Accepted is a stunning record by electronic artist Nightly Gatherings. Connor Johnson’s artist moniker Nightly Gatherings is incredibly apt. It quite rightly evokes the serene sense of joy in dreamy electronic music. In just four tracks running under fourteen minutes, we are transported to a different world. That world might be sitting with your friends under the campfire on a starry night. Or flying through the skies, swimming in the oceans, to use some much used but very appropriate analogies.
The EP commences with the title track soaking us into its pretty world. Percussion acoustic guitar synths followed by mesmerizing production awash the listener into an ethereal atmosphere. The main melodic riff is played in bagpipe and synth flutes. Connor’s sweet chopped and processed vocals make us feel at home here. The second track is Hold You Back which begins with starry synths and harps. It sounds initially like an electropop lullaby as the vocals begin to focus in. Here Connor makes use of chanting vocal samples in a lo-fi setting. This is an incredibly beautiful track with dance music elements.
Missed Step begins with pretty wailing vocal samples. Turns out Connor uses a sample from a friend’s misadventure. Quirky roots for such enchanting music. Talk about making good art from the dark clouds! Always is the concluding swan song of this mesmerizing journey. While we have heard acoustic and guitar samples throughout, here the song begins in a somewhat conventional acoustic rhythm. The song concludes with noisy grain sounds ending in a satisfying silence. The journey has ended but you wanna relive it again!
Connor hails from Chico, California. He started composing in his sophomore year in high school and was initially infleunced by DJs like Skrillex, Dillon Francis, Martin Garrix. Johnson eventually started working as a concert photographer and covered events like Outsidelands and EDC. He eventually started making music as Nightly Gatherings as the pandemic affected live photography.
Nightly Gatherings is influenced by artists like Porter Robinson and Madeon most famous for the viral song Shelter. He’s also influenced by artists like Owl City, The 1975, and the folk act Bon Iver. All of his diverse influences can be seen on this record. It is difficult to believe that the arrangement of the guitars on the record is pretty much samples. The way guitars are used in the record is something to truly revel in. This of course owes it to Connor’s influence of folk music. The way Nightly Gatherings uses audio design makes you exist in the musical ambiance of the record. Audio design is a major delight on this record. Accepted as a short record that creates a vibe of immense joy and ethereal happiness. Something all music must strive for
We get to speak to Connor about this stunning EP and more!
1. Hi Connor, Your music reminds me the best of electronic music such as San Holo, KSHMR, ODESZA. Music which basically can’t help but evoke emotions. How do you go about making songs?
Those are some of my biggest influences thank you so much! So I make my music with a feeling in mind wether it’s to replicate a feeling I had or something I want to feel. Music is an escape for me and as bad as it sounds I make my best music in a state of emotional crisis hahaha!
2. Could you make us go behind the story behind each track with respect to the musical narrative?
Accepted: I started accepted in January 2021, the same month I started Nightly Gatherings. I premiered it in my Zaxx & Friends set and finished it the next month but something was missing. The mixing was off and I was using splice vocals and knew I had to keep working as this song was really special to me. I didn’t touch it for months until one day I had some writers block and decided to re visit the project file. I wrote the verse and re did all the percussion in one session! I’ve always had the mindset of, If it’s enough for me it’s enough but I think I finally learned that good things take time.
Hold You Back: Hold You Back was not meant to go anywhere. I had made the beginning lo-fi section just for fun and found this really crazy chanting sample. I showed my friend and was like, “I’m going to make this work somehow i’m putting it in the song.” As soon as the chants were in the song everything just clicked. I thought it would be so crazy to have this beautiful organic intro that feels very grounded that goes into something that would sound like you’re raving at a night club in the sky. It sounds goofy but look at how sick it turned out hahaha! The vocals at the end are from a different song I was working on and were there as a place holder but I eventually really loved how they sounded and just kept them in.
Missed Step: Months ago I got a snapchat from my best friend Tanner of how she tripped going up the steps on a train and how she bruised her elbow and I thought how funny would it be if I sampled it like how those soundcloud rappers sample like voicemails in the begging of their beats. It started as a joke but eventually really fell in love with the song. I got to close with it when I played in Oakland in April and the crowd reaction was better than I ever could have asked for.
Always: I absolutely adore folk music and pedal steel guitars and knew very early on I had to make a folk track. I had just finished my album Tethered Together and knew it was time. I wrote and finished the song in like a week but it was too late to put on my album since we already sent it to the distributor. It took every ounce of me not to put it out until now but i’m glad I waited.
3. What DAW, plugins, tools do you use to make music from a technical standpoint?
I use FL Studio and an insane amount of sampling. My go to thing for sounds is to through samples into Valhalla Supermasive and turn the mix all the way too 100%. I render that and from there chop things up and stretch them and I get some amazing sounds from it. That’s how I got the glitchy ethereal bridge in Accepted!
4. Are those bird sound samples be hear on Hold You Back?
Yes they are good ear!! I use tons of field recordings in my music. Not only do they fill space sonically but they give the music so much life to it. My branding is very nature driven so these field recordings help everything go the extra mile.
5. You make use of acoustic guitar samples in the EP. How do you see the use of live instruments in recording and live performances?
So I haven’t played guitar in 3 years hahaha. All my guitars are splice samples that are chopped up and rearranged. I would love to eventually do a live show and pick up the guitar again but for now I’m just doing some KILLER DJ sets.
6. How would you contrast photography with making music? Also, how is the music scene around Chico and adjecent areas? Any collabs?
This is an amazing question! So for those who don’t know I was primarily a concert photographer until covid happened when I had lost the opportunity to go on tour as Shallous photographer. I spiraled a bit with losing my creative outlet that was responsible for a great deal of my self worth, and eventually dove back into music which lead to me starting Nightly Gatherings. Now I wouldn’t contrast them but I would say they are very linear to me. The whole reason I did either of them was to get a sense of creative and emotional fulfillment. I approach them both in the same way of pinpointing a specific emotion I want to evoke and then just doing my best to make it happen! I luckily live right next to a venue where i’ve been fortunate enough to open for Whethan, Gorgon City, and more so i’m very grateful for the music scene in Chico. I have no collabs in the works currently as I am very particular about my music and my brand and won’t do anything unless it makes sense for everyone involved.
7. A single and an EP this year. What’s next in terms of releases and live gigs?
I have some amazing shows I get to announce soon where i’ll be opening for my favorite artists all over California. I’m so so excited!!! In terms of releases I have nothing set in stone but I can confidentially say that the music i’ve been working on is easily the best music i’ve ever made. I cant wait to show you i’ve never been this proud of myself before.
Do not miss this beautiful and eclectic record! Spin Accepted here!
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Discovered via http://musosoup.com