NIK:11 releases 4Play


Techno was once a subgenre of pop music that, much like the psychedelia of 1960’s rock music, was almost exclusively associated with one type of listener and one type of listener alone: partiers. Now in 2018, that narrative has changed markedly, as electronica has evolved into what is undoubtedly the most intellectually stimulating genres in all of music. After years of misjudgment and a collective lack of understanding when it comes to the complex nature of the style’s multilayered construction, pop culture is at long last embracing all of the illustrious magic that techno brings to the table. NIK:11, a Detroit-based electronica artist whose music has been at times difficult to categorize or label (always a good thing), is one of the characters that is bringing techno into the future, and her latest single “4Play” is the powerhouse anthem that her scene has been waiting for to champion its new foray into the American songbook. Legends are usually built one song at a time, but in the case of NIK:11, the process seems to be moving a little faster than usual.

Critics in the pop establishment have neglected to discuss it, but the reality is that making a song that is as a textured and psychologically explorative as “4Play” requires quite a bit of sophistication as a recording artist. NIK:11’s style of attack is far ahead of the curve when it comes to designing a song from the ground up, and similarly to jazz artists, she doesn’t start off with a melody or a specific hook to build around. Instead, she starts off with a beat and delicately peppers in a mix of affectionate and hostile tones around its strut. It’s never about making something that listeners expect to hear when they listen to a record filed under “electronica;” it’s about making something that can only be filed under “NIK:11,” which is the exact reason why we haven’t seen her break away from her loyalty to the old school credo that made electronica such a staple of the American music underground.

It takes a lot of factors to make it big in this business, from having a persona that people can identify with to having a diverse discography that highlights all of the capabilities that an artist has both in and out of the studio. NIK:11 is a rare example of a musician who comes ready-made for the spotlight, and though she hasn’t been actively recording as long as some of the techno artists she’s now surpassing popularity, she has all of the professionalism and sincerity of a seasoned veteran of the music industry. “4Play” is more than just another hit to add to her résumé; it’s a segue for her to finally bridge the gap between relative obscurity and international fame. If she continues to push as hard as she does with this track, it’s unquestionable as to whether or not she’ll be a major player entering the impending new era of pop music that is lying just around the corner. Not every artist takes advantage of their window of opportunity when it comes around, but NIK:11 isn’t about to be just a footnote in music history.


Sebastian Cole