Thanks to a CD compilation provided by their record company (“Sounds From The Matrix 004”), I just recently got to know the music of New York based electronic / industrial act Neikka RPM. Taking a deeper dive listening to their “Rise Of The 13th Serpent” album, I had to find out that this project does provide a kind of dense acoustic experience crossing the boundaries of genres and electronic substyles along with quite some things making one think about the music and the project a little more. Thanks to “the internet”, getting in touch with Neikka RPM has proven to be quite easy, and Dominique was so kind to answer my annoyingly extensive set of questions… Read on. :)
Who are you and how did you get things started? Anything worth knowing
about Neikka RPM’s past?
My name is Dominique. I am the front-girl for the New York based, Industrial N Beats act, Neikka RPM. Richard and I met in an Industro Goth club a few years ago on Valentine’s Day. We just talked and realized that we had a lot in common musically. In the beginning, we worked on creating music for film and TV productions. Eventually we evolved to be a band, Neikka RPM.
Reading your project name, I could possibly come up with a bunch of explanations on what “RPM” could mean, but what is “Neikka”?
The explanation is a lot simpler than you might think. ‘Neikka’ was just a nickname for me when I was in school. First friends were calling me, ‘DomiNeikka’ but after awhile my name was just shortened to ‘Neikka’. Yeah I know, I know not exactly a spectacular in depth meaning!
Your albums are titled “the gemini prophecies” and “rise of the 13th serpent”, and in the inner sleeve of the second one one can read that “she commands the Legion Of Fire, the Army of the 13th Serpent” – part of some greater (lyrical, spiritual, occult) conception behind your artistic doings, or “just” words that sound and read good? :)
All of Neikka RPM’s songs/lyrics are connected. Together they tell an epic story. The whole concept was to create themed albums that are sort of like clues or puzzle pieces. With little clues dropped here and there in the photo art and lyrics.
On the opposite, I enjoy tracks like “shackles of steel”, “voyeur” or “sacrifice” to be somewhat reminiscent of an early-21st-century issue of Die Form, making a path somewhere in between sensual, obsessive lyrics and music for Generation Cyberpunk, capturing the sound of global cities in all their contradictory intensity, mixing pretty much all genres of electronic musical expressions known today into one original and rather strong style of sound. What are your inspirations to create sounds like that? Any artists, be that musicians or writers or movie-makers, one should watch out for?
Wow, that is a strong statement, thank you! I think we have an interesting, possibly weird – unusual sound, but we are not really conscious of a particular music formula. Our stimulations are endless. Everyday I see something that makes my eyes pop out of my head and I hear things that are truly unbelievable – good and bad. And so everything around us is a point of inspiration. I am glad that all these influences come together to form a unique sound. I do think that it is pretty easy to pick out a Neikka RPM track out in a DJ set. Hm, who to look out for? Well honestly, I don’t really follow any one person, I think that there are so many great musicians and artists creating amazing works each and everyday. The web makes it all easy to find.
Kenji Siratori, Japanese cyberpunk writer, does appear in a guest performance on your latest album, which I think is quite an interesting collaboration. On the other side, a lot of the tracks on “13th serpent” are somewhat reminiscent of a dark, “film noir” soundtrack one also could imagine listening while watching to “Blade Runner”, “Fifth Element” or “New Rose Hotel”. Could you imagine doing a dedicated soundtrack for a project like that, in the future? Any special movies /directors / stories you’d like to see for that?
A film score would certainly be an amazing opportunity! Thankfully, some of Neikka RPM music has been used in various media outlets, TV, film soundtracks, and productions. It is always exciting for me when our music is used to help a director create a mood and tell the story.
In some way your music does induce some rather strong visual illusions as well – did you so far ever consider creating video clips for some of your tracks or even doing live events?
Yeah, the visuals are an important aspect to Neikka RPM and we are currently working on a video. But you know I really like still photos the best. There is something very haunting about a captured moment; it leaves so much more to the imagination.
On “rise…”, you did work with quite a set of male vocalists (most notably Claus Larsen of Leaether Strip on “sacrifice”) to enhance your songs – which is rather effective even though one possibly would wish for having your female vocals more predominant on some of the 13th serpent tracks. Is having this male/female contrast in vocals a general idea behind Neikka RPM’s music, or did it just “accidentially” happen to be this way? :)
Well, I guess it is more about what each song needs. When we are creating a track the ideas come together and we get inspired. Sometimes we invite other artists to help us fulfill the concept. I think having male guests certainly creates an interesting male/female tension throughout the album.
Even though one knows Neikka RPM to be a duo (Richard and Dominique), the “male half” of this project usually seems to be the dark yet driving force behind all of it. How do you, musically, work – an inspired, creative yet invisible mastermind and a strong, very active front row woman to dominate the public presence of the project? Or are you musically equal partners working to make this vision of yours come true?
It is very much true that Richard drives most of the music production. We work close, for sure a strange enigmatic relationship! And it is this relationship that brings all of what each of us has to offer to the final music works.
Looking at your web site and your cover artworks, indeed rather tasteful shots do make up quite a part of your presence. Aren’t you afraid of being limited to “the cute girls project”? ;)
Heh heh, ‘Cute girl’? The photos are to there to intensify the music, to help bring a deeper aspect to the entire project. While for the most part Neikka RPM music is heavy and dark, the photos show the listener that there is a sensual and seductive piece to the puzzle. The pictures provide the visual cues that make the theme of the music far more prevalent.
By the way do the both of you earn a living creating music and Neikka RPM, or is it mainly a passion, a way of self-expression side-by-side with, say, a regular dayjob selling computers and groceries? :]
Mainly passion, passion for the art and the music. Whether we made a living or not with music, the fact remains that we would always be creating music. Fortunately, our professional careers allow us to create freely and to take chances.
You’re rather active on “the internet” as well, looking at your presence at Vampirefreaks, your last.fm appearance, the “Shadow Divas” group or your own website. Of how much importance to you is being in touch with those who are into your music, this way, of sharing thoughts and ideas with other like-minded beings in an open yet maybe somewhat “virtual” environment?
I don’t think Neikka RPM could exist without the web! I think you have it 100% right, the web creates a ‘virtual’ environment where everyone involved in the scene is closely, instantly connected and easily in touch.
Talking ’bout music on “the internet”, these days one still often stumbles across the fight between the music industry and music fans doing online file sharing (or, as some like to refer to, “stealing digital music”). Even though I can imagine that this is pretty hazardous to those living off selling CDs, I wonder how you do think about it – is filesharing mainly a threat to your musical activities, or is it also, say, a good vehicle of making more people interested in what you do, of possibly reaching new friends and acquiring a whole new set of listeners?
I believe that there is no better way to reach people than through the web, with that said I also think that music sharing is here to stay. The sharing will certainly change the music business. The situation may get worse before things get better. But I anticipate that in the end everything will find a common ground, a balance. I just hope the scene can survive. .
What are you up to, in the future? Any plans on a new album? You just released a rather good single, “umbrae sub noctem” – what’s next? :)
Cool thank you! I am glad you like the new song. ‘Umbrae Sub Noctem’ has created a little stir! We’re getting a lot of good feedback. And yes, we are working on our third album which is making good progress. In between, you will see Neikka RPM on a couple of new compilations, and we have also been remixing other artists as well. So I can say thankfully, we have been very busy and that we much appreciate the support that we have received. Kristian, I would also like to thank you for this interview, it is a wonderful opportunity for people to discover Neikka RPM!
Oh well, I on my behalf have to thank you for your patience and taking the time. Surely I am looking forward to listening to what Neikka RPM will sound like, in the future. More on Neikka RPM, including sounds, visuals and further information: