“he woke up warm and bored
in the same position he fell asleep in
one million miles away
from the abstract world he spends his dreams in
tired of the same routine repeated
wishing for the weekend
no longer will he live life dying
-Elden Rose, Canada | 1963
Musically, Rob Bakker [pka. NICOLAAS] was exhausted. He felt trapped in a musical genre he’d devoted half of his life to. To flourish in the world of Hip Hop was all he ever wanted, and – under the pseudonym Muneshine – he came close. As a revered rapper and producer, his compositions dominated the underground Canadian scene, earning him multiple Juno Award nominations, numerous placements on the Polaris Music Prize longlist, a Much Music Video Award nomination, and a win of the prestigious SOCAN Songwriters Award. Rob was critically fulfilled, but felt empty, creatively. He hit a wall. The enthusiasm that fueled him as a teenager was quickly fading away, and Rob was afraid – afraid of learning how to walk again.
“Everything was mundane. The sounds I relied on went stale. My structures and content…nothing excited me. I needed something new and I needed to wrap it in a shiny new package. My greys needed some neon.”
On a cold December morning, Rob loaded up his production software, and stared blankly into his computer monitor, chopping up an old soul sample, crafting another beat like the thousands he’d created since his late teens. “I listened to it for 10 minutes, feeling nothing. I no longer wanted to go through the motions. I wanted to feel something.” Rob deleted the unfinished demo, turned the BPMs up, and began creating like he’d never created before. He pulled from inspirations he would never dream of accessing. Genres he admired from a distance – Disco, house, funk. “I abandoned the style of sampling and reworking someone else’s song, and wrote my own melodies. The energy felt alive. I felt born again.”
When Rob was finished, he had the skeleton instrumental of No Stranger Thing - a misty, 4-minute electro/disco-fueled journey that has your head nodding by its opening Whispers-esque synth line and layer of classic 808 toms, providing a flawless set up for its explosion of melancholy sounds and lush voicing. Instead of his usual creations of chopped samples and drum breaks, he orchestrated the perfect soundtrack for any club or runway.
That same day, he decided to retire the pseudonym he was so well known for, and identify by his middle name, Nicolaas. “I feel like a new artist. I’m at the starting line again, and it’s the challenge I need”.
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