Next Wave #1084: Nikhil Beats

In Association With Vero True Social

East London artist and producer Nikhil Beats can place himself as comfortably between genres as a foot might find comfortability in a pair of Crocs. There’s no straightforward way to describe his current sound; which folds in elements of jazz, R&B, soul, acoustic guitars and synths; which are often laid over balmy vocals. Marking his first release as both a vocalist and producer, the tracks which span his latest album, ‘Earthly Desires Lead To Enlightenment’, can feel as sonically layered as the Earth’s atmosphere.

Having previously worked alongside the likes of Bawo, Finn Foxell, Saafiyah, Yiiga and KeepVibesNear – to name a few – he has a catalogue behind him that already places the East Londoner amongst some of the most exciting talents emerging from the UK’s musical torrents. “A lot of the people that I meet or work with, I will meet them at shows or we’ll have mutual friends, for example. And you just tend to come together relatively organically”.

Talking about the first single released ahead of his new album, ‘Feel Me,’ Nikhil admits “it’s the first time that I’ve released something that’s just me singing without a featured artist. So inevitably, as a producer, that can be quite a vulnerable place to be…it’s very poignant for what the song is about.”

Nikhil has taken on what can be a disarming feat for any producer, and yet it remains to be something he feels is a prime chance to break new ground. “I don’t think I’ve ever worked on something that’s so honest in regard to the place I’m in. Being vulnerable seems so on cue for me to be singing a lot more in this project. I guess there’s a part of it where you’re not thinking or conscious. And the way that you are able to do that is by being a master of accidents, you’re like a puppeteer”.

A large part of this musicality is centred around his childhood, as he explains: “In my toddler years, my mom would find me hitting pots and pans, listening to music and dancing about the house.” He references an array of junctures from those younger years – his dad who, one day, decided to bring home a piano; the Bollywood songs that would blast in his car’s sound system til the speakers were blown out; his grandfather who, like Nikhil, had taught himself to play several instruments; his mum who bought him his first guitar; or his sister who would introduce him to genres like R&B and grime.

Nikhil is well aware of the power of his own heritage: Drawing illuminations from his practices in Buddhism and a south Asian and British upbringing, his musical mastery is naturally born through an affinity with introspective thought and a euphonious milieu. When it comes to his faith, there is fortitude in the solace and outlook it provides him. The concept behind the title of his latest album even nods to a Buddhist concept in itself. “It’s this idea that by being honest with who you are and what you desire means you’re able to connect to people and the place you’re supposed to be in,” he adds. “As people, we’re constantly fluctuating between different places and negativity will come through in all sorts of ways, so the whole purpose of chanting is to make sure you can try and maintain your best self as much as possible”.

He doubles down on this unabating sense of serenity as we talk about his career, “I’d rather have 10 wonderful years over one second of greatness in the future.” he declares. “You can hear this narrative from such a young age – that a career in music is really unattainable, ‘only one in a million might make it’ and there are a lot of people that will struggle to wrap their heads around it. To some people, that’s mind-blowing.”

Nikhil Beats’ new album ‘Earthly Desires Lead To Enlightenment’ is out now.

Words: Sophia Hill

Join the Clash mailing list for up to the minute music, fashion and film news.