diverse career I was curious about their humble beginnings. Most DJs have a rather unique story when it comes to how they transitioned from playing smaller gigs and house parties to taking part in massive festivals and touring the world. Call it a hunch but I truly believed that the guys of RICOSHËI were no different. Luckily I was not disappointed.
Nikko: “Well, I started DJing professionally at clubs when I was like 13 or 14 and ended up going to audio engineering school in LA when I was 18. I have been playing the piano since I was 4 and guitar since I was 8 as well as bass and drums and all that stuff over time. I played in a bunch of different bands throughout my life too. My DJing career came from the love to party. It was more about that to be honest, you know? One thing led to another. You play different gatherings and you become part of different things. I was a resident for Sheik n’ Beik in NYC for a while. So for me at least, I knew I was going to be in music since elementary school. I have never had a steady Job that was not musically related. I was like 13 or 14 and I was already making music for commercials, or scoring little short films here and there in LA and Mexico and stuff like that. Jake has been throwing parties and DJing under different names, as well as doing Burning Man with his buddies for many years now.”
Jake: “I started playing when I was 15 and producing things in high school. And like Nikko said, it starts as a hobby, for the love of the party, the scene…that kind of thing…but the short answer somewhere around college. I started to realize that the business path or the sports path, wasn’t necessarily my calling, that it was not my passion. It was not what I saw myself doing for the rest of my life. Or the next 60 years or something like that (haha)..But music was.”
I think Mysteryland really captures the essence of doing it right and they couldn’t have chosen a better place to hold the festival in America.
So both Jake and Nikko have had the opportunity to play at incredible clubs and festivals all over the world. That was clear. But many artists agree that Mysteryland, whether in Holland, Chile, or the US, has a unique vibe to it. They believe that it truly has a culture and fan base that sets it apart from its other counterparts. So having just stepped off the main stage after their set, I wanted to know their thoughts on the festival that is steeped in ideology that is unlike anything else on the festival circuit.
Nikko: “I think what is most important is the general vibe here. It goes beyond Mysteryland because it is such an epic historic setting. I think Woodstock set a bench mark for all festivals to come after it. And you can still feel it here. I heard that a lot of the volunteers working here now were people who originally attended Woodstock ‘69. And while they don’t understand EDM, they totally understand what Mysteryland is about deep in its core. The getting together, the dancing, the singing, the vibe.”
Jake: “There are just so many parallels between Woodstock and Mysteryland.”
Nikko: “The most important part is doing it all as a big family. The fans, the people, the artists, and running into these people you’ve spent time and bonded with in different places around the world. I think Mysteryland really captures the essence of doing it right and they couldn’t have chosen a better place to hold the festival in America. The sound was great on our stage; we were driving from DC [ended at 4AM] and were a little late for sound check in Bethel where the festival takes place [1PM soundcheck], but everyone was on point. I think overall, everyone we have worked with here has been really on point.”
Jake: “It was our first year here. Starting from last year you start seeing some of the trailers or promo videos and you realize what scale its done on. You kind of see more of the flower power vibe than your usual EDM festival, as you usually don’t get that. It is usually more ‘raver-ish’. I thought they edited the trailers like that so it would look like everyone is styled freely and then we got here and it actually does have more of that non-traditional [EDM] vibe. It is really special.”
With their performance having been finished at Mysteryland and their time on tour with Eric coming to an end I think the question that is on all of their fans minds is, ‘What’s next?”. I mean, the first half of 2015 has been a whirlwind of success for RICOSHËI, so following that up with a stronger close to the year is going to be a daunting challenge. Luckily for their loyal followers it sounds like Nikko and Jake have no shortage of bright ideas to keep their success going strong.
Nikko: “We did the Generate tour [with PRYDA], and we just played with him last night at Echostage. So its been 17 shows in 45 days, and that was just that one tour. We’ve played a few other shows on our own as well. We have a release coming out on Monday [May 25th] on Kitsuné, which is a French/Japanese label out of Paris. Our release is on a compilation called ‘Kitsuné America 4’ and there’s a bunch of artists on it, some up and coming, some more established. They [Kitsuné] really like the song we did with Fiona [Sally Miller] and you know, one thing led to another… anyway… It’s out on iTunes Monday! We haven’t been able to spend a lot of time in the studio because like I said we have been traveling a lot. So now we’re going home. We’re playing on the 5th of June at Sound Nightclub in Hollywood which is kind of like home base for us. Then we can finally just relax for a little bit, you know? We’ll be home for a bit and then we have plans to go to Europe around August. Maybe we’ll take a few gig in central and south america before that.”
Jake: “Yeah… Mexico, Central and South America in June and July sounds good. Musically/release-wise, we have that new song coming out on Monday [‘Darling’ feat. Fiona Sally Miller] and we are also amidst shopping our album right now. We have the content, and we are previewing it to a few different labels. We’ve received interest from a few labels we liked and some we didn’t like so much (haha) so we’re working with our management to find the perfect home for the album. We have all the songs, it’s just a matter of blending everything together properly. And finally resting for a little bit! That’s our summer and fall! (haha).”
It speaks of our work ethic; you have to constantly be working hard because if you aren’t, then the next guy is.
So with a schedule that preaches to the old belief of ‘No rest for the weary’ and a full length LP in the near future, it is obvious that RICOSHËI are two of the hardest working guys in the business at the moment. They take pride and solace in their work. They are hungry for success and able to synthesize down time into a place where they can also accomplish work. It is a pace that artists need to find to continue to be successful. That being said, I was curious about what Nikko and Jake like to do when they find themselves totally burnt out on the musical side of things.
Nikko: “I’m very happily married to an Italian chick who I am very much in love with (Hi baby! haha) and like I just said, she’s an Italian chick, so food is a HUGE thing at our house. I think for Jake food is a big thing, not as big for my wife though, even for me it is not as big of thing as it is for her. But I’ve gotten into it, trying different things, going to restaurants, cooking stuff from different cultures, getting deep into learning where your food comes from and staying away from sodas (haha) I do not watch TV that much. There’s a couple of shows I like though; like Silicon Valley and House of Cards.”
Jake: “I’m the opposite. Everything we do, whether it’s at home or at the studio, the computer is always out. You always got to keep hustling. It speaks of our work ethic; you have to constantly be working hard because if you aren’t, then the next guy is. You always gotta keep going. If you don’t, someone will be working harder. I like to disconnect though. If I’m watching TV or a movie, that’s the one time I don’t have to think about music or about what we have to do next week, or crossing this-or-that off the check list. I have to catch up with my Game of Thrones! I think it’s also important to get those endorphins going from physical activity. Sitting behind a computer all day deprives our bodies from feel-good endorphins!”
Nikko: “We have an inversion table at the studio too, so we can flip upside-down and hang like bats for a little bit.”
Jake: “We also play tennis and basketball sometimes.”
Nikko: “Keyword here is ‘sometimes’(haha)!”
I want to thank the guys of RICOSHËI for taking time from their ultra-busy lives to sit down with me and shed some light to EDM Sauce on how they have achieved the success they have over the past year. ‘Darling’ feat. Fiona Sally Miller is a stellar track, and fits perfectly on the compilation. You can buy both HERE. Check out RICOSHËI’s upcoming tour dates below, and for the love of god, throw these guys a like on FACEBOOK and a follow on Twitter. We cannot wait to hear the full album in the next few months. But we know one thing for sure, it is going to be BIG, because when RICOSHËI wants something, nothing can stand in their way.