Throughout the years, hip-hop/soul music producer Nicolay has matured his limitless sound that seamlessly enters realms of hip-hop, soul, jazz, and electronic music. As a founder of The Foreign Exchange with ex-Little Brother member Phonte Coleman, they have been able to invest in themselves and create a loyal fan base that has allowed them to release various solo and side projects of their own. "That's what has been making all this stuff possible," explains Nicolay in a recent phone conversation. "It's us, literally putting our own money down on the table, and build up something that could facilitate all the stuff that we wanted to do because quite frankly no one else was trying to f--k with us in terms of labels or anything. It started as a curse but became a gift in a sense. We don't owe anything to anyone at this point and we can really do whatever we like as long as we feel its good."
One said side project would be Shibuya Session, a collaborative effort between Nicolay and a fellow Raleigh, North Carolina-based jazz trio The Hot At Nights, led by eight-string guitar virtuoso Chris Boerner, along with Matt Douglas on saxaphone/woodwinds and Nick Baglio on the drums.
The collaboration between Nicolay and The Hot At Nights came from an organic place. The brainchild of the band, Chris Boerner, has been a local talent in the Raleigh, North Carolina area for a while, and has always been in the sights of The Foreign Exchange organization. "Chris is actually a buddy of Phonte's from a while back," says Nicolay. "He's been doing guitar parts for us on records. He's on Leave It All Behind and Authenticity. Around the time we released Authenticity, we really felt at that point that we wanted to add a guitarist to the live line-up just to have alot more edge."
So they added Chris Boerner to the touring Foreign Exchange band, and while on the road, Chris played Nicolay the album that The Hot At Nights recorded called Nice Talk, and a musical bond formed. "It instantly struck a chord with me because it is very much a jazz foundation but very experimental," describes Nicolay. "I just wanted to play with those guys because I thought it would be a perfect way for me to tour, do shows, and play my own music, but not do it in a DJ context. To be able to play music live with a band is that extra level for me." As a result, Nicolay recorded the Shibuya Session EP with The Hot At Nights, which are reinterpretations of eight tracks from Nicolay's 2009 album City Light Vol.2: Shibuya.
Drawing inspiration from legendary jazz collectives like Return To Forever and Weather Report, Nicolay set out to build a live performance with The Hot At Nights that would become a listening experience for the audience showcasing not only music from the EP, but music from The Foreign Exchange along with his vast catalogue of solo material. "This show is like listening to a record but being inside of it," explains Nicolay. "It's a sit-down experience. It's just about four cats playing. You can kind of get into it and take you away for a little bit."
Nicolay plans on hitting the studio again eventually with The Hot At Nights to write and record specifally for a project together. Along with that, the fourth Foreign Exchange album is starting to get mapped out right now for release some time next year, along with projects from Foreign Exchange member and Detroiter Zo!, and more solo projects from both Phonte and Nicolay. "In all reality, we're kind of loading up the chamber," says Nicolay about the future releases coming from The Foreign Exchange Music organization.
Nicolay, along with the The Hot At Nights, play Privé Deux, located at 237 Joseph Campau Street in Detroit, on Friday, July 6th. The Hot At Nights will open with a short set of their own material from their album "Nice Talk." For more information on the Nicolay and The Hot At Nights tour, visit www.theforeignexchangemusic.com.
(Photo Credit: Tobias Rose)