A Chat with Nexus (12.10.2020)

A mixture of post-rock, ambient and electronic music is the focus of Nexus, Alessio Netti’s musical project. Drawing on a range of influences, he has developed and unleashed his latest album Science-Fiction Omens on the world. The completely self-produced 8-track album is purely instrumental and touches on themes of isolation and alienation. We sat down with Nexus to talk about the album, the challenges he faced, his creative process, music and much more!

OSR: What first drew you to making music?

Nexus: In a way or another I have always been exposed to music, as my father is a bass player and a good chunk of my close relatives are musicians too. Although I’ve been playing the guitar since 2007, I truly got into music production only in 2016. At the time, I had recently moved out to pursue a Master’s degree in Bologna, Italy, and I was somewhat re-inventing myself in this new setting. After trying it out of curiosity, music production just clicked for me and since then it has greatly re-invigorated my relationship with music in general.

OSR: Your album Science-Fiction Omens was primarily composed in 2017 and 2018, what made you decide to release it now?

Nexus: Back when I first composed and recorded the tracks that ended up in Science-Fiction Omens, I was still learning the roots of music production and because of this, the originals were fairly rough from a production standpoint and not suitable for a broader release. Still, I kept coming back to them throughout the years, appreciating the somewhat minimal nature of the composition and arrangement.

After releasing my first proper album (named A Guide to Distress Signals) earlier this year, I put the Science-Fiction Omens project in my pipeline. The Covid-19 lockdown and the unexpected amount of spare time and energy that came with it simply gave me the final push to go forth and embark on this re-arrangement project.

OSR: Is there a theme connecting the tracks on the album?

Nexus: Definitely, yes. Science-Fiction Omens, as the title suggests, is a work with dystopic undertones. Its main motif is the fact that many themes that are typical of Science-Fiction literature, from Philip Dick to William Gibson and, to a certain extent, even Isaac Asimov, are slowly seeping into reality as integral aspects of our modern society. In other words, these works of fiction are slowly becoming omens.

Based on this premise, most of the album revolves around the feelings of isolation and alienation that derive from a hyper-connected, hyper-stimulating and hyper-competitive society. This is all subtly hinted to since the album is an instrumental work.

OSR: The majority of the songs on Science-Fiction Omens are new compositions, why did you include a cover of ‘trackerplatz’ by 65daysofstatic as well?

Nexus: Good question! First and foremost, I’ve been a fan of 65daysofstatic for more than a decade and you could probably say that they initiated me to post-rock. To this day, they are my main influence and one of the very few bands that nail the blend of post-rock and electronica that I strive for perfectly.

The motivation for choosing to cover ‘trackerplatz’, in particular, is actually rather simple. Back when they released the song’s video, 65daysofstatic included a link to the MIDI files for the main synth parts, this appeared very briefly, for just a few frames, and I caught it totally by accident. I really liked this gesture, so I decided to pay homage to them by making a cover of the song based on these files.

OSR: What was your creative process for the album?

Nexus: I didn’t really stick to a specific plan. As a person, I draw most of my inspiration from the environment that surrounds me, from the interactions with other people and daily events. I wouldn’t be able to write any decent music if I were isolated from a city’s bustling life, which is also why I decided to undertake the Science-Fiction Omens project only in these past few months.

This approach makes it somewhat difficult for me to achieve consistent albums, as each track is influenced by the mood and circumstances of the time when I made it. Still, I’m pretty satisfied with how Science-Fiction Omens turned out from this point of view.

OSR: As the album was completely self-produced, what was the greatest challenge you faced creating it?

Nexus: As trivial as it sounds, I’d say that the greatest challenge for me was figuring out whether my songs actually sounded good or not, from an arrangement and mixing perspective. I find that, when you control the whole production process from composition down to mastering, your ears will quickly become your worst enemy. It’s incredible how much our hearing is affected by fatigue or preconception and, after listening to a track enough times, it becomes extremely difficult to judge its production objectively. I have developed a few tricks over the years to get around this but, in general, having a few additional pairs of ears for a final judgement on a mix, as well as a golden benchmark for comparison is critical.

Nexus Science-Fiction Omens cover

OSR: When you started making music, did you have a sound in mind or has this evolved over time?

Nexus: My sound has definitely evolved over time, and it will probably still change in the future. Part of this is simply due to me getting the hang of production and learning how to get the most out of my instruments in certain scenarios, which is especially important when making experimental music that leans towards the ambient genre. However, as I mentioned when discussing my creative process, a significant chunk of my sound also depends on the musical influences and events that characterise my life at a given time.

OSR: If people could feel only one emotion while listening to the album, what would you like it to be and why?

Nexus: A sense of wonder and curiosity, like watching an alien landscape from a moving train in a foreign country. Even though Science-Fiction Omens has a fairly bleak atmosphere, it’s still focused on looking forward to an unknown future. The second part of ‘Seeping Worlds’, which includes a monologue from Philip Dick regarding the possibility and perception of multiple realities, captures this aspect pretty well in my opinion.

OSR: What is your favourite and least favourite song on the album?

Nexus: My favourite song from the album is probably ‘Specular Solitude’, despite being a simple track, I love the atmosphere and flow that it has. It is a moody song that’s easy to enjoy and get immersed into, something that I feel is not trivial to achieve in the niche genre that I deal with.

As for the least favourite, I’d say the aforementioned ‘Seeping Worlds’, not because I don’t think it’s up to the other songs, but rather because it’s my oldest composition from the album and it was in a rough state when I first started re-arranging it. It required a lot more work and thought compared to the other songs. I think that was worth the effort, though.

OSR: What can we expect from you in the next 12 months?

Nexus: For the next few months I will be very likely busy promoting my music out there, but I would also like to get back to the drawing board to improve my production and fine-tune my sound overall. After that I’d like to work on something tight and focused, such as an EP or a few singles, building upon the style of Science-Fiction Omens.

Thanks to Alessio Netti for chatting with us! You can find more about Nexus on his Facebook and Spotify.

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